Storming the Castle to Fight Back
— Billions on Showtime (@SHO_Billions) February 15, 2019
On Friday, February 15, 2019 fans were treated to a belated Valentine’s Day gift when Showtime tweeted the newly released promotional material for Billions season four. And like last year when I analyzed the poster art for season three here, I will analyze (and over analyze) season four all the same. Are there spoilers, clues and hints hidden in the poster art, logo and official trailer song? I immediately began scrutinizing the photos and lyrics for suggestions and significance. When dissecting the details of the promo material and music, you’ll never guess what I found. So come with me on a deep dive and see if we can come up with an indication of what’s to come.
Let’s start with the two clear messages we were given from the tweet:
- Not enemies. Not friends. Not fucking around.
- Leave them with nothing.
Then add the theme song Fight Back by Konata x Generdyn from Billions season four official trailer and these lyrics stand out:
“I am the difference between what it means to be good when you’re tryina’ to be epic…nothing could stop me I already said it. I’m taking everything they stole from us, I’m the whole nother! I giving people something to believe in. Imma show ’em freedom, like the bolt cutter. We gonna fight back, yeah! We’re breaking chains over here, yeah! You can stay over there, stay! Coz this is revolution mixed with execution, we insane over here. Yeah! We’re taking over, making no excuses, they can’t control us when they only shooting blanks. Don’t obey the rules, we go against the grain, we fight the system until no one is a slave. I’m the fight in, I rise in a crisis, I know what the price is, ill show em where the fight is. I’m the leader of the pack. I’m here, where you at? Set the flame, light a match. I will fight back! This aint hate speech, this is fate preach, this is Shakespeare mixed with banksy. This is screaming out until you can’t breathe. This is I don’t care how long it takes me, I don’t care!”
Chuck and Axe aren’t friends and they want to make that clear. But they aren’t enemies either, at least not at this juncture. In the official trailer you can hear Chuck saying to Axe, “Here we are, friends. Of a sort.” They have one common goal – to fight back! They are two opposing forces working together against enemies for the(ir) greater good. They are what I have dubbed, #TeamChaxe. Ladies and gentlemen, these two epic Generals are storming the castle with an army! This is not a battle. THIS IS WAR. This is a revolution! This will be an execution! Take all of the opponent’s food supply behind enemy lines and starve the village. Leave them with nothing! Women, children, animals be damned, it’s Judgment Day! Look out for the revenge squad with mad skillz.
And the squad leader? Wendy. Let me explain that one by taking a closer look at the main poster art.
Wendy – Wendy is positioned behind the two prominent men in her life. I believe this implies she is the crusader behind the two. I am sure you have heard the expression, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” That seems to be the case here. She is Chuck’s gumption and Axe’s spirit animal. For the first time Wendy is not centered or somewhat centered between Chuck and Axe. She is prominently on Chuck’s side.
Blue – I count eight, possibly nine characters in blue or variations of gray blue, including the mysterious woman in blue and Taylor’s tie and vest, along with Axe, Chuck, Wendy, Bryan, Wags, Dollar Bill, and Chuck Sr. Is blue the color of the new army’s fighting banner?
Blue is associated with reliability and loyalty, hence many law enforcement uniforms are blue. It is a dependable and constant color. Blue also means justice. Chuck and Axe are definitely out for revenge and justice from those who damned them – primarily Jock Jeffcoat (which could also include Bryan Connerty and Kate Sacker) and Taylor Mason (which could also include Mafee and Grigor Andolov).
Green and Gold – Different versions of the poster art, albeit screenshot and somewhat blurry, were passed around social media before the official release and show different angles. Analyzing them collectively, the theme of green and gold gives me feelers of opulence, as shown in the rich tones of the emerald green suede settee, the luxurious gold accent table, and the grandeur of the gold art deco ceiling flanked by the lavish gold drapes. Such sparkle, glitz, and glamour! Kate Sacker stands apart in champagne gold.
When asked what the color green signifies, most people in America are apt to say “money.” And when asked about the color gold? Most would probably say “rich,” as in gold bars. Gold is bold, empowering. It is the color of extravagance, wealth, riches, and excess. In other words, Billions 🙂 But also beware of fool’s gold. According to this tweet, expect betrayal:
2/7 Themes of power, politics, insecurity, convenient partnerships, commitment, love, loyalty, betrayal, and just absolute fucking fun. @SHO_Billions
— Jason Hirschhorn (@JasonHirschhorn) February 17, 2019
You can see the green and gold in the room a little better in this unused photo below. Notice they changed most of the clothing choices, especially Axe’s attire.
The gold framed mirrors with protruding gold hands is probably my favorite, although this background did not make it in the final poster art image.
According to Aristotle the hand is the “tool of tools.” In general it is strength, power and protection. However, it can just as easily mean generosity, hospitality and stability as in, lend a hand. Axe and Chuck are definitely lending each other a hand this season.
In psychology mirrors symbolize the threshold between the conscious and the unconscious mind. By looking into a mirror, one may look towards the depths of their unconsciousness. The image the mirror produces is therefore symbolic and can be made sense of in both conscious and subconscious thought processes.
Mirrors themselves are said to reflect light, but these reflect, well, death and/or entrapment or an illusion. Is either Chuck or Axe disillusioned about winning? In the official trailer we hear Axe say, “I’m over-matched for the first time since I can remember.” Or does some sort of legal entrapment lie ahead for either men? These are some of the things I ponder.
Mysterious Woman – There is a mystery woman near Chuck Sr. with her back turned to us. Why? Why is her back turned? That seems significant, right? But in fact, there are several people with their backs turned and mingling at what seems to be a cocktail party. But this woman in particular stood out to me because she is wearing blue like the rest of the squad and she is closer to frame. Having your back turned may symbolize rejection, protection, power or all of the above. Is the overall symbol warning us that someone in the group is vulnerable to attack with their back turned? You cannot see a foe make a move on you with your back turned. You are unable to defend yourself if your back is turned, but you are somewhat protected if you are about to be hit with something – we would face imminent impact should we turn around.
Or perhaps the mysterious woman signifies Lara’s absence, and someone else will be taking her place soon?
Bobby and Lara – Axe’s left finger vein leading directly to his heart is still empty of a wedding ring. Guess that vein has been cut. Lara is no where to be seen in the poster art, which means she is completely out of the picture except for a small recurring role, most likely in the capacity of only the children’s mother. I liked Bobby and Lara together. Bummer.
Dollar Bill – This is the first time Dollar Bill Stearn has made the poster art! We learned earlier that Kelly AuCoin’s role on Billions would be promoted to a season regular so to see his character included on he promotional material is a happy occasion. But what could he be whispering in Axe’s ear? Dollar Bill is known for tracking down Axe when it comes to deal making, even if it means interrupting Axe at his son’s basketball game, so why should it be any different now? Why not interrupt Axe when he’s trying to pose his best for this promotional art *LOL* The deal always comes first! Dollar Bill has a constant hunger for more – he has two families to support after all.
Even stranger about this whisper is that Showtime released a twitter cover photo on the same day as the poster art showing Wags whispering in Axe’s ear instead of Dollar Bill:
Both Wags and Dollar Bill whispering in the boss’s ear? This is either a creative decision for the art or they did this on purpose to confuse and keep us guessing. Perhaps Wagsy is pictured here to signify his role this season. Showrunner and co-creator Brian Koppelman had shared before there will be a lot of Wags this season and other press have corroborated after watching the season four pre-screenings:
Wait til you watch the other 3 you have !! https://t.co/gmC5Jw6cov
— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) February 16, 2019
Another difference in this cover photo when compared to the poster art includes Taylor and Wendy sitting instead of standing. Either way, this photo focuses on the Fab Four – Taylor, Wendy, Chuck and Axe. To me this implies season four will be all about these four characters. Or do they symbolize the The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? This is war, after all. The Lion of Judah opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses – symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, respectively. The vision is that these four horsemen are to usher in a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment.
Candle – A single burning candle could symbolize there is only one goal between Chuck and Axe (probably annihilation). Is it the only light to guide them during this war?
Glassware – There are three different types of drinking vessels: 1) whiskey tumbler, 2) wine glass, 3) champagne flute. Unlike last year’s poster art, this year all of the men, some of which are enemies, are drinking from the same style whiskey tumbler. Are all four men aligned in some aspects this season? Taylor is holding red wine, symbolizing the blood that surely will be spilled and coincidentally matching their wine-colored shirt. Will they be bloodied from this battle when all is said and done? And again, Kate stands apart with her champagne flute.
And about those drinks? It seems Timothy Davis (who plays Chef Ryan on the show) might have actually been the bartender at the photoshoot. He tweeted this:
chef ryan was in the back whipping up old fashioneds when this sick pic got snapped. @sho_billions season 4 launches march 17th, 9pm/e, only on @showtime.https://t.co/otHJkmKTRZ pic.twitter.com/A6BIVRteNy
— itstimothydavis (@itstimothydavis) February 16, 2019
Logo – This year the logo is a solid black background with gold typeset. The black background reads dark and ominous.
The color black has many associations like power, mystery, fear, strength, death, and evil. Black absorbs all light (remember that single candle flame?). Will this war suck the light out of everyone or everything around it? On the other hand, in marketing and branding psychology black is associated with boldness, formality, mystery, strength, luxuriousness, and seriousness.
All and all, I think we will see WAR and the fight song will be ‘Aggression, conflict, and destruction for all!’ Like Wags said, “It’s on like Chaka Khan!”
In conclusion, let me say, DAAAAMMMMNNN…Damian’s ‘come hither’ glance, mischievous smirk and eyebrow raise is dead-on sexy. Girl he’s finnnneeeee. Mwaahhh.