Ballmastrz: 9009 Episode 5 Review: Breathe Deep to Win! Teamwork Cuts Through the Foul Odor of Obsession!

The Leptons team up with an old foe to take down a larger enemy and Gaz must face her demons in a smelly, thrilling, smelly episode!

This review of Ballmastrz: 9009 contains spoilers

Ballmastrz Episode 5

“Deeter may have gone into that tank, but what came out was more smell than human.”

Believe it or not, this episode of Ballmastrz: 9009 is really a poetic story on how to dismantle and render terrorism ineffective. That might sound impossibly preachy for a show that’s titled Ballmastrz: 9009, but the series avoids this feeling and instead delivers a warped, inspiring message about overcoming fear. 

At one point in this episode Gaz tells her team that their attacker preys on two things, “power and fear,” and if they can just stop being afraid then they can do anything. The way that this gets expressed in “Breathe Deep to Win!” is absolutely ridiculous, but the message behind it is still very relevant and important in today’s world. It’s not easy to pack such a deep commentary into 11 minutes, but it’s a testament to why this episode is such a triumph.

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The Leptons enter this episode full force and the installment wastes no time as they arrive at the little burg of Neerg. Ace and Babyball are considerably jazzed about their latest destination, but not even a few dozen beers can get Gaz to show the city any love. Neerg seems like such a bastion of hope for the Leptons because they have one of the few Ballmaster teams that are actually worse than they are, Lil’ P and his Pawful Pooch Posse. 

In spite of how they might not be the best at the game, Lil’ P’s team looked like one of the most interesting competitors from back in the premiere. With a few days of practice at their disposal, the Leptons should by all accounts be able to win their upcoming match. That’s pretty damn exciting considering that they’ve gotten used to the whole underdog Mighty Ducks vibe for most of their Ballmastrz careers. Plus, there are loose conjoined twin ladies in Neerg, so what’s not to love?

It seems like Gaz’ instincts were correct after all because the Leptons immediately get ambushed in a very stench-filled manner. Christy Karacas has done an excellent job to make Ballmastrz feel different from Superjail, but there’s a very Superjail-like sequence that chronicles the aftermath of Ace’s “present.” The story that Gaz tells about her history with their attacker is such a beautiful sequence on all fronts. The trippy neon light patterns, the wonderful music swells, and even Lyonne’s narration really connect and it makes for one of the best scenes that the show has ever done.

The Leptons learn that Deeter was a superfan of Gaz’ back from her days with the Boom Boom Boys. Deeter’s obsession with Gaz got to unreasonable levels and so the Boom Boom Boys decided to handle this problem by trapping Deeter in a toxic well. Guess what? The traumatic event transformed the guy into a terrible Stench Thing (like Swamp Thing, but with stench) who’s been hell bent on exacting revenge on Gaz. Deeter’s attempts to stench terrorize everyone are pretty fantastic. They get increasingly ridiculous as they go along and each one is a solid gag. It also makes the whole gang a quivering, nervous wreck and that’s also a great formula for hilarity. 

The Leptons are eager to retaliate against Deeter, but anime girl black widow schemes and messages of peace all feel like ineffective plans, so it’s only appropriate that Gaz steps up to the plate as the lead in this takedown mission. Gaz’ idea may be controversial, but it’s also the best plan that they’ve got. Gaz recruits the villainous Stink Finger to help the Leptons defeat Deeter and while the rest of the team isn’t exactly on board, they don’t really have any other options. “Sometimes it takes an explosion to put out a fire,” insists Gaz, which doesn’t exactly make sense, but it’s easy to understand what she means.

It’s such an archetype of this genre (as well as anime) to have the good guys need to reluctantly team up with their enemy to take down a larger threat, but it’s because it works. It also never hurts to get the Leptons interacting with some wild card outside of their core group. There’s decent tension throughout the second half of the episode while both the audience and the Leptons wonder if Stink Finger will betray them. Plus, we get to learn a little more about Stink Finger. Big surprise, he stinks!

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Stink Finger puts the Leptons through Stench Master training so that they’ll be immune to Deeter’s smell-based attacks on them. It’s pretty creative to have their training process get shown through gossipy news reports rather than the usual training montage. Make no mistake, a good training montage is a powerful thing, but it’s nice to see this fresh take that also further establishes the show’s voice.

For a second it feels like there might not even be a Ballmastrz game in this episode and that the story will simply focus on the team overcoming Deeter before their match. “Breathe Deep to Win!” crams an entire Ballmastrz game into the final three minutes, but it accomplishes absolutely everything that’s necessary in them. It inserts some appreciated action into what’s otherwise a more contemplative episode. 

It doesn’t hurt that this feels very different than the typical Ballmastrz match because the Leptons are simultaneously trying to locate and avoid Deeter while they beat the Pooch Posse. It’s a difficult affair, but it results in the game being even more chaotic than usual. The Pooch Posse also looks incredible in the show’s “sketch style” as they play.

Ultimately the Ballmastrz game gets cancelled due to the unbearable stench that’s unleashed at the event, but that’s not important. The Leptons take home something far more important than a win; they gain the strength and courage to finally defeat an old demon. Or maybe it’s spite. They also gain some spite. This might make for a slightly rushed ending, but the episode starts to build to this showdown with Deeter so early on that it doesn’t become a problem. 

“Breathe Deep to Win!” continues Ballmastrz’ continued run of strong episodes. This one works especially well though and it’s nice to get a Gaz-centric episode after a few installments of her being in the background of stories or stuck sharing the spotlight. The series continues to flesh out its world and its characters’ pasts in satisfying ways. 

It’s also great to see that the majority of this episode doesn’t actually involve any Ballmastrz action, yet it’s all still very entertaining. Plus, all of the humoralso lands in this one and Lil’ P gets to fit in as many dug puns as caninely possible. I’m also loving what now appears to be a running joke that Flip’s Umbilicus power is alwaysinstantly defeated and never going to be of use. If the series can keep up this level of quality for the back-end of the season, Ballmastrz will turn out quite the impressive freshman season. 

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Now, who’s ready for a spinoff of Stenchmastrz: 9009 for next season? Stink Finger’s gotta’ eat.



4 out of 5