It Just Keeps Getting Worse for ‘Ballers’ (TV REVIEW)

[3.00] “Gaslighting”

How appropriate that this week’s episode starts with a car wreck. To clarify, it’s a commercial within the show, and seemingly has nothing to do with the rest of what transpires over the next 28 minutes, but it seems to convey the direction of this show in general.

After being worried about his test results, then getting a clean bill of health (neurologically, anyway), Spencer leaves the doctor’s office before we’re treated to a charmless Taylor Swift singalong that was likely a desperate ploy to endear its main character to the audience. Something the show has vastly overlooked so far.

Vernon calls Spencer, does more manchilding, and we again here how Vernon is special, and (this is an actual quote from the show) “the hardest working player in the league.” He’s also been suspended, yet has no contract, all while wanting Spencer to recover the photos of him from the party, and yet we still have not been shown why he’s such an essential asset to the storyline.

Back at the office, Joe and Spencer get chewed out for having the party on the yacht, and Anderson is particularly hard on Spencer, repeating his assurance that he didn’t want him to work there. As a result, he’s ordered to meet with the girl with the incriminating photos to hand her the $150,000 check directly.

Meanwhile, Ricky goes shopping for a $400,000 ring for Bella to say he’s sorry. His reaction to the price does provide the show’s lone chuckle.

Oh, and Charles pushes a fucking SUV up a ramp to the cheers of his co-workers, presumably because the showrunner is unable to personally explain to each and every audience member that “he misses playing football” individually.

He also has a repeat conversation about joining the Miami Dolphins, just in case the subtlety was lost on anyone here. Although I will concede the bit of audio from the news about the player hurting his neck chasing after his pomeranian might be the closest thing Ballers has done to being clever.

Finally, after being drawn out for three episodes, Spencer meets with Angie, the girl with the photos, who’s already emailed them to Spencer’s boss. If she was intended to be portrayed in any sort of adversarial light, the show failed miserably at the attempt. Her delivery of Vernon not getting the multi-million dollar contract, even throwing in a “poor baby,” pretty much made her the only identifiable character so far.

In the end, Spencer pleads with her to keep Vernon’s “last little bit of innocence” intact (seriously?!) and she gives him the flash drive (again, after she’s ALREADY EMAILED THE PHOTOS). She also makes a scathing observation as to Spencer’s world, feeling like a girl who was passed around, all while he was unaware of the details in her life. Like the fact she had a kid.

Though the camera follows Spencer back to his SUV, it is impossible to feel the slightest bit invested in what’s supposed to be a bookended triumph for the show’s main character. Instead, just as the title of the episode is explained, it’s simply gaslighting.

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