BALLERS Review: “Bull Rush”

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I mentioned last week that I was excited that  appeared to be moving some of the action to adult playground Las Vegas, Nevada. I’ve had my last three birthdays in Sin City and have a particular affinity for the place. Well, as long as I don’t stay longer than 72 hours. (Then, it’s just too much of a good thing). This week’s episode, “Bull Rush,” seems to keep that in mind with Spencer and Ricky doing it big in Vegas, with our other cast of characters remaining in Miami to deal with their own trials and tribulations.

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To be clear, Spencer’s in Vegas to bring the NFL to the city. Sure, he’s not the first one to have this idea (and I’m glad that Ballers actually acknowledges that this episode), but he’s just so darn charismatic that he might be the one to pull it off. Spencer has an in with the Mayor and the two catch up on the links. The mayor isn’t opposed to the idea but basically says it’s an uphill battle. Vegas, like all cities, is all about politics.

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Spencer’s big ally this episode happens to be an old flame, Chloe (Serinda Swan), who works with mogul Wayne Hastings Jr. Chloe helps Spencer navigate the desert metropolis and its politics. Oh, and naturally the two end up back between the sheets on more than one occasion, too.

Sure, there’s the obligatory dice table scene, with an always impetuous Ricky alongside his entourage, Spencer, and a bunch of other randoms who gather around as Ricky picks up more steam. The crowd roots Ricky on as he wins big and then loses it all in an instant. Ricky’s ready to put down a million to recoup his losses, but of course his friends think that it’s a horrible idea.

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What stands out in this Vegas storyline, though, is Spencer’s appearance at a monster truck rally. The former Vegas resident returns to his city with a big splash, and a crash. As he slides out from under the overturned truck, the crowd cheers as he announces his intentions to bring football to Vegas for real. My problem with most of these scenes, though, is that I’m not clear on what stands in Spencer’s way of bringing football to Vegas. He’s already got a sympathetic ear in Hastings, and ally (and “friend”) in Chloe. On top of that, the whole city appears to be behind him, too. Maybe it’s a bit early to be looking for an antagonist, but as things are being set up in the coming weeks, I’m hoping that one emerges. Again, the lack of conflict is something I’ve brought up a few times with Ballers, and I’m hoping this Sin City-focused season three makes sure to bring the drama.

Back in Miami, Jason has another interesting recruiting adventure. Last year, he courted a hotheaded but talented baller who at one point left Jason to rot with the alligators in a swamp. Last night, Jason tries to get at top running back Kisan. He heads into a seedy neighborhood where he’s robbed at gunpoint. Later, Jason actually finds Kisan and accuses the football player of setting him up. Instead, Kisan and his pals stop their fancy dinner (one friend quips that he was really enjoying his brussel sprouts) and help Jason get his money back.

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Charles, meanwhile, struggles to get back on solid ground after last week’s press conference snafu. And Vernon and Reggie continue to get in deeper with their weed business. Overall, these subplots were more substantive that last week’s ones, but I feel like Charles in particular isn’t getting as much screentime as he did last season. I’ve always loved the dynamic he’s had with his wife, for instance, but there’s been none of that so far.

Season 3, Episode 2 (S03E02)
Ballers airs Sundays at 10PM on HBOTB-TV-Grade-B

Read all of our reviews of Ballers here. 
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Ade writes about the philanthropy of billionaires and millionaires by day, and writes screenplays by night.
Follow Ade on Twitter: @derekadeniji
Keep up with all of Ade’s reviews here.

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