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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Corey Stoll steals the show as he takes over from Damian Lewis in 'Billions' season 6

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Kudos to the writers of the critically-acclaimed drama, “Billions”, for the fluid way in which they built up Corey Stoll, cast as formidable business tycoon Michael Prince, to fill the void of Damian Lewis in season six.

Since the start of the series, Lewis garnered a massive fan base as capitalist puppet master, Bobby “Axe” Axelrod.

His omnipotence when it came to takeovers made Axe a force to be reckoned with.

As such, his unscrupulousness grated the former US attorney Charles “Chuck” Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), who’s filled several high-powered seats over the seasons.

Despite having the weight of the law and resources at this disposal, Chuck’s efforts were thwarted as Axe outfoxed him at every turn.

And this ongoing feud between the two fuelled interest in the ingeniously-penned series, which is bolstered by an equally engaging support cast.

Lewis signed a five-year contract for “Billions”. He had the option of extending it but chose not to – he is known for not overstaying his welcome on any show. Of course, losing his wife Helen McCrory last April was probably a contributing factor, too.

In a tweet from his @lewis_damian handle, he wrote: “Thank you @SHO_Billions thank you @briankoppelman @DavidLevien. A pleasure and a privilege to play Axe for 5 seasons with some of the smartest, funniest most talented cast and crew I’ve worked with. I’ll miss the Billions family. Yep, some jobs are more than just a job…. Love.”

Back to the show, the writers gave him an open-ended exit, where his character escaped prosecution by making Switzerland his new wheeling and dealing playground.

In the meantime, Prince, who has been a thorn in Axe’s side for the whole of season five, bought him out and is now running the show.

Prince has a commanding presence and the kahunas to take on anyone, including Chuck. While he shares Axe’s insatiable desire for power and success, he’s also different, in that, he’s more altruistic in his approach.

And Prince’s main focus – aside from fixing unresolved issues with his estranged wife – is being the topdog in New York and isn’t averse to schmoozing politicians and key players to help him achieve his goals.

Of course, the loyalty by key individuals is called into question as Axe’s savvy and cutthroat right-hand man Mike “Wags” Wagner (David Costabile), as well as Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), who has been Axe’s sounding board as Axe Capital’s in-house psychiatrist-cum-performance coach, find themselves adjusting to their new boss.

Meanwhile, Wendy and Taylor Amber Mason (Asia Kate Dillon) are working a side-hustle of their own to ensure that the integrity of certain deals are maintained, come hell or high water.

Although Lewis is missed, Stoll does a commendable job in taking over the reins. He has an unmistakable presence that helps maintain the gravitas of the series, which has been renewed for a seventh installment.

As before, the writers have fortified the storyline by straddling the personal and professional lives of the characters. The stakes are high as everyone adjusts to the power shift.

A must-see if you enjoy shows that stretch your imagination in the most entertaining fashion.

“Billions” season 6 airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Mondays at 9.30pm.

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