Billions (Season 7) Episode 11: With Billions racing towards the finish line, this penultimate episode needed to be crucial, at least in showcasing how much of a thorn Axelrod proves to be for Prince. As last week’s episode teased, Axelrod is built up to be the big thorn in Prince’s campaign, forcing him to liquidate his portfolio to cash. But this episode also needed to maintain the stakes and Prince’s superiority so that the final episode would hopefully show him being vanquished. Again, I say hopefully, because with how the episode ends, the fate of the finale feels very fluid right now. Honestly, I don’t know whether that’s a good thing.
Billions (Season 7) Episode 11 Recap:
Episode 11 – Axe Global
In the case of this episode, the opening itself should be cause for concern because it opens with Axe driving a Bentley through the streets of New York and finally reaching the new NY headquarters of Axe Global, which is still empty enough that it looks like a mausoleum. However, as Axe enters the building, he sees an unwelcome guest at his office – Mike Prince – here to regale with his moves and counter-moves he had taken once their fateful meeting took place at the U2 concert.
The one time in this entire episode where we see Prince frazzled is at this point, with he meets with Luke, Scooter, and Philip, their tuxes open, and they look exhausted. While Philip is urging caution, Prince reaffirms that his limbic system is completely intact. He is making this decision rationally, and thus pulling their money out and converting it to cash is the one way to make them bulletproof from any sort of frontal attack against Axe, Rhoades, and their armies.
But Prince hasn’t stopped there. He has a thousand eyes and ears and knows almost every move his employee makes. Thus, Prince had been cognizant of the fact that Victor and Dollar Bill had been invited to a pitch by Axe Global, but both of them politely declined, which Axe later admitted was a smart move as well. All of Victor and Dollar Bills’ money is interweaved into MCP, and thus leaving would put them back at square one. A similar case exists with Rian, except Taylor realises in that pitch meeting that Rian has a very different plan—a completely different exit plan.
At MCP, Victor and Dollar Bill reveal their reasons for not leaving, and thus they are inducted into the group “trusted” by Prince. However, in the case of Ben Kim and Tuk, they have committed a grievous crime by playing on their emotions and choosing not to meet Axe. Because, as Scooter astutely points out, if they had, they would have joined in a heartbeat. Thus, according to Prince, “these emotions would be played against them” in ways they wouldn’t be able to conceive, and thus they are fired by, as we see later in the episode, Spyros, armed with aggressive non-competes and non-disparagement clauses – which ensures that even if they were hired by a neighbouring Starbucks, they should ensure that praise-filled diatribes of Mike Prince adorn their voices rather than disparagement. As Axe says later in the episode, that had been a dumb move, and they would get canned.
A continuation of a thread from an earlier episode occurs with the Philip and Scooter conversation, where Philip raises the question of Scooter’s individuality against his unquestioning loyalty towards Mike Prince. Will his loyalty and his voice carry over with Prince to Washington, as Philip states he likes the big guy here, steering this ship? Scooter promises his steady hand will be felt even while in the presidency, but by that time Scooter too believes that Philip will be ready. To be honest, Philip is still siding with Scooter; it seems like he is biding his time until the final second, but at this point, it still feels like a lost cause.
On Prince’s homefront, his attempt to hold Derek hostage by convincing the Chinese military indirectly doesn’t sit right with Prince’s wife. And with Derek being brought back the last episode by Axe as leverage, it was enough of a reason for her to leave for “bouldering in the ‘Gunks”. Prince’s protestations that this might fall back on him now fall on deaf ears because his moves have lost him a crucial ally in the process, as she is not going to be manipulated by him anymore.
On the legal side, Sacker had two fronts to tackle. The first is the Winston debacle, where she had managed to buy back his profit-risk algorithm as Prince’s proprietary property, and now she wants him to reset the parameters on that risk algorithm, dialling back the profit as a prime objective to protect the bottom line. But as a result, she would have to pay him a sum of seven figures as a way to massage Winston’s ego.
The second problem stems from the Rhoades camp, which now consists of Orrin, Maffee, and Wags, who met with Rhoades and Ira to discuss the best option to attack Prince’s private holdings. Mafee points out the vulnerable ones, while Orrin and Wags lay out the different options through which these vulnerabilities could be exploited: misinformation, disinformation, the fostering of a toxic work environment by inducing internal conflicts, and even bribery and legal entanglements, which the SDNY office could then investigate. So they do, but they get opposition from Amanda Torre, who refuses to get forward with investigations without having concrete evidence. All of these investigations will drive the Prince’s name and stock down, and Torre wants no part of it. Here is where the sudden onset of friendship with Torre and Sacker comes into play, with the two of them meeting at a subway station and Torre handing over the files SDNY has on them. Prince reveals to Sacker that she has been followed, and he knows who her source is.
But within all of it, and because Prince is paranoid and believes himself to be brilliant enough that he can figure out the degrees of idiocy enough and break through the complicated game theory employed by both Rhoades and Axe, Prince realises that all these attacks are distractions to the real attack being planted. They are trying to bring in Nacy Dunlop and her entire democratic vote bank towards their side and announce her as direct opposition to Prince’s presidency, while Prince wants Dunlop to be at his side, if possible, for the vice-presidency.
To convince Axe to join in Rhoades’s cause, both Chuck and Wendy invite Axe to the office of SDNY, where they convince him how dangerous Prince is and how much his conviction stems from his belief in his intelligence and his infallibility, leading him to take decisions that could be categorised as slippery slopes. But if that meant attacking Prince’s portfolio, that also meant affecting the financial bottom line of Axe’s money as well as Wags and everybody else’s money as well, and that is a problem. The world is at stake, and that could be a huge boost to a man’s ego like Axe’s, but he still doesn’t love it.
Anyway, Nancy Dunlop had postponed the meeting with Mike Prince because she would meet with both Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades. Axelrod goes the whole nine yards, booking a table at a nearly empty Rao’s restaurant, home of the best meatball and veal in the city, and convincing her that joining hands with Prince is not good for her bottom line. Exchanging her base for a VP isn’t as impressive as running herself for Presidency, with the implicit proposal that Axe would be backing her as a donor. Her meeting with Rhoades ends with Chuck reminding her that Bobby Axelrod is cocky and a criminal, but at least he is honest about it, while Prince projects sincerity but comes from a profession where sincerity is present to the nth degree of zero. A career politician, and while that is the game Dunlop is used to playing, that is also the game of advising politicians that Rhoades is “elite in”, and thus to trust him.
Billions (Season 7) Episode 11 Ending Explained:
But Prince manages to finally meet her in the end, and he reveals that she is a tough negotiator. Finally, Prince decides that they need to convene a “peace talk” and stop these warring factions.
It is comical that all these members actually think that they are fighting a great war, but it also brings to light the egos of these individuals and the inherent self-importance within them, and even the pop culture lingo cannot hide a streak of tiredness in the entire show. So when the peace talks convert into Prince revealing that he had managed to convince Dunlop to join him in the presidential race as his vice president, but without revealing how you are not elated as a viewer; you are exhausted. Billions as a show has been utilising double blinds, game theories, and subversions for so long that, at some point, a straight-line form of storytelling feels like water in a starving desert. In this case, Prince finally presenting a peace talk is essentially all of them deciding to lay down arms and Prince promising not to bankrupt or stop their businesses once he becomes president. And as the episode ends with Dunlop being sworn in as a running mate in the presidential campaign, Luke gets a call: Prince is invited to Camp David for the final briefing to be decided as president-elect. He is on top of the world until the show makes another tired play at subversion and pulls him down. Or maybe it finally chooses a decision to surprise us and just lets the story play out like Rian deciding to go off on a solo trekking journey to find herself. Rian represents all the Billions viewers, who are too exhausted at this point to care. The final episode couldn’t come soon enough.