Pitch has, so far, showed an admirable interest in presenting a realistic look at what someone like Ginny Baker would face just for being who she is. But this was the first episode where the choices that she makes, every day, all the time, felt like a weight that a real person was carrying. It’s also the best episode of the show so far.
There’s a tipping point with most new shows where you decide, consciously or not, that a show is worth sticking with, and this should be that episode. It helps that the action is focused primarily on one overarching concept: Ginny succeeding in MLB isn’t just a matter of baseball skill—it’s a matter of acceptance. Until the other guys on the team and in the league make her one of their own, she’s always going to be an oddity. And Ginny is not there to be a freak.
This is a very important distinction for the character. She could just accept her isolation, pitch her games, and ignore the guys in the clubhouse. But that’s not who Ginny Baker is turning out to be. She’s decided that she wants it all, and her efforts to start a beaning battle with the St. Louis Cardinals play out as a huge, desperate attempt to get her team to back her up.
The flashbacks on the show are something of a weak spot—they suffer from the main danger of flashbacks, which is that they’re almost hopelessly expository, and suggest that everything in a person’s life stems from a series of weirdly momentous conversations. But here, despite the clunkiness of some of the dialogue, they serve to take us from the excitement and shock that Ginny is going to get hit while batting to a deeper understanding of just why she’s pushing the issue this much.
Moreover, the action breaks let us see each step along the way that she takes, each of them conscious, and scary, and determined. It’s not just that she beans the opposing pitcher, which she does even after her manager has made a flagrant attempt to push around the umpires. She then insists to Buck that she needs to go bat after he tries to take her out. And then she starts taunting the catcher (more on him in a moment) to make them throw at her. And then she charges the mound. And then she shoves the catcher.
In essence, she pushes, repeatedly, to make a nasty thing happen to herself, all for the moment that she’s hoping beyond all reason will occur: The benches clear, and her team rushes out to defend her. She has no guarantee that it will happen, and how embarrassing would it be if she was out there alone? The moment when the previously unrelentingly scuzzy Tommy tackles Trevor Davis is a huge catharsis for her, and for the show. She’s finally really here. Of course, it’s also pretty satisfying to watch Trevor get walloped.
It’s easy to see Trevor’s side of things. It really shouldn’t be a big deal who Ginny dates. And yet, it clearly is, and his inability or refusal to understand her concerns would make him bad enough even before we learned he was lying to her about leaving baseball. He’s not made out to be the villain. He’s just not good enough for someone who has to be better than everyone else, all the time.
The rest of the action plays out very much in the background. The power struggle over Al’s place with the team is resolved almost as soon as it began, and can’t help but suffer from comparison to the excitement of the game (although let it be said that Wendie Malick is welcome wherever she goes). But the episode makes a quick and effective argument for Mike and Amelia as a couple, despite the speediness of the union and the obvious effect it’s going to have on Ginny.
The dynamic the show is developing between these three is quickly becoming the heart of the show. All scenes between Ginny and Mike have a spark between them, because Kylie Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar are turning out to have great onscreen chemistry (but not dating chemistry. We’re clear on that, right, Pitch?) But the continued work on the concept of him and Amelia, two reckless, slightly broken, wildly talented people, acting as surrogate parents to her, says a lot about where the show’s priorities are.
All in all, this one was a win for Pitch.
- “Is that Elsa?”
- The moment with the two managers pretending to fight was pretty great.
- “You look like a cousin from Duck Dynasty.”
- Probably too early to say it, but there’s a good chance Ali Larter and Mark-Paul Gosselaar are doing the best work of their careers here.
- No return of Ghost Dad, thankfully.
- The in-show media attention makes sense for the story, but it’s also no coincidence that the strongest episode spends the least time on it. It’s not quite working yet.
- Still think we should have gotten to see Ginny’s first Major League at-bat.