I’m starting to notice a pattern on Ballers.
Every time the three main characters — Spencer, Ricky, and Charles*, respectively the ego, id, and superego of the show — dodge responsibility and briefly resort to their devil-may-care ways, they are reminded they’re not the same knuckleheads they used to be and they ultimately have to face the music. Walking cautionary tales one and all, this show routinely has them flirting with disaster on a weekly basis, only for them to realize they need to get their act together. In the world of Ballers, being a man is a continual process.
All three had to do the right thing in this week’s episode, “Everything Is Everything.” Spencer, who is easily the most responsible of the trio, spent most of the episode working up the nerve to reschedule that MRI he fled from a couple of episodes back. Operating more from fear than irresponsibility, he briefly gets vulnerable and confides to his girlfriend Tracy (wait — is she his girlfriend again? I have no clue) that he’s scared all those hits he took back in the day may have led to him getting something terminal upstairs. Unfortunately, she doesn’t hear all this — her call drops and she has to call back to tell him she lost the signal. (Or did she just hang up because she didn’t want to hear her strong, strapping man get sensitive?)
The episode ended with him getting that MRI, but Spencer wasn’t completely preoccupied with his mortality this week. He also had to get Ricky out of trouble yet again. It seems Alonzo’s mom has been talking to TMZ about their brief dalliance, even insisting ol’ boy likes to be spanked (which he denies). With Seifert informing Ricky that he doesn’t want a media sideshow, guess who he runs to for help?
Spencer orchestrates an exclusive, sit-down interview with Ricky and old pal/NFL insider Jay Glazer, but Ricky freaks out in the bathroom before the cameras roll. Of course, Spencer has to calm the boy down, telling him to go out there and hip people to “the real Ricky Jarret.” When Glazer starts asking him why he offered Alonzo $40,000 for his old “18” number, Ricky gets real. He finally comes clean about his old man, a.k.a. the pro-ball player sporting the “81” jersey in that photo from episode two. It turns out papa was a rolling stone, skipping out on Ricky and his mom and choosing not to have anything to do with his son, even when he followed in his old man’s footsteps. So Ricky wears “18” as an upside-down middle finger to his deadbeat dad. Even though this honesty (or is it? — the dude does have a flair for lying) is a turning point for Ricky, he unfortunately loses Annabella in the process. She heads out the door, gets in her car, and speeds away, with Ricky trailing her and saying that everything’s going to be different. Dude said that the last time.
While Ricky’s main squeeze moves on, Charles pitifully goes back to his after spending some time away. After last week’s blowup with Julie, Charles shows up on the doorstep of Ricky’s “fun house,” a secret clubhouse filled with bikini-clad girls, a dance room with a foam machine (how 2002?), and a home theater that’s constantly playing Her. While it appears as though Charles is having a good time, getting zonked out on heavy weed and dancing to Bell Biv Devoe in the foam room, he eventually comes to his senses once Julie appears and catches him trying to sneak out by climbing down from the balcony. She welcomes him with open arms, but not before pushing him in the pool (or “the love pond,” as it’s called).
“Everything” was mostly a silly affair, with Spencer, Charles, and Ricky each displaying brief moments of foolish behavior (Spencer’s immediately regrettable outburst at the beach, Charles’s stoned “My feet are wet!” declaration, Ricky trying to push Spencer away from the bathroom door). I don’t know if it was writer Evan Reilly and director John Fortenberry’s intention to capture these guys at their most ridiculous — everybody plays the fool sometimes, as the old Main Ingredient song goes — so they can snap out of it and start thinking clearly again. But it was funny to watch anyway.
SOME STRAY THOUGHTS
- We only got a brief scene of Vernon and Reggie — the show’s Mutt and Jeff — showing up at Spencer’s house so Reggie could drop the “word on the street” bomb about Spencer knowing Angela, who has yet to show her face. Are the writers beginning to realize that it’s best to take this pair in small doses? We’re at episode six and Vernon has yet to display a personality, while Reggie continues to be a brat. I believe a commenter theorized last week that Reggie is really behind the whole picture thing, since he did take phone photos at the party. It certainly wouldn’t be that surprising — dude’s starting to act like a weaselly comic-book villain.
- Rob Corddry’s Joe wasn’t around much. He did aid Spencer in busting Reggie’s balls about the photo of him doing coke off a girl (this scene once again shows off the snappy, profane chemistry Johnson and Corddry have together), and hang out with the annoyingly ponytailed lawyer Maximo Gomez at the track, effectively talking down his offer from half a million to $150,000.
- If Ricky’s “fun house” was so secret (not even Annabella knew about it — yet another reason she was justified in leaving the dude), how did Julie know about it?
- So, who the hell was that kid playing toss with Spencer?
- As much as Spencer wanted Ricky to keep it real, was Spencer’s cornball, from-the-heart gesture when Ricky looked his way really necessary?
- You know At the Home Theater With Stoops and TTD is a companion web series waiting to happen!
* An earlier version of this recap misidentified Charles as George.