The Unbeatable, Unstoppable, Unparalleled MVPs from Billions Season 5 Episode 10 Liberty

We continue to award our Most Valuable Players for Billions season five in our series compilation, the ‘Billions MVP Fanbook,’ which commemorates all those in honor of achievement for the utmost brazen, uber shameless, ultra scheming, unmatched bad asses to date – from sports references, music and tasty food to pop culture remarks, shocking twists and ultimate paybacks. In case you missed it, here are the MVPs for season five episodes one, two, three, four, five, six, seveneight and nine.

Let us resume that tradition as we award our Most Valuable Players (MVPs) for the most recent episode. Here are the Billions MVP awards for Season 5, Episode 10, “Liberty.”

Gingersnap

The Gingersnap Metal Band Reference Award – Dudley Mafee (and co-creator Brian Koppleman). It has taken five and half seasons, but Gingersnap finally got her heavy metal band reference, Iron Maiden. Not in the sense of Axe wearing the metal band’s insignia t-shirt or their track played in the episode, but in dialogue at least. I talked about this Iron Maiden wish in my ‘Top Billions Songs: Gingersnap’s Playlist’ here.

Dollar Bill says to Victor, “Yea, except it’s not just the legs. Iron Maiden.”

Mafee chimes in, “Number of the Beast!” Absolutely what this whole thing feels like, whole pandemic. Devil’s work.”

Dollar Bill clarifies, “No. The torture implement. Like the boot, but full body.

Mafee thinks Dollar Bill is referring to the band Iron Maiden, but really he’s referring to the spike-covered iron-made torture device, like this one. But I’ll take it! Beggars can’t be choosers.

Perfect Pompous Portmanteau-er – Bobby Axelrod. Even Axe can turn a pandemic into something of self-importance. He’s just referred to the CoVid-19 vaccination shot as himself from his own ship-name generator: “So those of you with your masks off, we’ve v-AXE-d (vaxxed) ya.”

Most Snarky Retort – Prince.  While at Chuck’s sit down soiree titled “The Jeffersonian Dinner,” guests dined on “heritage birds” with the same genetic makeup of turkeys that roamed the Shenandoah Valley in Long Tom’s Day. Prince’s response to that menu introduction had me in stitches when he mocked Chuck, “I’m surprised you’re not in a powdered wig and tricorn.” LOL This is referencing Paul Giamatti’s (Chuck) character he played in John Adams.

Best Game Show Reference – Ira. Match Game is my favorite game show ever! I still watch re-runs from the 70’s series to this day. I even talk about Match Game here. The newer, evening version with Alec Baldwin also makes my DVR staple. Charles Nelson-Reilly is my fave ascot-wearing celebrity panelist and I often think he and I would have been fast friends back in the day.

Top Chef – Tom Colicchio! Kudos to Wags for bringing in this Top Chef to wine and dine his date at Axe Capital. Tom serves them up an old Gramercy Tavern dish of his. Tom is one of the culinary world’s most celebrated restaurateurs with an Emmy and James Beard Award-winning television series and cookbook. I have been following him on Twitter for quite some time. He is a social justice advocate – lobbying to Congress – in an effort to protect and expand food programs for hunger in the United States. He is also the founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, a partnership designed to save independent restaurants, bars and the 11 million people they employ who have been affected by CoVid-19. So suffice to say I tweeted at Tom after watching this episode because let’s face it, it’s two of my favorites combined, Tom and Billions, and he “liked” the tweet 🙂

Overall MVP of the Episode – Doc Swerdlow the Medical Man. Giving me vibes of a dope-peddling candy-man, he is the best recurring character and has the funniest dialogue from three of the best scenes.

First, he announces to the dinner party about Charles Senior,

“Yeah, I keep his meds straight, his rod straighter and his nose clean.”

Then tells Chuck Jr. he’s “Helen fucking Keller” when it comes to silence.

Finally, he informs the room of his drug expertise as only a candy-man would know,

“Say what you will about moral decay…but you don’t know true freedom until you’ve gotten behind some government-derived, pharmaceutical-grade jump juice. Amphetamines, baby. You know what I mean? Of course you don’t. Wink, wink. I’m not talking about some sweaty meth cookers wearing rebreathers and hitting up every CVS inside the county line for Sudafed and Drano. No, no, no, no, no. I’m talking primo caca turned out by chemist-vintners. And I for one, can’t wait to see the ground that these high-end grasshoppers break out once it’s legal.”

Axe is spot-on in denying a hearing test from this “doctor.” LOL

Food for thought: Is Dr. Swerdlow a play on Dr. Feelgood of Motley Crüe? With his packages of candy cane? He’s so…..80’s. He seems like a character A&R music label reps would have on speed dial back in the day. Might be a stretch, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence this character is possibly based on an 80’s band song and album title since co-creator Brian Koppleman once was an A&R man 😉

Supreme Outfit – Doc Swerdlow. This monogrammed track suit…what a nod to the 1970’s and 1980’s. I just can’t. Dying. Dead.

Stellar OMG Moment, Take 2 – Axe has a thing for Wendy, and tells her so over the phone. The Writer’s Room needs to stop fucking with my head, AGAIN. The co-creators DESPISED any time the internet trolls shipped Wendy and Axe in the early days. What the hell? This goes against everything Brian Koppelman ever said about these two characters. My guess is, it won’t happen for one reason or another, like, yanno, Wendy inadvertently taking Axe and his bank down with Chuck’s lump sum ruse in combination with Axe’s ego by trying to corner the cannabis market before Prince does. But the writer’s sure are dick-teasing us with this romance before everything comes to an end. No pun intended.

Honorable Mention – Ira because of The Honeymooners reference. But can’t give it a full-on award because of the controversary DV subject matter and subsequent catchphrase it relates to. Ira tells Chuck, “You keep at this, you’re gonna pull an embolism or send your blood pressure into Alice Kramden territory, to the moon.”

Damianista

Substantial Suitor – Wags

This is how a substantial suitor looks like!

While the poll I have run on Twitter gives it to Axe, it is my award and I am keen on presenting it to Axe’s newly minted Axe Bank CEO.

Wags does not only bring the celebrity chef Tom Colicchio himself to cook and serve a lovely dinner for two (that pea puree!) in the office he also manages to deal with Hard Bob as well as alpha (Dollar Bill) and beta (Ben Kim, Tuk) employees of the company during dinner. It is up for debate whether Chelz is impressed only because Wags is not a lap dog but a Rottweiler but, all in all, Wags is one step closer to the child he will raise right 🙂

Perfect Synonym  for “Occupied” – Chuck Senior

“Try one of the upstairs commodes. And have a little respect for a man with one recently-installed fucking kidney.”

Chuck Senior has the best lines and Jeffrey De Munn steals every scene he is in.

Deepest Pockets (for Wendy) – Axe

He donated $25M to Pancreatic Cancer Research Foundation to save Wendy’s medical license in Season 4 Finale Extreme Sandbox. And now he dives deep into his pockets once again to pay $25M in cash to buy Wendy’s shares in Taylor Mason Carbon.

“Done.”

Oh God. I do not think we have seen Axe looking like that I think we have seen Axe looking like that, with so much affection, only at Bruno before!

Super Sneaky Strategist – Chuck

He has got “Peerless Punching Bag” awards from me two weeks in a row but, lo and behold, Chuck is back in the game with a super sneaky strategy.

Now tell me. Suppose you are Chuck, and you are holding this Jeffersonian dinner with the likes of the NY governor, a NY senator, the Manhattan DA, the Solicitor General and Mike Prince of all people. Would you actually like your soon-to-be-ex-wife interrupt your dinner with a Face time call?

No.

Given that Chuck certainly knows Wendy will get pissed and give him a call as soon as she receives the demand for closure, why doesn’t he make Ira send them to Wendy the next morning and have his dinner party in peace?

BECAUSE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, HE WANTS WENDY TO CALL, SEE THE MEETING AND LET AXE KNOW ALL ABOUT IT. THIS IS THE TRAP HE AND PRINCE HAVE SET UP FOR AXE. UGH.

Notice that Chuck does not even try for Wendy not to see anyone at the table; on the contrary, he lets Wendy see Prince on the screen.

Wendy is a smart woman. But since she is distracted by the thought that Chuck wants to look into TMC books she does not even think about the timing of the envelope delivery. This is Billions writers at the top of their powers! Hats off.

Pettiest Move – Taylor

“IR girls are growing on trees these days.”

Lauren has been honest with Taylor only to hear back the pettiest insult she will probably hear in her entire life. While Taylor may be right that whomever they trust have chosen to fuck them over, Lauren is one of them. I register firing Lauren, from her position and from their life together as Taylor’s first big slip.

TailThatWagsTheDog

The ‘Axe is Right About One Thing’ Award – Wendy did fuck up in her handling of Tanner. She was supposed to make him productive for Axe. Instead she started an affair with him, which is ENTIRELY unprofessional. You know for someone who started in season one so pure and so above the fray, she has been just as bad in some ways as Bobby and Chuck. In some ways worse. She took an oath as part of her job, as did Chuck. Those two have definitely desecrated those oaths over the years. Bobby took no such oath of course, except to make as much money as possible. Point being, she is far from being the white knight of this group -I don’t know who is. Sacker?

Oh the Humanity Award – The masks – despite the fact that I’ve been surrounded by people in masks for the past 18 months, it was very jarring to see the Axe crew all in masks. Now, they did a good job of ending that by introducing the knowledge that they all had been vaccinated, which was awfully darn convenient. I wonder where the state of New York was in their mask mandates at the time of the filming, and if they held off shooting until they knew they could do so without people in masks. They must have.

This is How We Honor Paul Newman Award? – The Color Of Money??? Of all the great Newman films out there, and I’m sure BK has seen them all, they had to quote this one??  It’s bad enough that movie was the only one he won an Oscar for – he easily could have (should have?) won for Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Slap Shot – heck, even Cars 3! We all know they gave him that as an honorary (we screwed up before and we know you deserve one so here is one even though this movie is rather lame). And then for that to be the one that Billions cites – Billions, home to the in-the-know references  above all else? At least they could have done The Towering Inferno or something.

Where’s Spyros? Award – Ummm, if Hard Bob is going to be a compliance person at Axe’s new bank, where does that leave Spyros? In fact, he seems to have fallen completely off the table. Again I think it has to do with availability over the pandemic, but they had such a good thing going with he and Dollar Bill. In fact, they supposedly had this great scene for the two of them which had to be left on the cutting room floor due to the pandemic rewrites, and now they seem to have marginalized the character completely. Have they just decided to move on from Spyros? I sure hope not. Stephen Kunken is one of the absolute good guys in acting.

Are They Really Going There??? Award – They’re finally going to have Bobby and Wendy get together?  They’ve bene teasing this since season 1, and I always appreciated how they never crossed that line. Now it seems they are gearing up to cross it. I hope they don’t. I actually never wanted Bobby to leave Lara – it would have been nice if one of them had maintained their relationship with their spouse.  Some times I have a hard time figuring out who the protagonist is in this show.

Final Thought – Damianista told me this episode was going to be awesome before I watched it, and she was entirely right. This was the Billions of Season 2, where the game of cat and mouse or three-dimensional chess was absolutely riveting. One of my favorite moments of that season was when Chuck was laughing as he unleashed his Ice Juice scheme – I had no idea that was coming, and it was brilliant. Now, however, I am more suspect and more discerning, so like Damianista I am looking at these moves and seeing how it is a setup in one way or another. I love what they are doing here to close the season, I just wish I didn’t know as much as I do.

Author: Gingersnap

Management Analyst, part-time Adjunct Professor and Computer Software Consultant by day and Damian Lewis aficionado by night.

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