Ballers Recap: Gone Fishin’

Dwayne Johnson as Spencer Strasmore. Photo: HBO
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What happened to Ballers? What happened to the over-the-top, fun, fancy-free show that was so beguiling and gave so many black male actors the opportunity to be charismatic and vulnerable? This episode feels like a book report. Anything that can make me bored while I watch Dwayne "La Roccia" Johnson has something terribly wrong with it. The man is a sentient firework.

La Roccia and Jason are drinking because La Roccia's girlfriend is apparently being dismissed for being a woman with ambition and might be moving across the country. Jason is celebrating La Roccia's new single status because he's incapable of being committed to a woman he can't see. Men, am I right? An old fishing buddy of La Roccia's is speculating on the draft, and unfortunately, Travis is about as attractive as a woman with ambition. HEY, YO! Travis skipped the scouting combine, so basically no one knows if he can run, throw a ball, or even knows what a football is. Jason needs Travis's star to rise, and since La Roccia is buddy-buddy with the announcer, they're all going to take a field trip together and convince him to change his predictions … or else.

Meanwhile, Charles meets with Dulé Hill for the first time in his new professional role and he's already got a soul-crushing assignment: letting one of his former teammates go. This person doesn't need to have a name because he is merely a prop in Charles's journey of self-discovery. Dulé Hill wants Charles to cut PERSON over the phone, but Charles knows a conversation like this needs a personal touch.

As La Roccia and Jason get ready for their fishing trip, Travis pulls up in his positively annoying penis compensation of a pick-up truck. La Roccia and Jason lay down the law with Travis: He's here to make nice and get some goodwill with the sports reporter, Mark. Jason tells Mark that his hair is on fleek and the 16-year-old black teen who came up with "on fleek" felt a pang in her heart. Travis does not know how to be cool for even one minute and immediately shoves his hands in Mark's face to prove they're not small. Is Travis the Donald Trump of Ballers? Travis also takes the opportunity to call Mark, a three-time Super Bowl winner, a has-been. Jesus, dude.

Denzel Jr. is swanning around in some fabulous silk pajamas, preparing breakfast, when he finds his grand viziers discussing his future. Time is running out for Denzel Jr. to make a decision and his team of advisers can't seem to come to an agreement. They send him over to his adult playhouse to ruminate.

Can someone take their top off in this episode? I'm about to fall asleep.

Joe is going to a party at an unknown millionaire's home to meet some woman we've never met before and all we know about her is she likes tequila. Being a woman on this show is bleak. Ana, Joe's companion for the evening, reveals that the house belongs to Andre and I'm getting the feeling this was all a setup.

Charles gets dropped off at PERSON's home by his wife because he's apparently unable to do anything without anyone forcing him to do it. A man dressed as Elmo exits PERSON's house and PERSON's daughter answers the door and she's got a birthday hat on. This is some screenwriting 101: "Does your character have to give someone bad news? Deliver it on their child's birthday and make that child sick." But on Ballers, there's no irony. There's no wink at the audience at this terrible trope. The daughter isn't even that sick. She has asthma. Like, she's sick, but she'll probably be okay. Charles, of course, can't deliver the news and leaves after a scene that shapes up to be PERSON listing things in his life he's hopeful for and Charles going, "Yup. I hear that."

Charles has his wife pick him up and while he's eating the orange slices she brought him, she figures out he didn't do the job. She tells him no one had sympathy for him when he got cut, so why afford it to another living human being? Charles goes back inside and finds PERSON terrorizing his backyard and ruining his daughter's birthday party. After Charles left, he called Dulé Hill to find out why Charles was acting so weird. Charles talks him down from the edge of his empty backyard pool with an empty inspirational speech. When PERSON thanks him, Charles says it was more for himself. I'm still waiting for anyone to take off their shirt.

Denzel Jr. is practicing Hebrew with a book on tape while floating in his pool. Two beautiful women in bikinis slither into the water. If this were a Bond movie, they would have killed him. Instead, they're "representatives" from the great city of New Orleans sent to convince him to join the Saints. They've got a lot of great real-estate tips. Denzel Jr. gets a call from Jason, who tells him that New Orleans pulled their offer because his dad has been running his mouth on Twitter. Denzel Jr. storms back inside and calls his dad about this epic blunder. His dad says he was just looking out for Denzel Jr.'s best interests and says he's delaying his decision because he wants to stay in Miami to be close to Bella. This causes Denzel Jr. to immediate start throwing his dad around his kitchen. He also breaks all the glasses.

At the party, Joe is being seduced by Andre to join his firm with a very nice salary package. Andre tells him that he's the real brains behind his operation with La Roccia. Joe takes a moment to think about the offer and sneaks around the house looking for something, anything he can use against Andre. He finds Andre's office and goes snooping through some folders on his desk. On his way out, Andre confronts Joe and Joe rejects his offer and Andre lets him in on the vague "La Roccia has terrible credit" secret. How can Joe trust someone who won't trust him with his secrets?

Back on the boat, La Roccia and Jason try to convince Mark that Travis isn't a big waste of time despite all evidence to the contrary, like how Travis tries to fight a fish. La Roccia bets Mark that Travis can actually do a thing that's useful on the football field and they find a deserted island to make Travis run a 40-yard dash. Travis is scared shitless and is forced to run on sand. Thankfully, he runs as fast as he's supposed to and Mark decides that Travis isn't totally useless. This is still Ballers, so everything works out.