The Most 'Billions'-y Things That Happened on 'Billions' Season 5, Episode 2

Showtime's Billions takes place in a reality all its own. Technically that's true of pretty much every work of fiction, but it feels especially so for the show created by Brian Koppelman, David Levien and Andrew Ross Sorkin.

The whole series is a high-stakes pissing contest that's dressed up like a prestige TV drama set in the world of New York finance. Really, though, Billions takes place in a different, even more heightened world—one where stock bros and members of the federal law enforcement are hyper-articulate and as fluent in sports and film references as they are in obscene insults.

Imagine a world where splashy cameos, extravagant dining and skullduggery are par for the course. Think of a place where people are constantly seduced by power, prone to operatic levels of pettiness and vulnerable to what the NBA's Pat Riley has called "the Disease of More," to throw in a Billions-esque shoutout. Picture a reality where Paul Giamatti is not only the Attorney General of New York, but also an out (and somewhat proud) member of the BDSM community. Consider the existence of a realm where John Malkovich is a Russian billionaire and speaks in the same thicker-than-whiteout-conditions accent that he had as Teddy KGB in the 1998 film Rounders—not a coincidence, since Koppelman and Levien wrote Rounders. Try to believe that Damian Lewis could somehow be from Yonkers. Once you've done all that, then you'll have an idea of what goes on in the world of Billions.

And to celebrate the show's compelling brand of absurdity, we're keeping track of the most Billions-y things that happen on Billions this season. For highlights from the latest episode, brace yourselves and head below.

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Damian Lewis and David Costabile take their 'Billions' characters to an investor-bro retreat in "The Chris Rock Test." Jeff Neumann/Showtime

It's Titled "The Chris Rock Test"

Season 5's second episode—which, it should be said, isn't as much fun as last week's season premiere—is called "The Chris Rock Test." Curious title, you might be thinking, how'd the writers settle on that? Does Chris Rock himself make a cameo? Do Axe and Wags participate in a night of Chris Rock-themed bar trivia?

Unfortunately, no—there is no appearance by the iconic comedian, and there are no Chris Rock-centric quizzes. The reason for the title is that David Costabile's Wags realizes that he has failed what he refers to as "the Chris Rock Test."

"I didn't keep my daughter off the pole," a shellshocked Wags tells Axe at one point in the episode. He's referring to a vintage Chris Rock bit about how a father's success as a parent can be measured by whether or not his daughter becomes a stripper. Not gonna wade into the sexual politics at play there, only gonna give you the play-by-play on Billions: Wags, Axe and Taylor Mason are in upstate New York for a mountain retreat organized by Corey Stoll's Michael (Thomas Aquinas) Prince, and while Wags is talking shop after hours at a local strip club—as Wags does—he looks up at the stage, sees one of the dancers, and is instantly crestfallen.

We don't actually see his daughter—whose real name is Mandy, though she goes by "Brandy" when performing—but we don't have to. The moment the blood drains from Wags' face the situation is clear. What's more surprising is that it took the Billions writing staff five seasons to get to the Wags-runs-into-his-daughter-at-a-strip-club plot point.

Axe and Wags Wanna Make Money Off Ayahuasca

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While on their retreat, Axe and Wags are simultaneously plotting to get a lead on the Ayahuasca market. Jeff Neumann/Showtime

In the season premiere, we first spot Axe and Wags while they're in the middle of a deep, consciousness-expanding ayahuasca trip. And how do they want to follow up such a pivotal spiritual experience? By turning a profit, naturally. "Along with universal truths, we saw a market," Axe tells Taylor in the newest episode.

So, they're hoping to get into the "psychoceutical" game. Not just because they're a pair of pseudo-enlightened finance alphas, but also because Michael (Thomas Aquinas) Prince is involved in that market. This is another opportunity for Axe to escalate his feud with his least favorite deca-billionaire.

Too bad for Axe that his rival outmaneuvers him. The specifics of the deal-making are a little too inside-baseball for us, but suffice it to say that Axe and Wags are expecting their ayahuasca bid to have instant credibility, thanks to their association with Shaman Longriver, the man who guided them through their trip. But at the end of the mountain retreat that he's organized, Michael (Thomas Aquinas) Prince announces his partner in a new health care initiative: none other than Shaman Longriver.

It's a move that forces Damian Lewis to say these words to Corey Stoll and mean them: "You stole my shaman."

Turns Out That Judge DeGiulio Wrote "The Torture Memo"

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Rob Morrow's Judge DeGiulio: Not a great guy! Jeff Neumann/Showtime

Rob Morrow's Judge Adam DeGiulio returns in this episode, to ask Chuck for a favor and also chew loudly during a lunch meeting. The favor? Well, Judge DeGiulio's been nominated for the second circuit, but there's a potential roadblock in the way. He's hoping that Chuck will score him some leeway with a senator who happens to be a friend to Chuck's father, and who also happens to be in possession of some unflattering information—namely, that DeGiulio wrote the infamous "Torture Memo."

In his defense, DeGiulio swears that waterboarding isn't as bad as everyone says. Cut to Chuck then getting waterboarded on a conference room table and confirming that yes, waterboarding is as bad as everyone says and is indeed torture. "I may have been wrong on this one," DeGiulio admits. This may all sound like it's in poor taste, but... no, no, it is definitely in poor taste.

Chuck doesn't want to do wrong by DeGiulio—or, rather, he doesn't want to make an enemy out of the judge. But he's also trying to do everything by the book this season and, you know, not disgrace his office like in years past. In trying to navigate that balance, Chuck manages to put together an arrangement that makes DeGiulio the Acting Solicitor General.

Near the episode's end, Chuck asks his protégé, Condola Rashād's Kate Sacker, to explain why he chose that course of action. She lays it out succinctly: If Chuck wants to someday bring something before the Supreme Court, it's the Solicitor General that decides who goes before the Nine. On a show that's this meticulously plotted out, there's no way that detail is just mentioned and forgotten—sooner or later, we should expect to see Chuck arguing in front of the highest court in the land.

The Most 'Billions'-y Things That Happened on 'Billions' Season 5, Episode 2 | Culture
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