Cast: Damian Lewis (Bobby “Axe” Axelrod), Paul Giamatti (Chuck Rhoades), Maggie Siff (Wendy Rhoades), Malin Akerman (Lara Axelrod), Toby Leonard Moore (Brian Connerty), David Costabile (Mike “Wags” Wagner), Shaunette Renee Wilson (Stephanie)
Airdate, time: Season two premieres Sunday, February 19 on Showtime
Season two synopsis: Season two picks up immediately after the season one finale, which saw Chuck Rhoades and Bobby Axelrod face off in a battle of egos regarding a settlement between Axe Capital and the government and a tug of war for Wendy Rhoades. In this new season, Chuck is under scrutiny from the Attorney General and Axelrod is left with a changing economic landscape.
What you can expect in the first episode of season two (spoiler free):
1. When we first see Chuck Rhoades he’s taking martial arts lessons. It seems the events of the last few episodes of first season have shaken the confidence of the usually unflappable attorney.
2. Chuck gets a visit from the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) in regards to his recent conduct. I didn’t even know that existed but then looked it up. It’s a real section of the Justice Department that investigates allegations of misconduct involving Department attorneys. Showtime always does their homework.
3. Axe, meanwhile, has a different opening to the season. He’s remodeled the Axe Cap offices while also making it much more secure. Axe is full of bravado, as always, but isn’t nearly as trusting.
4. There’s a new chief of staff at Axe Capital. Her name is Stephanie and she’s played by Shaunette Renee Wilson. We don’t see too much of her in the premiere but I expect she’ll have an impact because Axe clearly trusts her. There’s that word “trust” again.
5. Wendy is offered a job from a rival hedge fund manager. She certainly knows how to see through the BS that seems to come with the profession, but she’s unsure if she really wants to get back into that kind of world.
6. Chuck and Wendy are separated but still live together in a strange way called Nesting. To my surprise, this too is an actual thing. The term means that parents are willing to allow their children to remain in the family home while the parents take turns living there and in another location. I guess if you have the money and don’t hate each other, you can pull that off.
7. About halfway through the opener Chuck tells an interesting story about playing chess in the park. That sounds harmless but the segment truly illustrated how Chuck thinks and oddly enough, it’s similar to Bobby Axelrod’s approach. I think most people will really enjoy this part of the episode.
8. Oliver Dake (played by Christopher Denham) is the man from the OPR who grills Rhoades and his staff. He dresses like he’s from the 1950s and is surprisingly scary, or at least as scary as a nerdy looking guy can be. Last season Axe was the one being chased. This season Chuck will be the one on the run.
9. We meet an interesting new character at Axe Capital named Taylor close to the end of the premiere. She’s played by Asia Kate Dillon, who I’ve never seen before. Taylor is smart and a little odd. We only see her for about 2 minutes but I’m hoping she’s a big contributor to the season. She’s an intriguing character.
10. The OPR is not the only one after Rhoades. At the end of the episode Axe unveils his plans to push Chuck over the edge. Rhoades also appears to have someone in his own office working against him. Things don’t look good for Chuck but from what we saw in season one, I wouldn't count him out.
That’s about all I can spill without giving too many secrets away and I refuse to play spoiler. I’m looking forward to seeing how this season develops.
Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.