[This is a review of the Ballers season 3 finale. There will be SPOILERS.]
In life, personal integrity is a rare thing to come by. Few people seem to have any at all, and when tested, even fewer actually put that integrity above their own selfish interests. In fictional heroes, such admirable traits might be more common, but that doesn't diminish the satisfaction one gets from living vicariously through those heroes who are guided by a strong moral core and unwavering principles.
Before the Ballers season 3 finale, "Yay Area", it would have been hard to call Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) a hero in that sense. Certainly, his good-hearted nature made him easy to root for and his personal flaws made him relatable, but the track he was headed down this season raised questions about his true motivations. Was Spencer only concerned with winning for the sake of winning? Or was there was something else driving him to make this Las Vegas Raiders deal happen?
In searching for that answer, Spencer discovered about himself what many of us strive to learn. Not only did he finally decide what type of person he truly wanted to be and where his priorities lied, but he actually took the necessary step toward leading that life as he chose not to join the Anderson brothers in Las Vegas -- even after winning the bid with the NFL -- and instead returned to ASM and to the people and employees who needed him most.
As a viewer, it's the type of move that makes you smile because seeing integrity win over greed, illusions of grandeur and self-importance is indeed so rare in real life. And yet, it is also a completely believable next step for Spencer to take given his evolution and progression as a character over the past three seasons. After all of his soul searching -- a time in which his ambitions revolved around personal enrichment and his own legacy -- it seems appropriate that his personal journey would bring him to this point, where he is able to rediscover what is actually most important: his friends, his clients and continuing to grow the business that he helped build from the ground up.
What's more, the finale managed to utilize that common theme of personal integrity to tie in several other story threads and character arcs that were previously far less interesting, involving or connected to the main plot. First, there was Charles (Omar Benson Miller), who stood up for what he believed was the best direction for the Dolphins in defiance of the shady office politics of his boss, Siefert (Dule Hill). And then, Ricky (John David Washington) showed another major degree of growth and maturity by coming clean about his health issues with the New England Patriots and by committing to being a father and dedicated partner to Amber (Brittany S. Hall).
Although the finale was satisfying from a character perspective, there are questions of how and where the show's narrative will proceed from here in season 4. After what appears to be a plot reset of sorts with Spencer and Joe (Rob Corddry) right back at the helm of ASM, the finale hints at a variety of possible new settings for the series as Spencer speaks of expansion. But of course, a change of scenery is far less intriguing than the potential drama and conflict that might come with the business becoming more prosperous. Certainly, seeking more high-profile clients will breed competition and create the type of high-stress situations ripe for both comedy and drama.
But regardless of the narrative direction Ballers heads in, the show's success will likely continue to hinge on the handling of its lead character. Thus far, we've seen Spencer Strasmore grow and develop in a variety of ways in each season of the series, but it's clear he still has some things to figure out. Toward the end of season 3 and after a tense conversation with Chloe (Serinda Swan), he begins to realize furthering his own legacy isn't the right reason to have a child. So, can he admit to himself that perhaps fatherhood simply isn't for him? Or is there something deeper at his core that he has yet to discover about himself? We're looking forward to Ballers continuing to peel back the layers of its charismatic central character in season 4.
What did you think of the Ballers season 3 finale? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Photos: HBO Network