Episode 2 of Little America begins with young Marisol folding laundry, working with her Mother in a rich person’s house. After finishing their shift, they pack up their things and hit the road where we see their family woes, including sputtering taps and Marisol hiding a school behaviour report while they live in a garage.
The year is 2009 and as she heads up to school, on the bus her brother Diego falls victim to a racist slur from one of the students, prompting Marisol to hold in her feelings until she gets to school, where she slaps a drink out the girl’s hands and gets herself in trouble from her teacher. As she looks at Marisol she questions her future and behaviour.
Outside, she notices a sign for Urban Squash and given there’s free shoes as an incentive, she joins up and immediately learns how brutal and harsh the sport is. Her coach tells her that there’s a jaguar inside her and encourages Marisol to come back again, giving the shoes as an incentive to return.
Back home, Diego reads out Marisol’s report to her Mother and we see her poor behaviour over the weeks. Back at school, she returns to squash and without her friend with her, she’s given some important lessons; it’s something that sees her motivated and working out at 3.30am. After a training montage, her coach tells her she’s ready for a tournament after 8 months of practice and pays the $25 entry fee for her. Her biggest opponent will be Charlotte, the girl she’ll eventually be going up against. The match arrives and Marisol does well too, beating her but doing so in an undisciplined way.
That evening, Marisol arrives at a party and finds herself in an awkward position of facing the woman her Mum cleans for. It’s a little tense but she manages to navigate the situation well, before being driven home, back to the garage where she thinks over the night and mentally prepares for the final. Her Mum and brother come to see her and as the match gets underway, Marisol starts to lose her temper and gets a point deduction. Outside, her coach talks to her and tells her she won’t get another shot, prompting Marisol to get her head back in the game and play properly.
In the end she loses and afterwards tells Charlotte they had a good game. Despite losing, it’s enough for her to keep training and as we see during the post-episode segment, she went on to play for the squash team and ranked in the top 15 players in the US.
With a strong theme and a good blend of humour and characterisation, Little America delivers a really good second episode, one that dives into the harsh reality of knuckling down and working hard only to see you end second best. It’s a great life lesson and seeing Marisol leave with her head held high and with enough respect and comradeship to wish Charlotte well is a really nice touch to this one.
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