'Little America' Episode 2 shows the aggression of an immigrant trying to make it big in American athletics
Marisol represents the barely making ends meet working class of the society, where they don't even have a proper house to live in.
This article contains spoilers for season 1, episode 2: 'The Jaguar'/'Marisol'
Much like the first episode of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon's anthology debut on Apple TV+ titled 'Little America', the second episode sees the eponymous jaguar in the form of Marisol, who - sick and tired of being looked down upon as an immigrant - decides to indulge in playing squash as the ad-flyer promises free shoes and a racquet too for just showing up. Thus starts her journey of finding her voice and kicking it back in full swing to a country that wouldn't leave any stone unturned to make her feel unwelcome. The biggest respite being the pounce she takes as the 34-minute long episode culminates. And of course, the cutthroat trainer she is half blessed and self-proclaimedly cursed with.
Marisol represents the barely making ends meet working class of the society, where they don't even have a proper house to live in - their abode being that of a garage rented out by a pain-in-the-arse fellow immigrant, a stingy Indian landlord who locks their fridge in the night and leaves a leaking sink unattended because it's his house, his rules. Marisol cleans the affluent white people's houses along with her mother - who is the prime bread earner of the three people household. Her older brother quit school to get a job so she could continue studying, and Marisol's only act of rebellion in the cruel world trying to intimidate them shows in her daily behavioral reports from school.
Marisol is free-spirited and aggressive - there's a rage to her that she masks with humor and snark, but not shallow enough to overlook how every step of the way, her merit is judged based on the color of her skin. Her quick wit and smart mouth is matched when she actually shows up for the squash lesson just to get some free new shoes - her old ones being tattered beyond 'socially acceptable' - and she meets the instructor who talks about jaguars taking the leap and shows an unlikely interest in Marisol's potential. He wants her to ace right away and trains her vigorously for eight months so she is taken to participate in tournaments and fly abroad to win accolades. At the same time, coming from her community, he also understands Marisol's inability to get a passport and quickly changes her drive to defeat the Scandinavian girl with the cheekbones whom everybody seems to commend at practice.
In a lot of ways, Marisol's rage at the bias she is showered with during the actual tournament is insufferable. And it is in these moments that her coach's wisdom - as a man seasoned with the shackles of racism who actually knows how to beat the system - comes as a respite. Marisol's coach is very much on her side but also uninhibited about giving her a taste of his own sharp tongue when her teenage rebellion peeks through. In that, Marisol's prejudice against the system not letting her win might be credible for all the right reasons, but what she doesn't understand is rampant aggression is not the best way to soar to the heights she wants - something that her coach balances out with his occasional pep talks.
The feel-good story about an immigrant struggling to prove herself doesn't come to a big win, sadly, but that is what helps the tale become even more charming. The realism of it all changes the game even for Marisol who resorts to breaking down in her mother's arms with a giant second place trophy. But she wins the eventual game of life as she returns to practice the next day and grows to play for the US Nationals Squash Team, and ranks among the top 15 players in the country. As a board member of the Urban Squash League, she mentors 'young jaguars' like her now.