Another week, another episode closer to the end of “Ballers” as the show quickly makes its way through its fifth and final season.
The show has caught some flack in recent episodes, and recent years as a whole, as we’ve detailed in previous recaps in the past few weeks, but it appears we’ve finally reached a tipping point for the action. The cards have been dealt, and it’s time to see who ends up with a winning hand.
With the start of primetime football on Sunday nights, it’s easy to miss an episode when there’s a quality matchup to watch in the NFL. And, with plenty of storylines throughout the show, it’s just as simple to miss some of the key points that get thrown in the middle of the episodes. That’s where we step in.
Just like we’ve done for the last three weeks, it’s time for us to take our best shot at a full synopsis and review for episode 5 of the last season of “Ballers.”
After the recap of last week’s action, the episode opens with a FedEx delivery man walking with a package as Spencer Strasmore continues his narration from his season-long interview.
“At some point, the only way to succeed is to stop giving a f—,” Spencer says as the delivery man walks to Candace Brewer’s office at the NFL. “It’s a mindset I highly recommend.”
“Frees you up to take chances, make unpopular choices,” Spencer continues. “They say it’s not for everyone, I say f— it.”
That decision apparently has to do with Kisan Teague, as the delivery man gives Candace a package from “LAPD” with no name attached, likely the surveillance video from the former Rams star’s parking lot shooting.
Kisan’s name gets brought up once more right away, as Jason gives Spencer a call from his new home at Sports X.
“Call to reconsider?” Spencer asks after his friend turned down his offer to become general manager last week.
He and Jason discuss the contract extension for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but Jason asks what the Chiefs will be doing to replace Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt. Jason’s solution? Kisan Teague.
When Spencer brings up any added baggage that would come from Kisan’s addition, especially with the “rumors” circulating around the league, and mentions how it could be a similar distraction as Hill, Jason says the two situations are “apples to oranges.”
He says it’s not a domestic violence situation, and says there’s no video of the incident that would be released, either, as he asks for Spencer to “just meet the kid.”
“Drive-by discount?” Spencer asks, before Jason calls him a “mercenary f—.”
Speaking of deals, Charles is working with his assistant to fill a hole at running back, with T.J. Yeldon’s name brought up. Charles shows his interest in stars like Alvin Kamara after his assistant brings up Duke Johnson, bringing up Bill Belichick’s Patriots mentality of “Do your job!” as he says to make Kamara interested in leaving New Orleans.
Next up, TTD’s getting a call as Ricky, his father and his child’s mother (girlfriend?) enjoy a meal outside, as Ricky’s dad brings up the situation with one of the girls from last week’s party at Melvin Gordon’s house.
While the reference brings some confusion for Ricky’s girl, TTD, who’s showing an interest in becoming Ricky’s agent, mentions how Jay Glazer says he’ll set up an interview for Ricky with Sirius XM to test out his radio chops.
“No good can come from a busted up Ricky with a bunch of free time,” Ricky’s dad mentions as the group says how good of an idea it may be.
The action switches to Joe and Lance at a party for Sports X, with the duo discussing their current financial status, or lack thereof, after an expensive few weeks on the job.
As Lance says the company is out on a limb financially, Joe mentions that’s where he does his best work, bringing up Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and even Spencer Strasmore as successful men who do the same.
“Now’s the time to go all-in,” Joe says.
Speaking of going all in, Spencer and Candace have a conversation on the phone, with the two talking about Spencer’s new role as a higher-up in an organization.
“Bet it feels pretty good to be part of a cult that didn’t want you,” Candace says.
As the two chat about Spencer taking over as the Chiefs general manager, he brings up the potential for an unpopular decision that he may want to make regarding Kisan Teague.
“Asking for confirmation or a blessing?” Candace asks.
“Anything I need to hear or see?” Spencer asks, referencing any potential video of the shooting Kisan was involved in, as Candace says that anything related to any incident wouldn’t be seeing the light of day.
Ricky then heads to his interview with Sirius, meeting with a producer to chat about his potential role with the network. As she mentions a tryout for Ricky, he and TTD have their reservations, and convince the producer to let him on the air with no questions asked.
“How’s tonight at 6:30?” the producer asks, as TTD agrees on Ricky’s behalf.
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Charles then talks to his boss, as he looks to figure out his own deal as he works on new deals for his players.
His higher-up mentions his assistant bringing something up to him, which Charles initially seems to think may have to do with the Kisan shooting, but ends up being Charles’ wife’s pregnancy.
Charles brings up his new contract while his boss is in a “warm and fuzzy mood,” but his boss tells him not to worry about it and to focus on his current work, instead.
Ricky then meets up with UFC veteran Randy Couture at the gym, looking to relieve some stress by hitting the punching bags for a bit. Instead, Ricky meets up with Kisan, who says he needs some advice.
“Shoot,” Ricky says, with a nice pun to reference Kisan’s shoot-y situation.
The comedy doesn’t end there, as Kisan explains his stress around where he’s at before a meeting with Spencer.
“Tell Spencer the truth,” Ricky says. “Best shot is to shoot straight.”
“That was unnecessary,” Kisan replies.”
At the Sports X party, Joe begins to build up some jealousy as a new man enters the fray for his co-worker, Kate. That man happens to be the editor for a magazine that Sports X is hoping to land some editorials in, hoping to spread the word about the work they’re doing.
Back to the important things, however, and we see Kisan’s meeting with Spencer as the new Chiefs general manager evaluates his options with the former Rams running back.
“I learned a lot can happen,” Kisan says as he begins to talk about the shooting. “I pulled up and s— went down.”
“World is changing Kisan,” Spencer says. “Maybe you should, too.”
As Spencer questions Kisan’s ability to understand the privilege of playing in the NFL, we get an interesting look at Kisan’s backstory, and his loyalty to his squad that stays by his side.
“Didn’t get to decide what hood I’d grow up with or the kids I’d grow up with,” Kisan says. “My boys are the reason I’ve made it this far.”
As Spencer asks who pulled the trigger in the parking lot, Kisan says it was his friend, Cliff, but also tells the truth and mentions how he shot one of the guns, as well.
“I wish I could lie to you but I try to make better decisions, I promise you do,” Kisan says. “Sometimes, circumstances just don’t allow me to.”
Spencer ends the meeting after the conversation, and Kisan thinks he won’t be catching passes from Mahomes in the upcoming season.
“I believe in second chances, just not thirds,” Spencer says. “Don’t make me regret this decision, welcome to the Chiefs.”
After we get some more depressed Vernon at the Sports X party after his failed esports tryout, we listen to some awful radio during Ricky’s Sirius debut, leading to an abrupt commercial break. After some advice from TTD and his father, Ricky goes back to the roots and brings TTD into the studio to make his radio show a family affair.
Fans get a cameo from former NBA player and current esports owner Rick Fox back at the Sports X party, giving Reggie some advice when it comes to Vernon’s situation.
“Everybody wants a piece, don’t they?” Reggie asks, as the light bulb goes off in his brain.
Meanwhile, we get another Odell Beckham, Jr. cameo, as the Sports X crew busts out all of the collaborative stops to impress the magazine editor, much to the chagrin of Joe and his massive amounts of jealousy.
Sticking around at the party, Reggie pitches a proposal to Vernon as he looks to convince the Cowboys star to keep his NFL career going: if you get on an esports team, you sign the Cowboys deal.
The catch? That team is going to be Vernon’s own, as Reggie and him will start a team with their own players, starting with Vernon’s female friend as he looks to bring more women’s representation to esports.
Back on the radio, Ricky and TTD start to take calls in the studio, with Jay Glazer impersonating a fan as he looks to get the inside scoop on Kisan Teague. When Glazer brings up Spencer and the Chiefs potentially signing Kisan, along with Spencer’s new role in the league, it appears to strike a nerve in the former NFL receiver’s brain.
“Spencer’s the same animal wrapped in a different blanket,” Ricky says. “He was a player once, then a money man, but now, we’re seeing his true colors. All he cares about is himself and making money. Spencer is a narcissist if I’ve ever seen one.”
At the party, Joe’s jealous self finally meets up with Kate, who brings up the successful pitch to the editor she’s been wooing all night. While Joe pulls the “whatever makes you happy makes me happy” stunt, Kate plops a big kiss on Joe’s lips to let him know where her loyalties lie, pulling a smile back on Joe’s face.
We return to the studio, as Ricky’s rant against Spencer continues.
“Surface over substance,” Ricky says. “The threads, the rides, the chicks. It’s very clear that Spencer is driven by material. His obsession with winning is just an extension of that. Now that he’s got the platform, what the hell is he using it for?”
Spencer, listening from his car, decides to call into the show, and instantly gets some pushback from Ricky, who brings up how he’s not the only one who feels the same way about Spencer.
“I’m not concerned about everybody else,” Spencer says.
That tone changes, however, as Spencer tries to pitch himself to Ricky and everyone else in the league with his new role for the Chiefs.
“I’m the player’s best ally going into the CBA,” Spencer says. “Give a brother a chance.”
“Talk is bulls—, Spence,” Ricky says.
“Seems to be the only thing you do these days,” Spencer replies. “Just witness.”
As Ricky tells Spencer to deliver, mentioning how he and everyone else will be watching, we end the episode with some Spencer narration to fill our quota after the episode featured less of his interview than usual.
“In the end, nothing’s black and white,” Spencer says. “That’s why you have to find your own truth. Some people call it rationalization, I call it being practical.”
“To say I don’t care what anyone thinks, that’d be a lie,” Spencer continues. “You’ll always care about what your friends and family think. But at the end of the day, you’ve only got yourself and the fucks you choose to give. Everything else is someone else’s problem.”
Like I said to start the story, everything now seems to be in place for this final season of “Ballers.”
Spencer’s in his rare role as the Chiefs general manager, Joe’s going all-in with Sports X, Kisan has his new home in Kansas City, and Ricky has his heart set on the radio. All of that is set, but the question now shifts from “What’s going to happen to everyone?” to “How’s everything going to play out?”
There are questions, as always, with this episode. Things are moving quickly in between episodes, with Spencer and Candace going back and forth between hating each other and working together, Ricky hating Spencer all of a sudden, and Vernon rapidly shifting from “I’m done with football altogether” to “I’ll play football and video games at the same time.” It’s tough to answer everything when you’re in your last season and need to fill a lot of other holes, but some clarity would be nice.
There’s still the drama surrounding Spencer’s NCAA lawsuit (which may play out during his long interview), and some other small plot holes to get fixed up, but I’m interested to see where everything ends up. Reports have signaled some serious drama on the way to end the show’s run, and it’s just a matter of who catches the brunt of it as each character begins to take a selfish approach in their own, unique ways.