“A League of Their Own” Episode 103 Recap: It’s Okay to Want Things

This A League of Their Own recap contains spoilers. 

When Carson Shaw wakes up to the sound of her husband returning from war, thumping on her Rockford Peaches dorm room door, she’s surprised. When he says he got her letter, the one that said she wants to play professional baseball and also have a threesome, she’s shocked. When Greta hops up out of Shirley’s bed and swaggers over, talking about, “I go where I please, I do what I please, and I don’t say please,” Carson is so astonished she almost faints dead away on the spot, but also she starts praying not to die because Greta’s saying it’s okay to want things, and then she and James — Bill? David? No! Charlie! Right, her husband, Charlie! — are descending on Carson’s neck like a couple of hungry vampires. “Carson,” Greta breathes. “Carson!” Greta moans. ‘CARSON!” Shirley yelps, shaking Carson in her bed.

A League of Their Own recap: Carson watches Charlie and Greta kiss in her dream

sweet dreams or beautiful nightmare?

Carson and Greta kiss in Carson's dream

SWEET DREAMS OR BEAUTIFUL NIGHTMARE????

Carson startles awake from Baby Queer Starter Dream No. 27 to see Shirley pacing around the room in shambles because Carson was having a night terror! And now her night terror energy is all over Shirley! Which, you know, isn’t Carson’s fault or anything, she’s obviously the victim of the night terror, but now Shirley’s day is off too!

The way to fix this problem, Carson decides, is to just call Charlie and find out if he got her letter and figure out what the letter actually said and also to stop being gay. She hops into the phone queue where all the other wives are talking about how a day without hearing from their husbands is like a day getting their guts trampled by rhinoceroses. Carson, who wouldn’t think about Charlie at all if her subconscious would just leave her alone, says, “Same with me. Rhinos. Just. Yeah, same.” When she finally gets Charlie on the horn, he says he’s in Ireland on some kind of army vacation before he heads home to Idaho. Which is a LIE! He’s actually in some kind of army INFIRMARY! He says being shot at by Nazis has helped him realize he wants to have a better life with his wife, including more adventure and passion. Just wait’ll he gets home and she’ll see; it’s gonna be so romantic. Carson’s all, “So… not like platonic marriage partners Darcy and Elizabeth then. Cool. Cool cool cool.”

A League of Their Own recap: Max and Mrs. Turner kiss

Either way, I don’t wanna wake up from you.

Across town, Max is having a lot more success with her fella, Gary, who has gotten her a job at the screw factory. She needs to not look like a woman to at least get in the door, so after a whole evening of, once again, rounding the bases with Mrs. Turner, Max tucks her hair up into a newsboy hat and asks her girl if she could pass as a man. Barbara and the Browns are crooning in the background, talking about “There’s so much… I wanna do for you…” while Mrs. Turner gets her clothes and stockings fixed back into place. She says Max is too soft to look like a man, and Max — wearing a white tank top with an unbuttoned blue work shirt pulled over it, smiling like the goddamn North Star — says, softly, “I’m not soft.” Mrs. Turner’s got to get to the church consecration, but when she stops fiddling with her earrings and looks over at Max in that hat, her eyebrows raised, the way she’s leaning, Mrs. Turner says, “Oh. I’d say you were a stud.

The first time I watched this scene, I just sat there, wide-eyed, my hands over my mouth, trying not to scream, waiting for Shirley to wake me up. But no. It’s real. It’s a real thing that’s happening. Imagine Max Chapman looking at you like that in the dark. Imagine her turning the full force of that smile directly onto you, and not melting into a puddle of glitter and swoon. Truly the Lord has blessed Mrs. Turner. Surely His goodness and mercy and unfailing love will follow her all the days of her life.

Mrs. Turner chats with Max

You’re the next Satchel Paige.

A League of Their Own recap: Max grins at Mrs. Turner

That’s the sexiest thing you’ve ever said.

At church, Max helps her mama pass out the programs and plot her ascension to Head Usher. One of the deacons’ wives thinks she’s got it in the bag, but I guess that’s because she’s never met Mrs. Toni Chapman, the capital “B” Boss of Rockford, Illinois. Guy and Clance are late for church and she’s mumble-yelling at him about going on a sex strike. Toni chides them, affectionately, about punctuality being a virtue. And then a whole other church lady has to shush Max and Clance in the middle of the sermon! Max is explaining that she’s going to work at the screw factory during the night, and the salon during the day, and then talk her way onto the baseball team in her spare time. Clance goes, “You turn into plastic man while I wasn’t watching?” Max says, “You know I don’t know who that is!” And Clance snaps, “He stretches out, obviously.” Clance is less worried about Max working herself too hard and more concerned about Toni finding out. Max clocks the preacher’s wife making eyes at her up there in the pulpit, licks her lips, says, “She don’t notice everything.”

Mrs. Turner looks at Max lustily at church

I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.

A League of Their Own recap: Max makes eyes at Mrs. Turner at church.

I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk.

Carson decides to deal with her burgeoning gayness by ignoring it and focusing on the other main problem in her life: The Peaches are terrible. They’ve got the worst record and worst attendance in the league. They’re still getting paid, though, and when Sarge passes around their first checks — “May I suggest purchasing war bonds, ladies? It’s a prudent and patriotic way to invest!” — everybody flips out a little bit. May says she’s going to buy a fur coat. Jo thinks Greta should send her check home to her mom as a fuck you. Lupe does send money home to her family, with a photo of her and Dove she cut out of the local newspaper. Jess says, “I don’t trust paper money!!!” before listing all the sinking boats she’s been on to Lupe. Carson says she’s going to put hers into savings because Charlie wants to buy a house. She does spend a little bit of her money on groceries, though, because she decides the best way to get through to Dove and encourage him to coach them is to make him a pie. Jo and Greta think the pie is the most ridiculous thing they’ve ever seen — she brings it to him, uncovered, in the dugout — and they waste no time mocking her mercilessly for it.

Dove remains the worst. He gives an interview to the newspaper that’s supposed to be about Lupe, but becomes, of course, all about him. The only time he mentions Lupe is when he starts making up racist nicknames for her like The Spanish Striker and Margarita on the Mound. Every time he calls her Spanish, Lupe flinches BECAUSE THE SPANISH WERE THE COLONIZERS, but she doesn’t say anything about it. It seems like maybe Dove’s the first person to believe in her, which is really just about believing in himself, and she’s wrecking her arm trying to learn to throw his stupid forkball. Lupe does wonder if maybe she needs a few games off, but Dove tells her she’s just tired. Carson asks Dove to rest Lupe, but he won’t. Carson asks Lupe to ask Dove to rest her, and Dove ends up benching Carson instead. He even makes Jo run a hundred laps when she tries to talk to him man-to-man, and tells him it’d be cool if he started actually coaching them. Lupe says Dove is the only one who cares about her, which isn’t true, and would be a horrible fate!

Lupe and Dove talk to a reporter.

Now this little lady—

A League of Their Own recap: Lupe smiles uncomfortably.

Not a lady.

And that’s how the Peaches, minus Lupe, end up sneaking out in the early morning and late at night to practice by themselves. It’s not all hard work, though: Greta and Carson find time to lie in the grass together and stargaze and make mollusk jokes. Jo’s getting worried because Greta is NOT being careful, so she keeps trying to find ways to stop her and Carson from, like, climbing all over each other in front of the whole team. But they keep sneaking off to make out anyway! Well, to makeout and then for Carson to push Greta away and say “Stop! I”m normal!” and then to makeout some more and then for Carson to push Greta away and say “I’m not like you! I have a husband!”

Between the baseball, the lust, and the gay panic, Carson’s sympathetic nervous system must be absolutely frazzled. She should talk to Shirley about getting on some kind of adrenal supplements or learning to meditate or something. Carson tells Greta she wants to be only friends, with none of the kissing, so Greta invites Carson to chaperone a date she has with a Peaches fan. Sarge was meant to do it but she — *shuts door* — becomes “indisposed … menstrually” right before the date. Which is a shame, because Sarge had been told her conversation skills were adequate. Shirley also agrees to go on the date because it is a profound honor to make sure things don’t get sexual.

Beef talks to Max at the screw factory.

So you agree I could beat Candace Parker one-on-one?

A League of Their Own recap: Max smiles

Yup. Mmm hmm. Of course. Sure do.

Max’s man disguise lasts juuust long enough for her to get into the screw factory. During orientation, the two racist bitties who wouldn’t give her an application ask her to take off her hat, like some kind of evil villain reveal. The plant manager is like, “I don’t give a fuck. Can you lift 50 pounds and handle some casual second degree burns?” Max says as long as the burns aren’t on her pitching hand, absolutely — and then, under her breath as she breezes past the bitties, “Guess you were hiring.” With Gary’s advice in mind, Carson fibs her way to a job with the welding crew so she can get in good with the factory baseball team star. I can’t remember his name. I’m going to call him Beef. Gary doesn’t think Max can swallow her pride long enough to make nice with Beef, and he’s almost right. Max nearly claws her own face off lying to him about how she was just intimidated by him because he’s a better baseball player than she’ll ever be. But of course Beef believes her, and once he finds out she’s a great welder (because of course she is because Max is literally the best at everything), he “lets her” start doing her work and his work too. Beef even requests a move to the day shift for both of them.

Max tries to tell Toni the news, late one night after work, but Toni surprises her with the news that she’s renamed the salon Max and Toni Chapman’s, and she’s even bought a glowing neon sign to honor the occasion. She’s noticed how serious Max has gotten, and she wants to show that she’s serious about Max too. Instead of coming clean, Max picks a fight with Mrs. Turner and ends up blowing up their relationship. Max might be willing to risk everything to play baseball, but Mrs. Turner isn’t willing to risk her whole life and reputation for Max’s sports dreams. The thing that finally coaxes Max to come clean is the Holy Spirit. Toni gets up at the revival to offer testimony, and while she’s talking about how the Lord’s hand has guided her steps, even though hardship and uncertainty, Max runs out of the tent to the edge of the woods and nearly vomits. Because she’s sure God is guiding her steps too; why would He have given her this gift and this unquenchable desire if He didn’t want her to play baseball? When she tells her mom she got another job, Toni doesn’t yell, doesn’t reason, doesn’t cry — she just goes silent. Which is way, way worse.

Clance and Guy sit on the couch talking about babies.

PROTECT CLANCE’S HEART AT ALL COSTS PRAYER CIRCLE

Clance also has a secret. After she passes out at church, Guy tells Mr. Chapman that Clance has been acting real squirrelly and he thinks she’s pregnant but doesn’t want to tell him because she’s afraid he won’t be a good dad. Mr. Chapman gives Guy an egg from the refrigerator to keep safe. He puts it in his pocket and even brings it to church with him! It’s too adorable! Guy is the only man I love! Clance finally tells him she’s not pregnant, actually, that a draft letter came for him, and he has to report for his physical in two days, and then he’ll be shipped off to fight a war for a country that doesn’t even value him as a full citizen. They sink down onto the floor together and hold each other close and I am not prone to caring about straight couples so don’t you dare do anything to hurt this man, you writers, I swear to god.

A side note: I’m not sure Max should ever get pregnant. When she’s trying to convince the factory bosses to let her stay, her first plea is, “I’ve got eight kids and I’ve gotta feed most of them.” I love her so much.

A League of Their Own recap: Greta, Carson, Shirley, and some guy on a date.

See, the thing about high-yield interest rates…

Shirley looks confounded.

I’m sorry, am I the only one seeing this *prolonged* eye contact.

Greta’s dinner with the baseball fan — chaperoned by Carson and Shirley — is the best date I’ve ever seen or heard of in my life. Sarge described him as “a man with a shirt,” for starters. It opens with Greta flirting like a clown, yanking on his hair, and devolves into Greta and Carson getting passive aggressive with each other about him right in front of his face. He says he’s a veterinarian, which Carson says hardly qualifies as an actual doctor, before storming off to the restroom to fume. Greta follows her in and starts barking about how she’s the one who said she just wants to be friends and act normal and whatever. Carson goes, “You want me to say it makes me jealous? That I have feelings for you? I do!” And Greta says, “Finally!”

However upset Carson and Greta are about the date, it’s nothing on how Shirley’s feeling. She’s pacing around the bedroom when she gets home, fretting about how she was left alone with this man for no less than eleven minutes. “There’s was energy, there was transmission, there was eye contact, and I was alone,” she says. “I’m dwelling in the ambiguity right now and I’m wound up.” (Shirley, are you sure you’re not a lesbian? That’s the gayest thing anyone’s ever said.)

Carson and Greta have a confrontation in the bathroom.

I like normal straight girl things: baseball, body piercings, therapy, velvet couches, zines, taking karaoke way too seriously!

Shirley looks confused

Okay none of that is straight.

Finally, Carson can’t take it anymore. She’s thinking about Charlie coming home from war, and how he wants to be more than friends, and how this baseball dream could disappear at any second, and how Greta could be gone that fast too. She walks almost as speedy-quick as she ran to the train that first day, directly to Greta’s room, breathing heavy and ready to smooch. She stops short when she realizes Jess is in the room too, and makes up some elaborate story about a rash, which actually interests Jess way more than the lesbianism pulsating off her teammates. Carson takes Greta to the shed and smashes her up against the wall and smooshes their faces together.

This time, Shirley doesn’t need to shake her out of her dreams. Carson Shaw is wide awake.


Every episode of A League of Their Own is streaming on Prime Video. Editor in Chief Carmen Phillips and Senior Editor Heather Hogan will be trading off recaps, one a day, every single day, for the whole first season. See you back here tomorrow! 


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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 1445 articles for us.

26 Comments

  1. My greatest fear at this point is Clance’s Wonder Woman tirade about losing the love of her life and not even getting a body is foreshadowing. DO NOT WANT!

    Rest of the show is absolute excellence! I’d like to think I’d be Jo, but I’m pretty sure I’d be Shirley lol

    • Clance and Guy are my favorite couple on this show followed closely by Clance and Max. Maybe I just like Clance with her “I got married, I didn’t get normal.”

      Seriously I’m not sure why Clance loves Guy, but he does seem like a good and decent guy who loves her and she loves him so she better get to keep him!

    • You are so right in regards to the foreshadowing about the death of the love of her life and no body to claim. I absolutely didn’t catch that this innocent comic comment might have a grave and sinister meaning given how the story continued. When I read your comment, I was like: 1.) This is so smart! and 2.) Noooooooo!

  2. My heart broke a little at “I’m not like you. I’m normal.” I’m glad the show gave sympathy for both Carson’s confusion and Greta’s hurt.
    I had to rewatch Greta saying “I would love to meet a baby with a head of hair like that.” Truly so good. She’s a woman who knows how to give a performance.
    God I fucking adore Shirley. Live in the ambiguity, baby girl!!
    My heart skipped a little beat at the end when Carson left her started walking towards Greta!
    Episode three was when i realized ALoTO is giving me everything Bomb Girls and GLOW did, but combined! I’m still not over how gay it is. I didn’t watch Gen Q so it’s the gayest thing I’ve seen since the OG L Word. The butch friendship between Jess and Lupe is a highlight for me too. I also had to rewatch: “How many sinking boats have you been on? Tell me about each one.”

  3. When I realized that this episode was the revival episode, I was beside myself waiting to read your recap AND HEATHER!!! The Bible verses!! The politics of head usher!! All of it is so good, so good.

    ” I can’t remember his name. I’m going to call him Beef.” I laughed so hard it was a bark.

  4. 1) the cold open of a baby gay sex dream made me infinitely grateful i was not watching this with my mother
    2) so did max in her salon stud outfit
    3) every jess line is pure gold? and her interactions with lupe delight me!
    4) i have Thoughts about shirley cohen as a neurotic jewish woman stereotype especially as one of the only jewish characters (the only?) on a show helmed by famous jew abbi jacobson but they’re still percolating into something coherent
    5) guy and his egg! he gave the egg a little kiss! and edgar chapman just blatantly fucking with him was v funny

    • On your fourth point, I’d love to hear your thoughts as they coalesce. Shirley’s characterization was one of the only elements of the series that gave me pause. (Also: hi fellow Caitlin!)

      • Yes me too. Did not like the characterization of Shirley. Could barely watch such a negative stereotype of a Jewish woman. So many old tropes that should I go and die. What the hell were they thinking Abbi Jacobsen?

      • I also noticed that Shirley is playing into the neurotic Jew stereotype and vaguely feel that it’s not cool.

        But she’s getting more screen time than every other peach except Carson and Greta. You mention another Jewish peach, but I feel like the others barely have any character development at all (except visual stereotypes) so there might be another Jewish Peach. Im not sure that I’ve seen the whole roster. I’m disappointed by the lack of ensemble storytelling.

    • I mean my main thoughts were “Is this supposed to be a subversion of the trope?” in re: her finale episode arc, but if so, too little too late. Having the only loudly Jewish character be the most anxious and weird and uptight person on the team (and the most vocally homophobic?) was certainly A Choice! A generous viewer might argue that Shirley spends the season learning to unpack everything she’s been spoonfed and form her own opinions, but you have to grant an awful lot of grace to get that reading.

      Idk I wish that there had been another Jewish peach and/or that any of Shirley’s stuff had been challenged bc when there’s only one character to represent a group and they do it in a stereotypical way it seems lazy at best

      • Thank you so much for bringing this up, Caitlin! Since I think Shirley is just darling (I always have a soft spot for the anxious rule followers because I was one as a kid, and the actress has such perfect line readings), the negative stereotyping wasn’t something I noticed until I read your comment, but you’re absolutely right! I assume they cast her bc they wanted Kate Berlant’s specific blend of comedy for the character, but they should have added another Jewish Peach, or re-worked her character in some way.

        • I should say, I do love Shirley! As an anxious person myself I would absolutely go off on the dangers of botulism given the slightest provocation, and I think Kate Berlant knocked it out of the park (pun intended) with the character. But alas we live in a society and it’s important to me to read deeply into the things I care about

  5. The sheer comedy of Greta seducing me through the television screen with her bombshell flirting, pulling out absolutely all the stops, only to be undercut at every turn by Shirley killing the mood was absolutely hilarious. I died several times.

    And Max in that cap! UNHF *fans self*

    The “I’m not like you, I’m normal” line was definitely gutting, but somehow it was worse to hear Greta use the same line on that “man in a shirt” that she did with Carson: “I’ve never met anyone like you”. I don’t know why, but Greta’s line hit me harder for some reason.

  6. Absolutely loving this show as a lifelong softball player and long time fan of the original movie. I’ve only watched the first 3 episodes.

    So as a loving fan my complaints (suggestions to do better) are
    – Too much Carson and Greta which I don’t actually care about very much
    – Not enough baseball scenes (I can’t tell you what positions most of the players play)
    — I think there was a line about Carson about being the de facto team leader and that surprised me. Carson hasn’t struck me as confident enough to be the player the other players look up to, but maybe that’s because the show hasn’t shown them playing with Carson being confident top player and on the field leader.
    – Not enough other Peaches
    — Lupe has the injured arm storyline going which could use more development. Like they had Greta say not to invite her to secret practice because “she’s up Dove’s ass,” but they didn’t show it. And when Lupe’s been waking up alone and eating breakfast alone why wasn’t she trying to find out what’s going on. (Also Lupe is super hot. Loved that actress on Vida too.)
    — Want more Jo. I read the scene where Jo crashed the romantic scene as friendship jealousy rather than fear Greta was being too obviously queer. But I don’t really know because Jo hasn’t had enough screen time to establish her feelings on the matter. How about she talks to Greta about what’s going on with Carson … Warns her, encourages her, IDK but talk to her lifelong best friend.
    — Even if she’s straight, I think Esti not speaking English / learning English would be an interesting story that’s getting no screen time.
    — Jess is just a super butch stereotype so far but I’d like more development.

    I’m just not that invested in Carson or Greta. To me they’re clearly not an end game couple. Greta has been playing a game from the beginning (kissing Carson and leaving to have sex with a random soldier at the end of the night). And while I understand that Carson’s struggle is historically realistic, I’m just that that interested in the journey of a queer person accepting that it’s okay to be gay or it will be impossible for them to pretend not to be gay (they need to live authentically). Generally I’m finding Carson pretty blah; she’s no Dottie (Geena Davis’s character in the movie).

    Is the show heading towards a Carson / Max relationship? I’d find that more interesting, but Carson needs to figure herself out and get more confident. (I think maybe she’s supposed to be confident while playing ball but there’s not enough on field action for me to be sure.

    • I’m glad I’m not alone in my ambivalence towards Carson/Greta. The dialogue in their scenes just feels so cliched to me. I would definitely prefer to see more of the Peaches’ team dynamic, and of Esti as an individual character.

    • I also don’t love Carson and Greta as a couple. They are a bit meh to me, and I don’t care so much for either of them. Carson is somewhat boring. Instead, I wish Lupe, Jess, Jo and Esti would have gotten more screen time. I would love for some of the butch characters to get more time to shine. I am truly happy that the series is so queer, but once again, feminine-presenting characters are the ones at front and center (as in most shows with queer women), and it would be wonderful if they had given some of the other cast more storyline and development.

      • Right you are about the femme presenting queers getting the screen time. Greta and Carson (and Maybelle) are the ones not pinging anyone’s gaydar and not being forced to be more lady like in appearance to keep their jobs as baseball players. With Carson we’re getting another coming out story.

        There are lesbians/queers at least out to themselves (Max, Jo, Lupe, Jess). I’d prefer them centered.

    • YES to all of this! I am feeling much more ambivalent about this series than I expected, and your comments go a long way toward explaining why. Despite her gorgeousness and my abiding love of D’arcy Carden, Greta’s character is making me so frustrated, and I am just not here for them the way I’d hoped.

  7. I loved Sarge’s matter-of-factly reply: “He was a man in a shirt” after Greta checks in whether the guy who asked her out on a date was cute.
    Sarge’s comment made even more sense in episode 8! And I will surely use it myself now :)

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