Previously on Billions: Short Squeeze

Previously on Billions…

We join Danzig in the early hours of the morning shooting at deer eating everything he had planted. He is thereafter swarmed by armed Police and then arrested.

Bobby gets a phone call about it and he and Hall go to pick Danzig up.

Bobby and Danzig have a discussion outside Axe Capital before work about why Danzig did it. “I was blowing off steam I guess”. There is quite an in-depth discussion about Danzig’s feelings or lack thereof and the fact he got really pissed at the deer “Eat, move, shit. Repeat. How can things that dumb have the gall to occupy the same space I do?” Danzig clearly has some issues. He asks Bobby if that one makes sense to Bobby and Bobby replies “Yeah, more than you know.”  I also remember another Showtime character shooting at deer eating his flowers and matters did not end well for him!

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Wendy drops Chuck off at work and he gets flustered when she asks him about Pete Decker who she sees walking towards his building. He denies knowing anything about Decker and bolts.

We are back with Danzig and Bobby. Bobby tells Danzig there won’t be any record of what Danzig has done presumably because Hall clearly has a relationship with the arresting officers. Bobby then embarks on explaining why Danzig needs to reign himself in. He can’t have this behaviour at Axe Capital. I understand where Axe is coming from, but his talk isn’t helping Danzig. Danzig needs Dr Mojo.

We arrive in Chuck’s office with Pete Decker who begins by explaining “how tight these guys are”. Bryan and Chuck lay the law out for Decker. He talks or it is prison. Decker chooses to talk. In fact he began to sing. Right from this scene where he declares that Axe “does whatever he wants” Decker over emphasises everything that he says clearly annoying Chuck and Bryan in the process.

Decker says “You never know where his focus is gonna land. Sometimes you hope it will land on you. Sometimes you wish you were invisible because when it does land on you, he sees everything.”

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

We cut to Bobby with one of his employees, Mafee who has been called into Axe’s office because Axe has got wind Mafee is about to try and leverage Axe capital. Mafee denies this saying he has turned down the offer he has received and was coming to tell Axe just that. Mafee says ‘I was trying to be loyal’ and Axe says to a thoroughly put out and caught Mafee ‘You don’t try to be loyal. You just are or you’re not.’

I’d just like to note the great difference here in how Mafee is being dealt with and how Maria Saldana was dealt with last week. We know she successfully leveraged Axe Capital even though she decides to go with the lower offer and leave. She clearly left in Axe’s good graces. I have an idea about this that those like Decker and now possibly Maria Saldana represent some form of ‘security/insulation’ for Axe.

We cut back to Decker who is telling us that “when you are Bobby Axelrod, you don’t chase information. Information flows to you.”

Just to illustrate this to us we again cut to Bobby who receives a call from someone called Constantine who has very important information to share with Bobby. It is perhaps important to notice that Constantine says to Bobby “you always said to call this number and only this number in a circumstance like this.” Whatever it is that Constantine has to say must be very important as he calls that particular phone and Bobby insists they meet in person. I mentioned in my ‘previously’ for the Pilot that Bobby has three phones in his safe.

Source: Showtime - Screenshot from the Pilot
Source: Showtime – Screenshot from the Pilot

We see him using two of them throughout this episode.

Source: Showtime
Source: Showtime

It is back to Decker telling us you never know what Bobby is doing or why. He tells you he is going one place to do something when in fact he is somewhere else for another reason.

Well, Bobby is going where he says he is going this time, but not for the reason he says he is going. The Metallica concert is a cover so he can meet Constantine. It seems important to me that he leaves Wags behind.

Bobby arrives at his private jet to find two of his friends waiting for him with the third, Freddy still to arrive.

Pouch arrives on the tarmac to catch Bobby before he goes much to Bobby’s consternation. Pouch is concerned about the short that Axe asked him to play at the end of Naming Rights. Freddy is eavesdropping on this conversation. Pouch is concerned about a conflict of interest that leaves them open, particularly him. The conflict is in relation to the fact that Bobby is now on the YumTime Board and that Cross Co contract is going to be cancelled. Pouch the punch bag as we like to call him takes another punch from Bobby. You would have thought Bobby might have listened to Wendy in Naming Rights when she mentioned that public humiliation is not good…though Pouch does seem better able to handle it than Victor ever would. Still, Pouch seems too straight lace to be at Axe Capital so you wonder if he is asked to choose later where his loyalties would lie.

Source: Showtime
Source: Showtime

Back once again to Chuck’s office and he is asking Decker specifically about where inside information is coming from. Decker says “Where does rain come from? From God himself.” This has Bryan chuckling until Decker continues to explain that information comes from everywhere and over egging while he is at it.

Bryan says “it sounds like it is good to be Axe.”

Decker replies “It is. But it’s a sub-zero game. It is kill and eat or be eaten. I mean don’t kid yourselves these guys are like Kings, someone is always coming to assassinate them.”

We now cut to Chuck Rhoades Senior on the course with his friend Quince who tells him that he has just had word that Bobby Axelrod has himself in a precarious short which is ripe for a squeeze. Chuck Senior gets on the phone to get squeezing. His friend asks him “Right here on the course?” Chuck Senior answers “I’m President Emeritus. I do what I want.”

Bobby and his friends are playing hearts and there is quite an important slanging match going on in amongst the card playing. If Bobby is the Alpha, what do you think the other three are? Who is Beta, Omega, Gamma or Sigma. An important comment is made “You always thought you were going to win, Axe. Right up until the moment you fell.” Very interesting. I think we need to bookmark that quote.

Axe declares that he has changed because he used to always try to shoot the moon in hearts, but Freddy says he hasn’t he just masks it better. He takes a bit of stick from the other two and then points out that Bobby just shot the moon on them. He now takes even more stick as he had the cards to stop Bobby, but didn’t. Freddy seems to be the put upon of the four friends and sounds a little resentful. By the end of the episode he may be feeling a little more resentful.

Source: Showtime
Source: Showtime

Back in Chuck’s office with Decker and Chuck wants the lowdown on who protects ‘the King’s’ flank. Decker says Prime Brokers as it is in their interest to serve people like Axe.

Pouch is not happy and neither is Wags who does not like a double scoop of shit. Cross Co has been upgraded to a strong buy expected to reach $90. Wags has also received an email from the Prime Broker to recall the shares Axe Capital were shorting.

Wags calls Bobby and they have a conference call with the Prime Broker who advises he has been told “from on high” (his boss Quince, Chuck Rhoades Senior’s friend) that they need the shares back now or Axe can buy in on the market. He also tells Axe that if “you don’t make the borrow on the stock by opening bell tomorrow, I’ve been instructed to buy you in on your entire positon.”

Wags hangs up on “the little tool” and Axe instructs him to find the top ten shareholders of Cross Co, Hedge funds not institutions. He needs someone he can call about the shares.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Freddy was listening in again on this conversation.

Tara could not make herself any more obvious to Kate if she tried, asking questions she shouldn’t about the proffering session on Axe Capital. Kate has already proved to be pretty smart and she is onto Tara.

Axe explains to his friend’s sympathetic ear what a short squeeze is.

Golf is on the Agenda for Axe and friends and one of them has a goal of eventually getting to do the rounds on Augusta. This sets Axe off. He realises who is trying to squeeze him. He remembers last time he played Augusta that he saw Quince and Chuck Senior together in the Clubhouse.

Wags has found Bobby a big shareholder of Cross Co, but Bobby isn’t going to like it and he doesn’t. It is Ken Malverne at Vista Verde. Ken is who Bobby called ‘ a poacher’ in Naming Rights. Bobby will try and make a deal with that Devil.

Wags also advises that Garth Sykes has been on the phone about Cross Co and wants to speak to Bobby because this sort of shit worries him.

Bobby switches from one phone to the other so that he can talk to Hall. Hall tells him about the fact that Chuck (Jnr) is proffering a witness against Axe Capital. Bobby tells Hall what Senior is up to and tells him to use it to go after him.

Freddy is watching the TV for updates about Cross Co. Bobby is not impressed.

Tara is in no way lurking about in a manner which could be considered suspicious. Nope. Not at all! We get a glimpse of the Board on Pete Decker.

Tara continues to lurk around and is spotted by Kate who follows her to the bathroom where she is messaging Hall. Kate has smelled a rat and now she catches it. Tara has been burnt. However, note that when she is explaining herself to Chuck she says “he (Hall) makes me tell him about all the financial cases…the big ones.” Hall has been careful to make it appear to Tara that he is not specifically there for Axe. It just happens to be one of the cases.

Chuck tells Tara she is going to contact Hall and tell him she has important information and wants to meet him. Bryan will take this part over and Chuck will finish the proffering session himself.

Chuck Senior is very happy as he watches the reports of the upwards move in Cross Co shares thanks to unconfirmed reports from ‘ a trucking blog’ that JT Hunsicker is acquiring Cross Co. We did tell you not to laugh at bloggers.

Hall tips of Spyros about Cross Co using one of those voice altering gadgets.

We see Axe and friends arriving at the arena where Metallica will be playing. As Axe’s friends go ‘hunting’, the support act comes hunting for him. Axe chats away to Elise who says it is a dream come true for her to be the warm up act to Metallica. Their chat actually reminds me of Axe’s chats with Wendy. Talk about it taking guts to make change and how that is progress.


Axe gets a call from Ken at Vista Verde. Axe needs to borrow Ken’s shares so he can keep his short position. Ken is long in the stock so if Axe is right he will lose a lot. He seems to respect that Axe has better information than him and so wants Axe to cover his loss at 25%.

We are delightfully treated to a scene with Axe and Metallica with them having a discussion about Axe being unable to “unplug”. Axe asks James Hetfield how he unplugs and James answers that “he plays”.

Chuck is asking Decker who gets to speak to Axe and Decker says “anyone can speak to him, but you better not waste his time and you better not be wrong.”

They are interrupted and Chuck has to leave the session to go deal with a time sensitive issue which turns out to be Ari Spyros of the SEC in his office with some information that is not going to make Chuck happy at all. Ari is looking sharper and more confident than we have seen him before. That may be because here he has actual information that cannot be disputed. There is no need for him to try and show off how smart he is. This is factual and he can rub it right in Chuck’s face.

Spyros takes delight in first of all insinuating that Chuck is involved with his father’s play. He then reveals that the information is not in the system yet. Chuck asks him what he wants and Spyros says “a little respect”. Chuck has a chuckle about this which Spyros does not take kindly too and lays out what is going to happen and because of the position Chuck just has to take it. I confess I cheered for Spyros here. He has taken a kicking during the first three episodes and he gives it back right here.

Chuck re-enters his proffer session with his tale between his legs and asks Decker about how short squeezes work, specific to Axelrod. Decker says no one has successfully squeezed Axe. This conflicts with what Axe himself said in the Pilot where he indicated that Steven Birch had done just that to him last year.

Chuck calls his father and lays the law down for him about the fact he has been caught regarding Cross Co. Son is not happy with dad.

Hall is watching everyone and everything around him. You have to suspect that Hall likes to be the one setting up the meetings and may get suspicious if a source asks to meet him. It shows as he watches Tara from a distance and takes a good look around him, finally spotting the surveillance teams and realising she is burnt. It is possible that Tara gives him a signal.

Source: Showtime
Source: Showtime

It also appears as though she is looking in his direction at one point as she makes a show of looking at her watch and lifting her hand to her face.

We are back to Metallica and Bobby is taking calls…during Metallica! It is Garth the cautious on the phone wanting to know what is going on. Bobby has had enough of Mr Cautious and basically tells him to accept the way Bobby is doing things or get out. I wonder what happened to Bobby’s declaration from Naming Rights that if Garth Sykes pulls out it hurts Axe Capital.

Source: Showtime
Source: Showtime

Bobby then speaks with Hall again who tells him the source is burnt and “this may be the last thing we get for a long time”. Note Hall does not say they are not still in play. Hall also advises Bobby that it was Decker who flipped and that they have Pepsum. Watch Bobby’s face. It is not one of betrayal. It is one of minor irritation and annoyance.

We are back with Axe and Elise. Elise finds it strange Axe is worrying about his work, him being who he is. She says the Road Manager told her who he is. Elise is very forward and not slow on giving Bobby advice while she hits on him. She makes him promise “doctor’s orders” (there she goes reminding me of Wendy again) that he will watch Citizen Kane after he admits he has never seen it.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

She’s not into missed opportunities or regrets and Bobby says he isn’t either. He decides to pass on a night with Elise though. I cheered. Showtime with a show where two strong marriages are the backbone? Thank you God.

Elise is a bit embarrassed as she realises Bobby is married “the Road Manager never told me that”. She seems to respect Bobby making “the tough choice” and she will let it go “because that is rare.”

Back to Decker who seems to be working his way through the New York fast food industry and now Chuck wants to know what happens when you leave Axe Capital.

Decker says that “if you leave with the right combination of loyalty and ass-kissery Bobby gives you a chunk of capital.”

He further outlines that Bobby expects transparency on all your ideas and makes, bigger, faster moves on them often rendering them useless, but then the tips come in and it is worth it.

Chuck then asks “At what point, at what exact moment did Axelrod instruct you to buy Pepsum?”

Decker replies “never” which is not what Chuck or Bryan want to hear. Decker explains it was a voice on the phone and if he had to guess it was Bill Stearn which is strange because Bill is Industrials and agriculture. Keeping in mind Hall’s gizmo from earlier in the episode, I would like to guess that it wasn’t Bill on the phone at all.

Decker then tells us that “To be Bobby Axelrod is to keep so much in your head, just to keep it from blowing up your brain takes Benedictine-monk-like discipline.”

Chuck isn’t sure the Benedictines would dig the comparison. Chuck and Bryan leave the room agitated. They got something, but it wasn’t what they pulled Decker in for. However, Chuck instructs Bryan to get on to Bill Stearn, get the FBI all over him.

We finally see Axe meeting with Constantine which was the actual purpose of his visit to Quebec. Their meeting is brief, but we learn a bit from it and ask even more questions.

Axe says he knew Constantine’s call meant “disaster”.

Constantine tells Axe “I have been at Mundia Tel my entire career. What people thought was bedrock is really bullshit. But now everyone is finally going to see the truth. I sensed that, you of all people, would understand…and would know what to do with what I’m going to tell you.”

Axe then says “So, tell me.” Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear that bit.

Source: Showtime
Source: Showtime

Axe comes across a very anxious Freddy who it appears has gotten himself into trouble by shorting Cross Co based on overhearing Axe and Pouch’s discussions earlier in the episode. As Cross Co’s price has risen, he is expected to cover his position which he can’t afford to do. Axe being the good friend he is covers it for him.

Axe also gives us some insight to how he works. “I don’t lie to myself, and I don’t hold onto a loser. The moment it doesn’t feel right, I let it go, get away from it.

Chuck admits to Wendy that it was Pete Decker she saw this morning and that he is proffering him. They have a conversation about his dad trying to live through Chuck.

Bobby is facetiming with Lara rather than having fun with Elise. Aww love him.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Freddy wakes up next morning to shouts of room service. He checks what has happened with Cross Co and, as Bobby predicted, all is well. Freddy is now loaded which is just as well because he is going to have to make his own way home. It is 9.40am and the plane was leaving at 9.30am. Unlike the start of the episode where Axe was happy to wait for his friend who is always late, he clearly isn’t now. This may have been Axe getting away from ‘a loser.’

Chuck Senior gets a visit from his less than happy father. Jnr is about to teach Snr a lesson. He isn’t going to let Snr dump the shares until it is not possible for him to make a profit. Snr doesn’t quite seem to understand that his son can’t “get this son of a bitch” when and how he wants him to, but must do it the right way.

Axe arrives back at Axe Capital with a thousand yard stare for company. Everyone seems to notice the change in Axe’s demeanour. He walks right past everyone, ignoring all but Wags. Danzig particularly does not seem to take that well. I predict trouble ahead with Danzig.

Bobby sees Danzig through the glass that is his office. He remembers what Danzig said to him earlier in the episode “Eat, shit, move. Repeat.” Bobby orders Wags to “sell everything. 5% from all our positions right across the board, for starters. De-lever. But take it slow. Control the bleeding. Then we’ll dump sector by sector, starting with Telecom.”

People will think that Bobby is out.

Wags asks “So, are you?”

Bobby does not answer simply walks back out of his office and down the hall.

Source: Showtime
Source: Showtime

Did Axe just unplug? He may well have, but he’s also still playing.

4 thoughts on “Previously on Billions: Short Squeeze”

  1. Wonderful blog! It makes me think more about things that I have not paid as much attention to. Your attention to detail never ceases to amaze me! Bobby is certainly going to need more pockets for all his phones. And you are already an expert on which phone he uses for who – I LOVE THIS!

    I never thought Metallica would be Axe’s cover to go to Quebec City to see Konstantin. Now that you are saying it… who knows? I thought he was going there and just told him the time and place or their meeting and covered his flight and hotel. Wow. If the concert was a cover and Axe really went there to see Konstantin, this means that meeting is BIG, much bigger than I thought it was. I thought the meeting with Konstantin was what made Axe to start selling at the end, and the “Telecom” was hinting at what Konstantin might have told him… Axe is coming back with a BIG play and I am dying to find out what!!!! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I definitely got the feeling the concert was Axe’s cover for meeting with him. If you can fit Metallica in while meeting with someone about “total disaster” then why not? Oh, he is so making a big play.

      1. True. Then that meeting was REALLY REALLY REALLY big. And he did not know anyone to know about it. Even Wags! So is he freaked out by the disaster that he is selling or does he have his plan all mapped out that he is selling? The guy said he would know what to do with what he was about to tell him… Oh I wish I had been a fly on that hotel room 🙂

        1. That is something that struck me that he didn’t even take Wags with him or tell Wags what was going on at the end. Wags is literally his right hand man. I think he is probably concerned about what he has been told, but I also think he knows what to do with it and is currently mapping it out with his actions.

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