Somehow, this is the episode where Billions Season 7 suddenly starts to click again. The humor of this season is at a high point, and with a large focus given to Philip Charyn and his “subsequent loss of innocence,” as his professor Ruloff puts it, the megalomania of Michael Prince is kicking into high gear. His question in the previous episode, “When did I become Lex Luthor?” becomes more apparent. He has always been Lex Luthor, and for Luthor, he is always the hero of his own story. But this is also the episode where we see the Rhoades—Chuck and Wendy—showing their sides as parents as well as ex-partners and how invariably both of them are working towards the same goal. It is fascinating to see the front against Prince growing, and if each episode is spent on exploring how every important member of MCP is brought against Prince, this is definitely the most emotionally poignant one within that arc.

Billions (Season 7) Episode 7 “DMV” Recap:

The humorous element is really the titular organization in the episode and the arrogance that stems from belonging to the 1%. Kevin Rhoades and his grandfather, Chuck Rhoades Sr., get into hot water when Kevin is unable to pass his driving test, and Rhoades Sr. wants to grease the palms of the instructor with a gratuity (not a bribe, as Sr. expertly states). But a senior points out exasperatedly in the phone call with Chuck that when Kevin finally calls his father to bail them out, he finds the one bureaucrat in the DMV who couldn’t be swayed with a gratuity. Both Chuck and Wendy are flabbergasted, and Chuck has to use his charm and his position to bring Kevin and Rhoades Sr. out, and even then, he has to convince the instructor that his father suffers from bouts of senility. Of course, Rhoades Sr. takes offense to that. His mind is as sharp as a titanium tack, after all. He is not senile, just an asshole.

At least that’s what Chuck and Rhoades Sr.’s lawyer Eisen is stated to focus on by Dave Mahar and Manhattan DA Mary Ann Gramm. The only reason why this simple case of bribery is getting so much attention is the Rhoades name, and while Eisen knows that none of them can make the charges stick, it is better to make a deal because there isn’t a driving test for not being an asshole. But again, Rhoades Sr. is reticent to sign the deal, and when asked why, he states emphatically that Kevin should have been passed by the DMV on “principle” alone (the donation of the Rhoades family towards Manhattan). Jeffrey DeMunn truly plays the arrogant nature of Rhoades Sr. to a tee, and his comic timing is exquisite. But the tone turns somber when the episode suddenly chooses to focus inward and makes Chuck Jr. suddenly understand that while he had been busy trying to extricate his father from this situation, he hadn’t realized that the reason his father had been there in the first place was that neither he nor Wendy had been present for Kevin.

Now, is this realization completely unnecessary for Chuck, considering the tunnel vision both he and Wendy had been going through all these episodes? Sure, in a logical context, definitely. But then again, considering that this is the final season, a reconciliation of this magnitude was perhaps inevitable, if not necessary, to underline its importance in terms of emotional context. Both Wendy and Chuck realize that they will have to work harder; Wendy is especially emphatic about this because Rhoades Sr.’s arrogance has almost undone him but apparently has no effect on the octogenarian, who still reminds them that Kevin called him because he thought his grandfather would have his back.

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It is that night, however, once Chuck and Wendy start sharing a glass of wine, that Wendy tells Chuck, by way of twisting her words and not revealing her intentions directly, about how Philip Charyn is at an emotional crossroads right now because of Prince’s tactics at attaining one of his professor’s newest inventions, self-healing concrete. That apparently contains a strain of bacteria that works on repairing and strengthening foundations. Prince had been interested in buying Ruloff’s company, giving him a fair amount but having the only controlling stake in the company. Ruloff, on the other hand, declines because he is not ready to sell off his entire professional life’s work to a businessman. Not one to back down, Prince takes the sneakier route and goes towards the sharking of patents. As Philip tells an interested Chuck Rhoades, after having done his morning run, sharking of patents would ultimately stop Rule’s work from ever getting released because sharking entails a competitor buying out similar patents and thus having openings to drop patent infringement cases on other competitors. Prince finally tries to play his trump card and tries to buy out the exclusive bacteria strain copyrights, which were stopped by Ruloff because he held those rights for three years. As Chuck points out to an increasingly distraught Charyn, morally, this is absolutely the wrong thing to do, but legally, there isn’t any loophole that could be exercised here.

Billions (Season 7) Episode 7 Ending Explained
A still from Billions (Season 7) Episode 7

As Chuck laments and thinks about this case with his friend Ira Schirmer, Ira brings out an important point: what if all of this is a trap, a double cross by Wendy to put Rhoades in the open, and a target for Prince? And Chuck’s vehement dismissal of that makes you realize that Chuck’s trusting of Wendy implies they are working towards the same goal, and after a very long time, they are actually inclined towards the same target. But because this is Chuck Rhoades, he, of course, has a moralistic reason for stopping them—this self-healing concrete might be the most important invention of the last decade, and this shouldn’t be mired in legal ownership battles between two egos, but released. The fact that ownership battles are even occurring proves that this power shouldn’t exist at the hands of a single individual.

The last subplot of this episode is the one that carries over from the previous episode. The performance review of all employees of Mike Prince Capital is now at a fever pitch of interest because Prince has been given the true picture of his employees’ opinions, and thus, he wants to conduct a performance review based on that. To that end, he instructs Scooter and Wags to form a panel to conduct a performance review, with him recusing himself. However, Victor and Rian, acting as representatives of the workforce, inform them that they reject the formation of this panel without the involvement of Mike Prince and propose that performance reviews be stopped for this year, lest Mike Prince Capital find themselves lacking the workforce to run the company.

Scooter and Wags, under the cloak of boosting employee morale, thus conducts a high-stakes gambling and poker party for their employees to enjoy themselves free from inhibitions. However, unbeknownst to all employees, Scooter is instead taking the help of an independent researcher who can study the gambling practices of each and every employee and extrapolate their effectiveness at the workplace. Thus, the gambling holiday becomes a performance review. This might come off as a fun subplot, but I share the sentiments of Victor and Rian; this is positively Machiavellian and even megalomaniacal. Because even if Prince didn’t know the details, Scooter and Wags wouldn’t have conducted such a large-scale operation without a sign-off from Prince. All this is doing is further alienating the employees of Mike Prince Capital from Michael Prince, indirectly helping the case of Wendy, Wags, and Taylor.

Billions (Season 7) Episode 7 Ending Explained:

Cleverly, Billions doesn’t take the easy way out by letting Wendy be successful in convincing Philip to join their side against Prince. However, Philip’s dismissal of Wendy’s proposal does indicate that Philip knows Taylor is involved in this plan, which begs the question: how much does he know? However, the final twist truly destroys Philip’s relationship with his professor when the Department of Defence actually makes a visit to Ruloff and takes ownership of the self-healing concrete as state property. This puts it squarely out of the hands of Prince, who still believes that once he gets into office, he will declassify this and bring it to market because he doesn’t trust the Department of Defence to do any job effectively. However, Prince accepting Sacker’s idea of holding on to that plan for a hypothetical second term is abject ridiculousness, and if that hubris hadn’t been apparent to Charyn, it is definitely apparent now.

As Chuck and Wendy wait for Kevin outside the DMV, it is revealed that Wendy wants Chuck to take the step and call his contacts at the Department of Defense. In a way, Chuck manages to take this political smoking gun of Prince out of the equation, keeping the wolf at bay, while Wendy and her team try to look for a permanent solution to hobbling Prince down from the inside. The fact that Chuck and Wendy are working together definitely shows the seriousness of the situation far more than Wendy or Chuck trying to sort out this issue separately. Now, if Axe manages to join and become the triumvirate, the game will finally be afoot. Either way, “DMV” felt like a Billions episode in the best possible fashion. Here’s hoping the quality continues.

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Billions (Season 7), Episode 7 Links: IMDb
Billions (Season 7), Episode 7 Cast: Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Maggie Siff
Where to watch Billions

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