Well that was…not what we were expecting.
After the series premiere of Pitch introduced us to Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), Major League Baseball’s first female player and burgeoning feminist icon, and her domineering daddy Bill (Michael Beach), only to pull the rug out from under us at the very end and reveal that dad’s been dead all along, we were left wondering exactly what this show would look like moving forward? Would the series take a page from Empire and have Ghost Dad show up week after week to give Ginny the push she needs just when she needs it?
As it turns out, not quite.
Despite making the revelation of Bill’s mortality such a linchpin to premiere, he didn’t make a single appearance in tonight’s episode. Instead, the show settled into what we’re presuming will be its formula of flashbacks to a point in Ginny’s life that informs how she’s handling something in present day. Tonight, that meant learning just how she came to be Amelia’s (Ali Larter) client even though she was just a lowly minor league player. We watched as Ginny’s brother (guest star B.J. Britt) encouraged his sister to drop him as her manager because he had no idea how to handle the growing media circus surrounding her.
Also, we learned that Amelia’s life, both professionally and personally, was in shambles and she needed something big to turn that around, but really, who cares about Amelia right now? That’s not a knock on Larter’s performance, mind you. It’s just too early.
The show made strides to expand its world this week, after being pretty singularly focused on Ginny in the premiere, and it was to mixed results. JoAnna Garcia Swisher made her debut as Rachel Patric, a dogged newscaster who just so happens to be Mike’s (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) ex-wife. Her appearance forced Ginny to consider her role as a feminist icon, however unwanted it may be, and gave us a window into Mike’s world.
As the Padres elder statesman, Mike’s facing the twilight years of his professional career and it’s taking its toll. Also taking its toll? Being a MLB catcher as he nears middle age. Dude’s body is falling apart. With Rachel about to re-marry to someone else and his career nearing its end right as his team is imploding, Mike’s lonely. Enter Amelia. Do we have to care about these two as a couple now? Probably.
Ginny’s major problem tonight surrounded an unearthed comment from Al (Dan Lauria), the Padres’ manager about his future player that is remarkably sexist. In Al’s attempt to make good, he puts his foot in his mouth once again and pretty much loses his job. Stuck between a rock and a hard place with Amelia’s argument that if she issues a statement supporting Al, she undermines her feminist story, and the knowledge that this drama is tearing her team apart, Ginny turns what was to be a cheesy appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live into an opportunity to finally say her peace.
It’s Bunbury’s showcase moment of the episode, a reminder of why she’s this season’s breakout star, but does it bring the team back together? They win their next game, but as her speech is cross-cut with Mike’s on the team bus, we’re left wondering who really effected change.
This was a perfectly fine episode of Pitch, great in parts and not so great in others, but that’s to be expected in any new series’ second episode. That said, we can’t deny that we’re left scratching our heads over why the show needed to throw that twist our way in the premiere. We would’ve understood Ginny and Bill’s relationship and the impact he’s had on her character with as much clarity as if the show had only employed flashbacks.
“We’re dealing in sports, and we’re dealing in drama and human drama,” creator Dan Fogelman told reporters at TCA about Pitch. “I think surprises are good when they’re not just there to be a surprise, but they also kind of change the lens through which you’re watching the show.” And he’s right. But in this case, he may have changed that lens just a little harder than he intended.
What did you think about Pitch‘s second episode? Were you expecting something different after that twist? Let us know in the comments below.
Pitch airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.