‘Heels’ S1, Ep2 – ‘Dusty Finish’ Review: “Family First”
Following the controversial ending of last week’s episode, affectionally referred to as The Duffy Screwjob by creator Michael Waldron, this week’s episode of Heels features the fallout of a shattered brotherhood. For the first time, viewers get a glimpse of Jack and Ace Spade’s lives outside of the ring. When Jack is not getting chastised by his 26-year-old boss as a lawnmower salesman, he is fulfilling his duties as a husband and a father at home. On the flip side, Ace splits his time in bed with Crystal Tyler (Kelli Berglund). In addition, he attempts to recover what he lost via the in-ring dispute with Jack.
However, episode two also begins to reveal the true conflict in the series. In addition to being its main star, Jack Spade also owns and operates the Duffy Wrestling League (DWL). Like most independent wrestling promotions, competition is stiff. With the DWL jockeying for position in Georgia, a rival promotion known as the Florida Wrestling Dystopia (FWD) heats up. When FWD owner Charlie Gully (Mike O’Malley) offers to purchase the DWL, Jack begins to feel the pressure of keeping his company afloat.
The central narrative for this week’s installment of Heels is the mental stability of Ace after being screwed by Jack. Before the big main event against Jack, Ace was in constant contact with a talent scout ready to bring him to the big leagues. Unfortunately, after an emotional breakdown goes viral, Ace loses that opportunity. Unsurprisingly, he does not take it well.
While many in the pro wrestling industry will tell you they are in the business because they love it, money, fame, and success play a big part in their decision to put their bodies on the line week in and week out. Ace sees that big bright light within arm’s reach loses it, and begins to spiral. After fighting with his mother, disrespecting Crystal, and running away from home, Ace finds himself at a local karaoke bar to drink away his sorrows. Jack and Crystal discover a highly intoxicated Ace make a fool of himself on stage at the bar and things escalate.
Fans of wrestling know there is one mortal sin. That’s calling professional wrestling “fake.” When some drunk townies use the forbidden f-word, a bar fight ensues. Additionally, when the same townies disrespect their father, Jack and Ace have a reunion of sorts. Not to mention, Crystal steps in and displays some wrestling moves of her own. At its heart, Heels is a story about another f-word: family. Good, bad, or ugly, family always finds their way back to each other. And sometimes, it can get very ugly. For example, Ace accuses Jack of ruining his life. While this line is confusing at first, a tender moment between Jack and Crystal reveals Ace was pushed into becoming a wrestler by Jack.
With lingering questions about the future of wrestling storylines, Ace’s next move, and if Jack will sell the DWL, Heels continues to be a poignant drama with some great character moments. The chemistry between Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig is off the charts. Moreover, the supporting cast brings a lot of heart to the series with their performances as well. Mix that with some stellar writing by Michael Waldron and you have a recipe for success. Just two episodes in and Heels has ready set the foundation for a successful season.
Heels airs every Sunday on Starz!
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