‘Billions’ Recap, Season 5, Episode 11: Up in Smoke

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For Taylor, it means setting up a pot-centric business meeting with the disgraced former banker Lawrence Boyd (a returning Eric Bogosian), then secretly ordering the Mase Cap employee Rian to narc on the meeting to Wendy Rhoades. Taylor, who had advised Axe against getting involved in the cannabis trade — in order to persuade him to do the exact opposite — knows that Wendy will send the intel up the food chain to Bobby, costing Mase Cap its independence but digging Axe deeper into the hole his enemies have placed him in.

For Prince, it means hiring his daughters, Gail and Liz (Gracie Lawrence and Molly Brown), to make his final pitch to the chief executive of Fine Young Cannabis, Dawn Winslow (Janeane Garofalo), knowing that the pitch is a ruse.

For Kate, it means tipping off the Manhattan district attorney, Mary Ann Gramm, to price fixing by her father, Franklin (Harry Lennix), behind Chuck’s back. It’s a relatively small-time bust that serves the dual purpose of keeping him and his television networks out of the weed business — major national advertising deals being a key component of Axe’s pitch to Winslow — and of tricking Axe into believing that Chuck is playing hardball to keep him from sealing the cannabis deal. Of course, the opposite is true.

But for all the clandestine maneuvering, for all the back-stabbing of family members and sneaking around behind the bosses’ backs, the fundamental nature of the plot is simplicity itself. Chuck, Prince, Taylor and their cohorts nailed Bobby simply by luring him into business with the one legal cannabis company they knew, for a fact, was also selling the illegal stuff on the black market. If he winds up getting pinched in the season finale, it’s because he made a deal with a common criminal. Had he done his own due diligence instead of relying on Prince’s bogus intel, he would have dodged the bullet; instead, in his rush to close the deal, he takes it point-blank in the noggin.

In fact, Bobby and company walked into the trap so blithely that I was convinced, for a moment, that another twist was coming. On the contrary, when asked by Wags what he wanted his assembled minions to do, Axe froze, then simply said, “I have no [expletive] idea.”

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