Premiering in the UK on March 20th, the popular drama series Billions started its fourth series. It has been showing in the States since March 17th. Stars Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis will again be bringing their acting magic to the screen in their roles. Similarly to the previous three series of Billions, there will be twelve episodes within the fourth series, each having an hour long runtime.
Billions series four began with Lewis’ character, Axe utilising all options available to him in an effort to annhilate opponent Taylor, played by Asia Kate Dillon. Without his position acting as US attorney, Chuck (Paul Giamatti) battled with trying to climb the power ladder once again while Taylor used whatever means necessary to maintain their business.
The second episode saw Axe continue his rampage on Taylor’s career and company, attacking while the business was in its infancy. He also made a new alliance with a venture capatalist. Meanwhile, Chuck has a new position to work towards. But Wendy (played by Maggie Siff) willed him to make some changes in his life.
The drama was the creative child of Brian Koppelman, David Levien and Andrew Ross Sorkin and explores the dark and intriguing world of high finance, politics and above all, power. It centers around the conflict between two rich men; the first Bobby Axelrod also known as Axe. axe is a billionaire hedge fund manager who is enemies with U.S. attorney Chuck Rhoades. In the penultimate events of the final series, the two had to learn to lower their proverbial pistols and work together which is the premise of series four. The concept of the show was loosely inspired by the story of former US attorney for the Southern District of NY, Preet Bharara. During his time in the position, he faced legal opposition with the hedge fund manager at the time, Steve Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors.
Alongside the regular themes of power and greed that Billions viewers have grown used to, the showrunners promise that an umbrella theme of the series will be revenge. They also promise or rather forbode that nobody is safe because of this. The once-enemies Axe and Chuck with the help of Wendy will have to forge an alliance, no matter how uncomfortable it may prove to be. They will be working together to wipe out their joint rivals who include Grigor Andolov (John Malkovich), Taylor Mason, Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) and finally, Wayton ‘Jock’ Jefficoat (Clancy Brown). The stakes are higher than ever and the characters will have to balance their ambition while tackling their enemies to achieve what they all want for themselves. But what price will they have to pay? Some old faces will be reprising their roles, such as David Costabile.
While boasting four series can bring massive accolades to the opulent show, there is a balance for the show to maintain to ensure that everything remains fresh and interesting for the audience. They therefore have two options; the first to reboot and bring in a brand new cast, characters, plot. Or they can plod along steadily and stick to the formula that they have found works for their viewers, even if this proves to be stale after a while. Well, Billions chooses neither. Or both. However you want to see it, the show will be making some changes to the format to keep things fresh but will also be holding onto the characters and cast that fans have come to love.
Even though they may seem like an oxymoron, to say one thing is fresh yet also the same, it is the case in this instance. But if you’ve been a fan of how the show has been run so far then nothing should change in that regard for this upcoming series. A clever tactic they’ve implemented is to keep the characters the same and following their own development while inverting their own relationships with one another. With the unexpected alliance between Axe and Chuck, Axe being at loggerheads with his former protege pal, Taylor Mason beginning her own opponent fund to Axe’s hedge fund while stealing former allies. Even though we never could have expected the alliance, it is interesting to see them put their minds together instead of working against one another.
Despite tackling some serious themes, the show can’t and has never been afraid of bringing some humour and fun to the screen. Most notably, this has been seen in Axe’s right hand man’s scenes, David Costabile’s Wags and now with John Malkovich’s performance as stereotypical Russian Mobster, Grigor Andalov. Where John Malkovich walks, humour and wackiness is sure to follow.
Today’s society is amazed and intrigued by money and those who have it; so to display this decadence on screen brings some challenges but Billions is old hat and experienced at it by this point. Finding the balance between gravitas and humour requires a skilled set of writers and Billions’ have inspired a similar formula in HBO’s Succession. The show pulls off the comedic elements without cracking a smile, devling into the dark and dangerous work of success, money, power and what people are willilng to do in order to achieve all three. But both are incredible depictions, in their own right.
The fourth series of the show isn’t afraid to show their characters at their highest moments while also showing them crashing to their very lowest. The stakes are high; with the elements to gain being jaw-dropping while the losses they could suffer being earth-shattering. So make sure that you tune in or catch up to see everything unfold.
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