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Ballers - Protocol Is For Losers - Review


Ballers - Episode 40 - Protocol Is For Losers

Hello sports fans and welcome back to the new season of Ballers on HBO! I've been running with the big dogs at training camps around the league so I've been a bit out of communication. The Rock and crew are still in LA (face it it's easier to shoot there) and are still mixing it up with the celebs and athletes that live there.


The new season starts off with The Rock, as Spencer Strasmore, being interviewed in a studio. He reflects back on his life, blurring the line between The Rock and Spencer as he tells us his history. It's part Rock and part Spencer and continues the trend that has always made the show Ballers most interesting which is watching what its like to be The Rock. The smile, the coolness, the swagger...it all comes from somewhere and this season on Ballers we will be given a glimpse of some of what it was that chiseled out the Rock.

Spencer sits on the beach in a chair pondering the ocean. He quibbles with gal pal Tracy about the water until he's saved by a call from NFL team owner BossMan who shockingly asks him to buy the Kansas City Chiefs. Spencer sees through him and knows he wants him for his skin color and not much more. He tells him he's retired. BossMan tells him that as soon as you retire you begin marching to your death.

Joe drives his gorgeous Astin Martin along the beautiful southern california coast. He justifiably smiles ear to ear as he zooms along. He meets his dry british partner Lance outdoors and they catch up cute for a bit until Joe tells him they are being evicted from their XGames-lite HQ. Joe doesn't care because he shows Lance a big plot of land he wants to buy and create a massive training center for athletes. Lance wonders if Joe is channeling his former partner but Joe swears he isn't. He's only thinking of their future. Oh and he already put a bid in on the land. Oops.


At the LA Rams headquarters Charles works in his office trying to figure out who to cut to make it under the salary cap. His assistant gives him some names until Charles' boss walks in and tells him that his pet project Ricky Jarrett has tested positive. Charles' feigned response doesn't fool him and it looks like Ricky's shortcut to comeback may comeback to literally bite him in the ass.

Inside Ricky Jarrett's house TTD opens the mail and finds the letter from the NFL informing Ricky that he has tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs. Ricky walks in and TTD tries to hide the letter until Chuck texts and he can't any more. They both freak out and blame each other for using in the past. Ricky thinks Chuck is going to let him go. Uh oh, Ricky's comeback may be in jeopardy before it even begins.

Back at the SportsX offices Reggie berates Joe for not including him in his plans. He wants to be in on all of the meetings and decision making processes. Joe tells him they are rebuilding the Roman Empire and that its not cheap. He tells him to work on getting Vernon a new deal with the Cowboys if he wants to play with the big boys. Reggie tells Joe that he's more that just Vernon's guy. Looks like somebody is looking to step outside his comfort zone.

Spencer talks some more in his interview and again we see more of his life growing up and I can't help but wonder how much of this is representative of Dwayne's real life? We see shots of the Rock in his football uniforms and cross editing footage of him playing and being physical. He tells about growing up with his older brother and tough father. His father pushed he and his brother very hard and his older brother didn't like it. The scene cuts to Spencer back at the beach with his lady friend. They chat and she plays armchair psychologist for him. She tells him to call Joe and hash it out. He in turn tells her he's just not feeling the NFL deal. He declares he's "spent his whole life being a man of the people, not the man himself". Wow, what an introspective line and once again the line between reality and fiction is blurred here as we all know The Rock advertised himself wrestling as a man of the people, and the people's champion. He texts BossMan that his answer is no.

Joe, Lance, Kate, and one of the nerdy guys from The Goldbergs have a meeting and discuss their branding. Joe berates the Goldberg kid named Dan, using colorful swearing and descriptions to describe his displeasure at Dan's lack of gumption. Kate says his language isn't appreciated and so Joe declares that they need to have a huge party to make up for Dan's lack of balls.

Ricky calls his agent Jason and tells him he tested positive. In one of the funniest, and wrongest lines of the whole series, Jason says he hopes he's talking about AIDS. Damn. They discuss the P.E.D. situation with Jason calming his client and telling him not to worry and that he'll handle it. Ricky is seriously worried about getting cut. As well he should be. Messing with his chance at a comeback like that. Foolish.

A large video game tournament is going off with tons of attendees and cos players having fun. Vernon and Reggie talk and Vernon tells him he wants to be a pro gamer. Reggie can't believe he'd want to give up the NFL life and tells him he needs to stick with football. Vernon doesn't want to be stereotyped. He wants to be a two sport athlete. He wants to try something new.

Charles takes Jason's call and they both agree Ricky royally screwed up. Jason spins the news and somehow spins it so that he's selling Charles on Ricky, even though he thinks the guy is a lunatic. A cheap lunatic Jason reminds him. Grrrr...so hard being a GM.

Joe and Lance meet with Nancy and discuss the parcel offer. She tells them the owner now only wants to sell both parcels together. Joe freaks out and Lance takes it as a sign from God that they shouldn't do the deal. Joe reluctantly agrees and tells Nancy to tell the woman to shove both parcels. I loved Nancy's "Fuck You" to Lance on her way out the door. Cute.

Ricky and TTD are out doing some shopping therapy when they get the call from agent Jason. Ricky is super worried he's cut but Jason blows him away by telling him he got him an extension on his contract. Ha! Fuck up and get paid, nice system. TTD tells Ricky he's one lucky man and Ricky walks away telling him he's not lucky he's blessed and BOOOM! Ricky gets nailed by a car, cracking the vehicles windshield with his body.


Spencer continues his journey down memory lane and tells a story about him and his brother. He wanted to impress his big bro so he leaped of a high cliff. The water broke his arm and some ribs and his brother had to jump in and save him. He says he was always trying to impress his brother. But ever since that day, he's had a problem with water. Ah, a truth revealed. Seems the Voice Over studio interview is a form of therapy. Spencer/Rock working things out.

Spencer's old foil from the NFL, Candace, shows up and tries to convince him to buy the Chiefs. She tells him to do it for all the football players who didn't make it, for his dad, for his brother, for himself. For everyone. She tells him its his destiny to be the first black NFL owner. Right then Joe calls to talk about his plans. He wants to bounce the parcel and HQ idea off of his old partner, but Spencer interrupts him, telling him he's about to buy the Kansas City Chiefs. After hanging up Joe is pissed and declares that they are buying the parcels.

Spencer ends the episode on the beach by declaring he's going to do things his way. He says you can't let fear command you, it can help guide you, but you can never let it control you. With that he conquers one of his fears and walks into the ocean.


Great comeback episode. Lots happened, not too much time was spent with each character but we got to see a lot of whats going on and what the plot lines are going to be this season. Already better than last season. Down Set Hike!

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