'Billions' Season 5 Episode 4 Review: Axe takes the round by grabbing an opportunity, but game's far from over
The win may not have been like Victor Maitland tossing Axel Foley in 'Beverly Hills Cop', it still does feel good to see Axe go one-up
Spoilers for 'Billions' Season 5 Episode 4 'Opportunity Zone'
If a score were to be kept, then this one goes to Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). After taking a bit of slight from Mike Prince (Corey Stoll) in the last couple of episodes, Axe hits back by going back to Yonkers, New York. The place where it all started for him. His home and now a potential opportunity zone where he plans to improve the lives of the people on the streets. And while the win may not have been like Victor Maitland tossing Axel Foley in 'Beverly Hills Cop', it still does feel good to see Axe win.
There's no love lost as the people of Yonkers look at Axe as one of their own. Safe to say, he actually is. He faces stiff competition in the form of Mike and Rhoades Sr. However, success was assured as Axe charismatically gets the Yonkers folks to let him take care of developing their town. 'Opportunity Zone' can be looked at from two angles. One as the main storyline of Axe squaring up against Mike and landing the final blow and the other as "opportunities" for some of the key characters.
Take Taylor Mason (Kate Asia Dillon) who' struggling to find the Taylor edge. The winning habit is now a distant dream and the effectiveness seems to be lacking. A fossil fuel deal doesn't come through and Taylor hopes to salvage something, except it fizzles out. The backing comes from Wendy (Maggie Siff) who does play a pivotal role throughout the episode. Not only does she team up with Taylor to win the deal, but she also manages to convince Nico Tanner (Frank Grillo), Axe's million-dollar Picasso to shed his inhibitions.
The approach is a stark contrast. Ideally, Wendy is someone who is a straight-shooter. A foul-mouthed, mirror image of Axe isn't what the world pictured, but she takes Axe's style to get the job done. And this side of her just adds more depth to the character. There is also that brief flicker of a possibility of, shall we say... something that is the start of a relationship with Axe. Too soon? Fans have been waiting for it. The tease is evident and the feeling is inescapable. But the scene gets an abrupt end.
Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) meets Catherine Brandt (Julianna Margulies), an Ivy League sociology professor and best-selling author who crosses paths with Chuck. They strike up an immediate friendship and this is a journey between the two that might be explored as the series progresses.
Much like Axe, Mike isn't a man to lose with grace. He attempts to take Axe on for the Yonkers opportunity zone, tries to buy Franklin Sacker's support as Yonkers is filled with African-Americans. Sacker, Kate's (Condola Rashad) father, and his presence would massively support the African-American community and Axe is quick to make the move. They ambush Mike when he approaches Franklin and that was Axe throwing the first punch.
The move leads Mike to head to Chuck and comes across a devious plan that sees him donate to Yonkers in a bid to instigate Axe to do something illegal that would give Chuck a motive to move in on Axe and burn his empire. Mike's moral compass may have held out in the first meeting, but after his defeat, he may reconsider his approach. The competition eventually goes to the board and Axe pips Rhoades Sr and Mike as he makes a heartfelt presentation on why he's the right guy.
And Wags has had enough of his kids. Time for a lookout.
All said and done, it's advantage Axe even if it ends with some taunting from Mike. The question remains: How long before Chuck and Mike hatch a scheme that would push Axe on the backfoot? 'Opportunity Zone' has sort of levelled the playing field for the two characters, but the game is far from over.