‘Ballers’ recap: When things fall apart Will Spencer deliver? Will Charles stay in the Dolphins’ front office? Will Ricky retire?

SEASON THREE, EPISODE NINE | “CRACKBACK” | SEPT. 17

Crackback noun / crack·back / ˈkrak-ˌbak / a blindside block on a defensive back in football by a pass receiver who starts downfield and then cuts back to the middle of the line. This is the definition, according to Merriam-Webster, of the word given to this week’s episode of Ballers. It’s a fitting title, because as season three draws to a close, every major character gets a blindside slap in the face.

Let’s start with the polarizing protagonist of the show, Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), who’s been trying his hardest all season to be the man behind the move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. Last week, we saw Spencer and his partner, Joe Krutel (Rob Corddry), tell their team at Anderson Sports Management that they’ll be selling the company to go all in on relocating an NFL team to Sin City.

But maybe Spencer and Joe pulled the trigger too soon, because at owners meetings in San Francisco, he gets wind of the fact that there is a competing group also looking to move the Raiders to Vegas. The catch? This group is endorsed by the league, while Spencer’s is not. Fast-forward to a fiery exchange over drinks with Candace Brewer (Emayatzy Corinealdi), the sexy and tough NFL executive who advises Spencer that the best play is for both groups to join forces, with Spencer’s team taking a back seat in the deal.

This certainly isn’t what Spencer wants to hear — and, unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop there. Spencer receives a call from his business partner, Las Vegas hotel tycoon Wayne Hastings Jr. (Steve Guttenberg), who informs him that he’ll be giving his investment and huge plot of land to the NFL-endorsed group.

Back on South Beach, Larry Siefert (Dulé Hill) is officially fired as general manager of the Miami Dolphins, after his assistant general manager Charles Greane (Omar Benson Miller) went over his head and persuaded the team to hire Larry Csonka as head coach. Siefert anticipates that Charles is next in line to be Miami’s new general manager, although the team’s owner has different plans. Charles is told that he’ll remain in the No. 2 assistant general manager spot, forcing him to consider resigning.

Ricky Jerret (John David Washington) is on the brink of signing a new deal with the New England Patriots despite being recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The Patriots offer a huge two-year, $20 million contract, with $16 million guaranteed, but before putting ink to paper, Ricky confesses that he’s had a months-long concussion and wants to receive medical help before deciding whether to even play again. The Patriots immediately pull out of negotiations.

Will Spencer be responsible for delivering an NFL team to Las Vegas? Will Charles remain in the front office of the Miami Dolphins? Will Ricky retire? These are all questions to ponder after a blindsiding episode nine. Hope the finale has all the answers.

‘Survivor’s Remorse’ recap: When virtual reality meets your alcohol-laden stomach A reminder that graphic suffering and cocktails don’t mix

Season 4, Episode 5 | “The Gala” | SepT. 17

The writers of Survivor’s Remorse are fearless when it comes to using comedy to tackle tough social issues. But sometimes you just need a big belly laugh, and this week’s episode delivers.

Oh, dear. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said “belly.”

Let’s explain: Cam (Jessie T. Usher) is holding a gala to raise money for his charity, the Calloway Philanthropic Trust, or CPT. And because it’s Cam, the road to money for fighting frozen nostril syndrome, mass incarceration and contaminated water supplies is paved with blue cocktails, doughnuts and vomit. Lots and lots of vomit.

Cam is a bleeding heart. And because he wants those around him to feel people’s pain just the way he does, he collaborates on a virtual reality experience for his gala guests.

There’s just one problem: Cam subjects his guests, who are gathered at his Buckhead, Atlanta, mansion in their swankiest black-tie ’fits, to a variety of way-too-real horrors. And so the gala attendees, wearing the virtual reality headsets developed by Chen’s (Robert Wu) company, experience life in prison, the world as experienced by a baby with “frozen nostrils” and the life of a child whose fingers get gnawed on by rats. By the time they get to maggot-infested water, everyone, full of too much sugar and alcohol, starts vomiting. And because they’ve neglected to take off their virtual reality headsets, they’re bumping into each other and slipping. Things got a little too real. Uncanny valley, indeed.

Written by Lauren Houseman and Allen Maldonado, The Gala combines a healthy dose of Survivor’s Remorse’s rapid-fire wit with some disgustingly funny slapstick. And it allows Erica Ash a spotlight to show off as M-Chuck.

When their diabetic professional auctioneer goes down, thanks to an inability to say no and an appetite for doughnuts, M-Chuck is forced to step in as auctioneer. Fortunately, this takes place before everyone’s emptied their stomachs onto the floor and tables and bathrooms of the Calloway residence.

M-Chuck is half shame artist, half insult comic and 100 percent talented at separating people from their money, as we see with her raunchy routine auctioning a pit bull puppy from one of rapper Pitbull’s own dogs. Once she finishes college, it’s not hard to envision M-Chuck as a director of development for a very, hmm, distinctive nonprofit.

Her brother, on the other hand, continues to inadvertently make the case for a life in politics once his basketball career is over. For one, it’s clear that Cam is driven by a need to help others, almost to a fault. But he’s also settled into a life of relying on others to think for him, which tends to get him into trouble. Although he put Missy in charge of organizing the gala, he took it upon himself to include the virtual reality project and instructed Missy not to watch it beforehand. And when his house was being blanketed in upchuck, Cam decided to yell at himself by yelling at Missy.

Cam: “How did you f— this up?”

Missy: “How did I f— this up?”

Cam: “I’m a professional athlete! A product of the culture of American idolatry, which means I am no longer capable of sound judgment. When I’m right, I’m right. When I’m wrong, I’m right and my people are wrong!”

I told you this guy could run for public office.

So, Cam is clearly good-hearted. But he lacks focus and he hates saying no. Which is how he ends up with a gala raising money for three unrelated causes. I keep wondering whether he’s headed for a major financial crisis from giving away so much of his money and committing to bad investments, but it’s Reggie’s (RonReaco Lee) job to protect him from himself.

As for the gala, it was miraculously successful because folks pulled out their phones and started giving money via the “Cam Calloway Get Woke” app as soon as their stomachs settled. You have to wonder what sort of saints Cam managed to assemble, as most folks in that situation would be demanding a refund and a pledge from Cam to cover their dry-cleaning costs. But maybe that’s just bad form.

‘Insecure’ recap: Love in a time of gentrification, glass ceilings and Carl Thomas sweaters Issa and Lawrence might be soulmates. They might be meant for each other. But that doesn’t mean they’re meant to be together.

Season 2, Episode 8 | “Hella Perspective” | Sept. 10

There are a lot of ways we can go about breaking down Sunday night’s Insecure season finale. So let’s just go through some.

Gentrification. We’ve all seen it firsthand. Areas that were once majority people of color are suddenly lined with juice bars and Harris Teeters. Not that it’s a bad thing in the most technical sense. But the technical sense fails to account for the history of an area, the people who inhabit said area and what that history means to those people. It’s baldly noticeable as Issa walks down the street at the beginning of the episode. It’s subtly noticeable as a white woman jogs in front of Issa’s complex.

Tiffany and Derek. Anyone else put one and one together? So check, when Lawrence, Chad and Derek are all in Lawrence’s semblance of a living room, the latter two tell Lawrence why Aparna having sex with a co-worker multiple times is bad for business. Chad agrees, but Derek absolutely agrees and tells the story of how he had to get rid of one of Tiffany’s old co-workers for the same reason. One, you can’t give Lawrence advice like that because he’ll not only take it, he’ll implement it at the absolutely wrong time. Case in point: bringing it up in the car to her, thus leading to an argument, Aparna getting out and leaving Lawrence 0-2 in post-Issa situationships. But what’s really intriguing here is Derek says Tiffany (who is pregnant now) went to Issa’s apartment to watch Due North. Yet, when the scene shifts to Issa’s, we find out Tiffany can’t make it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Derek-Tiffany dynamic play out more during next season. They’ve alluded to issues in the past. Maybe season three is when we find out that baby isn’t Derek’s. It’s Work Bae’s. Just something to ponder.

The Untouchables. Which brings me to my next point. Insecure is a show where everyone catches a proverbial bullet, except these three: Kelli, Chad and Thug Yoda, aka The Neighborhood Blood, were the only ones not to take an L all season. They provided a sense of relief and lightheartedness for a show that can stress you out. Hoping they have more screen time next season.

Maybe season three is when we find out that baby isn’t Derek’s. It’s Work Bae’s. Just something to ponder.

Molly’s therapy and Issa’s job. Issa is essentially being demoted — and Freida promoted — to new director of student outreach. At the same time, she’s moving out of her apartment in one of those hellish collisions of professional and personal life that hit all of us at least once (or 38 times) in our lives. Life has a way of humbling you when it wants. We knew the way Issa was handling her gig would come back to haunt her. She was essentially running a segregated after-school program. As for Molly’s therapy, it was nice to see it return. Given everything that’s going on in her life right now, talking to a professional will be more important than ever.

Molly’s glass ceiling. The conversation that Molly, Issa and Kelli had regarding Molly’s future — working for black people vs. working for white people — is a common one. It’s been frustrating to watch the glass ceiling Molly runs into at work. That “Rising Star” certificate? A piece of paper doesn’t pay the bills. They gave Molly a participation trophy and patted her on the head.


Some feel the finale was a bit of a letdown. And that’s because it didn’t pack the one signature moment — like Tasha calling Lawrence a “f— n—–,” Lawrence’s threesome, Daniel and Issa’s couch scene or last weekend’s dinner party from hell — and it left doors unopened and questions unanswered. All of which may be true.

In a season full of over-the-top antics, it came down to decisions for Molly, Issa and Lawrence. For Molly, it’s simple. People return to where they feel most comfortable, even if they know the situation isn’t in their best interest. Ask yourself how many times you’ve seen this in person. Ask yourself how many times it’s been you.

This is the type of decision Molly makes when it comes to dudes. Actually giving Quentin (LilRel Howrey) a chance, a guy who vibes with her on an authentic level, outside of work or professional motives, would’ve been foreign territory for her. She’s just not willing, at this time, to give herself that opportunity to find peace. Until she does, we’re going to see her walk through the revolving door that is love with all the wrong people.

Dro, on the other hand, is going to play this as long as the rules allow. How much does his wife, Candice, know? Molly’s brilliant and is deserving of a lot more than what her current gig is offering her. But because of that chaos, she’s doubling down on the chaos in her personal life.

If any moment resonated, Issa, Lawrence and Lawrence’s vintage Carl Thomas sweater reunion was the show’s axis.

But if any moment resonated, Issa, Lawrence and Lawrence’s vintage Carl Thomas sweater reunion was the show’s axis. Sans last week’s episode and the argument that followed outside the restaurant, the two hadn’t spoken to each other, or been in the same room since the season opener. Issa and Lawrence both hurt each other. Issa’s transgression was just more blatant. Lawrence’s complacency was more below the surface and a gripe that built up over time until the consequences became inevitable. But Lawrence’s admission that the shortcoming in his own ambitions had more far-reaching ramifications than he realized was and is a very real ego check. It was the most honest moment he had all season. The conversation is one to which the entire series has been building. Both are struggling to establish themselves professionally while barely keeping their heads above water outside the office. Both needed the secure blanket that the other provided.

It’s part of the reason Tyler, The Creator’s “Boredom” song played such an integral role in the finale. Find some time to do something/ Find some time to do something, the hook suggests. As it turns out, that “something” is exactly what Lawrence and Issa needed, the one thing they’ve avoided all season: an honest conversation. And one that absolutely needed to be on TV in the manner it was.

Speaking of the musical direction, the one dope part of Issa’s elaborate daydream that included her and Lawrence not only getting back together but also getting married and having a kid was the song selection of Daniel Caesar’s “Blessed.” The standout from the Toronto’s Freudian project was tailor-made for the moment. But I’m glad Issa was daydreaming. It rarely, if ever, happens like that.

Issa and Lawrence might be soulmates. They might be meant for each other. But that doesn’t mean they’re meant to be together. One of the hardest lessons love teaches is knowing when to let go. Letting go of someone or something that was such a large part of yourself, your vulnerability and your strength is a lot to accept. It’s hard to remember life before their impact, and it’s even scarier to imagine a future without it. The thing they don’t tell you about love is that not everybody gets to keep it.

What this means for next season, I couldn’t tell you. With Aparna out of the picture and Lawrence seemingly taking some time to himself, might we see less of him? How in the world does an Issa/Daniel living arrangement even begin to work? And we’ve already addressed the 6 million WTFs that keep Molly running back to Dro. For now, we all need a break. Perhaps the most accurate part of last night’s episode was its title: “Hella Perspective.” That much is for sure.

‘Ballers’ recap: Which will go down first — Spencer having a child or an NFL team in Las Vegas? Also, Travis Scott is homeboys with Wayne Hastings Jr., and we’re here for it

SEASON THREE, EPISODE EIGHT | “ALLEY-OOPS” | SEPT. 10

Spencer Strasmore takes a deep breath, gazes into the distance and summons the courage to mutter into the phone the question that’s on his mind: “It’s not cancer, is it?”

The voice on the other end of the line responds without hesitation. “The test was for sperm count,” the doctor’s office receptionist says.

Remember, in the first episode of this season of Ballers, when Spencer’s realization that he’s never had a single pregnancy scare leads to a trip to the fertility clinic to see if he’s even able to have children? Well, seven episodes later, the results are in. But, before we get to the verdict, a much-needed update on the NFL-to-Las Vegas situation, for which Spencer (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is willing to sell his professional baby, Anderson Sports Management, to come up with the needed capital.

In the scene after his conversation with the receptionist, Spencer dials his business partner and Las Vegas hotel tycoon Wayne Hastings Jr. (Steve Guttenberg), who’s pouring up with a group of women and none other than rapper Travis Scott. In this moment, one of life’s most important questions is answered: When a phone rings, how does Travis react? Our hopes and dreams are fulfilled when Wayne’s phone goes off and Travis exclaims, “PICK UP THE PHONE, BABY!” — the first line of the chorus to his hit 2016 track “Pick Up the Phone.” Thank you, Ballers writers, for this wonderful moment.

On the call, Spencer pressures Wayne to find an area in Sin City where an NFL stadium can be built so the Oakland Raiders can be relocated. Soon, the Las Vegas mogul delivers a video, showing a huge plot of land directly behind the Vegas strip, which officially puts the sale of Anderson Sports Management into motion and cements the reality that Spencer and his partner, Joe Krutel (Rob Corddry), will have to break the news to their staff and beloved clients.

Two of those clients, Ricky Jerret (John David Washington) and Charles Greane (Omar Benson Miller), really could use some advice from Spencer and Joe right about now. After finally deciding to seek help as a result of taking too many hits to the head in the NFL, Ricky is officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder and placed on medication that he’s afraid will affect his daily life on and off the field.

And, in the throes of NFL front-office life, Charles’ interview for the open general manager job with the Los Angeles Chargers is canceled after someone with the Miami Dolphins receives word that Charles is looking to move on. There’s no doubt that the party pooper is Miami’s tyrant general manager Larry Siefert, with whom Charles has butted heads all season long.

Spencer eventually makes the long-awaited visit to the fertility doctor, who informs him that he has functioning swimmers, though they’re “more Ryan Lochte than Michael Phelps.” What that means is his sperm count is declining and the window to have kids is rapidly closing. The news seems to weigh heavily on Spencer, who ends the episode in a passionate sex scene with his girlfriend Chloe.

After things get superhot and heavy, Chloe asks Spencer, “Did you just …”

Yup, he did, Chloe.

Insecure recap: When it all goes down—awkwardly Molly goes for it and Issa and Lawrence curse each other out

SEASON TWO, EPISODE SEVEN | “HELLA DISRESPECTFUL” | SEPTEMBER 3

Issa, what are you doing, girl?

I mean, I get it. Life is hard. Very. Car is messed up. Auto shop is charging you an arm and a leg. Fly dresses must be purchased to front in front of ex-boyfriends — only to be returned the next day.

But you’re tearing up your apartment — a rent increase is soon coming to your slow-to-gentrify neighborhood — and you’re not really seeming to care about getting your security deposit back. That’s doing way too much. So Tiffany (Amanda Seales) hosts a dinner party for her husband, Derek (Wade Allain-Marcus), and invited Issa’s ex-boyfriend Lawrence, who brought an unexpected plus-one to the intimate affair.

Awkward.

And Tiffany also invited Dro and his wife — are we really convinced they’re in an open relationship? Or do we believe he’s lying because he wanted to take Molly (Yvonne Orji) to bed? Those in the know were hella uncomfortable and hella insecure.

Yet, perhaps an even bigger storyline than Molly’s almost unbelievable romantic relationship with a childhood friend who says he’s in an open marriage is seeing her try to boldly break through the corporate glass ceiling, demanding a meeting with The Boys’ Club to discuss all of her career victories well in advance of a yearly review in an effort to get a salary on par with her white male colleague’s.

But it is the central romantic relationship that has grabbed at us most of this summer. When the inaugural season came to its finale last year, we all wondered whether this entire season would be spent on Lawrence and Issa getting back to one another. We now know better. What we’ve seen are two characters battling their way through major millennial insecurities, trying to figure it out and trying to get it as right as they can in the moment they’re living.

Much of this culminates in this episode in a drag-down verbal altercation between Lawrence (Jay Ellis) and Issa (Issa Rae) outside of a restaurant. They hurl profanities and insults and barbs at one another, both clearly still harboring deep feelings of love, trust gone awry and regret.

All of this is a setup to next week’s 45-minute finale, where it appears the two characters meet up again and perhaps give us some sort of movement in either direction: stay forever apart or make moves toward reconciliation.

Bring it on.

‘Power’ season finale recap: ‘You Can’t Fix This.’ Tariq is a badass — and the real Ghost is back

SEASON 4, EPISODE 10 | Episode: “You Can’t Fix This” | SEPTEMBER 3

Raina is really gone. And the tragedy is of epic proportions. And Ghost (Omari Hardwick)? Well, he’s back in this.

The old Ghost. The one from season one. Episode one. The one who takes nail guns and tortures people in auto garages, shoots to kill and puts the fear of God in someone, after they squeal and give up pertinent information, right before he takes their life. That Ghost. He’s back. And I’m guessing he’s not going away anytime soon.

Also back is that good old one-two BFF connection that Tommy (Joseph Sikora) and Ghost had. It’s back, it’s criminal, and it feels good to see the two besties and business partners back on the same team, working together to try to figure out who killed Raina and why.

Then, they figure it out. And it comes from an unlikely source: Kanan (50 Cent), who confirms that it’s dirty cop Raymond (Marcus Callender) who shot Ghost’s daughter in cold blood outside of her school. “Tasha,” Tommy says. “Figure out some alibis. We gonna need them.”

Aw yeah. Once again it’s on.

Also, Tariq is a little badass in the making. On his own, he tracked down his sister’s killer, stole his mother’s gun from her safe, quietly left the home and found the man in his hideout in Washington Heights. He killed his sister’s killer. In cold blood. Without any assistance from his dad or godfather.

“I had to fix it,” he tells Ghost and Tommy when they arrive at the scene, only to see the man who shot and killed Raina lying there with a pool of blood around his head, his lifeless body laid out on an area rug. And it looks like Tasha (Naturi Naughton) is going to take the blame for the dirty cop’s killing; we see her hand a check to her lover/lawyer and tell him she did the deed.

Meanwhile Dre (Rotimi) — who quite frankly is the reason for a lot of this season’s gnarly turn of events — is getting deeper and deeper. Aw, c’mon Dre — all the slick treachery you’ve gotten away with this season? From snaking Ghost’s son and getting him involved with a life he should have never known a word about? And now you’re in bed with the Jimenez and up to no good? And you killed a (drug-dealing) priest?

Yeah. He’s going to pay for that. And you know who will be his piper? Ghost, Tommy and Kanan. The boys are back together again.

Next season can’t come quickly enough.

‘Ballers’ recap: Spencer’s dreams are quickly turning into nightmares This is one of the best episodes ‘Ballers‘ writers have ever produced

SEASON THREE, EPISODE SEVEN | “RICKY-LEAKS” | SEPT. 3

Everything appears to be perfect as Vernon Littlefield, Ricky Jerrett and Charles Greane jog down a California street. Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day” bumps, and Spencer Strasmore is attempting to describe to the guys what an annuity is. Retired NFL running back Eddie George even randomly pops up to help explain the concept in this sequence, which feels as magical as what Cube details on his iconic 1993 track.

Then, the entire crew comes to a halt. And as Spencer looks out ahead of him, the road is cracked, and hot lava is bubbling and oozing from the earth. He turns around to discover that his friends are gone and he’s by himself.

Spencer’s dream quickly turns into a nightmare, waking him up in a cold sweat to open one of the best episodes the Ballers writers have ever produced.

After the dream, Spencer (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is late to a business meeting in which Brett Anderson (Richard Schiff) and Joe Krutel (Rob Corddry) are discussing selling Anderson Sports Management to finance their $2 billion plan to deliver an NFL team to Las Vegas. Mr. Anderson and Joe are all in, but Spencer is skeptical. He knows their true calling is helping their clients — two of whom are battling demons caused by Spencer’s lack of support while focusing on Vegas rather than their livelihoods.

The video of Ricky (John David Washington) wandering into a neighbor’s house and punching their teenage son, Jimmy Burns, leaked onto the internet, forcing Ricky’s team, the New England Patriots, to request that the wide receiver get help. While meeting with a therapist, Ricky admits that a long career on the field, filled with countless hard hits to the head, has led him to lose himself.

“I’m not gonna lie to you … I’m an emotional guy. Sometimes I feel like the sun is shining and all is right in the world. And other days … I feel like there’s a dark cloud, and I wanna kill somebody, even myself,” says Ricky in one of the many rich moments of dialogue in the episode. “It’s like there’s two different people. There’s Ricky … and there’s Jerrett.”

While the 16-year-old Jimmy is blowing up from the fame of the video in which he got punched, he threatens to talk to TMZ about what truly happened. But all he wants is Ricky to pick him up from high school in his Ferrari so he can be cool in front of all of his friends. Ricky obliges and finds solace in Jimmy, who is the first and only person to whom he reveals that he isn’t “right in the head.”

As one situation is defused, so is another. Joe and Reggie (London Brown) take a trip to the NFL league offices to meet with Candace Brewer (Emayatzy Corinealdi) on behalf of Vernon, who’s facing a four-game suspension after testing positive for marijuana. Reggie skillfully persuades Candace to lower the penalty to two games, all the while making Joe realize that a moment like this is why he’s an adviser to athletes. More importantly, Joe realizes that ASM isn’t worth selling.

If there’s one thing that this episode tells us, it’s that every Ballers character is at a crossroads. Ricky with his mental health. Vernon with his future in the league. Charles (who receives an interview for the GM job of the Los Angeles Chargers) with his future in the front office. But in the end, just as we saw in his nightmare, Spencer might end up alone.

“I’m out,” he exclaims in the episode’s final moments. “We’re selling ASM.”

‘Survivor’s Remorse’ recap: M-Chuck discovers a therapeutic replacement for random sex This week is all about self-awareness

Season 4, Episode 3 | “Closure” | Sept. 3

Is it just me or is this show turning into a weekly therapy session?

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, simply an observation, given that so much of this season revolves around characters reckoning with past demons that are still haunting their present.

We’ve become accustomed to M-Chuck’s breakthroughs because the show has been following her through therapy sessions. What’s interesting is seeing Reggie (RonReaco Lee) undergo similar epiphanies with careful prodding from his wife, Missy (Teyonah Parris). Reggie’s always been prickly, and the further we dig into his character, the more we learn how much of that’s due to his own insecurities.

Reggie’s confession that he’s not sure he’ll be able to provide the life he thinks Missy deserves because he sees himself as too emotionally screwed up felt like something out of Lemonade. Underneath Reggie’s bravado is a man who’s not sure he’s worthy of the life he’s built, and those insecurities are rooted in class. Growing up poor can mean that you might become an adult who hoards money, or who has hang-ups about the thermostat or the type of towels you have in your house. But it also can really mess with your conception of self-worth. On top of that, Reggie’s playing host to a father who’s a recovering alcoholic. A part of him still worries that Trent (Marlon Young) is going to wake up at 4 a.m. and pummel him in his bed. And while it’s great that he’s sharing this stuff with his wife, I’m really hoping Missy encourages him to talk about it with a professional.

The title of this episode is Closure, but it would have worked just as well to name it Self-Awareness. Besides Reggie’s realizations, we’ve still got Cam and M-Chuck (Erica Ash) to dissect.

More than anything, Cam (Jessie T. Usher) is disappointed that he lost his father to prison and poverty. “It’s all so f—ing sad,” he tells Allison (Meagan Tandy) during a video call. There’s a clever, meta quality to Cam realizing what a cliché he and his father are, despite their best efforts to avoid it, in a show about a pro basketball player who grew up without a father and is now a multimillionaire.

And then, of course, there’s M-Chuck, who decides to pee and poop upon the grave of her three Rape Dads after a meal and some soul-searching with Pookie (Sir Brodie). “I thought I would feel better,” M-Chuck tells Pookie. Her emotional resolution about her “dads” doesn’t come about neatly, but in the course of pursuing it, she finds something else: a way to deal with her feelings that doesn’t involve sex with strangers. The best part is M-Chuck’s charming realization that therapy can work. We get to see her recognize her own “aha moment.”

(A side note: I miss Jimmy Flaherty (Chris Bauer). Pookie has replaced Jimmy as the older, wiser, straight male friend in M-Chuck’s life. It’s too bad, and I think that has something to do with Ash’s skill in sharing scenes with other abrasive types.)

So far, this season feels a bit disjointed, and it’s because the characters are physically spread out. Cassie and Chen are in China. M-Chuck and Cam are both in Boston, but unaware of each other’s presence there until the end of this episode. After three seasons in which these people spent so much time together under the same enormous roof, it’s strange to take in the separateness of their current lives. It also means there are more phone calls being deployed to advance the plot, which can get clunky.

‘Ballers’ recap: Ricky Jerrett has post-concussion syndrome and Spence is still all about the Benjamins Coach Berg keeps it real: ‘I should have cut him!’

SEASON THREE, EPISODE SIX | “I HATE NEW YORK” | AUG. 27

First, he blew millions of dollars at the craps table in Las Vegas. He also forgot the day he and his now-pregnant girlfriend first met. The ultimate turning point came when he wandered into a stranger’s house, thinking it was his, and punched one of the residents in the face. The epiphany? NFL wide receiver Ricky Jerrett (John David Washington), one of the most beloved characters on Ballers, appears to be showing early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy — or what’s infamously known in the NFL as CTE.

After Ricky makes a surprise trip to the hospital to see his best friend’s wife, Julie Greane (Jazmyn Simon), she recommends a meeting with Dr. Robbins (Stacy Ann Rose), a neurologist who puts him through a series of memory span and verbal fluency tests. The official diagnosis? Ricky has post-concussion syndrome. The suggested treatment? Ricky must allow his brain to rest and heal by avoiding football and staying away from all strenuous and stressful situations for at least a month — or maybe even longer.

Yet, despite the terrifying news, the only question on Ricky’s mind is whether he’ll be ready to suit up for the New England Patriots during the 2017 season. Dr. Robbins is uncertain, but Ricky isn’t taking no for an answer. On a phone call with his agent Jason (Troy Garity), Ricky tells him to lock up a contract extension with the Patriots, despite a lowball offer from the reigning Super Bowl champs. Even though his brain and livelihood are suffering as a result of playing, Ricky won’t turn his back on the hard-hitting, and in his case life-threatening, gantlet of pro football. That too seems to be the case for many real-life NFL players, making this plot twist a harshly realistic statement from the Ballers writers.

All of us when we learned Ricky has post-concussion syndrome.

Another Ballers epiphany, yet one that didn’t take as long to come to: Miami Dolphins general manager Larry Siefert (Dulé Hill) is the worst guy on the planet. After last week’s episode, in which Coach Berg settled his differences with Siefert by smashing his head into a plate of home-cooked brisket at assistant general manager Charles Greane’s house, Siefert announces that the Dolphins are going to fire the head coach — and that Charles is going to be the one to break the news to him.

Berg’s response to being let go is priceless. “I should have cut him,” he tells Charles. “The other night when I had him on your dining room table, I had my eyes on your wife’s brisket knife, I swear to God, I saw it. I saw it in my mind, Charles. I could see it. I was going to pick up the knife, and I was gonna stick it right in his f—ing face!”

How we feel every time Larry Siefert tries to play Charles Greane.

And in the latest development of the biggest storyline of the season — Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) tries to relocate an NFL team to Las Vegas — Brett Anderson (Richard Schiff), aka the CEO of Anderson Sports Management, and Spencer’s typically cynical boss, is all in on the venture.

The only thing is, to make it happen, Anderson, Spencer and his right-hand man Joe Krutel (Rob Corddry) need a truckload of money — and fast. So the trio travels to The Hamptons, New York, to visit the CEO of Anderson Financial, which is, to the surprise of Spencer and Joe, Anderson’s pompous little brother Julian. A tense family reunion yields a pledge from Julian to put up all the money they need to build a new stadium in Las Vegas and deliver an NFL franchise to Sin City. The only catch is Julian wants full control of the project.

Although Joe is 100 percent down to sit back and let Julian make them rich, Brett and Spencer tell Julian to screw himself, and they turn down the deal. Over drinks in the episode’s final scene, Brett reveals his master plan to raise every penny they need to solidify the NFL-to-Vegas move.

Sell Anderson Management. *mic drop* Anderson out.

‘Insecure’ recap: Life comes at Issa fast; Molly doubles down on forbidden fruit Issa shoots all of her shots. Whether they’re good shots is a totally different discussion.

Season 2, Episode 6 | “Hella BLOWS” | Aug. 27

Whoever came up with the title “Hella Blows” for this episode deserves all the awards. More on that shortly.

Lawrence didn’t have a great last episode. He’s stalking Issa on social media. He knows Daniel’s back in the picture. Derek told him about himself. He sees Issa living her life, and he’s this close to blocking Issa on social media while getting drunk in his house by himself. With his personal life on the ropes, his professional life has to at least provide some sort of balance, right? Wrong. Misery loves company.

We see Lawrence presumably killing his presentation for the app he’s been working on for the better part of two years. Yes, the same app that Lawrence was working on in season one when he was in between gigs, not yet in between Issa and Tasha, and not yet the real-world cult hero he’s become. The presentation, on the surface, seems to go well. His colleagues seem interested, saying how much they loved it. And they didn’t have any questions.

That right there should have been a red flag for Lawrence. Really? They didn’t have one question about this app? That was a dead giveaway: They not only didn’t care about the presentation, they don’t value Lawrence’s work, period. Perhaps so desperate for a win of some sort, Lawrence ignores his co-worker Aparna (Jasmine Kaur) when she lets him know he was getting played. It wasn’t until a second conversation that Lawrence really began to see what Aparna was talking about. He’s black. She’s a woman of color. In the tech industry, that’s already playing behind the eight ball.

Yet, somehow, Lawrence had the most tame storyline in the episode. Because Molly, our favorite Los Angeles lawyer not named Johnnie Cochran, feels she played her hand too much by sleeping with longtime friend (who just happens to be married) Dro. Her intention: to lay all her cards on the table and say it was a moment of passion, and that she was weak. You know, all the stuff you tell yourself before you absolutely lie down with that same person again. That’s exactly what happens with Molly. The only difference is, this time she’s more invested.

Molly doesn’t totally understand the open marriage concept, but she’s here now, and it’s gonna go wherever it’s going to go. Whatever’s blossoming between the two seems to be evolving, and the two end up in a hotel room, with Molly in a bubble bath and Dro sitting on the edge beside her … until Dro has to dip because Candice is back in town now and she’s locked herself out.

It’s that moment right then when Molly realizes, What did I get myself into? I’m not going to lie to you either, America. I still believe this open marriage angle Dro’s been preaching is just game that’s apparently working on Molly to the point she’s willing to go into hotel rooms with this dude as if they didn’t just smash in her place a week ago. Dro’s having his cake and eating it too. The flavor of said cake happens to be Molly.

The commandment Issa failed to understand about having a roster is that you still have to manage the roster.

And now we get to Issa. Oh, Issa, Issa, Issa. Where does one even begin to unload Issa’s drama from last night? On second thought, maybe “unload” wasn’t the greatest word choice ever. Anyway, let’s start from the beginning.

Issa, like Lawrence, absolutely sucks at her hoe phase. The commandment Issa failed to understand about having a roster is that you still have to manage the roster. Eddy (the neighbor) played her to the left when she popped up unannounced. Daniel hit her with the “three dots” text, then disappeared. (Well played, by the way, Daniel. Well played.) And her new dude, Nico, wasn’t with all the heavy advances she threw on him at her apartment. Issa wanted an emergency you-know-what in a glass. Nico actually cares for her beyond the sexual component. So when he turned her down, opting instead to go to the restaurant he had in mind, that bond was over quicker than a Mike Tyson fight in the ’80s. Issa finally sees what we all see — there’s no rotation in her “hoetation.” Life comes at you fast.

Anyway, this leads to the crux of the entire episode, and the scenes that had social media amped on a thousand last night. Issa, Molly, Kelli and Tiffany all attend a sex workshop. The topic of oral sex arises. (There are all type of puns in here that I’m not trying to make, but the opportunities are so fertile right now. See what I mean?) They all laugh at the thought of performing oral sex with a condom after being asked to sign up for a “how-to” class. Keep this in mind. We’re going to come right back to this.

From there, the convo between the quartet of ladies dives into who likes doing it, who doesn’t like doing it, and who isn’t necessarily opposed to doing it but it’s not their favorite activity in the world. Issa, of course, is vehemently opposed to doing it. (Like, what, sis? It’s 2017. We’re all grown here. When we were kids, we did childish things. But we’re adults now … and, well, adults adult. And this is very adult-laden, Issa!) Sorry, I keep getting sidetracked. It’s this convo that begins to spark Issa’s brain, which leads her over to Daniel’s house. One thing leads to another, and the next thing you know they’re going at it.

Issa, the progressive that she is, decides to switch the game up. She tells him to sit back and let her take the reins, and he gladly obliges. What happens next could be the funniest, wildest and most discussed scene yet in Insecure. Even more than Lawrence’s double dip into the milk of magnesia two episodes ago.

Daniel warns Issa: Hey, look. Any moment now this is about to get messy. Make your next move your best move. Issa ignores Daniel’s warning and his body clues, and the next thing we know Issa’s got pink eye. But it’s her reaction that’s most trippy. She acted as if Daniel committed a sin. He didn’t. In fact, she did her job and did it admirably. Her yelling at him leads to Daniel giving the funniest quote of the season — and one I can’t type here for HR reasons. But I’ve got questions that need answers.

  1. What did Issa realistically think would happen in this situation?
  2. Does she not know in the heat of battle you either have to dodge like Neo in The Matrix or fully commit and really get the party cracking? Boss up.
  3. Seriously, did she and Lawrence never do this in their five years together? This can’t be her first rodeo.
  4. Did they not go over this exact scenario in the class?

Next week’s episode should be popping, in particular the dinner scene. I’m having trouble envisioning how it tops this one, though.

Bonus: Shout-out to Issa for the fire OutKast T-shirt. The fashion in this season has been nothing short of flames.

Double Bonus: Miguel’s new song with Travis Scott, “Sky Walker,” makes an appearance in this episode. Cue the hype for a new Miguel album. And I’m leading the charge.

Triple Bonus: It’s going to take $5,500 to fix Issa’s car? Nudes sure are expensive these days.