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    Tuesday, September 21, 2021

    Heels Season 1, Episode 6 Review: Dealing With the Fallout

    Stan Sy here, tagging in for an extra late review of Heels.

    After the explosive (what, too soon?) events of last week's installment, we got a comedown episode that gave us a look into the characters' histories while also giving us the fallout of what happened after Wild Bill, Crystal, and Ace all went off-script. I was expecting Heels to match last week's story beats as the second half of the season finds its footing. Instead, what we got was a resolution with a false sense of calm, which made sense since this was only the first of the season's last three hours of content.

    What captivated me the most this week was Wild Bill's arc. We learned more about this broken shell of a man—a figure who accurately personifies the phrase "hurt people hurt people." It turns out Willie Day wasn't only Wild Bill's lover but also his valet, who decided to manage Tom Spade upon the latter's request when King Spade got on the big leagues' radar. It apparently hurt Wild Bill enough to damage his relationships with Willie and Tom to the point we see on the show in the present day.

    The way Wild Bill dealt with his pain is reminiscent of too many men who refuse to acknowledge their own emotions and process them properly, relying on toxic behaviors to cope instead. It's relatable as it is in our everyday lives, but if you watch enough wrestling documentaries or listen to enough interviews, you'll realize that it's also an accurate portrayal of in-ring drama crossing over to the real world.

    Chris Bauer and Mary McCormack both shine on-screen throughout their dialogue. Bauer's vulnerability in his performance gave Wild Bill a layer that could make him sympathetic, now that we know the pain he'd been nursing for decades. Meanwhile, McCormack's performance gave us a window into a character who wanted to keep loving this broken man, no matter how many times he had hurt her. The show told a heartwrenching and beautiful story through Wild Bill and Willie's processing of each other's hurt feelings—Jack's condition for Wild Bill to even have a shot at working for the DWL again. It makes me wonder how Wild Bill would atone—if he even will, at all—for goading Crystal into going off-script, resulting in Ace shooting on Bobby Pin and injuring the latter.

    Speaking of Ace, he spends much of this episode agonizing over old home movies of Tom building him up as a teenager. We're reminded that Ace's dream was to play pro football and that Tom wanted that for his younger son, talking him up to no end at the expense of Jack's self-esteem. Tom's toxic alpha male tendencies came to the surface in the video as he mocked Jack in contrast to Ace and the latter's physical abilities, whether Tom was conscious of it or not. We see Ace's own pain as he comes to terms with the fact that he never even got to play college football, let alone make it to the NFL, and that he's stuck trying to be the main star in his father's old wrestling league.

    Whether or not Ace deals with all of that remains to be seen. We did get Ace's apology to both Crystal and Bobby Pin—which is probably way more than most wrestlers who've been injured in a shoot would get in real life. Ace's interactions this week with the people around him, from Big Jim and his family to Crystal, put him in a spot where he at least put his big boy pants on and apologized for his words and actions. I said last week that Ace was one of the show's two true heels, but he managed to redeem himself this week by owning up for what he did. I wish he did more than apologize to Bobby, though. I mean, the man's got a broken leg and probably won't be able to work for the foreseeable future. Ace's apology won't put food on the table.

    As for Jack, his world began to crumble last week following Ace's actions. For some reason, we didn't get any follow-through on how his relationship with Thomas has been affected. But we did see Staci finally confront him about being an absentee father and husband. He'd missed her performance at Shelby's baptism, and he hasn't been around when the family has needed him to be anything but a wrestler and promoter. Jack's escapism has finally caught up to him, and he's fortunate that Staci didn't give him an ultimatum or demand a change right then and there. All she wanted was to be acknowledged and validated, so dammit, acknowledge your wife, Jack Spade!

    I can't say the same about his relationship with Rooster, which ultimately took a turn here in episode six. We've seen him try to talk to Jack for weeks, angling for a better spot on the card. And while Jack was sort of justified in focusing on the bigger picture, he did fail Rooster as the proverbial manager/coach of their team by not giving his player more than a customary acknowledgment. Rooster and Jack's conversation in Big Jim's house was the final straw that ended with the veteran finally making the call to jump ship to Charlie Gully's Florida Wrestling Dystopia. It'll be interesting to see where this goes from here.

    Heels is entering the final stretch as we get to its last couple of hours for the season. I'm excited to see how the drama heats up and how that translates into the in-ring action. I wanted more tension in this week's episode, but in hindsight, this comedown did its job by showing us the fallout of what happened last week. At the very least, it wasn't a tiring and traumatic viewing experience all over again.

    Cheap Takes from the Cheap Seats

    • Whoever wrote the back-and-forth about men's nipples between Apocalypse, Diego Cottonmouth, and Bobby Pin deserves a goddamn raise. That was comedic gold!
    • Mick Foley playing a callous and self-righteous podcaster who doesn't seem to have actual (and ethical) journalistic training was pretty entertaining and spot-on. Many amateur podcasters and interviewers don't know how to properly tackle sensitive issues with care, and Foley's performance accurately portrayed it. Let that serve as a lesson for anyone who wants to be a wrestling podcaster/interviewer.
    • I can't believe it took us six episodes to introduce Apocalypse's other life as an AA support group leader. I need to know more!
    Images from Heels and Starz


    Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry and is also a TV and events host, a freelance writer, and a podcaster. His podcasts include On Deck with Stan SyNow Steaming: A Tsinoy Podcast, and The Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX Philippines. He enjoys watching WWE, AEW, and the occasional New Japan match.
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    Item Reviewed: Heels Season 1, Episode 6 Review: Dealing With the Fallout Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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