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‘Ballers’ Season 5, Episode 3 synopsis/review: ‘Failure is key’


War has been a common theme when it comes to Spencer Strasmore on “Ballers.”

Whether it’s been against Brett Anderson, his former financial advisor, the higher-ups in the NFL, or the NCAA as a whole, Spencer has always had a large enemy to deal with in each season. In the last season of the show, however, his new enemy is his old best friend: Joe Krutel.

>>RELATED: ‘Ballers’ Season 5, Episode 2 synopsis/review: Backstabbing changes course of one storyline as shooting adds wrinkle to another

Through three episodes of the season, a lot has gone down across all of the storylines on the show. Fans have seen Ricky Jarret get suspended and hit by a car, and they’ve seen Vernon Littlefield try his hand at esports. They’ve seen Spencer deal with a potential deal to become majority owner of the Chiefs, and they’ve watched Joe run all over the place with Lance and Kate by his side.

There’s still a long way to go as the last season of “Ballers” continues to evolve, but the action is starting to build up in a big way.

Miss the third episode of the season because you were watching Week 1 of the NFL regular season? Or did you just not want to stay up to watch? We’ve got you covered with a full episode recap and review to get you up to speed.

>>RELATED: ‘Ballers’ Season 5, Episode 1 synopsis/review: Have no fear, season premiere dives right into the water with big, bold moves


After the recap of the season’s second episode, the show starts with a flashback shot of the Saints locker room with Spencer narrating through his season-long interview. The camera pans through a laundry list of Saints stars’ names hanging over their respective spots in the room, and eventually hits Strasmore’s locker as his name gets taken off the top.

“Competitive spirit, people think you’re born with it, that it’s in your DNA,” Spencer said. “But that’s not how it works. More than often, it’s born out of experience. The only thing worse than losing is being cut.”

The episode transitions to a call between Spencer and Mr. Anderson, as the former prepares for a meeting with Jason and the latter gets set for a financial meeting about the money needed to buy the Chiefs.

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Mr. Anderson asks about the search for a high-level executive, as Spencer informs him about Candace’s decision to stay put with the NFL after last week’s backstabbing.

Spencer mentions that he’s meeting with a potential general manager, but the news doesn’t please Anderson as he gets ready to deliver his pitch to the bankers.

“Potential isn’t enough,” he said.

While Spencer proclaims that he thought the family was “f— you rich,” Anderson lets him know that nobody “keeps that kind of stash underneath their mattress.”

Anderson offers for the band to get back together, with Anderson becoming the chief financial officer and Spencer focusing on the football operations side of the equation.

Spencer then heads to his meeting with Jason, as the cameras head out to SportsX’s headquarters where Reggie is asked by Joe about the status of Vernon’s new deal.

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When Reggie brings up the potential to jump into the esports scene, Joe doesn’t bite, telling his to “focus on dominating a real league, not a virtual one.”


Joe and Lance then meet with a designer for the campus they’d like to build, with Joe asking for a temple as part of the land. When the designer says it’s not in the budget, Lance compares Joe to Spencer as he calls his partner “biblical.”

Joe mentions how he wants to stop being like David and start being like Goliath, as Lance lets him know that he has the story backwards and says how Joe’s judgment may be cloudy with a chance of jealousy.

I want to bury the f—ing guy,” Joe said. “I want to be the bigger person, but I’d rather be the better version of him.”

He then makes a realization about another endeavor he’d like to dive at: he wants to buy an agency.

We then transition to Charles in the Rams office, as he gets some more news about the incident surrounding Kisan Teague and a parking lot shooting. The new wrinkle in the story? LAPD says they found a gun that was registered to Kisan.

Charles questions why he’d have his own gun and be there in the first place, and tells the security contact that he needs to stop telling him stuff.

“I need some sort of plausible deniability,” Charles said, as he wonders why modern day players can’t just play football and be happy.

Next up, we see Spencer and Jason’s dinner meeting, as Jason lets Spencer know how much the league needs him. Spencer then drops the news on Jason: he wants the agent to switch roles and become the general manager of the Chiefs.

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“Want me to cross over?” Jason asked, before Spencer replied, “Like motherf—ing Steph Curry.”

Spencer mentions how he thinks Jason would be great for the job, and how it may be time for a new challenge.

“Lemme think about it,” Jason said.

We transition to the gym as Jay Glazer interjects into Ricky and TTD’s workout. As Jay praises Ricky’s workout and brings up the potential for a comeback, Ricky shoots down the speculation.

Jay tells him rehab may mess with the mind a bit, but says networks are always looking for “another chiseled jaw” if he needs a new career path.

“Not my thing,” Ricky said.

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon makes an appearance in the episode, inviting Ricky and TTD to his crib if he has the time.

“All I got is time,” Ricky proclaims.

Speaking of time, Reggie and Vernon head to a meeting with an esports team as Vernon explores his options in the gaming world. Meanwhile, Reggie’s upset that Joe wouldn’t give him the time of day when he brought up the potential new business endeavor.

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“Nothing worse than being ahead of your time,” Reggie says.

“How about behind it?” Vernon responds. 

The two decide that the only way to get Joe’s attention is to show him the future, starting with Vernon’s esports team tryout.

Next up, Jason’s on the phone with his girlfriend, explaining the issues with Kisan and the difficult situations he’s found himself in.

“Maybe it’s time for a career change,” his girlfriend ironically says, mentioning how stressed he is all of the time in his current work.

Jason mentions how Spencer offered him a new job, and calls his girlfriend a clairvoyant in the process.

“Maybe I’m the Miami medium,” she responds.

Jason says he wouldn’t be crazy about having a boss in this new career path, but his girlfriend says how he already works for everyone, including her. She does make a good point, however, and mentions how Jason should do his due diligence and talk to Joe about how it was working with Spencer.

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Ricky and TTD are then partying at Melvin Gordon’s house, praising his interior design and having (more than) a few drinks in the process.

While Ricky’s depression continues to build and he talks about having nothing to do, he begins to show interest in the female bartender who’s been pouring him drinks at the event. TTD isn’t a fan of the move, both as a designated driver and as a fan of Ricky’s current family situation.

Meanwhile, Charles is on the phone with his own family, talking about not being able to wrap his conscience around Kisan’s situation. However, his wife says the whole situation is irrelevant.

Extracurricular activities is not a statistic you get paid to look at,” mentioning how the Ravens didn’t cut Ray Lewis after his “little incident,” and said they won a Super Bowl as a result.

“Maybe everybody else has right idea,” Charles says “We should start looking out for ourselves.”

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We then get more Spencer narration from his interview, talking about the ability to not care what others are thinking or doing.

“Tuning out the noise, going with your instincts, staying committed to what you believe, that s— doesn’t come easy,” Spencer says. “But if you stay on your feet, nobody will f— with it.”

Joe then calls Jason, as Jason mentions how he was just going to give him a ring with an odd question: what’s it like to work with Spencer?

For context, Jason tells Joe about the offer to become the GM of the Chiefs, prompting a shocked response from Joe.

“Young man’s game and I’ve got to start thinking about the future,” Jason says.

To counter his former partner’s proposal, Joe offers to buy Jason’s agency, with the intention of hiring new “young bucks” and help take off the stress from Jason’s work.

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He says to talk to his girlfriend and come back with a price for the purchase, before mentioning that “Spencer’s a f—ing nightmare” to end the call.

At Melvin’s party, Ricky talks about leaving the house with the bartender, as TTD tries to be the voice of reason to stop the affair from happening.

Ricky mentions how TTD’s transitioned from the best wingman to the biggest obstacle in the whole process, and tells his friend not to judge him.

“I’m not judging you, this is for the right reasons,” TTD says, before he gets pushed into the pool for his explanation.

The move catches another girl’s attention at the party, and Ricky and the new flame head to a different, private room in Melvin’s house.

Reggie and Vernon then meet with the representatives from an esports team, with the general manager, the assistant general manager and team captain all wondering if Vernon’s interest is all a publicity stunt.


“I like to play,” Vernon says.

Reggie helps to sell the skeptical team on Vernon, and the captain asks about Vernon’s football schedule and ability (or inability) to commit to the team. Vernon responds by telling the team captain that he’ll drop everything to become a professional gamer, and the team says they’ll hook him up for a tryout.

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Back to the party, Ricky is having his own fun with the new girl of interest in their own space. As Ricky takes pictures during an impromptu photo shoot, TTD brings in the reinforcements: Ricky’s father.

Mr. Jarret busts down the door and heads into the room, rescuing Ricky from the potential mistake his inebriated self was going to make (or already making).

At a bar elsewhere, Spencer gets a call from Mr. Anderson, who informs him about some good news regarding the meeting with the bankers.

“I’m so pumped up that your snarkiness isn’t going to get me,” Anderson said. “Bankers are officially in. There’s only one thing left for me to deliver: you need to get a quality GM, which I told them was already done.”

Spencer says he’s working on finding the new general manager, and Anderson says not to come back to him without a yes.

“We’ve got three billion with a capital f—ing “B” riding on this,” Anderson said.

Jason heads to the SportsX office to check out his potential new digs, with Joe showcasing how “chill” the work environment is. Does he have Jason’s attention now?

The quick-hitting action returns to Ricky’s car, with he, his dad and TTD returning to the house after listening to Glazer’s radio show, “Glazed and Confused,” with Glazer and a co-host talking about a new deal for Russell Wilson and a potential contract for Patrick Mahomes.

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A hot take gets dropped into the fray on the show, with one host saying that the league’s “getting too top heavy.”

The news catches Ricky’s attention, eventually inspiring him to tell TTD to set up a meeting for a potential new career opportunity: working in the media.

Another new career endeavor doesn’t go well for a different member of the squad, as Vernon’s tryout ends poorly. Fortunately for the Cowboys defensive star, the anger should be short-lived, as Jason came through with a new, $80 million deal for him to consider.

Vernon doesn’t care about the news, however, and tells Reggie that he may want to retire from football, instead. He doesn’t care about the money, and leaves it off with an important question for his friend.

“How much is enough?” Vernon asks.

Charles then heads to Kisan’s home to meet with him about the new details he learned from his security contact.

Kisan’s enjoying a nice day drink, much to the surprise of Charles, and when asked about the truth of the shooting, he tells Charles that his friend at the house was the shooter, and would be turning himself in.

“He’s the fall guy?” Charles asks, as Kisan replies, “Does it matter?”

Charles says it does matter, and asks for the truth. When he doesn’t get much from his player about the incident, he has a simple answer to the whole problem.


“Truth is, I’ve gotta let you go,” Charles says before shaking Kisan’s hand and wishing him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

Back to more Spencer narration, we get a monologue about failure helping to motivate the best of players.

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The greatest battles, there are no winners, only survivors,” Spencer says. “War is bloody. Ask Aaron Rodgers, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady. Wanna trace a path to greatness? You start with defeat, loss or rejection. You want to be endlessly motivated? Failure is key.”

Fittingly enough, Spencer gets a call from Jason to wrap up the episode, and the news isn’t great for the former Dolphins star and potential Chiefs majority owner.

I got another offer,” Jason explains. “Joe’s in the market to buy an agency.”

“Since when?” Spencer replies, as Jason says how he thinks Joe just decided to.

Jason goes through the details of the deal, with Joe paying $50 million for the agency with a five-year payout and a personal service contract.

When Spencer mentions how the day-to-day is getting to Jason, his friend hits him with a hard truth.

“It is, but so are you,” Jason says.

Spencer tells Jason not to make a mistake he’ll regret, but leaves the conversation off with a key factor: Either way, Spencer and Jason will see each other on the other sides of the table.

Jason asks who’s next on Spencer’s list of GM candidates, and it turns out, failure is the ultimate reasoning for Spencer’s next career move.

“You’re talking to him,” Spencer says. “Good luck working with Joe, he’s a real f—ing nightmare.”

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The jealousy and drama is building up in the final season of Ballers, and it’s finally creating some good television after a lackluster second episode last week.

Every season needs its enemy, and it’s a shame this season has turned into the equivalent of the final episodes of “Parks and Recreation,” with Leslie Knope…er…Spencer… dealing with a rift with a former best friend in Ron Swanson…I mean Joe.

It’ll be interesting to see how the whole situation plays out, and what kind of hell Spencer can bring as the GM of the Chiefs while Joe and Jason try to build up their respective business endeavors.

Reggie and Vernon’s esports journey is providing some unique variety this year, and everyone seems to be branching out with their own ideas at this point in the show, despite some questions still building up on Spencer’s financial situation, the drama between he and his former friends, and everything in between.

There’s still a lot to uncover in the show’s final season, but “Ballers” is finally starting to deliver, and it’s time to find out whether the crew can put up or shut up to wrap up the show on a good note.

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