Ballers Recap: Run Away As Fast As You Can

Photo: HBO
Episode Title
Heads Will Roll
Editor’s Rating

The ballers of Ballers step back into the sober sunlight in “Heads Will Roll.” After a hellacious night of partying and continuous bomb-dropping at Spencer and Joe’s mixer/bacchanalian boat show last week, the men come face-to-face with serious decisions to make, which may also come with serious repercussions. Unfortunately, many of them spend the episode ducking and dodging these decisions as they would an opponent on the field.

Resident voice of reason Spencer found himself uncharacteristically fleeing the neurologist’s office during an appointment scheduled by his concerned on-again/off-again sports-reporter girlfriend. Ricky avoids telling Seifert why he still has beef with Alonzo. Charles suddenly acquires a potential side chick, making him actually consider cheating on his devoted wife. Vernon, thanks to Reggie’s greedy ass, practically pisses away his chances of playing with the Cowboys after he asks for an insane amount of money. Even Joe takes off on his boss’s boat to hang out with bikini-clad girls and football players one last time.

It’s not as though most of these guys are running away because they can’t take the pressure. Despite Spencer's obvious nervousness about having a neurologist check to see if he has concussive syndrome, the reason he left abruptly was to go talk some sense into Vernon after he turned down the sweet deal Jason negotiated for him: a $71 million five-year contract, with $40 million guaranteed. That's an amazing haul, but Vernon — or, more to the point, Reggie — was shooting for $101 million. Spencer is so fed up with Vernon and Reggie and their dumb-ass posturing, he tells them that when Vernon pays back the $300K he owes him, the two of them are done.

You can hardly blame Spencer for washing his hands of the pair. Vernon, who doesn’t even seem to know how to control his own life (despite Spencer's pleas for him to get it together), complies with whatever Reggie says. This is a bad game plan since Reggie is — how to put this? — the GODDAMN WORST. He is indeed the kind of garbage person who would wear a neck brace while meeting with Spencer and Jason about Vernon’s deal, just to remind them of the trauma he endured when Spencer pushed his coked-up ass into a DJ booth at the party. (Naturally, he doesn’t wear it when Spencer meets up with them at the restaurant.) I said it last week, and it still holds: Spencer may have to let these idiots make the mistakes he’s been trying so hard to warn them about.

However, I would prefer not to see the lovable Charles screw up. The dude has a loving wife, a sweet job at a car dealership, and a chance to get back in the game — if he really wants it. Unfortunately, he now also has Sammy, the scrumptious dime-and-a-half he met at the party, sending him sexts and calling him about coming over. Unless former ballplayers tell me otherwise, this was the most far-fetched subplot of the night. As the show established in the pilot, the retired Charles is unattractive to women looking to hook up with active football players. So who is this girl, and why is she feenin’ for him all of a sudden? Plus, is Charles’s relationship with Julie so fragile that he’s actually pondering some side action? Boy, you know better than that.

Meanwhile, Ricky is trying to do the right thing. Sure, he was still in a mischievous mood (he told Charles he gave his number to Sammy), but he was also trying to smooth things over with Alonzo, apologizing and telling him he broke it off with his mom. Alonzo looked like he was okay, eventually forgiving Ricky — but as Ricky learns when he goes to the parking lot and sees that someone jacked his Ferrari, the dude is still holding a grudge. He goes to Seifert for advice, keeping the whole "I had sex with his mom" thing under his hat. Seifert advises him to be the better man, to ignore Alonzo’s dick moves, and always repeat this mantra: “I am bigger than my problems.” Ricky does his damnedest to keep a cool head, especially when he retrieves his Ferrari and sees it’s on blocks. Honestly, between that and destroying his Js, how the hell is Alonzo still alive?   

Finally, we have Joe, waking up on the boat and wondering if that N-word slip he made at the party was just a dream. (Spencer informs him that it wasn’t.) He's about to split until he discovers he still has female friends on the vessel — and they call up more female friends, who bring along New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz and Arizona Cardinals linebacker LaMarr Woodley. This prompts Joe to immediately give the boat captain a wad of cash and jet into the open waters before Mr. Anderson comes back to get the Old Man. Joe gets Cruz as a potential client in the process, and informs Anderson about this when he sees him back on the shore, hoping the news will make his boss more forgiving of the boat joyride.

That promising business lead is more or less the only positive development before the credits roll on “Heads.” Writer Rob Weiss and director Julian Farino boldly end things abruptly, leaving most situations unsettled. Will Spencer go back to the neurologist and get that MRI? Will Charles, last seen speeding past his house, meet up with Sammy? Will Vernon see the light, kick Reggie to the curb, and let Spencer handle his money? Will Ricky tell Alonzo, “Listen, I smashed your mom! Can you get over it before you blow the team’s chance to win a championship?”

I don’t know if we’ll get answers immediately, but the show certainly has me intrigued.


  • Thanks to that flashback at the beginning of the show, I now know Spencer’s last name is spelled “Strasmore.” I’ve been misspelling it wrong all this time.
  • What is that erratic, fist-making motion Spencer does with his left hand? A neurological tic? Or a signal to everyone that he’s fourfiveseconds from wildin’?
  • I’d like to see Ricky interact more with Tyler James Williams’s water boy in future episodes. They make a funny team, especially after Ricky grabs his hand in order to calm down.
  • Reggie’s still the WORST, but I have to admit that middle-finger “measuring stick” move he made was funny.