Billions (Season 7), Episode 9: The one criticism you could afford Billions these last few weeks was that there had been a notable lack of focus on an endgame for a show supposedly in its final season. It was still building up towards one but wasn’t a priority as expected. Instead, it had been building up amidst subplots while the main plot was about something else.

Not anymore, because, as this week shows, Billions just hit the gear towards the endgame. With the final four episodes remaining, it had been high time for the show to start converging all its characters towards the final round, while finally having to show Prince to be as dangerous when aimed directly at our “heroes”, as alliances form on both sides. By the end of this episode, the stage has been set, and the opening salvo has been struck.

Billions (Season 7) Episode 9 Recap:

Episode 9 – Game Theory Optimal

From the opening of this episode, where Billions foregoes even its theme track and begins with a rendition of Billy Joel’s “I’ve Loved These Days”, you already feel a subtle 4th wall break of mournfulness, and the show cutting between the famous restaurants and bars of New York highlights the end of the debauchery that Billions had become famous for during its 8-year run, and now it is at an end.

The interaction between Prince and Chuck and Prince’s proclamation of not being hesitant to pull the button on a nuclear warhead if push comes to shove has shaken Chuck to the core. He is currently in a dilemma, and when finally asked at Patsy’s Italian Restaurant by NYPD Commissioner Billy Sansome, Chuck reveals his dilemma: how to ensure Prince is behind bars when he lacks evidence with which he can bring his full power of the office down on Prince. Sansome quickly shuts it down, stating that he cannot give Chuck permission or advice on how to frame Prince. But if compared to a “mad king”, what Chuck could do is find sympathetic ears within the king’s court and corral them to his cause.

This finally causes Chuck to meet with Wendy in her apartment, where they finally cut through all the double talk, and Chuck reveals that he knows Wendy is planning something against Prince. And Chuck would want to work with her because, unlike all the other felons Chuck had been after, none had the ambition or the billions to catapult themselves to that higher pedestal where they would have access to a nuclear arsenal. What makes Prince dangerous to Chuck now is that conviction, and that is scary.

However, Wendy is still not entirely convinced. As a conversation with Dr. Mayer the next morning reveals, she isn’t ready to be an inside woman for Chuck Rhoades at MPC without consulting with her teammates, Wags and Taylor. More importantly, knowing Chuck, she wouldn’t be wrong to be suspicious about his motives, considering his aggressiveness regarding Axe Cap and its employees. However, she had noticed a certain earnestness in him, which forced Wendy to reevaluate her options.

Trouble, though, brews on the horizon. Kate Sacker has started to suspect that there is a mutiny going on against Mike Prince because she believes her thoughts of running as an independent candidate against Prince for a congressional seat aren’t really of her own volition but have been manipulated by Wags. Sacker is proven right by Scooter, who reveals to her that soon after Mike Prince acquired Axe Cap, they had installed hidden security cameras to track their employees. Thus, the moment in episode 6 where Wendy, Wags, and Taylor were discussing Sacker in the middle of the breakroom had all been recorded. But Scooter stops Sacker from reporting all this to Mike. While all their intentions are extremely “sus” (a grown man saying “sus” is very noticeable), Scooter needs more proof. To that end, Scooter will be analysing a screenshot he took in the first episode of Season 7 while conversing via video call with Taylor. The sculpture behind Taylor had been noticeable enough for Scooter to bring in an expert to analyse it.

Meanwhile, Wendy, after being encouraged by Dr. Meyer, chooses to jump into a brand-new job for an online therapy site called Mental (which might be a stand-in for BetterHelp). She recruits Rian to research their finances so that there aren’t any potential red flags. Rian soon comes back to Wendy, stating that Mental checks all the boxes, after which Wendy meets with the co-founders, who offer her the gig of CEO.

Meanwhile, Chuck Rhaodes is apparently on a guilt trip and trying to commit career suicide. Firstly, he reduces the sentence of Dr Gilbert (from Season 5) and immediately frees him, much to the surprise of the man. In exchange, Gilbert excruciatingly lists all the details by which Chuck had used every underhanded means to send Gilbert to prison. Next, Chuck starts recording all of his illicit dealings and underhanded methodologies, stretching back even before the beginning of Billions. Panicked, Ira calls Rhoades Sr., who immediately calls in, demanding an explanation. Chuck’s explanation turns out to be sound enough that Senior believes that his son is finally taking the risk he always had the potential (the acorns) to take.

Back at MCP, Rian tips off Prince about Mental, like any ambitious employee would under the service of a hedge fund like MCP. Prince listens appreciatively but is later called into his home office, where he is met by Sacker, Luke, and Scooter. There, Scooter revealed that his research had yielded results. Those results and the uniqueness of the specific design at the castle wall prove that Taylor’s rendezvous in the pilot episode of Billions wasn’t for any business deals but to have a meeting with Prince’s old nemesis Bobby Axelrod, who resides in the castle named Haddon Hall, the only place unique enough to house that design. Prince is furious at realising that Taylor, Wags, and Wendy had been conspiring at the same time, but Luke suggests, not to fire them because that would cause a backlash on the eve of an election campaign. Prince agrees, but while firing isn’t a viable option, mind games definitely are.

A still from Billions Season 7 Episode 9.
A still from Billions Season 7 Episode 9.

To that effect, Prince meets with Wendy and gives her his full blessing to take up the CEO job, along with the caveat that she will aid him at the White House in the inevitable future. While excited and joining the new post in Dr. Meyer’s office, Prince’s generosity doesn’t sit right with her, for which she finally calls Wags and Taylor and reveals her plans to bring Chuck into the fold.

While Taylor is understandably miffed, Wags does the most Wags action he could take by first drinking a new bottle from Wendy’s cellar, then walking straight into the SDNY office of Chuck Rhoades, where he threatens in no uncertain terms that he would make it his life’s mission to destroy Chuck if he ever hurts Wendy or fucks her over. It’s a beautiful, heartwarming moment of Wags’s loyalty to Wendy expressed in the most Wagnerian manner possible, and it also convinces Chuck to trust him.

Billions (Season 7), Episode 9 Ending Explained:

To that end, Chuck invites the trio over to his brownstone apartment, where he unveils the pen drive containing every detail of his illicit and mildly out-of-law tactics that could disbar him from office. And while he knows that Wendy would never use this ammunition against him for the sake of their children, Wags wouldn’t hesitate, and thus Chuck is prepared to hand that over as leverage. With the prospect of satisfying the four of them, they now lay out a plan such that they could extricate Mike Prince from his billions and thus his seat of power. But before they could lay out a plan, Taylor, Wendy, and Wags are summoned to Prince’s office.

As they arrive at Prince’s office, the layout seems like a mob execution chamber. Prince reveals that he knows an assassination has been attempted by the trio on a befuddled Philip. Scooter reveals to Philip and, by extension, Wendy that his refusal to join in on Wendy’s plans has also been recorded. Wendy is understandably furious that her office has been bugged, and Scooter retorts that Philip has already signed a waiver.

On the surface, that might ring true, but considering how much time the show spent showing Prince’s selfishness affecting Philip and even Scooter to a certain extent, it’s hard to believe Philip taking sides at face value without a Trump card in his sleeve.

But now Prince fires the opening salvo. He reveals that all their assets are frozen. Taylor is reduced to a figurehead position, while Wags is stripped of his sign-off powers and awarded to Philip, with Wags being left to shout sweet-nothings in the traders’ ears to motivate them. He also cuts off Wendy’s move to the new company because once Wendy moves to Mental after the campaign is over, she will be fired because Prince owns the majority stock in Mental through a shell company.

All three of them have had their legs cut off without being fired from the company. And now, as he dismisses them, Prince orders Scooter to prepare the jet, as he would be flying to London to confront Axelrod. If Chuck is going to contact Axelrod and ask for that favour, he better do it quickly.

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Billions (Season 7), Episode 9 Links: IMDb
Billions (Season 7), Episode 9 Cast: Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Maggie Siff
Where to watch Billions

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