The Ballers: Season 4 Episode 1 Rough Ride recap

BALLERS -- photo: Jeff Daly/courtesy of HBO -- acquired via HBO Media Relations
BALLERS -- photo: Jeff Daly/courtesy of HBO -- acquired via HBO Media Relations /

Ballers returns for season 4 with new personal and professional challenges.

Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) and Joe (Rob Corddry) are ready to expand, but their first step out of the norm may be a bit unorthodox. Additionally, there are past demons Spencer has to deal with as the Anderson Sports Management expansion plan begins. Season 4 of Ballers is going to be awesome.

Meanwhile, Ricky (John David Washington) looks to Los Angeles for life after football. But has he really put football behind him? Similarly, Charles Greane (Omar Benson Miller) nabbed the General Manager job of the Los Angeles Rams. Will he be able to handle the disgruntled employees who fear for their jobs?

Oakland fell through. Las Vegas fell through. Now Anderson Sports Management is going to expand to future cities and future opportunities. Still led by Spencer Strasmore and his trusty sidekick Joe, the ASM team must manage existing clients and search out new opportunities.

Going away party

Spencer walks in the back door of what appears to be a restaurant/casino. He knows everyone on the way through in a scene reminiscent of the classic single-shot from Goodfellas. Dragging a silver suitcase behind him, Spencer high fives and name-drops his way to the restaurant area.

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Patiently waiting is the entire pertinent cast. Ricky, Charles, Vernon Littlefield (Donovan Carter), Jason (Troy Garrity), Reggie (Omar Brown), and TTD (Carl McDowell) are already partying. They exchange brotherly insults, a plethora of F-bombs, and rough attempts at the inspirational. It’s the final night before Charles and Ricky (dragging TTD with him) head out to Los Angeles. As the party breaks up, Spencer walks Ricky to his car. He gives Ricky a check for the $5M+ previously borrowed. Spencer says, “Me and SoCal don’t mix.” The mystery begins.

A new business venture

Well, if ASM is going to expand, extreme sports is a wide step away from the safety of what they know. Enter Lance Klians (Russell Brand), eccentric owner of Sports X, an extreme sports company with financial troubles (a convenient $50M). Lance is Joe’s old burn buddy who wants to sell his business.

Sports X has a presence at the Huntington Surf Classic, a cool counter-culture office environment free of HR issues, their own surfing channel, a black surfing client named Parker Jones who Lance believes might be the Jackie Robinson of surfing.

“This is not our business,” exclaims Spencer. Joe, however, is ever the master manipulator. They weren’t financial managers or real estate experts, but both worked. Why not this? Lance walks naked into the ocean.


Big news! Spencer gets a call from Candace Brewer (Emayatzy Corinealdi) to tell him he’s on the Hall of Fame ballot. It’s an odd inclusion in the episode that is likely a device to cause him stress

Jason calls Spencer about a high school QB who’s supposed to be the best in the nation. While watching the kid on TV, Spencer notices the kid’s mother is hot. (Hint: She’ll be the future love interest.)

Finally, Spencer doesn’t want to stay long in the area. Joe’s all “WTF?” Spencer says it’s complicated. The reply Joe has is what makes Ballers so hilarious. It’s genuine, realistic, and burns Spencer enough to require cold water.

"Joe: “I didn’t ask for your Facebook status.”"

The dynamic duo also takes a break to meet with Calais Campbell of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Is Ricky really retired?

Ricky, TTD, Amber (Brittany Hall), and Amber’s mother (LisaRaye McCoy) are house hunting in LA. I know what you’re thinking. Why did they drag TTD along with them? I say because he’s hilarious. But Amber continually tells him to STFU. Sooooo, maybe it’s still unclear?

Anyway, Ricky says they’re retired, but TTD says they might visit the Chargers. Ricky and Amber fornicate while TTD checks out the kitchen with the real estate agent. Later, they’re at a restaurant when TTD tells him to rent in case he wants to play again.

But Ricky has a secret. He wants back into football, and he told Jason to look around. The first offer came in: Cleveland. Ouch.

Charles is still a wimp

Settling into his new job, Charles has to deal with a weird executive assistant with an eye twitch. The owner (Kevin Durand) challenges him to just cut whichever employees aren’t working out. The rest of the Rams organization, however, are afraid for their jobs.

Charles is challenged in the community lunch area by disgruntled employees. Within minutes, the question is asked: “Are our jobs safe? Yes or no?” Charles Greane loudly declares, “Yes! And I’m bringing back the damn chocolate chip cookies.” The owner saw it, mouths the word “pussy,” and walks away. He may soon miss the tenuous relationship he had with Larry Siefert (Dule Hill).

So what happened in SoCal?

Near the end of this Ballers’ episode, Spencer reveals his SoCal secret. He takes Joe to a bridge and reveals that his brother committed suicide in the location. Spencer was in his junior year at Miami. Expect this to linger during the time in SoCal. Could abuse of a new prescription be on the horizon?

Next. Flashback to Yay Area. dark

Will SoCal have too much history for Spencer, or will he be able to ignore it for a potentially incredibly business opportunity? Look for the next episode of Ballers plant firm roots in the Los Angeles community.

Ballers airs at 9:00 CT on HBO.