‘Billions’ Season 6, Episode 11: Succession



Season 6

Episode 11

Editor’s note

3 stars

Photo: Christopher Saunders/SHOWTIME

After last week’s grim build-up, where bold terms like “eating the heart of the dragon” were thrown around, finding out that Mike Prince just ran for president seemed like a huge disappointment.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand it’s Billions‘ facing the nightmare that was the Trump administration, and it occurred to me once or twice that the presidency would be Prince’s endgame. But I feel like we’re just too tired to watch this story on screen again for two reasons: One, a power-hungry character taking over the White House is an overused TV trope. Two, we have already seen what happens when a megalomaniac Is become president, IRL. And that was enough, wasn’t it?

If anything, Prince prepares for a giant disappointment: the 45th President has learned the hard way that becoming Commander-in-Chief does not grant you overall world supremacy. (Okay, okay, Donald Trump didn’t “learn” any such thing, but you know what I’m saying.)

While we’re still talking about giant disappointments, let’s talk about Wendy’s reveal. I know his MPC book was meant to be a red herring so that Chuck could become the white knight tasked with defeating Mike Prince. And I know it was part of Wendy’s season-long Buddhist journey, where she had to prove she could master her ego, but the whole thing made me roll my eyes. Also, burning a book in a Buddhist temple in 2022 doesn’t have much effect unless we see Wendy delete the manuscript from her hard drive.

“Succession,” unfortunately, is one of those episodes where all of the characters turn out to be uncharacteristically ignorant until the final minutes, which makes Prince’s big reveal all the more disappointing. It just didn’t make sense to me that Philip and Taylor took the all episode to stop and ask yourself, “Hey, why is a guy at the top of his game forming an estate committee now?”

All the clues were there; it’s just that everyone on Billions is too self-centered to notice details until the time is right. Even I initially ignored Senior by mentioning that his elderly secretary – who still uses a typewriter! – voted for “Ike”. Turns out that throwaway line foreshadowed Prince’s impersonation of Dwight D. Eisenhower iconic presidential slogan. (Gee, where could Prince have may have had this idea?)

Chuck is barely settled into his new office provided by Senior when Scooter struts around, a thick binder in hand, with the most unlikely offer: a management position, of Chuck’s choice, at one of the companies owned by Mike Prince in said binder. . Prince, meanwhile, makes his political aspirations pretty obvious at the start of “Succession” by (1) forming a succession committee and naming Taylor and Philip the two potential candidates, and (2) announcing a universal basic income scheme with (an invisible) Andrew Yang, everybody. Except he doesn’t call it a UBI, he calls it, ew, “Mike Money.”

Prince is first attempting a seamless rollout of its pilot program, arranging a partnership with the city government. That is, until a mysterious truck pulls up outside Stately Prince Manor, lighting up to reveal a rising wealth clock of Mike Prince’s net worth (about $17 billion) . As soon as the viral tweets and memes hit, New York City officials — and Andrew Yang — reversed their decision to partner with a guy who could easily fund the UBI plan on his own. Sure, the wealth clock is embarrassing, but how was Prince’s net worth not already public knowledge at this point? People like Brooklyn Borough President (Joanna P. Adler) had to know who she was sleeping with. Oh, and did we ever find out who was behind this prank in the first place? It has Chuck’s fingerprints on it, but he never takes responsibility for it.

What Chuck can take responsibility for is keeping Dave Mahar by his side, despite his determination to run an independent attorney general’s office. While Dave sees nothing wrong with the “Mike Money” program in theory (not even the name, Dave?), she can’t deny that Prince has too much going for one person. Thus, she seizes the land bought by Prince for the Olympics, sending a clear message that she is in no way intimidated by a rich man who threatens lawsuits and tears. It’s because the last time she cried was at a screening of Sophia’s Choice – and even then, the tears were fake. Badass. Around the same time, Chuck informs Scooter that he is turning down Prince’s offer. Once again, Chuck and Dave think they’re saving people from a billionaire’s greed when they give Prince no choice but to reveal his presidential intentions. Or, as he’s said all season, “Do the right thing.”

Throughout the episode, Wags pushed Prince for a hugely profitable Chinese infrastructure deal. Prince remains opposed to the idea until the UBI pilot program implodes, when he finally agrees to meet with the Chinese businessmen. But that’s only so he can blow the case up dramatically — even doing it partially in Chinese. Prince accuses the Chinese government of Abuse of human rights and, for the millionth time this season, leaves Wags truly confused.

The only thing left for Prince to do is have a quick chat with Andy about the practicalities of sex – in short, they both agree to keep all future affairs low-key – and give John Heilemann a juicy exclusive on how he insulted several Chinese officials to his face.

As Chuck and Dave read Heilemann’s Recount article, which suggests that Prince’s common sense in denouncing the Chinese government would be well suited to the American political sphere, a light bulb goes on in Chuck’s head. At the same time, a tired Wags bursts into Stately Prince Manor, demanding answers. For example, why does he turn down multi-billion dollar opportunities just to leak them to the press? And how poetic that, just as Prince’s two would-be successors reach a detente after fighting over literally everything, even alt milk, Philip (Team Oat) and Taylor (Team Soy) also put two and two together.

Philip reveals to Taylor that Prince has never formed a succession committee at any of his dozens of companies before. While Chuck, flipping through Prince’s holdings binder, wonders why all of the states where Prince owns businesses are also the ones that have been “pivotal in the last four national elections.”

Just as Chuck says the words “Michael Fucking Prince is running for president” out loud, a smug prince lets a simple red, white, and blue sticker emblazoned with the slogan “I Like Mike” answer Wags’ previous question.

If we thought Chuck Rhoades was fired up at the end of last week’s episode, well, he was just starting to warm up. Compare Prince to the demagogue character of Martin Sheen’s The dead zoneChuck is about to enter the just fight he’s been preparing for all his life: he’s going to save his beloved country from the king.”who is not satisfied until he rules everything.”

• The title of the episode “Succession” sounds like a big troll, doesn’t it?

• Now that she’s put her congressional run on hold indefinitely, is Kate Sacker destined to do nothing more now than haunt the offices of her former employers with tired bullying tactics?