And bad mistakes
I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face
But I’ve come through (and I mean to go on and on and on)
We Are The Champions – Queen
All’s well that ends well. Was there any doubt that Axe, Wendy, Chuck, and the rest of the rebels would come out on top this episode? They have come through the fire and are all better for it. Even though I think we all kind of knew how the show would end, it was still satisfying. There has been many a series finale over the past few years that has had fans taking to social media and voicing their disappointment (think Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Lost) but Billions will not be one of those. This was a great ending and sendoff for a series and a cast of characters that had become near and dear to our hearts.
Back in October of 2021 at the end of Season 5, I wrote a farewell to Bobby Axelrod and to Billions, as it looked like Damian and the character of Axe had left the Billions building for good. After re-reading that post, all the sentiments still ring true. I encourage you to check it out (since it will save me from retyping it) while I focus on what I liked from “Admirals Fund”.
Take down of Prince was financial and it was glorious!
I was so happy that the show got back to it’s roots and the demise of Prince was financial and trading in nature. The series went in a political direction this season with Prince running for President, and it really wasn’t my cup of tea. It was so satisfying to see everyone working together, using their unique strengths to make the plan work. There were a lot of moving parts so let’s break it down.
Kate joining the conspiracy was key. Once she was on board, she was able to let Wendy, Taylor and Wags know about the video taping Prince was doing in the office. That set up Wendy recruiting Philip and having them perform Philip’s “I want no part of this mutiny” part for the cameras perfectly. Once Kate seemed to rat out Wendy, Taylor, and Wags to Scooter, it cemented her loyalty to Prince in his eyes, and Philip’s video did the same. Key pieces were now in place.
Once Prince had the fund go to all cash and Philip was charged with allocating the funds to reinvest, the game was afoot! Philip would concentrate the investments in the natural gas sector. Chuck would plant the story (with help from Charles Sr.) of nat gas companies colluding with Russia, China, and Iran on price fixing, which would send the stocks cratering.
Rumors around stocks or sectors are sometimes worse than the real stories. Speculation, because it is unconfirmed, leads to something the market hates: uncertainty. Once Mafee started seeing the rumors on fintwit (aka financial Twitter) the stocks were off to the races to the downside. I will frequently check X (formerly Twitter) to see what the rumors are on a stock if I see an unusual move. Mafee is ready to buy the names at the bottom, because he knows that Chuck will hold a press conference to tell the world that there is no collusion, and the stories were just rumors. Those nat gas names will take off and Axe Global will make billions. As an aside, if I had been in on the plan, I would have shorted the names before the open, cover them before Chuck’s press conference, then buy them up at the lows of the day. That way you would be making money both on the downturn and the upswing.
Back at MPC, Bill and Victor are freaking out because they see their portfolios tanking. As active managers, their instinct would be to stop the bleeding and pivot into other sectors. However, Philip has the perfect response – trust the algo. Because Kate had Winston recalibrate the risk management of his algorithm to focus away from profit, the algorithm most likely stopped the accounts from closing the position earlier. In my strategies, I have hard stopped built into the trades. For example, if I have a position that takes a loss of 8%, it closes the position, no questions asked. It protects me from scenarios like what was going on at MPC. However, I also have a way of manually closing positions if I see a news/event that would cause a sharp decline in my position. Something Bill and Victor would have definitely done once they saw the stories around the sector. As active managers they see things that quantitative algorithms don’t see.
Because most hedge funds trade on leveraged accounts (meaning you can trade a certain value above your account’s value), the losses are causing margin calls. When you have a margin call, you need to sell other things in your portfolio to bring the account up to the minimum amount your broker allows in your account. MPC accounts are getting margin calls, so they must not only sell other securities in the portfolios but pledge their stakes in any private equity they own. A shorter way of saying all of this? MPC is wiped out.
Prince will get no reprieve from the SEC or the Exchanges by way of reversing the trades. Chuck made sure Dave Mahar was informing the SEC and Exchanges that there was an investigation so there wasn’t illegal market manipulation (but there really was!) like there was in the Flash Crash of 2010. With his fortune gone, so are his presidential aspirations.
Everyone played their part brilliantly and my trader’s hat is off to all of them!
Callbacks to first few seasons
I really loved the callbacks to earlier seasons/episodes. Whether it was Axe jumping on the desk, his wearing a Metallica t-shirt, the Talyor Mason logo, or just the whole “caper” feel to the episode, I enjoyed the nostalgia! It just brought home how much I have enjoyed this show for so many years and for so many reasons.
Growth of Axe, Wendy, and Taylor
One of the things that stood out for me in the episode is how many of the characters have grown.
Wendy realizes that she needs to be out on her own. She is going to stay at Mental and make a go of it. I’m sure that the coziness of staying at Axe Global and having it feel like “old times” does have a certain pull, but why would she want to become a pinball between Chuck and Axe again? And you know that just as Axe needs to trade, Chuck needs to investigate. They will most likely find themselves on opposite sides again, and Wendy will be in the middle. She is a strong woman who orchestrated the fall of Prince – she can stand on her own. I think a confident, independent Wendy is someone both Axe and Chuck would respect and think twice about putting her in the middle of any feud they have ever again. Will she still be a confidant to both? Of course. She has too much history with both to every veer too far from their orbit, but she is now Wendy Rhoades, CEO of Mental, not Chuck Rhoades’ wife, or Bobby Axelrod’s performance coach. A title she certainly has earned.
This season Taylor has talked several times about just wanting to keep making money and keep building their reputation. That Taylor would have jumped at the chance to do amazing and vicious things with Axe at Axe Global. But Taylor must certainly remember the last time they worked with/for Axe, and not with the fondest of memories. There was a reason Taylor stole Axe’s clients (and $3.5B of possible client funds) in Season 3. They both know that things start off well between them, then take a turn for the worst (which is usually Axe’s fault). They both have changed, but not enough to make it work. Taylor has always wanted to make money and do good. Axe just wants to make money. They both realize it, and I don’t think it was a surprise to Axe that Taylor wants to do their own thing. Why else would the Taylor Mason Foundation sign already be up at the old Axe Global offices? Axe knows people, and he didn’t have to mind-meld with Taylor, who I’ve compared to Mr. Spock many times, to know that was the path Taylor would take. Axe will always be my spirit animal, but the character of Taylor will always be the one I want to have on my team. I will really miss them.
The whole reason you are reading this post is because of a character named Bobby Axelrod. We here at Fan Fun started writing about Billions because our favorite actor, Damian Lewis would be playing a hedge fund billionaire in the series. The Axe we meet in Season 1 is very different in some ways from the Axe we see at the end of “Admirals Fund”. Can you even imagine the Axe of old letting both Wendy and Taylor leave Axe Global? We have seen Axe stalk Wendy when she left in Season 2, and he tried to decimate Taylor when they left in Season 3. Axe is a better friend to both now, letting them go in order to succeed on their own. I think going through the wars together can bond you, and Axe does the selfless thing by not trying to browbeat then into staying. If you recall, this was the man who let Donnie die sooner rather than later because it was more beneficial for him!
He is also much more gracious. Even though Bill and Victor didn’t join him at Axe Global, he still made sure the plan to take down Prince would not hurt “his people” and made sure they became very wealthy men by making sure they were in the Admirals Fund. We all remember what he did to Rebecca when he thought she was working with his enemy. Oh, and he did leave Prince with $100M. The old Axe would have taken every last penny like he was Scrooge McDuck!
And by the end of this episode, he has earned the new Axe Global employees loyalty. He looked out for them and wants them along on his “epic quest for alpha” and his “new assault on wealth!”. The Axe of the past demanded loyalty, even when he did not reciprocate it. And the plan for Axe and his new devoted employees?
“Let’s make some fucking money!”
Everyone is “where they are meant to be” and therefore can be in any spinoffs
As Axe settles in back behind his desk, he knows this is “where he is meant to be” and I wholeheartedly agree. I think the writers did a great job of putting everyone exactly where they were meant to be:
Axe and Wags back running Axe Global
Taylor running their foundation
Wendy standing on her own, CEO of Mental
Chuck and Kate back at SDNY
And the traders doing what they do best – making trades and making money.
This is the perfect ending, but also a great framework for any of our favorite Billions characters to pop up in any of the spinoffs being talked about. Wags almost telegraphed he wants to be a part of Billions: Miami!
Even though Billions has ended, we have a few more posts relating to the show coming up. We will be posting out Best of Season 7, the Season 7 Playlist, and possibly our Top Ten Episodes from the entire series.
Thank you all so much for reading and the great conversations we had. And this is not goodbye, just farewell for now.
We are the champions, my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions
Of the world