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Billions - S01E03


Chuck discovers that while he pursued Steven Birch, the rival Eastern District has made inroads in the Axe case and that he needs to get it back. Chuck horse-trades to regain control of a key witness, Pete Decker, a hedge fund manager with ties to Axelrod. At the same time, Axe makes an activist play for YumTime, a family owned bakery corporation. This move reverberates back to Chuck by way of a very personal connection between his father and YumTime. Wendy is thrown into a moral dilemma when she discovers via a confidential session that one of the few female Portfolio Managers at Axe Capital is going to have her career sabotaged. And Lara Axelrod tries to protect Axe’s reputation from a potentially damaging “tell all” book.

Episode Title: YumTime
Airs: 2016-01-31 at 22:00
  • Daniel D'Addario

    It’s a mixed bag, but one that generates real sparks between the rich man and the man tasked with investigating him.

    Time Full Review
  • Matt Zoller Seitz

    At its best, Billions gives a game cast plenty of extreme situations to wrap their talents around and reams of tricky dialogue to deliver. And it certainly does have its moments, mainly when it shifts its spotlight to supporting players like Breaking Bad’s David Constabile (as Bobby’s iceberg-cool right-hand man) and Boardwalk Empire’s Glenn Feshler (as a former law professor pulling down a grand an hour working for Axelrod).

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Ken Tucker

    The writing is uneven.... But then there are numerous other fine touches.

    Yahoo TV Full Review
  • Mark Peikert

    It’s Siff and Malin Ackerman, as Axe’s loyal wife (who’s like a sober Michelle Pfeiffer in “Scarface,” all sharp blonde bob and sharper tongue) who simply, by virtue of their talent, keep Billions from devolving into an exercise in white privilege and machismo, something it constantly threatens to do.

    The Wrap Full Review
  • Allison Keene

    It is really just a quiet and slow chess match between two men whose fates we aren’t tied to. That leaves us free to enjoy the machinations without being beholden to the side of the crooks or the posse, although it also doesn’t leave us with any stakes.

    Collider Full Review
  • Alan Sepinwall

    It has solid craftsmanship, and a collection of excellent actors, even if they're not always used to their best.

    Hitfix Full Review
  • Ben Travers

    There's enough talent in this Showtime drama--and plenty of soapy allures--to keep the candle burning throughout Season 1. It's more than rich white guys having wild affairs and throwing money around in gratuitous fashion. In fact, that it's not that is surprising in and of itself. But to compete with other great dramas, Billions needs to reinvest in its ladies.

    indieWIRE Full Review
  • Brian Tallerico

    Everything is heightened in an unnatural, soap operatic way. Over time, the mega-talented cast finds a way to ground the characters just enough that we stick with it, and there’s that moment you’ll be waiting all episode for at the end of the premiere when Lewis and Giamatti look each other in the eyes that’s pure gold. Full Review
  • Willa Paskin

    Billions is quintessentially Showtime: It uses its of-the-moment premise and its blue-chip cast to tell a story that is both thoroughly enjoyable and completely eye-rolling.

    Slate Full Review
  • Isaac Feldberg

    To watch Billions is to be thoroughly entertained by the sudsy chest-pounding of its two very good male leads but utterly enthralled by the ambiguity and uncertainty of what lies beneath Siff’s placid exterior.

    We Got This Covered Full Review
  • Heather Havrilesky

    The conceit--power players duel against a backdrop of ambition, greed, corruption and really good bourbon--feels bulletproof enough, but in practice, the show careens into cartoon territory almost immediately, thanks in part to the absurd contrast between Axelrod and Rhoades.... [But] Billions is exactly the sort of show that, if you don’t reject its over-the-top tactics in the first three episodes, will hook you by the sixth.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Todd VanDerWerff

    It's not as good as it wants to be, but it's still just propulsive and ridiculous enough to be entertaining. It's good shitty television, and that's something we all need in our lives. Full Review
  • Robert Rorke

    Giamatti has one of his best roles as Rhoades, a kinky avenger who will not compromise his principles even if it means sending a widower with two children to prison. At first, Lewis seems miscast as Axelrod. We really do not believe that he’s the guy who grew up in The Bronx, and his presence begs the question whether any New York-born actors were considered for the role. Still, Lewis is such a good actor, with a sleek, flinty edge that gives him a believable authority.

    New York Post Full Review
  • David Wiegand

    The script is nicely detailed as it builds on the theme of a corrupt system fed by corrupt players. The one obstacle you’ll encounter, especially in early episodes, is that the biz-speak--most likely evidence of Sorkin’s participation in the writing--is almost impenetrable unless you work for the Financial Times.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Chuck Bowen

    A lurid, textured soap opera with an understanding of finance as a rarefied ecosystem that rules unto itself at the cost of most everyone else. The literate macho zingers often suggest a modern-day Sweet Smell of Success, compellingly merging with the casually worn cynicism.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Verne Gay

    Well-written, directed and acted, Billions is still badly in need of a more human touch.

    Newsday Full Review
  • Vicki Hyman

    Billions is a mostly engrossing but occasionally tiresome tale of financial and legal brinkmanship between Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Damian Lewis), a blue collar kid turned hedge fund manager with a chip the size of the Bronx on his shoulder, and Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), an ambitious (and silver-spooned) U.S. Attorney known his no-mercy prosecution of financial crimes.

    Newark Star-Ledger Full Review
  • Maureen Ryan

    Billions is shamelessly entertaining. Don’t come to it looking for an in-depth commentary on the stratification of American society or the pitfalls of late-stage capitalism. This is a generally well-crafted soap opera about rich people, one that crackles with energy and insider knowledge of its well-heeled territory and the narcissistic insiders who live there.

    Variety Full Review
  • Matthew Gilbert

    Like “Ray Donovan,” Billions is addictive, bold, amusing, well-crafted, and rather facile, too.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • John Anderson

    Billions has the posture of sociopolitical expose, the mechanics of a soap opera and the morals of grave robber. In other words, it’s irresistible.... The biggest reason to watch Billions is the acting talent, something which even the endlessly expository dialogue and absurd characterizations can’t totally quash.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Ellen Gray

    Billions isn't a subtle show. Its dialogue can be too on-the-nose, its insistence on contrasting the private lives of its warring alpha dogs too obvious.... What it is, is fun. Axelrod's a dashing hero, who may not be as heroic as he looks; Rhoades is a neurotic bulldog whose pursuit of Axe Capital may actually be in the public interest. Siff and Akerman's characters are as tough as, if not tougher than, the men in their lives.

    Philadelphia Daily News Full Review
  • Kristi Turnquist

    It may not be subtle, but thanks to razor-sharp writing, and dynamic performances by Giamatti, Lewis (as with "Homeland," deploying a persuasive American accent) and everyone in the strong cast, Billions is dark, edgy and outrageously entertaining.

    The Oregonian Full Review
  • Hank Stuever

    The first six episodes are so coolly, brilliantly executed (and flat-out fun to watch) that I found myself just reveling in their tone and craft. The show’s other co-creators--Brian Koppelman and David Levien, whose screenwriting credits include “Ocean’s Thirteen” and “Rounders”--have delivered a compelling and remarkably original story that is filled with florid, entertaining dialogue that ricochets from scene to scene.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Mary McNamara

    They all dance and throw punches in a script fast-paced and brimming with literate wit.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Glenn Garvin

    This is a story about not Wall Street but what happens when powerful, amoral men go after one another in a fight without rules or restraints. It might not be pretty, but it's always fascinating. Full Review
  • Emily Nussbaum

    Under its lurid surface, is smartly paced and frank--even thoughtful--about the disconcerting fantasies it provokes.

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • Jeff Korbelik

    The series is an examination of wealth-and-power politics, with Lewis and Giamatti playing their roles devilishly well, with an emphasis on the devil part. It’s juicy good fun.

    The Lincoln Journal Star Full Review
  • Melissa Maerz

    This is a wildly over-the-top but thoroughly entertaining soap opera, and it works because it follows the same philosophy Bobby does: If you want to succeed, you don’t have to be the smartest one in the room. You just have to be shameless.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Ed Bark

    Billions is full of itself in a good way, with Giamatti and Lewis dynamically leading the way while a solid supporting cast hangs in with them. The perplexities of stratospheric finance are not easily digested at times. But you’ll never be too far from another scene in which one or the other protagonist hits the spot and makes this latest Showtime series worth both your time and your money.

    Uncle Barky Full Review
  • Matt Roush

    There's nothing subtle about billions, which wallows in kink and filthy language just because it can. [18-31 Jan 2016, p.14]

    TV Guide Magazine Full Review
  • Mark A. Perigard

    The series’ greatest pleasure is seeing Lewis and Giamatti spar with each other, but there just aren’t enough of those moments to make Billions a bargain.

    Boston Herald Full Review
  • Erik Adams

    It’s the inverse of Adam McKay’s approach to The Big Short’s dense subject matter, in which meeting the players provides a deeper understanding of the game. Backgrounding the market keeps the characters of Billions at arm’s length.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Dan Fienberg

    Through six episodes, the plotlines focusing on men putting the squeeze on each other in the name of profit or justice have already blended into a blur of well-acted familiarity; only the scenes with [co-star Maggie] Siff come to life.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Josh Bell

    Any meaningful resonance with issues of financial inequality and government collusion loses out to bitchy backstabbing and awkward celebrity cameos.

    Las Vegas Weekly Full Review
  • Robert Bianco

    What you get is a ham-fisted, irrational, superficially stylish show that thinks it’s saying something when it’s merely bellowing, and thinks it’s taking risks when it’s merely taking liberties.

    USA Today Full Review