Ballers Recap: I’m on a Boat

Photo: HBO
Episode Title
Move the Chains
Editor’s Rating

I swear, some people just don’t know how to act when they get on a boat!

In the latest Ballers episode, “Move the Chains,” most of the action goes down on an expensive, expansive yacht, where varying degrees of ratchet behavior also happens.

The vessel belongs to the rich and dickish Mr. Anderson (The West Wing’s Richard Schiff), Spencer, and Joe’s boss, who nervously asks their superior if they can use his yacht (named The Old Man, by the way) for a mixer to drum up more business with potential athlete clients. Thankfully, by the end of the episode, no damage is done to the boat. However, the people inside the boat inflict a lot of damage — mostly on themselves.

Let’s start with the Spencer-Vernon-Reggie triangle. Even when Spencer extends an olive branch to start their business relationship over again and constantly assures Reggie he’s only there to make sure Vernon’s finances in check, Reggie continues to be a pain in Spencer’s ass. Still sore about that $300,000 loan Spencer gave Vernon, dude spends most of the episode throwing shade Spencer’s way, which people do pick up on. (He definitely got a “Who is this asshole?” out of Peter Berg’s Dolphins coach.)

Thanks to this episode, I practically see Reggie’s whole arc mapped out for the rest of the season. While he claims to be looking out for his boy Vernon, even telling Spencer he’s mostly pissed that he wasn’t consulted about the ideas he had for his friend and his brand, we later learn that that’s all bullshit. No person would look out for his friend’s burgeoning pro-ball career by pressuring him to snort cocaine off topless groupies and taking photos of it on his iPhone, which is exactly what Reggie does with Vernon. I predict that Spencer will sort through Vernon’s financial records, discover that Reggie has been stealing money from Vernon, and alert Vernon of what his “friend” has been doing. Vernon will confront Reggie and tell him to get to steppin’. Reggie will either use those boat-party snapshots as leverage for a buyout or, just out of revenge, sell them to TMZ or Deadspin or "Page Six."

But enough about Reggie. Let’s get to Ricky smashing Alonzo’s mom!

Yes, we finally learn why Ricky’s teammate has been passive-aggressively giving him hell. (Seriously, tossing his J’s, clothing, and iPhone in that ice-cold bath — how is that man still breathing?) Thanks to a tip courtesy of his sports-reporter ex, Spencer informs Ricky that his latest jump-off, an interior designer named Cara, is none other than his teammate’s mom. That’s right – Ricky is the Delonte West to Alonzo’s LeBron James! But instead of putting an end to the relationship right there (and let’s not forget that Ricky ALREADY HAS A GIRLFRIEND!), Ricky actually considers continuing it. When Spencer lets him know he’s once again going down the rabbit hole of bad publicity, Ricky gets all snappy and argumentative on him. But even Ricky starts having second thoughts when he and Cara go off for a quickie in one of the yacht’s bedrooms (where we see Ricky wears drawers with Tabasco sauce bottles on them) and she tells him that Alonzo is one of several kids she has.

Once again, I see the writing on the wall for this story line in the coming weeks. Either Ricky will finally break it off with Cara, who will most likely get scornful and find a way to retaliate (she’ll probably stick the rest of her kids on him), or Alonzo will get back at Ricky by getting it on with Ricky’s girl, who really should dump him anyway.  

Meanwhile, we have Charles and Joe separately getting their party on. Charles tries to put on the brave, I’m-glad-to-be-retired face for Vernon, eventually coming clean to him about how much he would prefer playing ball again instead of being a big dude who works at a Chevy dealership. (He amusingly incited Vernon to tell Charles he’s depressing the hell out of him.) Nevertheless, he got in the party spirit as the night wore on, even proudly admitting to Spencer he puked in a dinghy.

As for Joe, he did his damnedest to mingle with the big timers throughout the episode. (His body language around Mr. Anderson was so visibly shaky and timid, I almost felt bad for the tool.) While Spencer was winning over guests with ol’ war stories involving groin grabs and the odd finger up the bum, Joe was striking out with his straight-talk spiel. Eventually he got the players on his side, thanks to his skills playing dice (did he actually yell “WORLD STAR!” during that game?) and got the girls’ attention when he said the boat was his.     

All of this makes me think one thing: Poor Spencer. He’s figuratively and literally keeping this damn boat afloat by staying the sole voice of reason among these knuckleheads. Even though he’s still chomping on those painkillers (when he needs to take one in public, he puts one in his fist and pretends to cough while tossing it in his mouth — I gotta admit that’s clever!), he didn’t partake in the blow or go off the deep end with the booze. Ironically, he’s the one who caused a scene when he pushed Reggie in the DJ booth. Of course, Reggie deserved the hell out of it — after ranting about how he’s not going to let Spencer take Vernon and his family away from him (bish whet?), Reggie low-blowed him by bringing up Spencer being adopted. And even though Reggie made Spencer briefly look like the bad guy at his own shindig, Spencer turned it around and brought everybody back to party mode — right before Joe called the predominantly black crowd “my niggas” and got tossed in the damn water.  

This 30-minute dip into debauchery would’ve been a chore to sit through if Spencer wasn’t around to serve as the chaperone. It’s becoming quite obvious that Ballers is less a show about the glitz and griminess of pro football and more about a guy trying to prevent his buddies from turning into complete assholes. I hope that as the show progresses, Spencer will realize he can’t save all these gridiron goofballs from making the same mistakes he did.