BALLERS Review: “Million Bucks in a Bag”

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There’s a difference between having a million bucks in a bag and a million bucks in the bag. The latter suggests some kind of finality. The former, like plenty still could go wrong. This week’s , “Million Bucks in A Bag,” allows plenty of room for Spencer’s comeback to go awry on next week’s season finale.

Spencer’s pad is in tatters. A woman in the shower beckons a hungover Spencer to join. It’s the day after the NFL draft party and everything (and everyone) is a mess. Jason calls and snaps Spencer out of his stupor. Spencer is still fired and still broke. Jason also reminds Spencer that his clients won’t wait much longer for Spencer to get his act together.

Later, Jason tells Vernon and Reggie that the $300,000 that Vernon got from Spencer a while back was all the money Spencer had at the time. Vernon got a lifeline from Spencer and feels indebted to return the favor. He offers Spencer $1 million but Spencer refuses. It’s one thing to ask for Spencer to ask Ricky for money, but to make a habit of asking clients for money is another. It’s a bad look and Spencer’s pride won’t let him do it.

Speaking of pride, Spencer gets another call from his doctor about a surgery for his hip. Spencer gives his doc another brush-off and chugs some more pills. There better be a payoff for all of this in the season finale.
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Andre meets with Anderson and Joe but isn’t interested in buying a Spencer-less ASM. After being a huge thorn on Spencer’s side all season, all of a sudden Andre emerges as an ally of sorts. It helps that we get more clarity into exactly what went down years ago. When Andre was still a small fish, he and Spencer went in on a big real estate deal. This part we already knew. What we didn’t know was that Andre only recommended that Spencer the football player only put in 600k. Instead, Spencer put in $6 million and got other football players to join in to.

It’s surprising to see Spencer not take any responsibility for the past, and blame everything on Andre. What’s smart about this episode of Ballers is that it all seems to be coming back full circle. With the help of Joe, Spencer makes his return to ASM with $1 million in a bag, but Anderson won’t agree to anything short of the full asking price. Spencer then goes back to Vernon with a $5 million ask. Before an official agreement, Spencer warns Vernon about the risks. In the past, I would’ve thought that Spencer was doing this purely because he’s a decent and responsible dude who’s especially sympathetic to football players. But now knowing more about his backstory, Spencer’s admonitions seem CYA, like the long list of warnings at the end of a drug commercial. The man still hasn’t learned.

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Again, it’s interesting to see Andre play a more softer role here and he warns Spencer about making the same ill-advised decision he did in the past. Andre says he’ll buy ASM and install Spencer as head honcho. But Spencer’s pride gets in the way. He doesn’t need Andre’s help.

This episode’s subplots aren’t as strong as Spencer’s A story, and don’t seem to fit thematically either. For instance, Charles deals with personal drama in his household. He’s been too busy for his wife and so she hires a nanny who makes Charles kind of jealous. This feels like something we’ve seen before. Ricky and his father reconnect again, and his father assures Ricky that he’ll support him regardless of the team he chooses. At this point, I just want Ricky to pick a darn team and stick to it. This storyline has dragged on for far too long.

Overall, the second half of Ballers season two has been full of drama and conflict, and I’m eager to see how everything comes together for Spencer (or doesn’t) next week. Stay tuned!

TB-TV-Grade-B-
Season 2, Episode 9 (S02E09)
Ballers airs Sundays at 10PM on HBO

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

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