Ballers Recap: Florida’s Finest Swamps

Dwayne Johnson as Spencer, Rob Corddry as Joe. Photo: HBO


World of Hurt Season 2 Episode 4
Editor's Rating 2 stars

Maybe I was wrong to thinking that Ballers was black Entourage. Maybe it’s not all insane celebrations and Dwayne “A Rocha” Johnson’s print-mixing suits. Maybe this is black Game of Thrones. Different factions and houses clashing, far-flung characters connected through a few central ones, gratuitous female nudity instead of plot development. I guess that would make A Rocha our Ned Stark Who Lived. He’s trying to hold everything together in the face of everyone trying to destroy what he’s building. He just wants to do the right thing and also buy a yacht. Just like Ned Stark.

This week, we get a new character, Travis Mack, an FSU football star who dropped out to join the draft and is looking for an agent. Enter Jason, swamp right. While Jason tries to court this Florida stereotype, A Rocha has lunch with his girlfriend, who promptly tells him about her major job opportunity and he doesn’t even let her finish his sentence before he’s off doing his thing. Fuck her plot development, am I right? Maybe she should have had Littlefinger explain it while she dipped her nipples in a chocolate fountain.

A Rocha sees Andre at the next table with one of Suh’s hot female employees and two men who can only be described as “impresarios.” A Rocha wants to know what they’re all doing there and Hot Female Employee lets him know that Andre is helping Suh with some land-development deals. Ruh roh, A Rocha. Andre won’t stop until he’s decimated A Rocha’s stable of players.

Meanwhile, Denzel Jr. is debating the merits of New Orleans with his personal omelet homie while he looks up travel to Jerusalem. Um … sure? After discussing the beauty of Jewish women like Roger Sterling doing business with Manischewitz, Denzel Jr.’s dad offers to take him along to the barbershop and pick up a little sports-gambling-related windfall.

Out in the swamps, Jason walks onto the set of a Deliverance remake to meet Travis and his uncles. This is all a nuanced character portrayal. Go Seminoles! Travis is disappointed that Jason didn’t try to woo him with a gift, but Jason knows that the best gift is friendship. Meanwhile, Vernon is watching Dallas tease a press conference about his future. Apparently, the fans are wondering if hiring him was money well spent. I propose an alternate episode of Ballers, all from the point of view of different fans. If The League were still on air, I’d love a cross-over. Reggie calls A Rocha to sweeten up someone — anyone — with the Cowboys.

A Rocha goes with Joe to meet with Anderson, so they can talk about the rumors that have been flying around. Vernon might get released. Denzel Jr. got passed over by the Dolphins. Anderson wants to know what the hell is happening with all of their clients. A Rocha believes that Jason will sign Travis and bring in a bunch of new clients; he also believes in their plan to destroy Andre for no real reason other than crushing something just because they can. Anderson is not pleased. Why would anyone be pleased? But because this is Ballers, no real threats are made and A Rocha and Joe can continue on doing exactly what they’re doing.

Vernon is at home feeling sorry for himself and watching TV, a position I am very familiar with. (He’s missing the bag of marshmallows in his lap and the box of red wine I’m typically consuming during a similar bout of self-doubt.) Vernon’s friends bring in five topless cheerleaders to cheer him up. Finally. Some titties on this show. Before the dancers can launch into their full routine (you wouldn’t believe what they can do with an old-timey megaphone), A Rocha comes in and turns off the music and they file out, presumably into the street, still without shirts. Miami is weird. A Rocha reassures the Vernon gang that he smoothed things over with the team, or at least tried to. Reggie offers to let Vernon shoot him in the kneecap with a paintball to get even. This is Chekov’s paintball gun.

Back on Bray Wyatt’s compound, Jason and Travis take a trip deep into the swamp on a fan boat. Jason tries to get Travis to have some realistic expectations about the draft and what an agent can do for him. The fan boat breaks down and Travis has Jason climb into the glades to give it a push. Travis takes off laughing like a maniac, leaving Jason to die. He manages to wade through the swamp back to the compound and promptly tells Travis to go fuck himself. Travis likes his style because this is Ballers. Jason, you’ve got yourself a nightmare of a client.

Dule Hill meets with Charles to tell him that he’s fired. That’s the end of his story line for the episode. Give this man something to do! Denzel Jr. and his dad are out for a drink when his dad gets into a fight with another bar patron and walks off into the sunset. Denzel Jr. goes to his dad’s apartment and starts poking around his dad’s scrapbooks of his football achievements and he feels something.

Vernon gets his house smudged before the press conference. When the team owner comes on ESPN, he announces that Vernon injured himself while training and they look forward to welcoming him back onto the field sometime next season. Yes. It all worked out. A Rocha shoots Reggie in the foot with the paintball gun and we feel narrative satisfaction.

Joe meets a private eye who has some dirt on Andre. It’s some dirty photos. Joe take them to A Rocha to confront Andre in another fancy restaurant where he’s having dinner with another Hot Female Employee. A Rocha meets with Andre at the bar and asks for Andre to back off. If he does, they’ll all go their separate ways. If he doesn’t, A Rocha will do something with these pictures of Andre banging up to three of his nannies. Andre ain’t never been scared of anyone or anything, especially not A Rocha. If A Rocha could find dirt on Andre, imagine what Andre could find about him … or Joe. Andre is too big to fail and A Rocha just entered into a world of hurt.

I suspect this threat will be resolved next episode because Ballers.

Ballers Recap: Florida’s Finest Swamps