Categories Billions Recap

From the Trader’s Desk: Billions S3 Ep9 Icebreaker – May 25, 2018

Axe: Killing Yourself to Live?

by Lady Trader | Fan Fun with Damian Lewis | May 25, 2018

Source: Showtime

So you think it’s me who’s strange
But you’ve never had to make the change
Never give your trust away
You’ll end up paying till your dying day
Killing Yourself to Live – Black Sabbath

Is that what Axe is doing? Is he putting himself (and possibly others) in such a dangerous position, just so he can still be Bobby “Fucking” Axelrod? And in the end, will it be worth it? Is he Killing Himself to Live?

Happy Friday from the Trader’s Desk. Please indulge me this week, as I won’t be doing a usual recap, but more of my observations on the state of things at Axe Capital, and the possible consequences.

This week’s episode, “Icebreaker” was many things, but first and foremost for me, the word intense comes to mind. There was also an overtone of doom (at least in my opinion).Two main characters, Axe and Taylor, are putting themselves in precarious positions, although one is much more dangerous than the other.

Source: Showtime

Axe is still on his mission to raise $20 Billion dollars in the short span of 6 months. That is extreme for any fund, let alone one who has just had the shadow of the government over it. But, Axe wants/needs this investment, not just to trade with; he needs it to prove to himself (although he is saying it really is for the firm) that he can still be the Master of the Universe. And it seems as if he does not care where or who it comes from. Desperate Axe is always the Axe that leads to the path of destruction.

Source: Showtime

Taylor on the other hand is on a mission to establish themselves apart from Axe. They are playing a dangerous game as well. Axe is allowed to keep secrets, but will not take kindly to being kept in the dark regarding Taylor’s plans.

Axe needs an Icebreaker – that first big investor who will get the ball rolling. His idea? A dangerous Russian oligarch, Grigor Andolov. We know he has spent time in a Russian prison (and survived, which right there tells you something), and is willing to take the arm of someone who doesn’t say yes to a business proposal quick enough. We’re not talking Ivan Drago here – this is a very treacherous man. Hall won’t be able to cover Axe if he takes Andolov’s money, and Wags is hesitant (which is never a good sign).

Axe is willing to see what Spartan-Ives can do for him in regards to raising capital, but after a fruitless meeting, Axe knows there’s only one way to go to get what he wants.

Source: Showtime

Axe meets with Andolov at what we Ranger fans call the Nassau Mausoleumto try and get Andolov to ditch any other meetings with “candy-ass” managers and invest with Axe Capital. You can tell immediately this is a different kind of animal than Axe is use to dealing with. Axe is now dealing with a man who is used to getting his way, any means possible. Axe is similar, but the “odor” of violence (um, hello, he took a man’s arm!) puts Andolov in a whole different stratosphere. He wants to see Axe dance like a marionette, just because he can, and also because I think he senses the desperation coming from Axe. They agree their lieutenants will meet.

Even before it happens, you just know Taylor is not going to go for this. They sabotage the meeting by pitching “impact investing”: environment, social, and government investments. Nothing someone like Andolov would be interested in. It’s a very passive-aggressive move by Taylor, which is not like them. They are usually upfront, to the point, and frank.

Source: Showtime

Axe reads this for what it is: Taylor tanked the meeting purposely to block Andolov from investing at Axe Capital. Taylor believes they are protecting the firm; “international criminals are unstable” for a cap raise. Taylor is 100% right. As usual, Taylor is thinking, Axe is feeling.

Taylor is told the discussion to take Andolov’s money was already had – without them. Now that Axe is back, is Taylor expendable? What happens to people who get in the way of Axe’s blind ambitions?

This is the second week in a row we see Axe dismiss Taylor. I believe Taylor must start to look out for themselves, which is why I think they go on the down-low with the quant project.

I think the quants will do one of two things in the upcoming episodes: either save Axe and Axe Capital if and when it needs it, or be the foundation for Taylor to branch out on their own and become a rival to Axe. It’s a bold move by Taylor to literally take the quants “underground”, and if they are found out by Axe (or I could see Hall finding out!!) there will be hell to pay. I hope the quant project is the springboard for Taylor to break away from Axe. He is going down a very dark, very dangerous road; one that Taylor does not need to be a party to.

Source: Showtime

Axe goes to great lengths to get Andolov’s money, inviting him to his home “where his children sleep”, and basically pimping out the United States’ Secretary of the Treasury, Todd Krakow. Axe is getting deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, and just like Taylor, I don’t understand why.

This isn’t just another “stock jockey” like Birch or Malverne; this is someone who will hurt Axe’s family or others who are close to Axe. Also, I can tell you that if I were an investor at Axe Capital and came to find out a criminal the likes of Andolov were a major investor, I’d pull my money out ASAP. There wouldn’t even be a discussion. Its madness, pure and simple, that this is the road Axe is going down immediately after having his indictment dropped.

Axe is a tough guy and can handle himself in most situations. This is the deepest end of the pool. Axe is a Bull Shark, but he is now dealing with a Great White. He says he is not ignoring the downside of getting involved with a character like Andolov, but he can’t let it override hisneed, Axe Cap’s need. This whole misadventure is ego driven, and damn the consequences. He thinks he can avoid the downside because he sees it. I don’t think he truly understands the downside here is violence. I also wonder, by introducing such a sadistic character, we won’t see some type of threat or harm come to Lara and/or the boys. Will that be enough to get Axe back on a better path? Right before the FBI took Axe into custody at the end of Season 2, he asks Wendy to help him “find his way back”. Well, he has done the exact opposite of that this season. He is more lost than ever.

Andolov in not so many words threatens Axe not to lose his money. Nobody can guarantee ROI (Return on Investment), so what lengths will Axe now have to go to ensure a “win”?

Read the rest of the original article at Fan Fun with Damian Lewis