We asked resident Entourage apologists Rafael Gaitan and Mark Stack to team up and discuss each week of the spiritual Entourage sequel Ballers. This time out they’re examining a finance party gone horribly wrong/right and its aftereffects.
Mark: Apologies to all our fellow sports fans for missing a week but, with Raf getting lost at the Burning Man of nerdom they call San Diego Comic-Con and me just plain fucking around, it was unavoidable. But don’t worry, we’re back with the most in-depth analysis of two episodes of the EFL (Entourage Football League).
Riff-Raf, the coolest cat in town: WE BACK, R-WORDS. (That stands for readers.) It’s true I was at hashtag SDCC this week, but that only set me back momentarily from me and YA BOY Mark from *BALLIN ON BALLERS* As a special treat, we’re doubling up- we’re covering episode 3: “Move the Chains” and episode 4: “Heads Will Roll” Mark- the chains?
Mark: I can not even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this third episode of Ballers. Everything that was missing from the first two, as well as the events we speculated on, happened here! We’ve got Ricky losing his cool, Vernon’s trusted friend and advisor resident sponge Reggie getting too big in his britches, and we’ve got Rob Corddry ascendant. Also, casual misogyny.
Riff-Raf, the coolest cat in town: It was a welcome surprise- it was possibly the most organic episode yet, and I know I am saying this about a show that is about artifice and the true value of fat butts and big money. I never thought I would say this legitimately, but to its credit it felt like an episode of Entourage. There was continuation from previous episodes (the chains, Mark- the chains!) and there was a genuine conflict! One that didn’t get a resolution! Also I am gonna try to set the record for “Fuck Reggie”s in a single recap.
Mark of the Covenant: Let’s provide our readers with a little context in case they are foolish enough to not be watching this glorious show. Spencer and his buddy/co-worker Rob Corddy borrow their boss’ (Toby fucking Ziggler of The West Wing!) yacht so they can throw a huge party to win over potential clients. You can bet your ass that Ricky, Vernon and his tumor Reggie, and even good ol’ Charles are there to get into shenanigans too!
Riff-Raf, street rat, he’s not like that: YES. This episode is already heat rocks due to Richard Fucking Schiff showing up. He has a yacht, because he balls with the ballers’ money. Spencer “The Struggling Asset Manager” Strassmore invites Vernon and the eel in chains Reggie along. I wasn’t really sure WHY Charles was there as he is only tangentially related, but hey I’d always rather watch his story. Oh and Ricky’s here and butthurt about some too cold Air Jordans. Like literally, because they were dumped in ice by his teammate Alonso- the same one who refused to sell him his number in episode two. This story throughline is one of the strongest things Ballers has going for it, in that it feels diegetic and palpable. You know there’s more and you want to know more.
Mark and Ride: As Raf knows very well, I am impossibly white. I don’t care about shoes. I used to wear Skechers until my sister got embarrassed and gave me a pair of Vans (I haven’t paid for a pair of shoes since) but even I know that you do not fuck with a man’s shoes. No one told Alonzo, Ricky’s nemesis, that and he opened himself up to retaliation in the form of Ricky fucking Alonzo’s mother, the woman who raised him and tucked him in at night when he was scared of monsters under the bed. Sure, Ricky just thought she was Alonzo’s sister or something but, damn, that’s colder than his Jordans.
Raft Pupil: *logs out of friendship* I’ll berate you about your weak shoe game later. I enjoyed the reveal mid-party quite a bit, and as someone who has fucked his share of moms, I know I didn’t want to meet their kids- bum-ass or successful, because there’s no way you can live up to the guy who left or whatever. It’s just not possible. But it gives John David Washington new material to inhabit. He’s growing on me, man- he means so well but he’s such a fuck up. BUT. WE ARE HERE TO TALK ABOUT VERNON AND BIRDMAN REGGIE. They come on the party, they’re balling, and then ol’ Richie Rich has to hit up Spencer with some African-American mail: cut me in on your commission on Vernon or the deal fades faster than the Rock versus John Cena at Wrestlemania.
Mark, My Words: Man, Reggie is the fucking scum of the Earth. He’s such a colossal piece of shit with no talents, no skills, and no prospects outside of taking advantage of someone too loyal to cut off a gangrenous appendage. FUCK. HIM. But especially fuck him for what he says to Spencer. He has the nerve to accuse Spencer of trying to steal his family because he was adopted and never had one. That’s not just stupid, that’s hurtful as fuck. It speaks to Spencer’s character that he just gently pushed him into a DJ booth rather than rip his fucking larynx out so he can never speak ill again.
Rafter the Gold Rush: I was praying that he would get Rock Bottomed into it, especially because it was awkward enough to explain a shove but a full on Rock Bottom- that would require some Southland Tales nerves from Dwayne. But yeah I guess they forgot to serve the dick appetizer for Reggie on this boat. When I first saw the episode I just thought it was a dick move, but thinking about it now it’s devious as fuck- he’s double-dipping on his own friend! And Vernon’s blind loyalty won’t allow him to believe otherwise. I’m really glad the show has started to filter the characters independently, as I was really afraid Spencer was going to be Ari with bigger suits, constantly fending after three people. This episode and the next have had Ricky, Charles and Spencer move into their own stories. Also my man Rob Corddry bringing the heat as a hot drunk mess is something for the ages. In a way this episode is a spiritual sequel to all of his scenes in Pain and Gain and that’s a solid A+.
Markham Asylum: Mark puns are easier than Rafael puns, huh? Rob Corddry steals the entire episode. After boring a bunch of players with his money talk, he just decides to turn into the crash and start drinkin’ and druggin’ and gambling. And it endears him to the players! They love this fucking guy. Then, in the height of his hubris, he assumes a level of comfort and familiarity that he has not earned. He scuttles a speech co-headed by Spencer to save the party after Reggie’s being himself (dickery) fucks it up by saying the n-word. All that cache, gone. He displays a misunderstanding and a disrespect for the men who thought he was cool. Them throwing his ass into the ocean was a just reward. Which would lead us to the next episode, “Heads Will Roll…”
Raf: I love the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This was another strong episode. I daresay I liked it a little more than the previous one, only because it introduced Charles back into the narrative. Also it is starting to show its darker roots- we open from the start on Spencer’s career ending injury, and they’ve teased it enough that when his Fuck Buddy wants him to see a specialist and he agrees, it’s one of the best scenes in the show and one of Dwayne’s best performances. He’s so on that it appears pathetic, and it reflects the nerves and the shattered pride he is feeling in the moment.
Tree Mark: It’s definitely his best acting of the series so far. You get a feel for his pride in not wanting to acknowledge that he could have some brain damage and a fear of what a diagnosis could bring. We speculated on this but I’m glad to see this show address the damage that football can do to a player. We’ve both spent plenty of time in San Diego so the name Junior Seau means something to us. This storyline stands out as very dark compared to Charles’ temptation and Ricky’s continued hazing.
Raf: Definitely, and I do think that is a little necessary. This show has an opportunity to try to make a statement with the material and it should not shy away. The media that covers the sport won’t talk about it, so someone should. But let’s talk about my man Ricky! In this episode it appears he has made peace with Alonzo, and Dule Hill, channeling Forrest Whitaker more than any human ever has in his entire life, is now poking and prodding, treating Ricky just like the Chevy he bought from Charles. It’s an amazing performance- Dule can Whitaker the hell out of this show.
All Mark, No Mite: Dule Hill is a talent. He was wasted, WASTED(!), for years on the fun hangover show Psych but here he looks the most alive he’s been since his appearance in the Shia Labeouf classic Holes. Ricky comes to him with a problem (“Alonzo fucked with my car cause I fucked with his momma!”) and he looks him dead in the eye and says, “I can fix it.” He teaches Ricky the power of positive thinking, something I suspect could lead to a new day for our favorite rapscallion/athlete.
Raf: HOW IS DULE HILL HELPING RICKY GOING TO HELP CHARLES, MARK? But since we changed the subject, our man Charles is having a time- it seems in his white-girl wasted stage in the previous episode, he met a hot as FUCK girl. We find out that Ricky gave her his number because he is in secret the Devil (goatee and all!) and so poor Charles is now between a rock-hard dick and a hard place. Now I didn’t think this was necessary: there’s enough meat on the bones of Charles’ story to go with, it doesn’t seem necessary to throw this in. We have enough temptation. It really didn’t feel true to the character AT ALL.
Marknado: I was very disappointed in Charles. I am not at all happy with his decision to at least consider cheating on his sweet wife. She’s too nice. But, he appears to be heading down that road. Maybe the high alimony from a divorce will be what forces him back into the game? *shudder* I hope not. But you know who I hope has an expensive divorce? Reggie. In this episode, he has firmly fucked up Vernon’s chance at getting a great contract just because they won’t pay him more than JJ Watt. Reggie, the fucking President doesn’t make more than JJ Watt! Get the fuck out of here with that.
Raf: Look, that woman was fine as hell and I may have jokingly yelled at the screen “Fuck it Charles, cheat on your wife- look at that fat butt!” but yeah, naw, this story arc is terrible. As terrible as Reggie! The most telling thing is when Jason (Troy Garity) tells Spencer that he got Vernon an unimaginable guarantee and then he was hung up on. When Spencer confronts Vernon and Reggie, Flintheart Glomgold steps up and says “I hung up on him.” I am starting to suspect Vernon is situationally deaf, or all the cash register sounds when Reggie opens his mouth have truly damaged his existence. It speaks to the degree of capability of the writing staff- there were some great subtle moments here, in between the fat butts. Also the actor that plays Vernon might be worse than John David Washington in the pilot- his only reactions are disbelief and disbelief.
Marks and Recreation: You can join the Ballers fan club that Raf and I are starting. It’s called R.A.T.: Reggie Attack Team. Joffrey was a petulant child but if we see Reggie, it’s on on sight. I could not believe that Reggie would fuck up such an important deal but I could definitely believe that Vernon would be too chickenshit to cut the umbilical cord. When Spencer told him that Reggie has to go, I wasn’t surprised that Vernon spouted some weak-ass shit that forced Spencer to walk away from both of them to maintain what was left of his sanity. “After you pay back that $300,000 you owe me because you can’t manage your money, you fucking child, we’re done,” (loosely translated) Spencer says (more or less) and it’s good riddance.
Raf: What are the odds that Brock Lesnar will guest star on this season? There is no one in this plane of existence I want to see F5ed and suplexed to hell more than Reggie. But I’m glad to see those character spiral passes the show threw in the beginning becoming full fledged arcs. These characters are growing, learning, reacting! It’s almost as if they read The Playbook!
Mark Dacascos: For real… That’s… I think we kind of lost track of what we were doing with this extended segment of Raggin’ on Reggie. We’ve pretty much covered everything there is to cover with these two episodes, right?
Raf: Well Rob Corddry also has moments and shit but yeah. But tune in next week for Ballers and Chattin ‘Bout Charles. From the depths of a vodka lemonade, good night and good luck not throwing hands at the actor that plays Reggie if you see him.
To read Mark and Raf’s thoughts on previous Ballers: