Dare I say it? This episode is pitch perfect. (I’m sorry. I had to do it.) Kylie Bunbury is a remarkable actor, and in “The Interim,” Ginny comes into her own as a resilient, playful, and stubborn protagonist. She's no longer just the worried rookie we met in the pilot. We also learn more about her relationship with agent Amelia Slater (Ali Larter), and Evelyn actually gets a meaningful role, calming my previous concerns. Make no mistake: This is the episode that should lock viewers in.
"The Interim" begins with Ginny and Amelia bumping about publicity. “Ginnsanity” brings dissension to the Padres locker room and her teammates resent the media attention she's getting, so Ginny just wants to be one of the boys. Amelia wants her to lean in and accept that she’s a superstar; Ginny wants to be a ball player. When sports media brings up an old comment Al made about how the team would love to have pretty Ginny in the locker room, Amelia refuses to let her make a show of support.
On top of that, news breaks that a young woman was sexually assaulted by a track-and-field star. She entered the wrong locker room and he took that as permission to attack her. Reporter Rachel Patrick (Joanna Garcia Swisher) wants Ginny to comment, suggesting that “woman to woman, she’s in your shoes.” Ginny pushes back, saying no one is in her shoes and it’s unfair to put that kind of pressure on her, woman to woman. Ginny must juggle the demands of being a ball player, a brand, and a woman, so she resents these extra burdens that world keeps hoisting onto her shoulders.
The team is in Los Angeles to play against the Dodgers. Ginny will be a guest on Jimmy Kimmel, but she has mixed feelings about the appearance. He wants her to do a bit about decorating the dugout, you know, since she’s a woman. Har har. Mike wants to take the opportunity to settle things with his ex-wife, who — surprise, surprise! — turns out to be reporter Rachel Patrick. He tells Rachel to lay off the over-the-top feminist stuff with Ginny, but of course, he’s not just there to support a teammate. He plays off their reunion as her way of trying to get him back, but it’s Mike who wants to rekindle the romance again. He knows his knees are about to give out on him and he’s tired of being a life coach to his young teammates. Baseball made Rachel feel like she was always second, and Mike knows that. He doesn’t even blame her for starting an affair and leaving him. He just wants to retire and get remarried. He still loves her. Unfortunately for him, Rachel is engaged now. Mike leaves, frustrated with the way his life has turned out.
The Padres lose to the Dodgers, and yet again, everyone wants to blame it on the distractions Ginny brings to the team. Al apologizes to her in a very sweet and sincere way, and even makes a statement to the press, acknowledging how inappropriate his comments were. However, when they start asking him again about strife in the locker room, a frustrated Al asks if they can go back to talking about how pretty Ginny is. Yikes. Team owner Frank doubles down on finding a new manager.
In the meantime, Blip blames his poor performance on Evelyn washing his lucky Grandmaster Flash T-shirt that smells like her mother’s cooking. It’s a nice nod to how superstitious baseball players can be. Even more, it’s an opportunity to show us that Evelyn is more than the money-hungry baseball wife she seemed to be in the pilot. When Blip comes home after the Dodgers loss, Evelyn tries to seduce him to make him feel better and the two engage in playful, familiar banter that speaks to a long history together. In the end, she goes on eBay to find a substitute shirt. She even asks her mom to make pot roast, then puts the shirt in a bag with the meal so it smells lucky, just like Blip needs. It’s a beautiful and touching moment, made better by the way Blip clearly loves and appreciates his wife's efforts. I’m so glad to see Evelyn as a good friend to Ginny and as a good person, and not just someone who’s used to spending money. I really appreciate how much more developed Evelyn has become.
Like many others, I was worried about the pilot's big twist. If Ginny’s father has been a ghost all along, would the show keep his apparition around? So far, no, but the flashbacks remain, filling in missing stories like how Amelia became Ginny’s agent. Four years after her father’s death, Ginny’s brother Will (B.J. Britt) had taken over as her manager, but he was in over his head. Amelia demonstrates the kind of publicity and endorsements she can get for Ginny, and Will knows she’s what his sister needs. Ginny doesn’t trust Amelia, but Will reminds her she’s the boss. No matter what, Amelia works for her.
The moments between Will and Ginny capture the nature of a strong sibling relationship. It's good to see Ginny relaxed with one of the men around her, instead of worrying if her presence is causing tension. And when she goes out with teammates for drinks, we get a little more of relaxed Ginny. Feeling more comfortable around her, they start to ask about Ginny's love life: Is she a nun? A lesbian? Does she ever hook up with ball players? They’re relieved to hear she’s not a lesbian, and they hang on her every word as she starts to describe the type of player she likes, but she’s just yanking their chain. She never dates ball players, though that doesn’t stop the guys from taking up her offer to dance after they win their next game.
Ginny goes rogue on Jimmy Kimmel, refusing to do the decorator sketch. Instead, she wants to comment on Al’s statements about her looks and the current sexual-assault case in the news. She has Al’s back and says that instead of warning women not to go into the wrong locker room, “we need to make sure every boy knows it’s wrong to rape.” Amelia is furious, but Ginny remembers her brother’s words and gives them back to her. Ginny’s the boss, not Amelia. I love Ginny for taking control of her life in the middle of so much chaos.
In one more flashback, we find out that Amelia’s husband dumped her in the doctor’s office after a second failed IVF treatment. At work the next day, Amelia sees sports coverage of Ginny and gets inspired. She quit her job in the middle of the meeting, and Eliot (Tim Jo) walks out with her, like any true Jerry Maguire fan would. In the present, when Ginny asks Amelia why a hotshot Hollywood agent would want to represent a baseball player, Amelia responds, “I knew you needed me.” It’s clear Amelia was in need, too.
Mike gives the team a rousing pep talk, telling them they need to stop acting like idiots and focus on the fact that their manager needs them to get it together. The speech works, the Padres win, and the team goes to a club to celebrate, where Ginny and some of her teammates dance. Mike turns down her invitation to join her on the floor, but he can’t keep his eyes off her. She’s beautiful and carefree in that moment. He leaves and joins Amelia at a bar. She’s working on a laptop, but closes it in silence as he wordlessly checks her out. Uh-oh. Things are about to heat up between these two. What will that mean for Ginny and her painfully obvious crush on Mike?
As much as I hate the idea of Ginny and Amelia fighting over a man, I can’t deny how juicy this development might be. When Mike poured his heart out to Rachel, he admitted he wanted someone to talk to at night. Mike and Amelia are similar in age. Ginny is 23. Mike may be attracted to her, but she’s still a rookie who admires him as a baseball legend. She's only getting started; he just wants to settle down.
The requisite love-triangle drama aside, “The Interim” showcases Kylie Bunbury’s talents as an actor. After a rocky start last week, Pitch has defined Ginny as a self-aware, confident woman who suffers flashes of insecurity like anyone else. Bunbury perfectly captures all of that, and I can't wait to see what she does next.