As the season counts down, Ballers makes some big plays that could yield big results.
So, in “The Kids are Aight”, once again Spence has made a promise he can’t keep. His big play is to bring in a college football network, with phenom Q getting a back-end piece. But he doesn’t have the money. He turns to his favorite money pots, the Anderson brothers, back and bickering over a kidney donation. This scene makes me miss Richard Schiff as Old Man Brett Anderson. It’s also worth noting that he thinks Spence is getting dirty with this ploy of using the kid. The counterargument, that the NCAA system is corrupt, while valid, lacks authenticity and is certainly going to land Spence in trouble.
Just when he locks in the Andersons, news breaks that Q has made a verbal commitment to Ohio State. Oops. Always the charmer, Q assures Spence their deal is still solid; he just got wooed by LeBron. Meanwhile, Jason calls Spence out for scamming on his recruit (remember that he was originally supposed to check on Q for Jason). Spence drops by Ohio State to break it off gently. All seems to go cordially until he’s pulled over by the cops on his way to the airport so they can search his car for drugs. As we know, Spence is a pill popper, so his bag has more than a few little gold bottles that end him up in jail. Turns out he’s been set up by a booster to leverage Q into rethinking his deal with Ohio State.
Ricky’s getting back into playing shape and hanging out at upscale BBQs where people sip white wine and talk about how good life is under Trump’s Presidential term. This is another in a long line of political references that have popped up all season; little elbow nudges about the Rock’s vague announcements of political interests. It escalates quickly when the later-life frat boys (complete with hideous pastel sweaters) mock Ricky as a potential protest kneeler. He loses his cool, lashing at out them for marginalizing the movement and his experience. Back home, Daddy Jarrett and Amber tell Ricky to keep his politics quiet–they have to play the game on and off the field. And just like that, Ricky blows it up, tweeting an anti-Trump rant that Charles doesn’t have time to notice as he’s romancing his neglected wife. He’ll find out soon enough.
Reggie and Joe, part two, includes more attempts to land Illegal Civs, that hotshot skateboard group who stood them up last week. Joe’s explanation of driving loafers might be my favourite moment of the week. Sadly for Joe, It goes worse than they could have imagined when the skateboarders puke all over the sponsors. (I am knocking “The Kids are Aight” half a point for the projectile vomit. Sometimes more is less. This is one of those times.) Ballers certainly does have it out for sponsors this season. I also like that they are making no attempt to explain why Reggie is in this plotline and not his own boring Vernon plot save that he is worried about his investment. Fine, I’ll take it.
“The Kids are Aight” is ripe with other controversy allusions, although I wonder how many were in play when it was actually shot. Joe and Reggie are recruiting for a Nike, pre-Kaepernick ad. Ricky actually tags his anti-Trump, anti-White tweet #ImwithKaep. At Ohio State, the assistant coach mentions Urban Meyer, the actual head coach suspended for two games after failing to take action against a real-life assistant coach who was blowing money on strippers when he wasn’t beating his wife. It’s worth noting because it brings home not just how quickly the sports world shifts, but how far people will go for a win. With two episodes left, Ballers is delivering on some important groundwork, using its voice to say something finally worth saying.