One of the biggest surprises regarding the CBS Home Entertainment September 24, 2019 DVD release of S4 of the Showtime series "Billions" is that creator/producer/writer Adam Ross Sorkin ("Too Big to Fail") is not related to clever, edgy thought-provoking TV drama legend Aaron Sorkin. "Billions" easily could have been a series by the latter.
The following S4 trailer of this series that continues the proud (and not so-proud) legacy of classic (and not-so-classic) ready for primetime dramas that include "Dallas," "The Sopranos," "The West Wing," and "The Newsroom" accurately conveys the themes and the epic scope of this compelling program.
As Andy Sipowicz of fellow Gotham-based drama "NYPD Blue" would phrase it, the underlying theme of "Billions" is that US Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) has a hard on (not in a good way) for hedge fund manager Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Damian Lewis of "Homeland") . A small part of the rest of this fascinating story is that Axe has learned that Hell hath no fury like a non-binary gender person scorned. This individual is vengeful former Axe protege Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon of "Orange is the New Black"), who has set up a highly competing shop.
S4 begins with Chuck in private practice after being fired from his federal job. This plays a role in his forming an unlikely friendship with benefits with Axe. The underlying quid pro quo includes Axe using his skill at dirty deeds done not so cheap to help Chuck win an election for New York Attorney General in exchange for favors that include sending a Russian who done Axe wrong back home and for hitting Taylor where it hurts most.
Another common element of the Chuck and Axe relationship is Chuck wife psychiatrist Dr. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) having the dual roles of coach and head of human resources for the company of Axe. Two of the many times that she gets caught up in the drama of her legal and her work husbands are violating the patient confidentiality of Taylor to help Axe and separately having Chuck make his political aspirations a higher priority than domestic bliss by providing explicit details about who wears the pants (and the leather) in the family.
Suffice it to say that Wendy pays high prices for standing by her men.
The season premiere does the Sorkin legacy proud. Chuck may be as happy as a pig in mud as to his domineering father putting heavy pressure on him to pull off a near-miracle for a client. However, not every aspect of the agony of defeat if he does not come through will provide Chuck joy. His mission, which he must accept, leads to a sitcom-style sting of Herculean efforts to obtain a highly coveted item in exchange for something of equal value to bring him closer to getting the client what he wants.
Chuck finding later in the season that no good deed goes unpunished is pure Sorkin.
Meanwhile, Axe constantly is at war either with Taylor or another enemy or the financial market in general. One of his most amusing episodes involves trying to make a killing (pun intended) in the chicken market. This one showing the extent to which underling "Dollar" Bill Stearn, who subsequently literally enters the ring for his boss, will go to maintain a good relationship with his boss provides excellent dark humor.
A portion of the rest of this epic story is that Chuck remains at mutual war with both his successor and his former boss also drives much of the action. The manner in which this plays out during the season reinforces the Shakespearean sentiment about killing all the lawyers.
As is the case regarding the cited series that precede "Billions," the cathartic glee associated with this program relates to watching masters of the universe being likely to hug it our only to get in position to stab the other guy in the back. Chuck states it best in a scene in the season finale in which a (at least temporarily) vanquished foe comments that that enemy of the state of Rhoades is getting what he deserves and Chuck responds that it happens to all of them at some time.
CBS supplements this several (but less than billions) of special features. These include the self-explanatory "Script to Screen" and a separate extra that discusses the copious pop-culture nods and other references that contribute to the intelligent entertainment that makes the show great.