TV Recap: FX’s “Clipped” Series Finale – Who Wins and Who Loses?

FX’s Clipped concludes with the sixth and final episode, “Keep Smiling.” Basketball is a game of winners and losers, but the lives of the key players in this story also feel like some walk away with everything, while others get nothing. So who wins and who loses?



Episode 6 – “Keep Smiling” – Written by Gina Welch

Shelly Sterling (Jacki Weaver) and her lawyer Pierce O'Donnell (Corbin Bernsen) host a luncheon for prospective team buyers. While preparing her home, Shelly hid all photos of her husband, Donald.

Donald Sterling (Ed O’Neill) hosts a different kind of event at his home, with CNN setting up for an interview with Anderson Cooper (Paul Urcioli). Before the cameras begin to roll, Donald tries to soften his interviewer with an offer of tickets to the next Clippers game. Andy Roeser (Kelly AuCoin) reminds Donald that he can’t do that. “I still own the team,” he insists.

After winning Playoffs 2 – Game 1, the Clippers relax at their hotel. When Chris Paul (J. Alphonse Nicholson) goes looking for DeAndre Jordan (Sheldon Bailey), he finds him with the rest of the team watching CNN. Chris is upset that they’re watching Donald Sterling’s interview instead of keeping their minds focused on the next game.

Anderson Cooper draws parallels between Elgin Baylor’s claims of Donald Sterling’s “plantation mentality” and the remarks in V.’s leaked recording. Up until then, Donald’s interview was going well, but the comment sends him off on a tangent about Magic Johnson having “AIDS” (Anderson Cooper corrects that he has HIV) and claims that Magic doesn’t do anything of or Black people. Anderson tells Donald that the players no longer want to play for a team he owns. “They know I’m not a racist,” he insists. “The players don’t hate me. I contend they love me.”

In their hotel room, the Clippers throw things at the TV in response.

Shelly was also watching Donald’s interview from home with Pierce, PR guru Glenn Bunting (Jason Butler Harner), and her friend Justine (Harriet Sansom Harris). Shelly believes this interview will scare away all of the potential buyers they just wooed. Justine jokes that Shelly should sell the team to Magic Johnson, but Shelly reveals that Donald has the ability to block any sale he disagrees with. Glenn says Donald should be kept out of all sales conversations. Shelly tells them about her revision to the trust, which allows her to become the sole trustee if Donald is deemed incompetent. Justine believes he is already incompetent. Glenn and Pierce step away to talk. Justine recommends a neurologist to Shelly.

Donald is subjected to a cognitive test in his backyard with Shelly present. He is initially unable to name a drawing of a rhinoceros, later saying it’s a hippopotamus. When asked to count backward from 100 in increments of 7, he stops after the first answer and says he can afford a calculator. Dr. Platzer (Jeannetta Arnette) shares that between these test results and Donald’s scans, he is showing signs of Alzheimer’s and should get a second opinion. Donald says he’s just hungry, going inside to eat something.

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

“Didn’t we drill to prepare for distractions?” Doc Rivers (Laurence Fishburne) furiously asks his team after learning that they’re all distracted by Donald Sterling’s claims that the players love him. The team doesn’t have the energy needed for Game 5. During the game, a referee calls a foul on Chris. Doc argues with him, saying no foul was committed, but the call sticks. The Clippers lose again.

Overnight, Shelly got a surprise call from Steve Ballmer (James Shanklin), a former Microsoft executive who is passionate about owning the Clippers. The next day, she and Pierce host him for a meeting, which goes so well that they call Donald in. Steve placed an impressive bid, $1.2 billion, and Shelly talked him up to an even $2 billion. Donald calls Steve an idiot for having $2 billion in cash. “I can do better than this guy,” he tells Shelly, belittling the deal she made. She said that nobody would support him after his interview and that the NBA would sell the team without them if they didn’t have a choice by Tuesday. “The team stays with me!” Donald insists. Shelly says they will lose all of the players and sponsors if they remain the team’s owners. Donald threatens that he has dirt on Pierce.

Alone, Pierce tells Shelly that Steve Ballmer has the right to sue her if the NBA sells the team to someone else. He believes Donald is crazy and suggests Shelly act on the clause in her trust. “It’s time to let the world know that Donald Sterling is non-compos mentis,” he says, pointing out that the team struggled through the last game because of Donald.

The Clippers lose Game 6, ending their season-long path to a championship. He tries to cheer them up by gathering the guys together for a huddle, but none of the players are enthusiastic.

Dr. Platzer calls Shelly, furious that her assessment was used to deem Donald incompetent for their trust. The doctor starts to play one of Donald’s angry voice messages, but a car pulls up, and Shelly hangs up. Donald steps out of a taxi in a bathrobe with a lawsuit against his wife. He tells her she’s just playing “Barbie Businesswoman.”

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

In court, Donald accuses Shelly of being manipulated by Adam Silver into believing they had to sell the team. When Shelly takes the stand, Donald keeps trying to cut her off. He calls her a pig.

Victorious, Shelly is interviewed outside of court, saying she just wanted to do the right thing for the team. Piece declares her a hero to L.A., the Clippers, and women around the world.

Down the hall, a lone reporter is interested in talking to Donald. All he says is that he thought he knew his wife.

Doc Rivers is unable to focus in a meeting with team management. He steps out to find Andy Roeser with a box of stuff from his office. Andy feels victimized, saying he didn’t know he could say no to Donald. “Yeah, you did,” Doc says. Andy corrects that he would’ve been fired if he had. Doc says it would’ve been for a good reason if he did. Andy recalls how nobody took Elgin’s side during his lawsuit. “They all said, ‘Mr. Sterling has always been good to me,’” he tells Doc.

Chris Paul comes to Doc’s office with his son. He’s angry with Doc for encouraging the team to keep playing. He believes Adam Sterling would’ve banned Donald no matter what they did. “If we hadn’t played, if we had shut everything down, maybe we could’ve made it about more than just Donald,” he says.

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

Doc has LeVar Burton (LeVar Burton) over to his condo. He tells him about how when a group of skinheads set fire to his Texas home while they were on vacation, he went back and tried to shield his kids from seeing that. In his condo, he keeps a pair of charred boxing gloves in a glass case as a reminder for himself. LeVar tells Doc that he keeps the chains he wore on Roots above his Emmys as a similar reminder.

V. Stiviano (Cleopatra Coleman) has been unable to pay her lawyer, Mac Nehoray (Jack Topalian). She talks about trying to get a book deal, but he reminds her that Shelly Sterling hasn’t dropped her lawsuit, and they can’t wait for a book deal. V. sells the red Ferrari.

When V. Arrives at the courthouse, her new braces set off the metal detector. While she is being sanded, Shelly passes through, telling security how happy she is that this is her last day in court. V. Tells Shelly that Donald would take her side if he were allowed to be there. To her surprise, Donald Sterling is the next person to pass through the metal detector, taking Shelly’s hand. “See you in there, sweetheart,” Shelly tells V.

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

While Pierce questions V. on the stand, he is able to prove that V was otherwise unemployable when Donald Sterling hired her. She calls Donald Steteling a “racist and a liar,” and Pierce asks why she referred to him as her best friend when interviewed by Barbara Walters. Pierce brings up Donald’s sworn deposition, where he claimed the two cars purchased in V.’s name belonged to him, but due to her criminal record and liability reasons, he had them registered in her name.

V. has lost everything, crying as she empties the duplex. On her way out, she keys “Sterling Properties” onto the living room wall. She goes to a bar with Deja (Yvonna Pearson), talking about how she lost her entourage and is considering moving to Texas to be with her mom and sister. V is recognized by guys at the end of the bar, one of whom (Nick Finch) calls her derogatory and racist slurs. V. confronts him physically, and he knocks her to the ground.

Shelly goes out to lunch with Justine and her other friends, Sharon (Valerie Wildman) and Nancy (Gigi Bermingham), to celebrate all of her wins. When Sharon and Nancy go to the restroom together, Justine asks Shelly why she forced V. out of the duplex. “It’s the principal,” Shelly responds, revealing that she is letting her housekeeper live there now. “All these years I thought maybe you had Stockholm syndrome because you married Donald so young,” Justine tells Shelly. “I thought maybe you were serious when you were waving your divorce papers at Barbara Walters. I mean, no one would possibly do that as a stunt. I thought maybe you were finally waking up. But you were never asleep. And you’re not divorcing Donald. You two were made for each other. You both think you own everybody.” Shelly spotted Doc Rivers dining in the restaurant with his son and secretly took care of the tab. On the heels of Justine telling Shelly off, Doc goes to Shelly’s table with his bag of leftovers. Shelly tells him how she wanted to say hi and that she sold the team to do what was right for the players. “But you didn’t really give it up,” Doc says, pointing out all of the perks Shelly containers to get (12 tickets per game, VIP passes, comped food and parking, and 3 championship rings if they win). “You and Donald still own our practice space, which means you’ll probably keep on taking our rent money. Looks like you did pretty good. And that absolutely fills me with rage. I know that Donald likes to eat other people’s food.” Doc leaves his bag of leftovers on Shelly’s table. “Maybe you do too. After all, you paid for it.” Shelly is speechless. Justine looks at her old friend and says, “You don’t own him.”

Daniel (Esai Pierre-Louis) and David (Logan Carter) help V. Scrub graffiti off of a food truck. She has a black eye. We see her rent a car as Mac calls to tell her about an ESPN reporter who wants to do an interview, which could help with her book deal. V. tells him she’s no longer interested in talking about Donald Sterling. Hanging up the phone, we see that she’s arrived at Donald’s mansion with a bag of prescription medication. She sits and waits on the porch after Donald texts her, “Good girl,” in response to her saying she arrived. A package is delivered and V. signs for it, saying she’s Mr. Sterling’s assistant.

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

Shelly brings the newspaper to Donald, who sunbathes by the pool. “So sad,” she says, placing the paper in his lap. The headline is about the Ferguson Uprising.

Steve Ballmer gives the Clippers an overly passionate speech at the start of the next season, motivating them to be “hardcore.” The team laughs about it later on a party bus. As they chat about the previous season, Deandre tells them he heard that Chris’ penalty last season was orchestrated by the NBA, who didn’t want the Clippers to win the championship. They arrive at a midnight game for a group of fans, being gifted colorful homemade “We Are One” shirts.

Doc Rivers stands on the court with Elgin Baylor (Clifton Davis). Doc wants to do something to celebrate his former coach, who says if he cared about his legacy, he wouldn’t have sued the NBA for racism. Elgin asks Doc what he wants people to say about him. Doc tells him he’s unsure, saying he’s been so singularly focused on winning that he’s let the rest of his life pass by. His wife has filed for divorce. Elgin asks if Doc still wants a championship, and he says he does, but he wishes he could’ve overcome Donald Sterling and thinks he should have let the players boycott. “Well, this world will hit you again, and you’re still young enough to hit back,” Elgin tells Doc.

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

(Kelsey McNeal/FX)

The end.

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Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).