‘Billions’ Showrunner on Epic Clash Between Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti

“They’re both masters of game theory and their attacks are rarely frontal and direct,” Brian Koppelman tells TheWrap

As things heat up on the new Showtime series “Billions,” showrunner Brian Koppelman says that the battle between U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and billionaire Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) is only going to get more complex.

“As the season gets going, these two guys come at each other in ways that aren’t obvious,” Koppelman told TheWrap. “They’re both masters of game theory and their attacks are rarely frontal and direct. They’re more often serpentine and indirect.”

Episode three of “Billions” will see Rhoades dig back into his investigation of Axelrod after Axelrod threw him off the trail in episode two by throwing another trader under the bus.

Fellow showrunner David Levien says that Axelrod’s ability to stand his ground and fight against a powerful government figure like Rhoades is central to the series.

“Something that struck as we got into this, which is so unique to a powerful person like a multi-billionaire, is that most people who get into the crosshairs of a U.S. Attorney and the government are basically a sitting duck,” Levien told TheWrap. “But somebody like Bobby Axelrod has the ability to go on the offense even against a huge opponent. But Chuck is a great player and he’s able to recover and set his sights back on Axe.”

This week’s episode will also see Chuck grappling with his father, Chuck Rhoades Sr. (Jeffrey DeMunn), after Axelrod’s latest business move threatens to expose one of Chuck Sr.’s secrets.

“Chuck has total regard for his father’s wisdom and tactical brilliance and has this need to please his father,” Koppelman said. “And his father has this definite idea about what’s best for Chuck. Something Chuck has to really wrestle with and figure out is Chuck Sr.’s idea of who Chuck ought to be, is that in line with Chuck’s idea of who Chuck wants to be?”

Finally, Axelrod’s wife Lara (Malin Akerman) will get into the action this week as a former acquaintance begins to make some troubling accusations about her husband.

“Lara Axelrod is not in the formal business sense Axe’s partner,” Levien said. “But in his life she is very much an equal partner with him. She’s a powerful player in her own right. And as the episode progresses, we see these areas that are hers to secure through various means, through social pressure and various other things.”

“Billions” airs tonight at 10 p.m./9c on Showtime.