BALLERS Review: “Elidee”

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This week’s picks up with the fallout from the injury that Vernon sustained while playing — wait for it — paintball. Not his finest moment. Sometimes art imitates life, though, and a Cowboys linebacker just was sidelined after getting hit in the eye by a paintball. In other words, these things do happen, and as a sports fan I’ve noticed that people can be harsh on athletes for making these kinds of mistakes during the offseason, forgetting that they’re human and want to let off some steam too.

The episode does a good humanizing Vernon after the bad news comes in that he’s torn his achilles. Does he tell the truth and risk not only his current but also his reputation throughout the league? Or does he lie (Spencer and Co. nudge him in this direction) and say he hurt himself while dutifully training during the offseason?

Meanwhile, Spencer also has to deal with Andre, who in this episode, does his dirty work without being seen. I like the fact that Spencer is kept on his toes here and has to keep his clients happy so that they don’t go over to the other side. Most of this storyline involves Spice Adams, a former player who’s interested in building a hotel to honor his mother. Spencer checks the site out and isn’t happy with its quality. He also makes a big gaffe and thinks that Adams’ mother is dead. No, she’s very much alive. Adams is just a good son who wants to honor his mother even as she’s alive and well.

Eventually Spencer gets Adams to pump the breaks on his plan until they can have a proper sit down. In the world of Ballers, it appears that many things can be solved by athletes simply believing that they’re being heard. This brings us to Jarret, who flies to New Orleans in order to be courted by the Saints. His question “where is the love?” First, he gets an offer of $30 million for a few years. Sitting across from execs in a boardroom, the look on his face suggests he feels he’s being lowballed. In a call to Spencer, though, Jarret seems to be more disappointed that there wasn’t more fanfare and courtship. The man wants to be wined and dined.

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Against Spencer’s advice, Vernon calls his execs and tells him how he really got injured . Promptly, he hears a click. The key word here is “advice” and that’s a problem. In my opinion, Spencer didn’t do nearly enough to stop Vernon from making this decision. I didn’t just want Spencer to council Vernon. I wanted him to actually put the hammer down if Vernon didn’t come to his senses. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with Vernon being honest and moral, and Spencer relating to this. But right now Spencer has both Andre on his back, and his boss Anderson pressuring him to secure more clients. Even if he failed, I wanted Spencer to actually act like there were urgent and serious stakes on the line.

At the end of the day, despite brief periods of losing his temper, Spencer is still a bit too nice for me. I’d much rather Spencer lay down the law here, say, than with a former rival player over a petty twitter beef. One is about a past we don’t know much about. The other has actual stakes and meaning in the present.

There’s also a subplot with Charles and his wife Julie that was kind of thin. He initially plays XBox, trying to figure out how to master his new position on the football field. Julie seems to just want him to show her attention. She takes the car into the shop, which annoys him, but then it comes back totally pimped out. I just wasn’t clear on what Julie wanted from Charles, and how it was resolved in the end.

The episode ends on a high note, though. Jarret hangs his head about to leave New Orleans without having felt the love, only to discover a tarmac full of cheerleaders, gospel singers, and fans of all ages singing his praises. Never one to not appreciate a good brushing of the ego, Jarret goes all in: “Coach! We’re gonna win the championship!”

TB-TV-Grade-B-
Season 2, Episode 3 (S02E03)
Ballers airs Sundays at 10PM on HBO

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Ade Adeniji writes about the philanthropy of billionaires and millionaires by day, and writes screenplays by night.
Twitter: @derekadeniji 

Keep up with all Ade Adeniji’s reviews here. 
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