This Ballmastrz: 9009 review contains spoilers
Ballmastrz: 9009 Episode 9
“This is going to be rich. A fat-ass getting trained by a fat-head.”
People want to believe that they’re the best version of themselves. In actuality, people are not the best version of themselves, but it’s much easier to hide behind that fallacy than to confront your faults. It’s even more difficult to accurately assess your weaknesses when you’re in an echo chamber that only reinforces what you want to hear.
Gaz Digzy is far from perfect, but in comparison to the disadvantaged, scrappy Leptons, she’s treated like a God. Gaz has let down her team in a number of ways, yet Ace continues to see her as this perfect, invincible Ballmastrz icon. It’s because of this that Gaz can coast so comfortably through life and not address her faults, but when her ego-feeding funhouse mirror gets replaced with the harsh reflection of reality, it’s finally time for Gaz to face the truth and make some changes.
“Chaste Wing of the Cold Turkey Vs. Flaming Fist of Indulgence!“ begins with Gaz in a dark place after she becomes filled with regret over the poor shape that she’s let her body fall into. Gaz is suddenly determined to lose her beer gut and look like the Ballmastrz champion that she knows that she is. It’s unclear how serious Gaz is about these changes, but it doesn’t help that Baby Ball is quick to chastise her for wanting to better herself.
Gaz can do a lot of things (and even more if alcohol’s involved), but Baby Ball doesn’t think that she’ll be able to ditch her unhealthy vices. Gaz becomes increasingly frustrated over Baby Ball’s smack talk and soon this gentle ribbing transforms into a high stakes wager between the two of them. There’s a lot on the line over Gaz’ ability to get herself in shape and equally embarrassing consequences await Gaz and Baby Ball upon failure. Gaz must face the possibility of streaking the Ballmastrz field—muffin top and all—while Baby Ball risks his mouth getting welded shut.
When Gaz needs to turn her paunch into some attempt at musculature, it actually makes a lot of sense that she would turn to the walking twelve-pack that is Flypp Champion. I mean, the guy is basically 90% abs. Flypp is beyond eager to lend a helping hand—er abdomen—as he feels like he’s mostly become a joke amongst the Leptons. Finally, somebody sees purpose in him.
Flypp pushes a harsh exercise regimen on Gaz and while the rigorous martial arts and meditation don’t phase her much, the realization that she’ll have to give up drinking for this cleanse is almost too much for her to bear. Gaz wants to get back in shape, but her need for a good body pales in comparison to her need for a stiff drink (or twelve).
That being said, Flypp reinforces that will power is just as much of a muscle as any other part of Gaz’ body and if she shows enough dedication then anything is possible. This is quite the pep talk from Flypp, but all of this should come with an appropriate amount of salt considering that Flypp never seems to actually win any of his battles and his mighty Umbilicus amounts to a useless appendage.
Nathasha Lyonne not only turns out some great work here with this material, but this is also probably her best episode from the season. Lyonne effectively sells Gaz’ doubt and she gets to convey more than just the brash side of the character that’s typically on display. It helps a lot to see this vulnerable dimension of Gaz.
At the same time, the episode also does much to expand on Flypp Champion’s history and makes him feel like more of a developed character. I had finally come to terms with how Flypp would remain a one-note joke rather than actually get his own featured episode, but the glimpses that we get to Flypp’s past are actually a lot of fun. The flashback to Flypp’s time before his “enlightenment” is the best part of the episode and it’s surprisingly satisfying to actually see his Umbilicus kick some ass and leave a path of corpses in its wake.
Even though Gaz faces an uphill battle with her plan, Baby Ball is determined to make this journey as difficult as possible for her. He gloats over how he’s not only Offal Ale’s new mascot, but that the following Ballmastrz game will be “Free Beer Day.” These are definitely dirty tricks that test Gaz’ mettle, but the prize of getting Baby Ball to permanently shut up is too tempting to ignore.
All of this becomes a little more ridiculous when Gaz and Baby Ball double down on their pettiness and add an additional bet to their already existing wager. If Gaz can stay sober until game day, then Baby Ball will be her personal slave. This complication seems to properly motivate Gaz to truly get serious, but it feels a little weak for an obstacle. There are definitely better ways to develop this story than to simply add a second bet to the mix. Or the episode could have at least gone in the opposite direction here and had Gaz and Flypp devise multiplebets that needlessly complicate their arrangement so neither is even sure where they really stand. In spite of this, the original premise here is still strong enough that this episode remains entertaining.
At the apex of their training sessions Flypp reveals that he was able to become so strong because of the help of some deadly magic scrolls, which Gaz naturally becomes obsessed with obtaining. Flypp knows that the scrolls are far too dangerous for someone like Gaz, but she can’t get her mind off of them once she learns that there might be a shortcut to her mission.
It initially seems like Gaz’ trickery will work out in her favor and she even briefly holds a lead against their competition, but then all of her work falls apart like some lazy, out of shape gut. This isn’t exactly the strongest conclusion, but the episode does face the difficult task of covering a lot of ground. However, the biggest lingering question is why does Gaz’ deadly scroll mastery fail? Is it because she didn’t study them thoroughly enough? Was she just not worthy? It’s ultimately left unclear.
The Leptons’ competition in this episode, the Monkey Men, don’t get nearly enough screen time here, but they still make their scant appearance memorable. One of the best things about Ballmastrz: 9009 is the tiny glimpses that it shows off of its various worlds. Whether it’s a team full of dogs, trains, or monkeys, the series always knows how to mine that particular area to perfection.
Seven different “monkey tropes” are showcased with maddening ferocity here. It’s far more dedication to a joke than anyone would expect, but that’s part of why these ridiculous non-sequiturs work so well. It’s crazy enough to watch a surreal ball game play out between two teams, but it’s even crazier when each team is so drastically different than the last.
“Chaste Wing of the Cold Turkey Vs. Flaming Fist of Indulgence!“ is definitely mostly concerned about character, but there are still some exciting montages that show the training that Flypp puts Gaz through. The action feels surprisingly light at the start of this episode, especially since a story like this seems like it would cater to busy set pieces. The installment does get more chaotic in the final few minutes when the Monkey Men murderize all of the Leptons in monkey-centric forms of torture. This “no pain, no gain” attitude is nicely balanced by the show’s humor.
Dee Dee and Leto’s jokes are strangely accompanied by a laugh track—almost like they’re in a different show—but the unusual idea works to inject some extra weirdness into this episode. Overall, “Chaste Wing of the Cold Turkey Vs. Flaming Fist of Indulgence!“ doesn’t disappoint and the series continues to show how new character pairings can result in unique stories.
Also, this show’s marketing department has to actually get those rainbow prism bongs into production. If Rick and Morty can get Szechuan Sauce back, then Ballmastrz fans should be able to smoke light beams.