DISCLAIMER: This recap of the A League of Their Own episode “Back Footed” has spoilers. Remember, there’s no crying in baseball. Proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back, Rockford Peaches! We’re officially in the back half of this season, picking up steam. “Back Footed” introduces trials for our two leads, Max Chapman and Carson Shaw. After finally meeting her Uncle Bertie, Max takes a vital step toward living authentically and undergoes quite the journey in just one episode. Carson takes up the coaching mantle from Dove Porter and continues butting heads with Lupe. As she struggles to coach her teammates, we see Carson’s relationship with Greta begin to fray.

“Back Footed” reveals the cracks in relationship foundations and pivotal character development with A League of Their Own‘s trademark flair, wit and abundant joyfulness. 

Ready to delve into “Back Footed”? Let’s get to it. 

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Having a Catch? Playing Catch?

We open where we left off in episode four: with Max (Chanté Adams) leading Carson (Abbi Jacobson) to a remote location. After panicking at her tryout for the Screws, Max wants someone with whom to practice, and that someone is Carson. Carson is impressed with Max’s god-like throwing abilities. They decide to make their night practices a weekly event. 

The following day, Max and Clance (Gbemisola Ikumelo) head to work at the factory. Clance claims she’s “fine” after bidding farewell to Guy as he departed for basic training. Of course, war is deadly, so there’s that aspect to it. Meanwhile, Max states she’s “fine” even though she blew her shot at the team and concluded her life is a lie. Everyone is fine—nothing to see here. I want to reiterate how much I love these two as BFFs. 

Clance smiles while at work at the screw factory on A League of Their Own Season 1 Episode 5 "Back Footed."

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN — Gbemisola Ikumelo as Clance Morgan — Season 1 Episode 5, “Back Footed.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

Max and Clance meet Gracie (Patrice Covington), who’s new to the job and looks like a glamorous movie star. Then, Clance receives sympathy from one of their coworkers, who claims she heard terrible things about Black men joining the army. Besides discrimination, they usually get less training. We see Clance twitch upon hearing this. 

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Max overhears some douche canoes recount the moment she fumbled her chances at joining the baseball team. Finally, our besties reach their tipping point. They storm the breakroom and proceed to eat everyone’s lunches. It’s a hilarious moment. 

Carson’s the Cap

Next, we see Alan Baker (Don Fanelli) reprimanding Carson and Lupe (Roberta Colindrez) after their public brawl during a game. Beverly (Dale Dickey) defends them, reminding Alan of their apology. Alan reveals his uncle’s plans to shut the whole thing down (the league) because they’re essentially hemorrhaging funds. So, Lupe and Carson must be best friends and save face. It’s time to repair the team’s image. 

Alan orders Carson to take over for Coach Porter in an official capacity, much to Lupe’s irritation. Lupe informs the ladies of Carson’s new position and that Alan’s uncle might pull the plug. Carson seizes the awkward moment by sneaking away with Greta (D’Arcy Carden) to make whoopee in a parked car in the garage. The fact that they didn’t recreate the famous Titanic hand on the steamy window moment profoundly offends me. 

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Shirley (Kate Berlant) pulls Carson aside and expresses her worries about “catching” queerness. Her cousin says “becoming” gay is contagious, like the flu. Oh, you ignorant summer child. Shirley states her suspicions concerning Jo (Melanie Field) and warns Carson if they’re not careful, they’ll contract The Gay™ next!

Max Moves Out

Later, Max tears her room apart, waking her mother, Toni (Saidah Arrika Ekulona). Max agrees with her mother that baseball is a foolish, nonsensical pursuit. Toni reminds her daughter that it’s not her job to like Max; it’s her job to raise her. Max brings up Bertie, Toni’s sister, and how they’re estranged. Max assumes Toni discarded Bertie. Thus, Max decides to move out. 

Carson and Lupe sit at a table while listening to someone speak on A League of Their Own Season 1 Episode 5 "Back Footed."

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN — Abbi Jacobson as Carson Shaw and Roberta Colindrez as Lupe García — Season 1 Episode 5, “Back Footed.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

Max stays with Clance, who’s struggling without Guy. The besties embrace, and Max vows to sleep with Clance in her bed that night. Aw. 

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Later, Carson shows up unexpectedly (and inexplicably) at the factory and gives Max her bag from the night they practiced together. Carson also gifts Max with a poorly baked pie. Then, we see the pair outside that evening. Max urges Carson not to appear at her workplace unprompted. Carson hands Max some cash, hoping she’ll forget she bore witness to Carson and Greta’s makeout sesh. However, Max refuses to accept the money. 

Finding Bertie

Next, the ladies play catch for a while, and it appears we’re witnessing the beginnings of a beautiful friendship. After a rejuvenating practice together, the duo plans for another session at the same time the following week. Max obtains the address for Bertie, and, without her mother’s knowledge, she pops by Bertie’s (Lea Robinson) place. Max is taken aback to find Gracie living with Bertie. 

Bertie is unlike anyone Max has met before. Bertie lives as a man, enjoying it all with Gracie on his arm. Bertie and Gracie invite Max to stay for dinner, but she leaves when the couple heads to the kitchen. 

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“There’s no crying in baseball!” 

Meanwhile, Carson leads the Peaches’ next practice while Lupe stews off to the side. Carson asks her to be the warmup pitcher, but Lupe refuses. Then, she tells Greta and the team that she doesn’t trust Carson. Lupe calls Carson out for crying while Jess (Kelly McCormack) utters the line we’ve all been waiting for: “There’s no crying in baseball!” I am satisfied. 

Later, Carson seeks advice from Beverly regarding her new coaching gig. Being the boss is challenging, especially when you want to be everyone’s friend. 

Lupe sitting on a bench in the locker room while listening to a speech before a game on A League of Their Own Season 1 Episode 5 "Back Footed."

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN — Roberta Colindrez as Lupe García — Season 1 Episode 5, “Back Footed.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

Then, Max winds up at her mom’s salon, wherein she asks Toni to do her hair. Toni asserts that she likes Max and loves her. It’s a tender mother-daughter moment. After Toni gives her a new hairdo, Max knocks on Gary’s (Kendall Johnson) door, and a bewildered Gary finds himself in the middle of a love entanglement. Max makes the first move, and the pair partake in the horizontal tango.

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This Is Not Bringing Sexy Back

Unfortunately, sexy it is not — the act itself is short-lived, uncomfortable and awkward. Well, it’s all of the above for Max. Max, confused and regretting her choice, dresses and leaves, much to Gary’s disappointment. 

The following day, Carson motivates her team for the big game. She approaches them from a rough-around-the-edges standpoint, all bark and punchiness. However, the endeavor falls flat. Next, the team gets eaten alive by their rivals, the Blue Sox. Lupe still refuses to pitch, so they have their backup in place, but she’s not up to par like Lupe is. 

Later, while Carson and Greta spend some time in the garage car, Greta confronts Carson regarding the shift in her demeanor. Ever since she became the coach, Greta feels Carson is different. The pair argue and part ways for the time being. 

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Jess and Lupe discuss the blatant racial discrimination and disparities between how the latter’s treated versus Carson. Jess isn’t aware it’s all racially motivated. Of course, a white person in 1943 would not be cognizant of this (not excusing it, though). 

How Do You Do It?

Next, Max and Carson discuss having sex with men after their practice. She did not enjoy her experience with Gary, so she asked if Carson liked sleeping with Charlie. Carson admits she loves Charlie, but she’s also falling head over heels for Greta. 

Then, Clance receives her first letter from Guy. Unfortunately, most of it is blacked out because the government can dictate what you say to your spouse. Undoubtedly, this is a racial thing, too. Max comforts her friend.

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Before their next game, Carson gathers the crew for another motivational speech. Carson apologizes for her behavior and reassures Lupe that whenever she’s ready, she can pitch again. After winning their game, the ladies celebrate at their home. Bye-bye, Blue Sox!

Amid the celebrations, Greta pulls Carson aside for a chat. She tells Carson about Dana, the girl she loved as a teen. She admits they were careful initially, but they slipped along the way. When Dana’s parents caught them, they locked Dana away in a hospital. 

Lupe chats with Carson in the locker room before a big game on A League of Their Own Season 1 Episode 5 "Back Footed."

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN — Roberta Colindrez as Lupe García and Abbi Jacobson as Carson Shaw — Season 1 Episode 5, “Back Footed.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

A Confession/A Haircut 

Greta confesses that Carson reminds her of Dana and doesn’t want either of them to get hurt from their relationship. They embrace after both state how much they want to stay together. I’m not cutting onions; you are. 

Meanwhile, Max returns to Bertie and Gracie’s house. She asks Bertie to cut her hair. It’s no surprise Bertie is adept at cutting hair, given Toni’s knack for it too. Bertie hums the same song Toni does when cutting, putting Max at ease. 

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Chanté Adams and Gbemisola Ikumelo continue to steal the show for me. Adams, in particular, owns “Back Footed.” She pours her heart and soul into Max Chapman, taking us along for the ride as we watch her find her identity. Adams churns out a wonderfully raw, viscerally felt performance. I only want my baby Max to live as her true self in whatever form that takes. 

D’Arcy Carden also delivers heartfelt work, pulling back the curtain on Greta Gill’s vulnerabilities. Carden’s portrayal is nuanced, grounded and subtle — never overreaching or over the top. 

For the naysayers complaining there’s too much drama and not enough baseball: Are you genuinely watching A League of Their Own for the baseball? It’s all about the LGBTQIA+ love, the comedy and drama for me! The ball playing is the cherry on top. 

A League of Their Own Season 1 is now streaming on Prime Video

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