Billions (Season 7) Episode 5: If not for the triple cross at the last moment of this episode, you would forget that this is the final season of Billions’ because, for the most part, this is playing out like a typical late-era Billions episode, especially Season 6, considering that Mike Prince is still the antagonist here. Plus, Chuck’s subplot is so inconsequential until the end that it feels very much like an episode that wouldn’t be out of place in Seasons 4–5 of the show.
Billions (Season 7), Episode 5 Recap:
Episode 5 – The Gulag Archipelago
Let’s cut to the chase with the subplot of Chuck Rhoades, where he is helping Ira Schirmer, his deputy. Ira is mugged one night, and he requests that Chuck exert his privileges to get his phone back because it apparently contains homemade sex tapes, which, by his own admission, are vanilla. Like Chuck, I hate to sound snarky here, but the fact that the sex tape is already vanilla isn’t doing this subplot any favors from the sleaze factor or commentary section. But the important bit here is the inclusion of Dave Mahar (Sakina Jaffrey), who is smarting after having failed to triple-cross Chuck Rhoades and having to essentially call a truce, firstly by bringing in pie and secondly, by requesting to be co-showrunner in Rhoades’s fight against Mike Prince. Needless to say, Rhoades isn’t having it.
But while Rhoades thinks he has put the annoying pest that is Mahar out of his crosshairs, it turns out that she has a few tricks up her sleeve. Rhodes starts by meeting newly-minted NYPD commissioner Raul Gomez and asking for CCTV footage of that area during that time. When asked by a skeptical Gomez as to why he would ever risk his new job for this, Chuck lies and says it contains important documents pertaining to national security. Needless to say, that backfires hard because the phone is recovered, but it is soon kept under custody by the NYAG due to the presence of these “sensitive” documents. Chuck has to forcefully attend the bash coronating Gomez and tries to sweet-talk him into giving up the phone. He arrives, only to find that not only is Gomez showing the videos on Ira’s phones to his colleagues, but when asked to hand them over, he is surprised to find himself bamboozled as Dave Mahar reveals she has kept the phone for “security reasons” and to look through it with a fine-tooth comb. It doesn’t help that Ira, too, enters the party and tries to save the confusion, only to be hit by innuendo-laced jokes about the “vanilla” BDSM sex tapes.
It takes a special amount of laziness to be this bored by a subplot, but kudos to “Billions” for managing to make me care the least. The subplot resolves with Chuck agreeing to co-show run the investigation on Mike Prince by making her First Chair, Special Assistant United States Attorney, and Ira later, after seeing Rhoades having managed to get the phone, acknowledges that the cost must have been high. He also voices what we also have been thinking of Chuck Rhoades these last seven years: the big picture being as such, Ira Schirmer was a liability and should have been dropped. But as Chuck Rhoades points out, the only big picture he is more concerned about is his friends. To which we ask, “Legitimate growth or punting for sacrificial lamb later?”
The Mike Prince Capital plot, ostensibly the main one, concerns Taylor and Philip, the co-heads of the Taylor Mason Cap and now co-heads of MCP, being forced to submit under Mike Prince’s or Scooter’s leadership anytime an investment of 500 million dollars comes across their desks. Taking into account a plan by Dollar Bill regarding the helium company Titan and a 600-million-dollar buy-in for an overall return on investment of 1.4 billion dollars. Taylor convinces Spartan-Ives of the buy-in, and Victor also convinces for an extra hour while the crew rushes furiously to contact Mike Prince and Scooter for the sign-off.
Mike Prince and Scooter, meanwhile, are at a retreat with Killer Mike (his second appearance in a major television series after DAVE Season 3 this year) to convince Mike for an endorsement in return for Prince investing and putting money in black banks. It works for the most part in that Killer Mike agrees to an endorsement of Mike Prince’s presidency down the line, but due to Mike and Scooter having submitted their phones before entering the retreat, they are unable to respond and thus sign off on the investment.
This all happens because Mike Prince is unable to entrust the people he had ostensibly left in charge of Mike Prince Capital. However, being the egotistical maniac that Prince is, he advises the crew of MCP to take this loss as a lesson because, apparently, he would have found a way despite this setback if he had been in their shoes. The main difference, though, is finally giving Wags sign-off power on these deals, which apparently had been the endgame all along.
Billions (Season 7), Episode 5 Ending Explained:
Kate Sacker also had a subplot this week in which she had to ask the advice of Bradford Luke without inadvertently revealing what it was about. As per Luke’s advice, and later as she explains to a dejected Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore), who now works as a chef at Hibachi, there is a possibility that Connerty is now a current liability to Sacker’s political aspirations because she had apparently pulled a lot of strings to put Connerty and his brother out of jail (back in Season 4), and now she is ready to drop Connerty. Connerty, meanwhile, convinces Sacker to get his law license back and keep him as an ally, thus effectively starting a transactional relationship. A potentially interesting track is being developed here, but it feels a tad bit too late, considering that Sacker has always been built up as a character with political ambitions. The question is, will hitching her wagon with Prince truly help her aspirations?
Speaking of Bradford Luke, he too is feeling potentially lost in navigating the tightly wound, control freak yet charmingly manipulative Mike Prince. To that end, he asks, and Wendy takes over and asks him out on a date. That night, Luke, and through him, Wendy, asks permission to reveal Prince’s intimate details and psychological insights so that Luke can help him better navigate the presidential shark-infested waters. The problem is that this date is again going to develop a romantic track with Wendy Rhoades, which is again very hard to buy.
Finally, after Wendy meets with Wags and Taylor on the floor of Mike Prince Capital, we learn that this whole elaborate loss for MCP was a ploy by Taylor, such that Prince could finally give sign-off capabilities to Wags. Acknowledging that this is extremely risky, Taylor reveals that they are all in, and as the title of the episode comes full circle, Taylor ingests helium and croaks out, “Let’s send this motherfucker to Siberia.” Well and good, with lots of important pieces at their disposal, understandably, but how much of it will actually work? And why isn’t there a sense of urgency in any of these episodes, considering this is the final season?