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The Ballers Report: S2E4 - Loyalty, Family, and the war to come

Vernon gets good news and Jason gets a new client, but Ricky still searches for answers, and Spencer tries to find a quick way out of War. And strippers.

Linebacker Travis Mach (Adam Aalderks) is the newest cast member on Ballers
Linebacker Travis Mach (Adam Aalderks) is the newest cast member on Ballers
HBO.com

Welcome back to The Ballers Report, your weekly recap of HBO’s hit series Ballers. Starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and set in Miami, this is 30 minutes of fun time every Sunday night. Missed any of our previous recaps? Got you covered: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3.

Now, let’s get to it

Episode Recap

For those who are new, I’m going to spoil everything that’s happened in this episode, the 4th of season 2, of Ballers. Haven’t seen it, then go watch it, because the Ballers Report starts after Agent Jason Antonelli (Troy Garity) finds his way back to civilization. And, as per usual, all pictures courtesy of HBO.

ballers airboat swamp

"I'm a Miami Hurricane to the core, okay? We don't fraternize with those Seminole douchebags"   -Dwayne Johnson as Spencer Strasmore

After a couple DNP-CDs, Spencer Strasmore’s (Dwayne Johnson) girlfriend, TV reporter Tracy Leggette (Arielle Kebbel) returns this week. She and Spencer have a nice lunch meeting at the same restaurant, and at the same table as when she quit her last job in the face of sexist comments from her boss (that’s in episode 2). Tracy drops a bomb on Spencer: she has an audition for a job at ESPN in Bristol, CT. This feels like the build up to the show’s renewed commentary on sexism and wage discrimination from the first 2 episodes. The pair start to touch on what that may mean for their relationship, but Spencer’s attention is quickly drawn away. He sees Ndamukong Suh’s assistant meeting with his rival, financial manager Andre Allen (Andy Garcia). Spencer speaks to the group meeting on the other side of the restaurant, but it’s clear that his refusal to take Suh’s call last week when dealing with Spice Adams’ hotel foibles have cost him a client. Oh well. Tracy also asked Spencer if he got his hip looked at, but we all know that isn’t happening.

Ricky Jerret (John David Washington) is back from his free agency trip to New Orleans, but is non-committal about taking the Saints’ contract offer. He blows off T’s elaborate breakfast (cooked from scratch, mind you) to go with his father Dennis (Robert Wisdom) to Naples to collect gambling winnings. While in Naples, Ricky and Dennis have a falling out in a bar, because emotions and drink are bad bedfellows. Ricky, thinking his father abandoned him, finds out by looking through a photo album that maybe he doesn’t have the whole story. This feels like it’s going to be one of the bigger storylines for the rest of the season.

Charles Greane (Omar Miller) meets with Dolphins GM Larry Siefert (Dulé Hill). While Greane wants clarity as to his future position, Siefert informs him that there is no position, and he’s being released. Greane accepts his football fate and returns home. Once there, he lets his wife Julie (Jazmyn Simon) know that he’s been released, and that he’s going to retire once and for all, just like he planned to last season before Siefert brought him out of retirement from a car dealership to play LT for the Dolphins. While he puts up a strong facade to his wife, his face once she leaves to care for their baby shows he might not be as confident as he’s pretended to be.

Spencer and Joe Krutel (Rob Corddry) go to meet with Mr. Anderson (Richard Schiff) on his luxurious yacht. He is none too pleased with their expense account expenditures, and learns of their growing war with Andre Allen. Mr. Anderson questions Spencer’s capabilities to lead the Sports Division of Anderson Financial, and makes it very clear that both he and Joe need to do better getting clients, and growing the business. Once that point is made, Mr. Anderson summarily dismisses Spencer and Joe, but not until they finish their blinis. I mean, have some class, guys!

A television report (it’s psuedo ESPN; has all the same on-screen style, but none of the branding, for obvious reasons) breaks the news that the Dallas Cowboys will be holding a press conference to discuss Vernon Littlefield’s (Donovan W. Carter) injury status. This is troubling for Vernon and best friend Hatin’ Ass Reggie (London Brown) because after telling the owner the truth last week, they think the truth of his injury will come out and Vernon will lose his job. Reggie dispenses Spencer to call the Cowboys’ GM to get a read on the situation, but that is ineffective. After tangential friend Nate tries to lighten everybody’s mood with scantily clad women, Spencer clears the house to wait on the presser. In the end, the Cowboys cover for Vernon, letting him keep his contract and the good times continue to roll. On the way out, Spencer creates a diversion by shooting Reggie with a paintball gun (payback, bitch) and steals a bottle of Vernon’s Vicodin. It was so smooth, I missed this until my 5th watch. Yeah, the pill popping

Agent Jason Antonelli (Troy Garity) drives into the middle of the Everglades to sign LB Travis Mach (Adam Aalderks) as a client. This talented player is an eccentric individual, to say the least. Not only is Mach in the Everglades with his 3 uncles, he takes Jason on an airboat ride further into the wilderness. After feigning engine trouble, Mach leaves Jason, who had departed the boat to give it a push, in the middle of the swamp. Hours later, Jason returns to the trailer/house and gives Mach a piece of his mind. Mach then reveals that this was all a test, and he wants Jason to sign him, and help him rebuild his image before the NFL Draft. Mach dropped out of Florida State early, and skipped the NFL Draft Combine, so he’s fighting the perception of several bad choices at current. I mean, getting the hell away from FSU as soon as possible seems like the only good idea he’s had before signing Jason as his agent, so maybe there’s hope for Travis Mach yet.

"I'm too big to fail, Spence. You just entered a world of hurt. Shame on you"  -Andy Garcia as Andre Allen


To end the episode, Spencer and Joe go to meet with Andre Allen. Joe has previously met with a seedy disbarred lawyer to get dirt on Allen for this meeting. Spencer wants to meet with Andre solo, since they have history. Spencer tries to give Andre an olive branch (Suh and his wealth) and an ultimatum (the scandalous information Joe received) to bring their war to an end. Andre knows what the "dirt" is, however, and doesn’t care. Andre wants Terrell Suggs back as a client, and is very clear that if that doesn’t happen, Spencer will get his once-desired war. This is a problem for Spencer, who thought he had the situation solved, but now has far more questions than answers.

Miami Locations

Spencer and Tracy having lunch at the Raleigh Hotel.

ballers spence tracy lunch cropped

"Dolphins offices" aka the Greentree Practice Fields at the University of Miami.

ballers dolphins offices

Spencer driving over on South Beach.

ballers driving south beach

Ricky and Dennis at a bar in Naples.

ballers ricky dennis bar

Mr. Anderson on his boat in Brickell.

ballers anderson boat blinis

Vernon and Reggie waiting on the Cowboys press conference.

ballers vernon reggie nate waiting on presser

Spencer stealing Vernon's Vicodin (look at his right hand by the table, guys).

ballers spencer stealing vicodin

Cameos

Another week, more cameos. And, in the recent tradition, most of them are by dialogue. Here's the list:

Ballers S2E4 Cameo List
Name Organization
Mark Schlereth ESPN
DeMarco Murray (by dialogue) Philadelphia Eagles
Terrell Suggs aka T-Sizzle (by dialogue) Baltimore Ravens
Ndamukong Suh (by dialogue) Miami Dolphins
Sean Payton (by dialogue) New Orleans Saints
Jay Glazer (by dialogue) FOX Sports
Anthony "Spice" Adams Retired, formerly Chicago Bears
University of Miami Hurricanes
Florida State University Seminoles
University of Southern California
Chicago Bears
Dallas Cowboys
Miami Dolphins
Butkus Award The Butkus Foundation
Lombardi Trophy The National Football League
ESPN

Mark Schlereth on "ESPN"

ballers schlereth

Cowboys owner Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald) on "ESPN"

ballers cowboy owner e4

Soundtrack

A shorter soundtrack this week, as there were a couple native background songs that I couldn’t identify.

Swamp by the Talking Heads. Jason is driving to the swamp to try to sign a potential client. The name of the song is swamp, and has heavy blues and folk undertones. I mean, what else is there to say?

Choking on your spit by Seratones. This rocky/bluesy joint is the perfect soundtrack for Jason being left in the middle of the swamp by Travis Mach. The soulful lead vocals evoke the rural nature of the Everglades, and the rock instrumentation lends to a nice and energetic tune.

Slippery When Wet by The Commodores. If you don't know the Commodores, you need to integrate them into your brain. This is one of the great American bands of the 1970s. And, Slipper When Wet is a great tune, with plenty of funk, and an easy groove. It's an oldhead song, played as the show transitions to oldhead Dennis Jerret's barbershop. Perfect placement.

Escarole by Cash Cash. Heavy with electronic elements, this song has good forward momentum. It's definitely a party type song, and is the backdrop to Nate bringing strippers to Vernon's house to try and cheer him up. This could definitely be a strip club anthem if it was played about 20% faster. Not that I know anything about that. I mean...just listen to the song!

Stars by Connie Constance. A slow and solemn song, this plays as Ricky Jerret looks for answers at his dad's house. The song is kind of ethereal, with stylized background sounds, nice and open and not over crowded structurally. The percussion underneath the melody does a nice job of propelling the song forward while still giving plenty of time for it to sit and explore the various sections of the melody. There's a bunch, A BUNCH, of instrumentation throughout this song.

Beware by Big Pun. The title is the most important thing for this week's end credits selection. Spencer needs to beware as he moves forward with his war against Andre. This is classic hip-hop, with a solid instrumental, and Big Pun rapping the verses over the top. Can't get much more textbook than this.

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That's it for The Ballers Report. See you guys next week.