Looking at the whirlwind lifestyles and real-life problems of former and current football players, Ballers stars Dwayne Johnson as ex-superstar Spencer Strasmore, who has reinvented himself as a financial manager for today’s players in sun-soaked Miami. Created by Stephen Levinson the hit comedy series kicked off its ten-episode second season Sunday July 17. Even though, its first season proved a ratings boon for HBO, HBOWatch opted out of weekly reviews. Below is Halftime Report of the first five episodes of the sophomore season.
The first half of the season has been full of fumbles, a friend induced chop block, and one hell of a blitz. Our rag-tag yet filthy rich boys are playing on the field, off the field, and everything in between. Here’s a quick play by play to catch you up on last season.
Ricky (John David Washington) is getting the short end of the stick with the Dolphins, for reasons that aren’t really expressed. It seems like he’s been cleaning up his act since Bella (Anabelle Costa) gave him the boot. He even had a program for kids, though swearing around kids is usually frowned upon. With the Dolphins on the outs, he starts looking to take his talent elsewhere. Meanwhile his pops makes an appearance. I would say reappearance but it doesn’t look like the guy was around much. Played by Robert Wisdom, Ricky’s dad Dennis wants to get to know his son and though he’s been physically absent from Ricky’s life, he has kept up to date. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how their relationship progresses.
Charles, played by Omar Benson Miller, may have found himself back on the field but ended up with more responsibilities off-field. After a rocky go with his marriage last season, the missus (Jazmyn Simon) (both at right) finally gets pregnant and Charles has to balance work with fatherhood. But his return season is truly his last. He has proven himself on the field, but after such a hiatus he doesn’t have what it takes anymore, but that doesn’t mean he is down and out. The guy that runs the team Larry, played by Dule Hill, doesn’t want Charles out of the action, he wants him behind the scene. What new opportunities could this open up for Charles moving forward? Also catch the little tiff he has with the neighborhood kid over speeding; it is freaking hilarious.
Spencer’s current love muffin Tracy (Arielle Kebbel) has her own fumble when she realizes a male reporter just hired is making more than her. When she challenges her boss, not only does he dismiss her, but he sexually degrades her. So doing a truly power move, she quits. I seriously cheered. I have heard horror stories about women reporting on sports, so seeing her stand up for herself was awesome. In not too long she gets an offer, but how will it affect her relationship with Spencer?
After the struggle last year for Vernon (Donovan W. Carter) to escape a possible media shit-storm, things have quieted down. But tensions begin forming in his relationship with Reggie (London Brown) who is working on his selfish ways. While out playing paintball, the two disagree on how much Reggie should be paid and he lashes out. Vernon takes a fall and now his career is on the line. While he copes with healing, Reggie tries to cheer him up with a pet. His attempts to corral a llama are slapstick comedy at its best. But Joe as the right idea, a cat. “His name is Socks, and he’s adorable.” Priceless.
Jason (Troy Garity pictured left) is doing his agent thing and putting out fires and managing people like he does. He wants to bring in a new client for himself but also for Spencer, which is all sorts of sketch. The rough and tumble football player Travis Mach (Adam Aalderks) has his way with Jason in an attempt to see if Jason has what it takes to be his agent. After leaving me in the middle of the Everglades, I would not even have a word to say. I would jump into my awesome car, swamp and all, and high tail it back to civilization. Screw that nonsense. But Jason apparently proves his worth, and now it is up to Spencer to help tame this wild pony. And boy does he have some growing up to do. It puts age into perspective quite interestingly. These guys are pro players, which has a certain level of credibility. But in reality, many are drafted not even completely through college, making them around 21. I mean, who isn’t an idiot at 21?
The biggest play of the season comes from the return of an old enemy. Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) and Joe (Rob Corddry) have landed a fancy new office as head of the sports division. Their boss (Richard Schiff) still has his doubts, but they seem to be turning things around with new clients and investment opportunities. Spencer finds himself having a brawl on a TV show resulting in a damaged hip, and a new client. Minus the abuse of painkillers for his hip, things are looking good. So who should show up but Spencer’s old financial manager Andre (Andy Garcia, pictured) who messed up some stuff pretty badly for Spencer in the past; bankrupt kind of messed up. Spencer has all kind of debts to settle with this guy. So intent on stealing his clients, a turf war begins. Only to see that Spencer and Joe are not nearly as skilled in subterfuge as Andre is. As the season rolls on, I think we’ll see just how skilled Andre really is.
Here is a look at at ahead in the second half!
Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) attempts to broker peace between Travis (Adam Aalderks) and a critic. Struggling to adjust to his new role on the team, Charles (Omar Benson Miller) is tasked with delivering bad news. Joe (Rob Corddry) encounters Andre (Andy Garcia) one-on-one. Still torn about his future, Ricky (John David Washington) is thrown for a loop when Dennis (Robert Ray Wisdom) decides to have more of a voice in his life. Also, Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) scrambles to stay ahead after Andre (Andy Garcia) makes a surprise visit to the office. Joe (Rob Corddry) discovers the skeletons in his partner’s closet. Ricky (John David Washington) tries to make amends with Dennis((Robert Ray Wisdom), as Charles (Omar Benson Miller) plots to keep Ricky in Miami. Travis (Adam Aalderks) confides in Spencer during a talk-show appearance.
Stick around for more Ballers!