The Machiavellian approach to the notion of self is approximated in the ideas of what family is and what it is created to be. The 3rd episode of the 5th season of “Billions”: “Beg, Bribe & Bully” is an undeniable truth within that. The indelible aspect about this episode as compared to all the others so far this season has is that it has to do with personal worth and perspective. “Billions” sometimes has problems being subtle but that is just the nature of what the alphas of the series are. The ideal is about winning sure but it is about impact. Both Axelrod (played by Damian Lewis) and Chuck (played by Paul Giamatti) are seeing these ideas from different perspectives which sometimes need time to ferment. Axelrod’s has to do with his son who has the ambition of his father but perhaps not the exact ingredients to be like his dad. Yet he will try.
The question which is pointedly shown by of all people: Chuck’s ex-wife, whois 2nd in command for Axelrod, to Axelrod in confidence is telling. There are paths that these people take, however subtle…and every move creates a different divestment within the portfolio, both in financial and in human tallies, either to build it or break it down until there is nothing left. Some can be rebuilt. Some cannot. In Chuck’s case, it is reflected in his father who has a new family with severe backlash on his part. Granted with both of these guys, it comes out to personal representation and a case of self worth. But even in the case of Asia Kate Dillon’s fixer, there are some cases of doors which she cannot control or necessarily walk through. She makes a decision in logic for the greater good at one point, but what necessarily is interesting and ambitious is that she herself cannot see everything no matter how intrinsically made for the world of numbers as she is.
The kicker is also the double take in the case of Wags who knows how to play the game but sometimes knows he can’t do it exactly like Axelrod. He is outflanked by his nemesis on many points. And yet when you see Axelrod on stage at one point addressing a university body after vapid negotiations got him into play, shadows of Gordon Gecko reach out for a different space. It is not so much a reflection of his own worth but what his son in many ways sees inside him. Beyond that an aspect of dinner and even Axelrod’s simple integration with an artist that is done for the principle as well as the glory creates an interesting diametric of what worth is. Is the metaphor about building or to destroy just to build again.
By Tim Wassberg
The aspect of reflexivity especially in animation is an interesting portrayal of the Id. With “The Shivering Truth”, the episodes take this and shape it into abstract textures to relay an idea. Granted some of those stories portray almost a fascination with isolation and internal strife. In truth, most people most of these episodes after midnight but the ideas are sound in almost their Freudian mentality. In this episode, “Carrion My Son” our lead character simply wants to get something for himself but in doing so an establishment which he frequents in giving him what he wants in fact gives him the one thing he does not want. The reflection on this lad’s relationships seems to wither away as it becomes a sort of reverse Gulliver’s Travels with claws. Yet, in another tenet of Freud, the father’s sins beget the son’s in a certain way and yet there is no escape. Eventually the bastion of progression can be acceptance or simply an understanding. There essence of creation and destruction again plays readily here as if one and the same exists both in the character’s mind almost in his resistance to existence.
By Tim Wassberg
“JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales” takes on the aspect of the Goldilocks fairy tale. But the darkness, like those of Hansel & Gretel, almost combine in an almost body horror approach much like “The Thing” on acid or perhaps a more diametric vision in luridity of the style of “The Boy” from “Twilight Zone”. In the episode “The Goldilox Massacre” it is wolves, not bears with their sharp teeth and their chicanerous ways that seek to inflict harm on Goldilox. Goldliox roams through the hills as if lost in some world she knows no part of it (much like the original fairy tale). The metaphor of sorts here is the porridge and its representation as small little stick trolls are ground up for dinner. Whether it is the hyper active younger wolf or the gimp induced older brother, the almost Tom & Jerry extremeness to the nth degree of the animation takes it completely over the top. The creatures come apart and then back together again in gory fashion. When Goldilox shows up the progression of the beds, bathrooms, etc in the three levels of definition, how they act are undeniable but metaphorical in their meanings. Even the return home to Goldliox’s abode, which plays at the dynamics of a nuclear family against darkness, turns into a bloodbath. Yet in many ways no one is ever hurt. It is simply what is going on inside their head that manifests itself literally. This is many ways is perhaps the strangest perception of all.
By Tim Wassberg