Magical Thinking is the eleventh episode of the Season 1 of Billions. The episode was written by Wes Jones, based on the story by himself and Heidi Schreck, and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.

Plot Summary[edit | edit source]

Axe loses hundreds of millions of dollars on a bad trade and turns to Wendy for help. Chuck sets out on an odyssey to secure powerful allies in the fight against Axe. Lu balks at Lara's suggestion she become the new chef at Axe Capital -- and takes her sister back to the old neighborhood to remind her of their roots. Meanwhile, Sacker and Connerty close down the Axe Capital investigation just as Chuck finds evidence -- right in his own home -- that could salvage the case.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Mafee stands outside Bobby's office, scared to enter, even as Axe motions him to come in. Wags informs him that Mafee is nervous because he wants to speak about BioLance. Axe says he loves Mafee, but he warned him that if the subject is brought up again, he'd fire him. Wags says Mafee is concerned that holding their current position will result in a loss of $400 million. Since Mafee is responsible for their position in BioLance, he is also concerned Axe will just fire him after the loss if he says nothing. Stating he understands the conundrum his employee is in, Wags waves for Mafee to come in. When Mafee enters he nervously says that BioLance is about to make a special announcement. Mafee says he can make it so that they still come out with 10% improvement, but Axe tells him that if he is right they will be up 20%. Mafee says the other analysts at Axe Capital agree with him that BioLance will not achieve approval. Axe gets up from his chair and lectures to Mafee that he understand the risks and that when BioLance's inhibitors get approval, its "lights out". Mafee states that six other companies are working on inhibitors as well, but only one of the seven total will get government approval and win market share. Mafee continues to say its the wrong move and Axe fires him. Mafee looks to Wags and says he did his best, and Wags agrees that he did try.

Nine minutes later, Axe and his employees are listening in to a call hosted by BioLance CEO Brooks Wellever. The CEO informs all listeners their "SGLT 2 inhibitor" for type 2 diabetes was denied approval by the FDA. He states the company will need 5 more years to fix the issues cited by the FDA, but they will run out of cash before then. Axe ends the call and everyone in the office, including himself, is in shock. Wags requests to know the full extent of the impact on them from Ben Kim. Ben says that there are no bidders and the stock is frozen, translating to a loss that will range anywhere from $430 million to $860 million dollars. Axe exits his office and everyone is silent. He approaches Mafee and tells him to stop cleaning out his desk. Mafee says he fired him, but Axe says he loves Mafee and would never do that. Mafee and Deb Kawi share a smile as Axe leaves.

Wendy pays a visit to Maria Saldana, who is overjoyed to hear that Wendy is considering joining their company. Maria's boss, the manager of Zenobia, gives Wendy a tour and states she is very happy with Maria. She fits in perfectly, and in this company, fit is very important. 60% of their project managers are woman which she believes makes for more "socially responsible investing", but they are still serious about making profits. Wendy appreciates the culture at this company and the boss tells her that her understanding of the male dominated world they all came from will help her as a performance coach for all of Zenobia's employees. Allowing them to tap into that "assassin" instinct without becoming overzealous. The boss tells Wendy to think on it, and the two part on good terms. After the meeting, Wendy receives a text from Axe saying he needs to see her urgently.

Chuck and Adam DeGiulio meet at the Rhoades residence, where Adam notes that Chuck has wealthy ties as his accommodations are typically out of reach for someone in his position. Chuck points out that Adam too comes from rich parents, but its all in good jest. Adam is pleased with Chuck at his ability to dispatch a problem Judge like Wilcox so easily. Chuck lets him know that Adam's name has been tapped to become the next circuit judge to take the open seat left by Wilcox. Adam is blown away to hear the committee overseeing Wilcox's replacement is considering him, but Chuck says that he needs assurances that whoever replaces Adam will be sympathetic to Chuck's cases. Adam questions if this is all still about Axelrod, as he feels Chuck should've move on by now, but Chuck tells him that it would be upsetting if Adam got this close to getting what he wants only for it to stall at the committee level. Adam asks Chuck if he can ensure that he will get through the judiciary committee process no problem, and Chuck assures him that he will have Senator Vandeveer, one of the committee members, drag him by the hand through the process. The two agree to give each other what they want.

Lu and Lara are walking through Axe Capital with an employee in the hopes that Lu will be interested in becoming an in house chef at the fund. While they try to talk up the excitement of having a Michelin Star chef and how it would enhance their prestige, Lu is clearly unhappy and just wants her restaurant back Lu does not want to create food for people who lack a refined palette and are fine with hastily eating cheap takeout . While Lara tries to convince Lu, she notices Bobby coming downstairs, and he is in terrible shape. Lara and Bobby talk privately, and Bobby says he will be skipping their social engagement at Lilly's place. Bobby tells Lara he made a really bad trade and he needs to get his head back in the game right away. Lara confirms with Bobby if he means to speak to Wendy, then asks him if its really wise given how Wendy might pry for information about Donnie. Axe tells her not to worry and leaves Lara to her sister.

Lara fails to convince Lu to join and grows frustrated that Lu takes so much of what Bobby has given for granted. When Lu says its Bobby's fault they lost the restaurant, Lara cites that she wouldn't have had a restaurant for 10 years if it weren't for her and Bobby. Lu apologizes but says she doesn't recognize her sister anymore after she has acquired so much wealth. Lara takes offense and asks if she expects them to hang out at the same sleazy bars they use to growing up, but Lu indicates she is serious, and doesn't consider that to be a bad idea.

Bryan and his team start to box up all their files, but Terri and Dale decide to let Bryan and Kate do the dirty work, citing their FBI position as not requiring to do such paperwork now that the case is over. Bryan tries to tell them the case isn't truly over, but Terri says once they start boxing stuff up, "it's over". Meanwhile, Wendy returns to Axe Capital and overhears employees talking about how Axe "fucked up" their BioLance trade. Axe thanks Wendy for agreeing to stay late with him, but when he questions where Wendy was, she only tells him she's "here now". Axe sends his employees home and tells Wendy that he needs to get his mind right and she needs to do whatever it takes so he can get back to trading tomorrow. Wendy is confused how he expects her to fix things so quickly, but Axe says he already recognizes that he deliberately made the choice to make a bad trade decision, he just needs Wendy to help him understand why he wanted to do that.

Chuck is checking his watch, wondering where Wendy is, as he prepares food for their dog in their kitchen. He is surprised to see the babysitter arrive as its Wendy's night to stay home with the kids. The babysitter tells Chuck that Wendy called her about a last minute emergency. Chuck notices a text from Wendy saying she'll be home late, and decides to go about his own work, leaving the babysitter to her duties.

Axe and Wendy enter her office to begin their session. Axe takes a seat on the couch for a more casual discussion, but Wendy stays seated far away in her chair, opposite the chair the patient is supposed to be seated in. Axe takes the hint, and goes to the patient chair and they begin. He says, as people have raised this "Superman" persona about him, he can't help but think the same way. Wendy tells Axe she believes it's magical thinking that any one action he takes will always yield him the result he desires. Axe believes he has this need to be seen as the decision maker in the office, but Wendy questions to whom its important that he prove that too. His employees already worship him, so who in particular is he trying to prove that point too? Axe is silent, and Wendy decides this is the focus of their discussion for the time being.

Kate and Bryan are working late into the night, when Bryan has a crisis of conscious and questions if they are really going after these titans of the financial world for the right reasons. Kate shares a story about a kid she went to school with, Jim Gagne. She says he's the most brilliant person she ever met. Kate expected him to become the guy who cures cancer because he was so smart and double majored in chemical engineering and pre-med. She says he ended up working for Spartan-Ives, as an analyst for the medical sector. Kate says while he pulls $20 million a year, the rest of the world is screwed cause him, and everyone else, have goals that are "out of whack". Bryan shows Kate he had the check that Axe tore up and threw in Chuck's face properly framed. He wanted to present it to Chuck, but then the whole Donnie death situation happened. The two of them, having warmed up to each other and feeling in the mood for some shenanigans, decide to go search for Chuck's liquor stash together.

Axe and Wendy continue to discuss things in the cafeteria as they enjoy some late night junk food. Wendy admits that Donnie's death has really devastated her. She wanted so badly for Donnie to open up to her, but he wouldn't do so, and that bothers her as much as the fact that he will no longer be with them. Wendy says she always wanted to be a psychiatrist to reach out and help people like Donnie. Axe applauds her, saying he's always been selfish and just wanted to be rich since he was young. He assumed money would solve all his problems and questions why it still hasn't done so. Wendy states the world isn't so simple, and Donnie is a good example of why money can't solve everything. Axe questions why she keeps bringing him up, but Wendy says its no coincidence that the first time in forever, Axe made a big financial blunder the day after Donnie's death, so it is necessary to explore it. Axe attempts to avoid the topic but Wendy presses on.

Wendy asks Bobby why messing up the trade was necessary to even the score he felt he owed to Donnie. Axe denies that is was what he was doing, saying Donnie was a friend. Donnie was family, as are all the other employees at Axe Capital, and Bobby says he would do anything for his family. Wendy doesn't sound convinced though and asks Bobby again who he was trying to prove that he was a decision maker to. Bobby admits he was trying to prove it to himself, but then Wendy asks him if wanted to prove he was a decision maker for good or bad, and if he was trying to reward or punish himself. This leaves Axe silent, and he gets up from his seat asking Wendy to follow him.

Lu and Lara leave McCrory's Bar and are in good spirits. Lu reminds Lara how going to places like this was what they use to do for fun. She brings up how they use to go joyriding and sneak into places. Lara asks Lu where else she wants to go and reminisce, but Lu doesn't consider any other spots to be worth their time. Lara decides to run with the joyriding idea and tells Lu she has a surprise.

Chuck goes and apologizes to his father, saying he was being too harsh when they last spoke. His father, relishing in the fact that his son needs his help, asks his son what he wants. Chuck reveals that he needs his fathers help in getting Senator Vandeveer to push through a nomination on the judiciary committee. Chuck Sr. agrees to help his son and tells him it won't cost him anything as many people owe him favors from when he was a young businessman. He promises Chuck that he will have a sitdown soon with the Senator, but before he can do so, he makes Chuck apologize to him. Chuck faces his father, and says "I'm sorry", making Chuck Sr. happy while Chuck leaves unhappy for giving in to his dad.

Axe and Wendy start throwing random things from the upper level into a trash can on the lower level. Axe attempts to drop an expensive globe sculpture thats on display into the trash can, but misses and they both laugh at the mess they've made as the globe obliterates. They reminisce about how at their first office the globe would've gone through the floor. Axe wants to keep going, but Wendy gets them back on track. She compares Axe to Kobe saying they both have a compulsion to be the man that always lands their shots. She questions if Axe's self image is forcing himself to create a blind spot. Axe questions why he would want to make a blind spot for himself, but Wendy says before it probably was helpful to him. He probably created a blind spot to help him confidently make multi-million dollar trades without going into a nervous panic, but now the blind spot may be too large for him to manage. Wendy says Axe needs to figure out which part of his self-image is false and either live up to it or lose it. Axe again tells Wendy to follow him for a change in scenery.

Bryan and Kate pick the lock of where Chuck keeps his stash and share a drink. The two then decide to have sex on Chuck's desk, but Kate ends up laughing and asking if what their doing is too cliche, and whether or not Bryan thinks Chuck has had sex in his own office. The mood gets spoiled a bit, but Kate still says she wants to do something "dangerous" and Bryan looks at her and stops laughing. Meanwhile, Chuck starts making calls to random friends and family to figure out where Wendy is as she isn't answering any of his calls or messages.

Chuck meets with Ira Schirmer at a popular bar where everyone seems significantly younger then them. Ira shares photos of girls he is in communication with. He describes the girls as adventurous, having grown up in the age of porn, and that them having daddy issues makes it all the better for guys like him. Chuck is mildly disgusted and questions what Ira even talks about with a 23 year old woman when Ira is almost old enough to be their grandparents. Chuck questions how Ira manages to enjoy the bachelor life given all the responsibilities both men have. Ira confesses weekdays and Wednesdays, he focuses on work and his children, but the other days are for himself. Ira asks Chuck why he keeps checking his phone, and Chuck admits he is worried about Wendy as they are starting to drift apart and tonight he has no idea where she is. Chuck admits Ira's bachelor lifestyle scares him and he doesn't want it. Ira confesses that nobody really wants it, and while its fun for a time, it doesn't fill the void that a real relationship helps to fill.

Axe and Wendy wander around outside and Bobby shares that he hasn't cried about Donnie but feels he should. Wendy says she should've headed hours ago, and asks Axe when the last time he cried was. Axe brings up the YouTube videos of soldiers coming home to meet their kids or father-son videos as really tugging at his heart strings. Bobby admits that he never tells Lara things like this. But he defends himself saying it makes sense for a kid to worship their dads as heroes in their eyes, worthy of their love. Wendy asks Axe if he is a hero and if he feels he is loved. She questions if Axe believes his kids and Lara will still love him when he reveals he isn't perfect, and whether or not that bothers him. Axe says it does bother him, and Wendy decides to go back to talking about Donnie since this may be too heavy a conversation for Bobby.

Lara and Lu arrive at a private airfield and Lara reveals they are going on a helicopter joyride. Lu is excited, and they both continue drinking as they board the helicopter. Lara admits to Lu she has changed, cause the old version of her would've given Axe a piece of her mind for blowing her off to talk to Wendy all night. Lu says Lara never needed improvement in her communication skills. Lara looks in the distance and says she needs something, but remains silent when Lu questions her on what that something is.

Wendy and Axe finally agree to talk about Donnie. She tells Axe she knows Donnie's family was left well off thanks to Bobby, but he says if he is a king and Donnie was a loyal knight, how does it reflect on him when he doesn't mourn his death properly and just continues on with building up his own castle. Wendy comes to the conclusion that this is why Axe made the wrong decision deliberately earlier, but Axe confesses to the real reason for his guilt. He admits to stealing time from Donnie. He says he prevented information about the experimental treatment that would've prolonged his life from reaching his ears because he feared that if Donnie did live longer, he could potentially testify against him. Axe says he is horrified that he has the capacity to use people to meet his own ends and realizes that he chose to save himself at the cost of Donnie having more time with family and friends. Wendy is shaken by this revelation and represses some tears, but tells Axe he is punishing himself because he understands he didn't care about Donnie. Axe realizes that Wendy is correct, and admits he felt relieved when he heard Donnie had died. Wendy asks Bobby if he understands what this means, and Axe tells her he knows that people who fit such a profile are often called "sociopaths". He asks Wendy if that's what he is and she asks him what he thinks. When Axe says he doesn't know, she tells him that this is why he's all messed up right now. A person who does care would never do the things Bobby has done, but at the same time, a true sociopath wouldn't care or feel guilt. Wendy tells Axe he is somewhere in between at the moment. She tells Axe he is a professional at closing himself off from others and repressing his feelings, so she warns him to fix things before it's too late.

Lu and Lara pay to have free reign of a mall boutique and enjoy dolling themselves up in all sorts of outfits and jewelry. Kate and Bryan shoot off fireworks and race off when they hear police sirens in the distance approaching them. Back at Axe Capital, Wendy warns Axe that he may continue to experience some sense of doubt and guilt, but he should be able to start improving himself and be ready to trade again now that they've identified the root issue. Axe is worried Wendy is probably disgusted with him now, but Wendy tells him she isn't. She tells him, for all his faults, she doesn't see him as a bad person. Axe questions Wendy, that if what she says is true, why she is looking into other job positions, revealing he knew the whole time, much to Wendy's surprise. He asks her if by leaving she believes life will be better and simpler for her, but Wendy says that's something they'll both discuss at another time. Meanwhile, Chuck is driving around looking for Wendy and goes to Axe Capital. He see's Wendy and Axe laughing, smoking, and standing intimately on the office balcony. He is saddened at the sight and returns to his car.

The driver takes him to a secret BDSM club too see Troy, a dominatrix, who Chuck hopes will take away some of his misery. Just as things get going, Chuck speaks the safeword and puts a stop to it. The dominatrix apologizes if she misread somethings, but Chuck says its his fault as he is here without Wendy's permission. The dominatrix is familiar with the couple and asks what's wrong. He says that him and Wendy have been very distant, but before he can say anymore, a bouncer bursts in fighting with someone. The other man flees and the bouncer reveals that someone was taking pictures of their private session. Chuck looks at the camera that the bouncer wrestled from the other man. The camera footage shows that whoever this man was, he's been following Chuck all night, wherever he went. Chuck panics and runs out of the BDSM club.

Axe returns home to find Lara and Lu passed out after eating themselves into a food coma. They are both dressed outrageously and when Axe approaches them, Lara stirs awake as Bobby states Lara and her sister must have had one hell of a party. Axe sits next to Lara and they playfully flirt, but Axe decides to change the mood and tells her he cries sometimes to sentimental things. Lara tells Bobby she is happy his talk with Wendy helped, but she doesn't want him to pick Wendy over her ever again. He agrees he won't and the two start making out. Lu stirs awake, and smiles at seeing her sister so happy.

Wendy heads home and types up her session notes on her personal laptop. Chuck arrives and see's Wendy has returned. Wendy is in the shower now though and Chuck makes note that her laptop computer is on the bed, indicating she has just been writing on it. Having traded passwords earlier per the Gilbert's recommendation that such things bring a couple closer together, Chuck decides to snoop on Wendy's laptop. He finds the typed up session notes about Axelrod still open. He reads a mention of bribery and payoffs related to Axe and see's Donnie's name. In the excitement, Chuck decides to e-mail the notes to his own personal e-mail, then delete any trace that he did so. He slides the laptop back onto the bed before Wendy leaves the shower. When Wendy does emerge from the bathroom, the two look at one another in silence, unsure of what to say to the other.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Starring[edit | edit source]

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