Things really start heating up in the fourth episode of A League of Their Own. Not just romantically but on the field, as well. Some characters may finally be coming into their own. Even if they don’t realize it and aren’t ready to accept it yet. Others are still trying to find their way. And at least one of them broke my heart.
Let’s get to the review.
Call Me Coach
The entire first season of A League of Their Own deals with themes of characters finding themselves. Both personally and professionally. And, of course, “finding oneself” can be a bit of a messy business. At moments, we can be all in, full steam ahead. At others, we take two steps back and need to find our footing.
In this respect, Max and the Peaches are on parallel tracks. They’re all trying to find their paths, though the Peaches have a slightly easier road to do so. At least on the field. (Max still isn’t allowed.) But it isn’t easy, and it can lead to some interpersonal tension.
As happens this episode. Especially after their coach, Dove Porter, signs on to coach a major league (minor league? I seriously know almost nothing about baseball – and even less baseball as it was in the 1940s) team. Left without a coach, Lupe and Shaw (I tried calling her Carson last review but it just feels weird) stepped up to jointly fill the gap. Well…it’s more accurate to say they were both firmly shoved forward to fill the gap.
It’s a dicey situation because the two don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye. But what Lupe doesn’t – or can’t – see just yet is…she’s actually really good as a coach. It’s not what she wants to do. She wants to be playing on the field. But she’s at risk of blowing out her arm, assuming she hasn’t already. And what’s more, the girls need a coach who believes in them. Lupe could be that person, if it comes to a point where she can’t play any longer (or must play considerably less). She’s tactical, she’s a natural leader, she thinks on her feet, and she believes in the team. Even if they drive her up the wall.
Yes, perhaps this is all wishful thinking. I really want Max to catch a break and get a chance to play. But I really like Lupe. This would allow me to have my cake and eat it too. Let me live in my own dreams for a while.
Even if my dream becomes reality, we’re not there yet. Lupe doesn’t want to stay in the dugout. Her frustration and anger spills over into a fight with Shaw on the field. There’s a lot of room for respect and mutual understanding between the two women, but they still have a ways to go.
While Lupe dances around her (potential) future as a coach, Shaw is dealing with her own shifting reality. Only her focus is more romantic, on her situation with Greta. Although she declared the two should remain “just friends” last episode, she has subsequently changed her mind. She’s all in on a physical relationship with her teammate. She’s just a little nervous about it.
Her nervousness is endearing and understandable. But I also was somewhat disappointed by her “full steam ahead, cut off Greta’s words with a kiss” attitude this episode. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for these two working things out. (Although Shaw is married so…yeah, it’s complicated.) And I know Shaw is still trying to find herself. But after attempting to slam Greta hard into the mythical “friend zone” last episode, I don’t know… Is it too much to want to see Shaw woo Greta? They can still have sex in a nunnery (a sentence I never thought I would type). But come on. Romance her first. Because Greta was hurt last episode, and she deserves to know she’s special.
Shaw could also stand to pay more attention to Greta’s experience in maintaining personal safety. I completely understand her desire to go after what she wants when she wants it. And it was horrendously unfair that the two women couldn’t just openly love who they loved in that era. But Greta knows the dangers, and so she has a series of rules to try to stay safe. For example, before starting a romantic relationship with a woman, she makes sure to be seen on the arm of a man. As cover. Which explains her actions in the first episode, which Shaw found so confusing.
So maybe Greta should woo Shaw, too. Yes, that’s it. That’s what I want to see. MORE ROMANCE FOR THESE TWO ALL AROUND.
Love and Loss
Shaw and Greta’s interlude in the nunnery was – by necessity – just that. And Shaw’s frustration over that situation is completely understandable. But so is Greta’s caution, since it’s clear she knows what they stand to lose.
On that note, so does Max. If she didn’t before, she does now. Since the first episode, Max has had to hide more of herself than any other character. All in the name of staying safe. Not just because of her sexual orientation (which she overhears her mother making it very clear she wouldn’t accept). But because of the color of her skin. Because she’s a Black woman, she just can’t catch a break. No matter how hard she tries.
And heaven knows she tries. She gets a job at the factory to get so much as a chance to pitch for the factory’s men’s baseball team. Not even for games. For their practices. When their current pitcher leaves for another gig, she goes hard for the opportunity to take his place. Not even for a guaranteed spot. Just for the chance to prove herself. Only to find out the sliver of hope she was given was a lie.
I don’t know if she really does need more coaching or if the repeated doors slammed in her face got into her head. But when she finally took the chance to show what she could do…she struck out. (By not striking out? They hit every pitch she threw, until one went absolutely wild and almost beaned the player in the head. Maybe I should leave the baseball idioms to others.)
Her despair was palpable, but it led to the single most painful scene in the episode. Lost in her own disappointment, Max went to Clance for words of comfort. On possibly the worst day of Clance’s life. Clance’s husband, Guy (Aaron Jennings) is about to leave for basic training. He’s been drafted into the war. Clance’s pain and disappointment that her best friend couldn’t get out of her own head long enough to comfort her on the last day she might ever see her husband alive? Shattering.
I know Max loves Clance. I really need her to catch a break on the baseball fiend. Which she seems determined to do, and she’s not above a little petty blackmail if that opens a single, solitary door, damn it. But I also need to see her repairing things with Clance. It won’t be easy, I’m sure. Clance has every right to be hurt about Max’s insensitivity for a very long time. But I just love the dynamic between these two, so I need them to work it out. I neeeeed it.
A League of Their Own is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.