The Unbeatable, Unstoppable, Unparalleled MVPs from Billions Season 7 Episode 5, “The Gulag Archipelago”

Billions is back and so is our MVP series! We continue to award our Most Valuable Players for Billions season seven 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 from the episode – from sports references, music and tasty food to pop culture remarks, shocking twists and ultimate paybacks. In case you missed it, catch up with the MVPs of the season seven premiere Tower of London, episode two Original Sin, episode three Winston Dick Energy and episode four Hurricane Rosie.

Now let’s dive in. Here are the Billions MVP awards for Season 7, Episode 5, “The Gulag Archipelago.”


Homecoming King – The crown goes to Bryan Connerty for making a brief appearance in the episode. I got my wish! In our ‘Billions Season 7 Wishes, Expectations and Fantasies’ post, my fantasy was for days of old characters to make brief appearances so we could close the chapter on their journey. I mentioned a slew of people including, Lara, Axe’s children (we got Gordie in episode 2 ‘Original Sin’), Bryan Connerty, Rebecca Cantu, Lonnie Watley, Axe’s mom, Sara, Lauren, Oliver Dake, Dr. Gus, Chef Ryan, Oscar Langstraat, Rudy and so much more. That spurred another post ‘Our Top 3 Billions Characters We’d Love to See Return,’ and my top choices were Rebecca Cantu, Bryan Connerty and Rudy.

Turns out Kate Sacker accelerated Bryan’s release from prison to ensure he wouldn’t be a liability when she runs for Congress and he now works as a chef at the hibachi restaurant Shogun in Queens! Leave it to Billions to go from Chef Ryan to Chef Bryan 😉 Bryan does have culinary skills though. He made the infamous onion volcano, spun the egg and tossed it into the top of his chef’s hat after playing bouncy ball with it on his spatula, juggled the pepper mill behind his back and showed off his knife skills by chopping up that egg so fast and harsh like he was dicing Chuck into a million little pieces. Check out the montage here:

Very cool to get a Bryan update, but let’s hope he’s not in the food industry too long with that shaggy hair and beard.

“Me, man. Look woman, I made fire. FIRE!”

It does sound like Bryan has hopeful plans to leave the hospitality business because he asked Kate to help restore his law license. She didn’t say no.

Manpower of Mayhem – Award goes to Dollar Bill and his helium party favors. Leave it to $Bill to turn sucking helium and funny voices into profit. During his show-and-tell at MCP, he explains there is a helium shortage so getting in on half a million shares at Titan Industries – who will be the only company that can fulfill their helium contracts – would turn 10x their investment. Even Victor partakes in helium inhalation, screeching in his comical voice and Ben Kim, Tuk, Philip and Rian take a balloon. Celebrations abound.

Best Pop Culture Reference in a Song – Taylor Mason. They told Victor to “pass the dutchie” somewhere else, rejecting the offer to suck helium from his balloon and join in on the funny voices shenanigans. Pass the Dutchie is a song by reggae group Musical Youth and was a popular, catchy tune in the 80’s. While debated today, “pass the dutchie” originally meant passing a joint (marijuana) around a smoking circle. So Taylor wasn’t partaking in the helium circle. Taylor does end up sucking helium from a balloon and speaking in a squeaky voice, but only to Wags and Wendy afterhours.

Top Pop Culture Reference in a Sport – Athlete and greatest sprinter of all time, Usain Bolt. Ira tells Chuck that his mugger was so fast he couldn’t catch him, like Usain Bolt. Full circle moment here – Damian Lewis has played Soccer Aid with Usain a couple of times. Usain was captain of World XI while Damian played for England in the 2022 match. Here they are for Soccer Aid 2018:

Finest Facial Expressions – Chuck Rhoades. Chuck’s face of intrigue while listening to Ira explain how he was mugged of his phone that contained a “vanilla” sex video involving a sex swing was hilarious and ironic. I mean, this reaction coming from a kinky guy like Chuck who gets his own rocks off if he’s whipped, tied up and peed on??? P.S. I agree with Raul, a sex swing is considered vanilla? More like fudge ripple! Or Dave who thinks it’s more like rocky road because of the nutty ingredient. 😉

Bridgerton Kindred Award – I bestow this upon Chuck Rhoades as well. Chuck would later describe Ira’s mugging to Raul as “burgled while promenading the boulevards of our fine city.” LMAO I immediately pictured Daphne and the Duke of Hastings Simon Basset taking their public stroll, making their courtship known to the gossip mongers that they were each other’s objects of affection.

Spyros the Slaughterer – Spyros gets this dishonor for absolutely butchering Van Halen’s I’ll Wait song. After that mock drumming, air guitar playing and cringeworthy voice, I’m definitely not captured under his spell! But I do give Stephen Kunken kudos for imitating the motion of sliding down the neck of the guitar like Eddie.

Food for Thought:

  • Karl’s knowledge of identify theft best practices makes me think he’d be Hall’s perfect understudy.
  • Bradford Luke and Kate Sacker have more chemistry and flirtatious behavior over a manila folder than Bradford and Wendy have over anything.
  • Loved the Flashdance reference. Dollar Bill said his helium play was “sitting as pretty as Jennifer Beals holding the blowtorch.”
  • Cameo: This Bravoholic recognized Chef Kwame as a former contestant on Top Chef!


Complete Idiot –  Ira

Ira is a good man. A great friend. But I am sorry to say he is a complete idiot. First we learn that he has been keeping his homemade sex videos on his phone! Then, when he finally gets his phone back, he hesitates to delete the videos (so I do not believe him when he tells Chuck it was Taiga’s idea to make the videos). And as I am asking myself what kind of man does that, I find out: the kind that has his birthday as his password! OH. MY. GOD.

Most Impressive – Wendy

I am super impressed (I am sure Bradford is, too) to see that Wendy just gives her name and secures a day-of dinner reservation at arguably the best restaurant in NYC right now: Tatiana. And chef Kwame Onwuachi makes a cameo, too, to start them off with a few things: Chopped cheese with black truffle, curried goat patties with a few dipping sauces. I want to have them, too, chef. I’ve been trying to make a reservation for months to no avail!

Most Cruel – Kate

Bryan was Kate’s colleague, friend (and fling for a short time) and equal just until a few years ago. What he’s accomplished by getting a law degree is way more impressive than that Kate has because Bryan  grew up with a single mom who had to take multiple jobs to make ends meet whereas Kate grew up as a trust fund baby!

Both had dreams as young assistant US attorneys at the SDNY and now look at them. Kate is now running for Congress, while I do not think being a Teppenyaki chef  at Hibachi Shogun was Bryan’s dream. And as though this is not enough, Kate comes to Bryan’s workplace to threaten him to behave otherwise she can send him or his brother or maybe both back to prison. This is not only Kate but any character at their most cruel in Billions. 

Adorable Bromance – Chuck and Ira

These two, despite everything that happened between them, have such a real friendship and they are so adorable sharing the leftovers from Dave’s peace offering sweet potato pie!

And  I think the things Ira says about Chuck, that he could always see the big picture and has done the right thing, is about the Chuck we have never known, the Chuck we have never met, but who Chuck was before we met him in Billions. After all, Ira has known him way longer than we have!

Unexpected Literary Geek – Victor

I am in awe of Victor of all people talking about Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago” in the episode. He is not name-dropping, he knows what he is talking about. Bravo. As the great John Waters said:

“If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.”

Lady Trader

Worst David Lee Roth Impersonation: Spyros is cringe most of the time, and it’s funny. This, well this goes beyond the pale. Diamond Dave would not be happy with Spyros butchering one of the best songs from the album 1984 which also happens to be the first Van Halen cassette I ever purchased.

Best Rat Pack Reference: I will admit that the references I am getting in each episode are few and far between, but the Frank Sinatra/Jilly Rizzo one I definitely got! My knowledge and appreciation of the Rat Pack is mostly due to the hysterical Dean Martin Roasts, and Don Rickles’ roast of The Chairman jokes about how Jilly is Frank’s “muscle”.

The Fake Friend Award: I don’t believe for one minute that Chuck went to all that trouble to get Ira’s phone back because he really cares about his friend. Maybe a small part was because of friendship, but Chuck only does things that advances his agenda. It’s not like he hasn’t thrown everybody in his whole life under the bus at one point or another!


Best Comeback – Bryan!!!  That was one of my three! So psyched to see him – although, in full disclosure, I will admit that I didn’t recognize him as the chef. I was expecting Connerty to join Sacker for the meal, not for Connerty to be the one preparing it. I was wondering why she kept staring him down and he did the same – I must have been tired when I first watched it on Friday. Oops.

Most Soulless – Speaking of Sacker – what happened to her?  She has gone completely off the honor trail here. She knows Prince engaged in illegal bitcoin activity, she plays dumb when he won’t turn over the fugitive, and then she plays cutthroat with her old friend Bryan. She has gone from someone I openly rooted for, the last decent person left, to being one of the most selfish. How disappointing.

Most Classless – Soon-to-be Chief of NYPD Raul Gomez – showing Ira’s sex videos around to people at his swearing-in party? Completely classless, and borderline illegal? Certainly unethical. And this is the chief of police? Not cool.

Most Pompous – Prince and Scooter – the way they chastise the crew for not working around his own system to get the deal done. Wags tried doing that in the last episode and he got chewed out for it!  Which way is it going to be Prince, get the job done at all costs or stay within your system. Very inconsistent of them.

Best Sports Reference – Ben Johnson -a Canadian sprint hero – won the 100m in world record time in 1988 but was stripped of his title when he tested positive for steroids. So Ira knows who he is but doesn’t know who Don Larsen is? Uh-huh.

Least Believable Spark – Wendy and Bradford. Isn’t she old enough to be his mother? Yuck.

Best Movie Reference – Hunt for Red October – one of my favorite films and the best adaptation of any of the Tom Clancy books. IMHO, Alec Baldwin played a much more believable Jack Ryan than Harrison Ford did. Ford was too macho for the Ryan character. Baldwin fit the mold much better.  I tend to believe that this movie was brought in there because it is a favorite of the writers, but in this case I am ok with that since it is one of my favorites too.

More of this please! -The Double crosses – first Taylor outflanking Prince (and everyone else) and then Dave besting Chuck – this is the stuff I watch it for. A plot twist that I didn’t see coming. Both of these were great, and just help build up the excitement. I am all in for this final season. Can’t wait for Friday!


Author: Gingersnap

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

One thought on “The Unbeatable, Unstoppable, Unparalleled MVPs from Billions Season 7 Episode 5, “The Gulag Archipelago””

  1. Damianista/Lady Trader/TailThatWagsTheDog – Seems like we all awarded Bryan Connerty and/or Spyros this go-around! WORTH IT! 🙂

Join the conversation!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.