Up Next


‘Ballers’ recap: Killing pain and stunting on your ex

Spencer is spiraling, Charles is balling and Bella is back

Season 2, Episode 5 | Most Guys | Aug. 14


Spencer’s (Dwayne Johnson) life is on the verge of unraveling. He’s beginning to crack. Last episode we found out that his girlfriend is probably moving away, and his dependence on prescription painkillers is so bad that he stole pills from Vernon (Donovan W. Carter), who is recovering from surgery.

Apparently the stolen pills were not enough, because this week’s episode starts with Spencer trying to persuade his doctor to give him another prescription. She denies Spencer’s request. Also, failing at work, Spencer starts to drink in his office — before noon — and lashes out at his partner, Joe (Rob Corddry), about the status of Spencer’s registration as a financial adviser with the National Football League Players Association. Using the alias of “Mr. Chavez,” Spencer gets a prescription for the drugs he wants from a very shady doctor.

What are you doing, Joe? Let Reggie grow up and move on.

When Spencer returns to his office, a representative from the NFLPA is waiting to discuss his financial history. Finally, someone will call Spencer out. I wish I could have gotten that assignment. The actual conversation in the show revealed a little more of Spencer’s past. He said he’d won a Super Bowl. But, I don’t think I have ever seen him wear his ring. Maybe he’s modest, or maybe he sold it after he lost his money. Here’s how that scene would have gone if I’d gotten my wish:

Me: “So, Spence, remember that home you had built back in ’03, after you won the Super Bowl?”

Spencer: “Yeah. It was amazing.” (A slight smirk develops as he looks off in to the distance and begins to reminisce.) “I am not sure what I miss most, the elevator or the smell of Chef Rock’s cooking.”

(Suspicious that I am highlighting the type of extravagant spending that would make him a poor adviser, he smoothly transitions.) “As great as that house was, it is an example of the type of financial mistake I can direct my clients away from.”

Me: “Relax, Spence. I understand. I know you’re a great mentor for our men. But, I want to ask you about the architect and contractors you used.”

Spencer: “Oh, you thinking about building something? I’ll connect you with my guys, no problem. They are the best. They’ve built most of the celebrity homes over on Star Island.”

Me: “They sound expensive. I know another team that would be fine.”

Spencer: “I don’t know. It’s your home, where your most precious assets will be, your beautiful wife and three amazing kids. Speaking of assets, your home is the most significant asset you have, so I’d suggest you pay the extra money for my guys. It’s an investment, homes built by them don’t depreciate.”

Me: “Ha-ha, look at you, Spencer, Mr. Appreciating Assets.”

(I stand up and open the door to leave. Spencer leans back in his chair feeling satisfied with his display of knowledge.)

Spencer: “I will send you my guys’ contact info.”

Me: “No, I don’t need it.”

Me: “I am going to use my guys. They haven’t gone to school for any of this nor do they have any certifications, but they’ve built one house before. It collapsed, so now they know all the mistakes to avoid.”

Then I’d run to my car and call Spencer from a safe distance. “You do realize that the architect story was meant as an analogy to point out how absurd it is that you want to be an adviser, right?”


After being cut by the Dolphins, Charles Green (Omar Benson Miller) is again retired. Now, with no healthy outlet for his competitiveness, Charles becomes the neighborhood Gestapo. Without the prospect of taking on NFL pass rushers like Terrell Suggs, Green makes an annoying neighborhood teenager his next opponent. Their beef extends back a few episodes. And it has a bit of a Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner vibe to it; Charles can never quite catch him. But, when the kid tries to speed down the street in this episode, Charles manages to stop him. Then he begins to threaten the boy with physical violence. Unintimidated, the boy calls Charles a fat ass and speeds away. Left looking dumb again, Mr. Coyote.

We all know that move, Bella. Gotta stunt on your ex. And I think it worked.

Well, that didn’t work. What will the Coyote try next time? Charles “The Black Swan” Green is both physically and metaphorically standing alone in the middle of the road with no idea what to do next. More importantly, shouldn’t his nickname be “The Green Swan”? Maybe the name is a reference to both the ballet movie, Black Swan, and the Black Swan Theory. He is “The Black Swan” because his balletlike grace is unexpected and as an offensive lineman his impact on the game is greater than a layman could see. If that is why, then fine, Charles is “The Black Swan.” But, more than likely the fictional fans of Ballers call him “The Black Swan” because he is a big black.

We can add this to my growing list of elaborate explanations for the simple world of Ballers:

Treadmill Pugs

Billie Holiday is a Wide Receiver

Later, Charles decides to take Ricky’s (John David Washington) advice and go to Dolphins general manager Seifert’s (Dulé Hill) office — and yell at him. Charles storms through the halls of the Dolphins facility, bumping people out of the way, and barges into Seifert’s office, yelling insults at him and bad-mouthing the players on the team. Apparently, that is just the level of professionalism needed to work for an NFL team. Seifert offers him a job.

Reggie (London Brown) wants to cheer up Vernon, who is sulking while recovering from the Achilles tear he suffered after being shot with a paintball by Reggie. So, Reggie buys Vernon a pet alpaca as a surprise. After losing the alpaca, Reggie and Joe chat while searching the neighborhood. Reggie realizes Vernon doesn’t need him anymore, but Joe disagrees.

What are you doing, Joe? Let Reggie grow up and move on. Now that I think about it, you should go too. Why would you allow Reggie to use Vernon’s money to buy an alpaca without Vernon’s knowledge?

We only need three words to update Ricky’s story. Bella (Annabelle Acosta) is back. She just so happened to bump into Ricky at a fashion show looking the best she has ever looked. We all know that move, Bella. Gotta stunt on your ex. And I think it worked. Ricky looks like he regrets cheating on her and wants her back, but it is not clear if that’s what Bella wants. We will have to wait for next week to find out if Bella is running the “stunt to reunion” or just the classic “stunt and run.”

She did say something odd. She told Ricky that he had more money put away than any football player she knows. How did she become so intimately familiar with the finances of so many other players? Is she a financial adviser too? If so, Ricky should hire her and fire Spencer before it’s too late.

Domonique Foxworth is a senior writer at Andscape. He is a recovering pro athlete and superficial intellectual.