“Billions” recap: Prince starts to lose control


Christopher T. Saunders/SHOWTIME Corey Stoll

At the top of this week's episode, Ira (Ben Shenkman) is in a panic. He's in Chuck's (Paul Giamatti) office talking about how he was mugged the night before, that someone ran off with his phone. He tells Chuck that he needs to get the phone back not only because there are work-related files on it, but because there's also some NSFW videos involving him and his wife that he'd rather not see leaked. He describes the videos as "pretty vanilla," but still, this is clearly a crisis.

So, Chuck leaps into action to help his friend out, and honestly the storyline is a nice change of pace from the usual Prince-focused stuff. Here, we get a rather self-contained, episodic story that only somewhat ties into Prince (Corey Stoll) and instead allows Giamatti to shine in a few scenes. Chuck first goes to the incoming NYPD Commissioner and asks him for a favor; he wants access to CCTV footage in order to track down the man who stole Ira's phone. In order to convince the Commissioner to work with him, he lies about there being "issues of national security" on the phone.

That tactic ends up backfiring, as Chuck's former friend and current foe Attorney General Dave Mahar (Sakina Jaffrey) ends up in possession of the phone due to the false idea that there are issues related to national security on the phone. Dave uses the leverage to get herself enlisted as first chair on any charges that Chuck should bring against Prince. It's a fine power play, but the real work of this storyline is to show a shift in Chuck. The idea is that he's trying to be true to himself at this point in his life, starting by coming back to his roots at the SDNY. Here, he gets to step up for his friend, no matter the professional cost.


Christopher T. Saunders/SHOWTIME Sakina Jaffrey, Paul Giamatti

Elsewhere, we see that Michael Prince's political ambitions might be affecting his business. Philip (Toney Goins) and Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) are taking in new money-making ideas from the team, but they feel their hands are tied by Prince's insistence that he or Scooter (Daniel Breaker) sign off on any deal that uses more than $500 million for investment. Prince is trying to keep control as much as he can, but in doing so he's refusing to trust those who work for him.

This business strategy reveals its cracks when Prince and Scooter attend a listening party for the new Killer Mike album. While Billions once again shoehorns a stilted cameo into an episode, Prince and Scooter give up their phones in order to be allowed inside the studio, where Killer Mike previews his new album and ends up offering Prince an endorsement for his campaign. This is critical, as Dollar Bill finds a big play while Prince and Scooter are unavailable, and Taylor and Philip discover a way to make even more money off of it, but they need nearly $600 million to make it happen.

Spartan-Ives gives them two hours, after Victor negotiates another hour, to get their order in, otherwise they're giving the investment spot to someone else. Nobody can get a hold of Prince, and the deadline passes. When Prince returns to the office and learns that the company has missed out on $1.6 billion in revenue, he agrees to give Wags (David Costabile) sign-off permission on future deals, but also chastises the team for not finding some way to get to him, the way a young, resourceful Prince would have found a way to make the impossible work.


Christopher T. Saunders/SHOWTIME Killer Mike

The episode ends on a twist. Taylor actually dove into this deal as a way to try and throw Prince off of his game and get him to relinquish some control. They were hoping that Prince wouldn't be able to hear the pitch, and therefore he'd see the error in his ways and give someone else the power to make deals. Now Wags has that control, and he's aligned with Wendy (Maggie Siff) and Taylor in wanting to take Prince down. Whether they can make that happen, and how they plan on going about it, is another question entirely.

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