It’s then that Chuck makes a statement that could have huge ramifications for the future of his character, and the show. Speechifying to the assembled crowd and members of the press, he effectively writes off the law as toothless when it comes to reining in the lawless excess of the billionaire class. Does this mean he’ll relinquish his attorney generalship permanently, in favor of a more grass-roots approach to taking down Revere, Prince and their ilk? Stay tuned!
And what of Prince? His name is now on the wall of what used to be Axe Cap’s hallowed halls, but his comparatively mellow, even vaguely do-gooding approach is a hard sell to Axelrod’s hard-charging staff. True, he saves the life of Axe’s former right-hand-man, Mike Wagner (David Costabile), by calling 911 when Wags’s high-tech heart-monitoring ring reveals that Wags is having a heart attack while using his Peloton.
Wags is grateful for the save; “I’m not going out like Mr. Big,” he declares, in reference to another major TV character’s heart attack on a Peloton last month — and in what appears to be a brilliant bit of last-minute sound editing. But Wags is understandably resentful that he was being spied on through the ring, a gift from Prince to everyone in Axe Cap and Mase Cap. The incident only worsens relations between Prince and his new employees.
Prince’s dilemma is twofold. Not only must he either win over the existing employees or fire them en masse and start anew, he also has to persuade the Securities and Exchange Commission that he, unlike his predecessor, is on the up-and-up. He contemplates firing Wags until the fiendishly clever reveals his indispensable in-depth knowledge of the firm’s traders. He turns to the unctuous compliance officer Ari Spyros (Stephen Kunken) for guidance in identifying borderline-illegal maneuvers from the company’s past that he can give up to the S.E.C. to prove his good faith. Spyros points to a wall of file boxes: Turns out the vast majority of Axe Cap’s wheelings and dealings fall under this umbrella.
So, acting partially on the advice of Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), he does what would have been unthinkable to Bobby Axelrod. He gathers all his employees and investors, including Revere and Charles Rhoades Sr. (Jeffrey DeMunn), and announces that he’s firing … the investors! From now on, he says, investors will have to prove themselves to the firm, not the other way around. Only the most pristine clients need apply to what he calls “The Prince List.” This is obviously a financial and reputational bloodletting in the short term, but Prince expects it to pay dividends in the end, both with the investor class and with his most recalcitrant, and most talented, employee, Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon).
Which brings us to the big question asked by the episode, and perhaps by the entire show: Is there such a thing as an ethical billionaire? “Billionaires break the laws of decency, even while obeying the letter,” says Chuck. “By definition, having that much is criminal.” Prince disagrees; he’s a billionaire himself, so what did you expect?