As I mentioned in my previous review, Wendy is an improbable character - meaning, it's highly unlikely that the wife of the US Attorney going after Axe would be working for Axe in such an important job. But if you've invested the story with this improbability, you might as well exploit it for all it's worth.
And Sunday's episode of Billions did that beautifully. Neither Axe nor Rhoades wants to make any kind of deal. Axe doesn't want to give an inch, and Rhoades wants to throw the book at him. Of the two, I think it's clear that Rhoades prosecuting Axe is in the more vulnerable position, precisely because his wife Wendy is working for Axe.
Wendy realizes this, and would like Rhoades to recuse himself, which of course he won't. So, as a second best option, she separately convinces Axe and Rhoades to accept a deal, something less than each of them wanted - a deal which, in the end, Axe grudgingly accepts but Rhoades blows up by tacking on an additional feature that Axe understandably can't abide (and Rhoades knows this).
The earlier scene in the hot tub, in which Wendy talks Axe into accepting the deal, strikes me as having some enduring significance. If someone had taken a picture of that scene, that might suggest to someone who didn't know better than Wendy and Axe were sleeping together. In fact, though Axe hasn't acted on that implication as yet - that is, he wasn't tried to blackmail Rhoades - I'm wondering whether that card is the reason Axe wanted Wendy to meet him in the pool.
The ending of the episode was excellent, and consistent with the complex chess game we're seeing on screen: Rhoades officially recuses himself, mainly to get the Feds off his back, but he'll still be pulling strings behind the scenes.
Which I'm looking forward to seeing more of in the weeks ahead.
See also Billions on Showtime: Winning Me Over