‘Billions’ season 5: Why the show is still shocking viewers
Showtime’s hit series Billions premiered its fifth season in early May 2020 and brought back the high-stakes intrigue of New York finance & politics. Back in an election year that mirrors the billionaire profiteering antics & cutthroat political games of the show’s plot-lines, season five of Billions might be the most impactful.
Billions follows the feud between Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) & Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti). Axelro, a hedge-fund billionaire, and Rhoades, a FBI watchdog & New York Attorney General, have been at each other’s throats since the beginning, except in the last season which featured a tenuous truce. Now, a new antagonist is in the mix and shaking things up in season five of Billions.
Where we left off
Season four of Billions saw Axe & Rhoades working together in a shaky “ceasefire” to advance their own personal interests. Now the truce is off and the lines are once more drawn for battle.
The tension soars higher as the mathematics genius & nonbinary character, Taylor Mason, is forced to rejoin Axe’s firm after they made an attempt to establish their own rival company. It makes it a little awkward just because it was Axe (with help from Rhoades) who sabotaged Mason’s plans.
Things are coming to a head now, the stakes are raised and everyone is playing for keeps. At the end of last season Rhoades realized that all that was wrong in his life stemmed from his feud with Axe, so now we’re left wondering if this means Rhoades won’t take the step to have Axe eliminated.
Mason is a wrench in both men’s works as they pit the two giants against each other and profit off the destruction. Mason will definitely be back for blood after losing the fight for their company. Then Rhoades’s estranged wife Wendy is also on journey as she works for Axe’s firm and takes to distancing herself further from Chuck.
New billionaire on the block
The new player in this game of financial wits is Michael Prince (Corey Stoll), coming on the scene cloaked in the white cape of philanthropy. Yet there’s menace behind the flashy smile of this knight-in-shining armor as he goes toe-to-toe with Axelrod.
His new rivalry might prove to be too much for Axe in the future as, finally, the hedge-fund billionaire is faced with an opponent who can match his wealth, prestige, and business ferocity. Prince might even have the upper hand on Axe, supplementing his prowess with an immaculate image of generosity.
The two engage in some tense tête-à-têtes, throwing barbed comments at each other behind paper-thin veils of civility. As soon as they part to go their own way, they begin calculating the next step to overthrow the other. As Axe remarks after meeting Prince for the first time, “People like us must destroy people like him”.
New themes to follow
After the season four theme of vengeance, as each character went to great lengths to undermine any other needs that came before their own, season five now deals with the fall-out of that destructive behavior.
Relationships are now shattered between the main players and Axe, Rhoades, Mason, and Wendy are all contemplating how to navigate their twisted connections with each other. We’re getting to the point where drastic measures might be in order.
In the new episodes of season five we’ve also seen that the characters are now facing existential consequences to their indulgence in greed & power. In this season of Billions, giants are facing giants and the results of these battles will bring more permanent destruction.