“Emma” gets the Catalan series off to a decent start by introducing the titular girls and their cash-strapped team.
This recap of The Hockey Girls Season 1, Episode 1, “Emma”, contains spoilers. You can read out spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.
It’s fitting that The Hockey Girls Episode 1 opens by introducing the titular team alongside their social media handles; it’s very much an of-the-moment teen show, which we’ll see as things go on. To kick things off, we might as well meet the girls: Emma (Dèlia Brufau), the focus of this first episode, is the hothead wild child; Berta (Natàlia Barrientos) is (though not always) the responsible get-her-head-down type; Lorena (Mireia Oriol) is the fiery alternative wildcard; Raquel (Júlia Gibert) is the pretty but meek addition; Flor (Asia Ortega) is the new girl star player; and Laila (Yasmina Drissi) is… well, underutilized, mainly, though she’ll get her own time to shine later in the season. These girls all have their own personalities, problems, dynamics, and family dramas, most of which are introduced in this scene-setting first episode.
For instance, Emma’s mother, Núria (Àgata Roca), is cheating on her father, Santi (Juli Fàbregas) with Lore’s father, and Emma’s sister Anna (Iria del Río), a very successful hockey player and the local community’s golden child, has just returned home from Lisbon thanks to a meniscus tear. Anna knows about Núria’s infidelity but Emma doesn’t, and neither does Lore, though her father is a notorious womanizer and the news probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone. Lore loves her father, though, since she seems to have inherited his wild streak, and things between her and her mum, Sílvia (Mireia Aixalà), start out a bit strained and only become more so as we go.
The predicament the girls face in The Hockey Girls Episode 1 is that their handsome coach Germán (Marc Clotet) is leaving for greener pastures, and despite them all getting together to offer him some extra money — this is all organized via an Unfriended-style picture-in-picture group call — he can’t afford to stick around. That leaves the team in the lurch a bit, without a coach, without funding, and without the slightest bit of interest from the club’s bigwig, Enric (Josep Linuesa), whose only interest is the much more successful boys’ team.
Enric’s desire to sink the team only intensifies when they hijack a game and stage a protest, saying all they want to do is play. Lore’s friend Gina (Claudia Riera) is able to use this event for social media clout to get the team a guest spot on a televised debate show, which they attend by sweet-talking Raquel’s boyfriend Òscar (Nil Cardoner) into driving them there. It goes badly, with one of the opposing guests claiming their desire for equality is a push for preferential treatment, leading Emma to lose it on national television.
But the outburst gets attention — negative feminist attention, in the eyes of Enric, which he’d rather avoid. As a compromise he allows them to keep playing, just so long as they make the OK League and move up a level. But they’re still without a coach. Berta’s Aunt Terrats (Nora Navas), who by the way is undergoing IVF, started the division and coaches the first team; she’s also Anna’s sporting mentor, and together they eventually agree that Anna will coach the girls.
Just as things are beginning to look up in The Hockey Girls Episode 1, they start looking down for Emma. At a function, Núria sleeps with Lore’s father in the toilets, but then decides to end their affair, deciding instead to take a job with Santi in Budapest. There, they can make a fresh start. But Emma will have to go with them.