Billions is Showtime’s next heavy hitter and one that is sure to get audiences hooked from the start.
Much of this has to do with the amazing cast that includes Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. The two are such masters of their craft that it is a pleasure watching them dance around each other before they eventually meet.
The plot revolves around New York attorney Chuck Rhodes (Giamatti) , who has a flawless conviction record and reputation for bringing swift justice at all costs, as he goes up against business mogul Bobby Axelrod (Lewis). The trick is in the execution. Right up front it’s clear that neither part y is totally squeaky clean or truly straight up evil. But their personalities make them such forces to be reckoned with that it is impossible not to want to watch more.
Lewis plays Axelrod as a kind of modern day Gordon Gekko. Gone are the days of suits and ties, he’s far more comfortable eating White Castle and wearing sweatshirts to fancy restaurants. Axelrod has made a name for himself in New York as a philanthropist and all around nice guy, though his methods are less than traditional. He wins by outsmarting his opponent not by threatening him with violence. Giamatti on the other hand remains film when it comes to his stance on justice and, somehow, usually ends up looking like the bad guy.
Though treated as secondary characters the women in each man’s life are just as powerful as the men, sometimes even a bit more. Maggie Siff shines as Rhodes’ wife, who just happens to be Axelrod’s personal advisor. She comes off as such an alpha that both men yield to her without question. Malin Akerman who plays Axelrod’s wife, isn’t afraid to throw down some punches if it means protecting her interests. Though the two women haven’t shared any screen time in the first two episodes that were available for review, it is only a matter of time. Watching the two of them go head-to-head should be fantastic.
The writing should be commended as well. Even the pilot episode, which is usually uneven, is written strong and tight. There are enough memorable moments in the first two episodes to leave viewers begging for more.
That is admirable when you consider the subject matter. The show bounces between the legal world and the business world pretty seamlessly and doesn’t make any attempt to water down the content. A lot of lingo is tossed around that might confuse the audience but it is assumed they will either look it up or catch up. That is refreshing and says a lot about the show, it truly respects the intellect of its audience.
Billions airs January 17 on Showtime.