Forensic Fandom re Billions – The Evidence

imageedit_8_5432412121So you know how we dissected each and every little snippet of preview of Billions just as soon as our fingers could get to hitting rewind and clicking away? Well, friends, we did even more of that cogitating and guesswork and forensic investigation behind the scenes. Allow me to share with you today one such IM marathon we had about Chuck’s board. Chuck’s board, you say? We thought it was just ropes and lit cigarettes, you say. No, I don’t mean THAT kind of board. But, who knows, as the season progresses we may have some kinky Billions/Homeland tie-in (so to speak) with torture rooms, water, and boards. I’m talking about the board upon which Chuck has written pertinent points of his investigation of Bobby Axelrod. We haven’t seen it on the series yet. Heck, we just barely saw Chuck’s appetite whet for some fresh new prey in the hedge fund king. Prey in hedges? Hm. Oh, I digress. And we do that a lot when he talk behind the scenes, we team of bloggers here. You may not believe it, but lots of good stuff comes from our digressions.

So, as I was saying, allow me to share a bit of our conversation about Chuck’s board. Most of what we saw back before the pilot aired may be reading too much into things or totally wrong, but, if anything, it’ll give you a brief window into the process of forensic fandom. (I’m trademarking that phrase BTW…or I would if only we had a patent attorney on board)

Here’s the board of which I speak:

source: Showtime

My blog mates have a time difference advantage over me, so I came in when Damianista and TBkWrm were already running with it. Here’s what I had to catch up with when I logged on:


So, yes, there is a “12/29 wire” arrow pointing from Mike “Wags” Wagner, Bill “Dollar Bill” Stern and Butch “The Pouch” Probert to Superior Auto. And those are indeed the three guys who interrupted Bobby watching his kid’s basketball game.

Damian Lewis, Billions
source: Showtime

But was it a wire transfer or maybe a wire worn by someone in the transaction? Only future episodes will tell! You may recall from the pilot that Dollar Bill handed some guy a bag of cash with one bundle of the cash wrapped in a Rolex. And in return he got to see inside a storage unit. Speaking of which, really, Axe, that much money for a simple piece of information (ie a wearhouse full of inventory)? Shows us how much information means to these guys. Nearly as much as a body buried discretely in the Pine Barrens. In this scene, we also saw Axe Capital code at work when Dollar Bill says to Bobby “I’m not uncertain” and everyone knew exactly what that meant: Sell short!


Pepsum, Lumetherm powder: Chuck’s board apparently had us briefly working on our chemistry degree here. I come in to the conversation and want to join, of course, because, you know, I LOVE this stuff!


Clearly, I take a somewhat less technical turn on Lumetherm. Heat, light: sounds about right for anything related to that guy up there in our header. “He’s the sun!” Damianista affirms.

And, yes, Axe Capital is bound to be under investigation as an entity separate from, but intricately related to, Bobby and his family.

Does no one invest in oil or natural gas anymore? Or is that just me, the non-billionaire? Unlike me, Bobby knows the future, and he knows what’s what with solar power and wind power companies. What we saw in the pilot is that all of these dropped names were about Axe communicating to his guys the power of knowing who is involved in a transaction. TBkWrm successfully translated that scene in the pilot for us later, thusly: Axe knows the guy who shorted the solar company. He knows that guy bails on losers: “He’s an animal”. And since the solar company is linked to Lumetherm, the guy who shorted the solar company knows that Lumetherm is worthless too. TBkWrm theorized that the guy may have used the solar company as a decoy to get out of his investment in Lumetherm. Here I am just now learning about shorting, we now have expertise with decoys in the mix too!

4convo 5convo

More about Lumetherm. That term better come up beyond the pilot with the amount of time we spent tossing it back and forth!! Like, why is it up on Chuck’s board if it’s not important later on, right? Chekhov’s rule for drama: never introduce a smoking gun if you don’t intend to use it by the end of the story. Okay, that’s not exactly what he said, here’s the more accurate version…maybe:

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.- Anton Chekhov (wikipedia)

This is the point in the conversation where we veered off and became a bit…water logged. That part has been cut away for your convenience as well as for the sake of our delicate sanity.



“Bring on TV-14”, TBkWrm exclaims. Indeed! My first thought when I heard about Billions being picked up as a series on Showtime: Oh, hello Damian Lewis, back to US premium cable, are we? Bring on those sights fit for sore puritan eyes: Please and thank you.

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Still, with the Lumetherm. Again, one hopes that Koppleman, Levien and Sorkin know their Chekhov.

Watch this space to find out, and, of course, watch Billions….next on all our screens January 17!


5 thoughts on “Forensic Fandom re Billions – The Evidence”

  1. Great analysis guys! Can I comment on the white board? The only thing I can say about this right now is that from what I see, the flow chart is wrong. Analysts report to Portfolio Managers, not to traders. Analysts make recommendations to their PMs about longing/shorting a stock. The PM then makes the decision, and contacts the traders to execute the order. Maybe I’m being picky, but since you were dissecting the board, I just wanted to add a bit.

    1. Aha, this is great to know! So, instead of having Analysts under Traders, the chart should have looked something like this:

      Portfolio Managers
      | |
      | |
      Traders Analysts

      Not too nit-picky at all. See that: set people and writers? We’re all watching you!!!

  2. Great analysis of Chuck’s board as well as a great analysis of the “inner workings” of Fan Fun with Damian Lewis 😀 We don’t have anything to hide, Chuck, we are so transparent as you can see! Joke aside, it’s wonderful to read our excitement and enthusiasm and how much we want to understand what’s going on — it’s all Damian Lewis to blame! 🙂

  3. Lisa, we encourage being picky! For instance what you just told us seems like something the writers of this show would know so either (1) this mistake was deliberate I. e. there is a hint in that mistake; or (2) whoever did the writing on the board got it the wrong way round and it was then missed while dressing the set…I like option 1 better!!!

    Jania Jania, fantastically written and enjoyable to read your analysis of our dissections and digressions.

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