Following last week’s “Pilot,” the premiere of Fox’s new series Pitch, the second episode was always going to have trouble topping the debut, at least from a baseball perspective. The shots of a jam-packed Petco Park with Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) on the mound were easily the highlights of the episode. Going forward, it was easy to imagine those scenes being the highlight of the entire first season.
It made sense then that the second episode — “The Interim” — wouldn’t focus on topping that at all. Instead, it would switch gears to the relationships Baker has forged in the past, and the relationships she is trying to form in the present.
The Interim begins on a flashback — which still feature the abrupt flashing pictures and sound effects of what I imagine paparazzi sounds like — to Baker’s minor-league days with Double-A San Antonio. Her brother has gone from “that kid who didn’t want to play catch in the backyard with his dad” to Ginny’s agent. It’s a heartwarming plot line following the depressing, albeit “gotcha,” ending to the Pilot.
Meanwhile, in the front office, the quest to fire the manager, Al Luongo (Dan Lauria), continues. In the Pilot, the team owner, Frank Reid (Bob Balaban), had asked general manager Oscar Arguella (Mark Consuelos), for a “short list” of potential managerial replacements.
The audience is very quickly privy to some backstory: that Arguella owes his shot in the big leagues to Luongo. “He got me my first suit,” Arguella explains to Reid. But Reid doesn’t show any empathy to the situation at all, explains to Arguella that he’s never invited him over for dinner so that he could be easily fired at any time — was that a foreshadow? — and tells him that the next manager shouldn’t think that cars are driven with feet à la The Flintstones.
The show immediately cuts to Baker getting on the team bus and looking for a spot to sit. A nice, though bit heavy-handed, way of showing that Baker is still trying to fit in. Of course, the only seat is next to the catcher Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), who wants to review the tape of their last game together: “You shook me off 17 times last night. That’s 16 more times than I have been all season.”
Before long, a story has broken with tape from a previous season in which Luongo was caught saying that Baker would be a good addition to the major league roster because of her ease on the eyes. It’s a weird moment of finding out how the front office would find a way to fire Luongo. Did the audience actually want this to be an easy dismissal? Is the audience supposed to root for Luongo to say insensitive things?
Luongo is quickly coached toward an apology, which is done regrettably on live television. While the apology is heartfelt, Luongo quickly finds a way to put his foot in his mouth because — for some reason — he decides to take questions following a rehearsed statement, and responds with, “Can’t we just go back to talking about how pretty the girl is?” Regrettable. While this conflict certainly needed to be faced in Pitch, it gives a convenient reason for the audience not to even care about Luongo’s job security. It feels like the show invests a lot of time to making Luongo a likable human, just to establish a nifty escape route for his eventual heartless exit.
The Baker plot line revolves around the hiring of her agent, Amelia Slater (Ali Larter). It’s revealed that Slater, the big-time Hollywood agent, has actually gone through a lot of personal conflict of her own before going to Nowhere, Texas — I was under the impression San Antonio was large? — to represent Baker. After her husband admitted to wanting a divorce while at a fertility clinic, Slater decides to quit her agency firm in the middle of a Really Boring meeting featuring Really Boring coworkers. I’m assuming the show will continue to use the flashback mechanic to peel back on the polished characters we see. I also assume Slater’s story is still missing some parts.
On Lawson’s side of the story, the show has begun toying with his looming retirement. The show opens on him in an ice bath, getting asked about his knees and saying he is in The Best Shape of His Life or some analogous phrase. Lawson’s ex-wife is introduced to the story as a show host that is currently covering a rape case, with quotes that more-than-just-resemble the real-life case of Brock Turner. Lawson visits his ex-wife, looking whimsically at their wedding photos. Facing his retirement, Lawson asks if she would take him back if he quit baseball sooner rather than later — fully aware that the game was a burden on their relationship. She quickly cuts him off with the fact that she’s engaged to someone else, which again comes across as a weird way for the audience to celebrate horrendous news. Does this mean Lawson now has to play baseball forever? Don’t I kind of want this guy to have a happy ending? Seriously, though, why won’t he just switch to first base?
After Lawson makes a speech about winning in the dressing room, and Baker makes a speech about gender roles on Jimmy Kimmel, the show hits a bit of a weird note. Lawson walks into a bar. Having had her advice deliberately disobeyed, Slater is already in the bar as well. Lawson and Slater sit together, share glances, and that’s the end. I don’t particularly see the parallels of their current predicaments, but it might be more about where the show is headed than where these characters have been.
- At breakfast, Lawson asks Baker if she ordered ‘one of everything on the menu’. “Work hard; eat hard,” Baker replies. Same.
- The first Mike Trout reference was made. But it was in reference to him being the best-looking player in the American League... Kind of a Kevin Kiermaier guy myself.
- Baker is a meme by the second episode, and it’s known as “Ginsanity.” Exactly like Jeremy Lin’s “Linsanity.”
- Why is Baker still behind a curtain in the clubhouse if she is fully dressed?
- I was personally unsold on the acting in the series during “Pilot.” But Bunbury having to act fake scared on Kimmel was exactly as cringeworthy as it needed to be. Great.
- Arguella is faced with a pretty meta question from Reid during their meeting. Something about does Arguella think he was hired only because he was the best candidate. Reid replies to his rhetorical question saying that he was qualified, sure, but he also looked like “Spanish Superman.” Pitch is taking on other real issues in sports right in front of you.
- Some interesting housekeeping issues were brought up. The team goes out to celebrate Baker’s first win, and the turnout is small. Even further, the players that do show up decide to ask her if she’s ever hooked up with a teammate or if she’s a lesbian. A pair of players exchange money when the second question is answered; a lost bet. I just don’t know what to do with that at all. Scenes like these are making it sink in that Pitch will frequently make light of serious issues. Not because the show wants to make serious issues trivial, but because the show is depicting situations where serious issues are trivial — and the audience needs to face these.