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    Sunday, October 3, 2021

    Heels Season 1, Episode 7 Review: Don't Come For My Shit, Boy

    Heels is back on TV this week, and with only two hours to go in its first season, the pressure was on episode seven to deliver—and golly gee, did it deliver.

    As the credits rolled on this week's episode, I thought to myself, Man, every single one of these folks needs a good therapist. And then, after that, it hit me that if they all just learned to acknowledge and manage their emotions with therapy, we probably wouldn't have all this drama unfolding in front of us. Which do I prefer: a gripping drama about a wrestling family or people learning to process their trauma and healing from it? Honestly, it's the latter, but we've got a really compelling drama about wrestling, so okay, I guess.

    The biggest thing to come out of Heels' seventh episode is Ace's heel turn and defection to Charlie Gully's Florida Wrestling Dystopia. Sure, it's not like this wasn't telegraphed throughout the show's run. But the last couple of episodes—and even the first half of this one—made it seem like Ace had come around and was DWL through and through. It was basically Heels' worst-kept secret, and yet, I still felt the gut-punch from the defection because deep down, I thought Jack and Ace were going to patch things up and put on a hell of a show at the Georgia State Fair.

    But because this is a TV show, it can't be that easy, can it? So let's zoom out a bit and talk about how this episode showed the toxicity in all of the different relationships in the show, shall we?

    The show opened with Tom Spade openly belittling Jack in the car while resisting his son's ideas for the DWL to adapt to modern times. Everyone who's ever had to deal with a toxic boomer dad will be able to relate to Jack's struggles in this scene. It must've been doubly painful for Jack that Tom only sees him as someone who can work in the DWL, while King Spade sees Ace as a future football star. 

    Never mind that it was ridiculous since Ace was only recruited by a Division 2 college—which means his chances of turning pro were really slim—but Ace didn't take school nor organized sports very seriously himself. The worst part was Tom actually throwing hands with Jack and daring him to legitimately pin him so the latter can finally take control of the DWL. That was some fucked up shit.

    Fast forward a couple of generations, and we see young Thomas Spade getting in a fight at school because of an older bully. After he gets suspended from school and is sent home, we find out that he's learned to turn to violence as a response because he saw his own father hit his Uncle Ace at the hospital after Ace legitimately broke Bobby Pin's leg. Clearly, Jack and Ace are rubbing off on Thomas in the worst way here, and the sad part is that Jack is okay with it because he grew up getting into a lot of fights himself. 

    Staci's absolutely right when she says that they've failed as parents when their child can justify getting into a fight just because he'd been bullied. That said, I'm not advocating for violence, but I would encourage a kid to learn to stand up for themselves. 

    And then there's Jack, who seemed to crumble under the pressure of the State Fair throughout the entire episode. I felt his frustration when he just yelled "FUUUUUUUUUUCK!" in his car as he parked at home after a long day at work. But, man, did the dude unravel this week? He committed the worst sin for any pro wrestling spectator, which was to jump the rail at the FWD, be a part of a show he was not part of, and legitimately hurt a rival promoter. Granted, Charlie Gully is a dirtbag. 

    But Jack lost all ascendancy in this rivalry with Gully by doing what he did. He can say what he wants about protecting Ace from Gully, but he already lost when he jumped over the barricade and entered the FWD ring. The only remarkable thing about that last scene was Jack mirroring Tom's words from the opening scene, "Don't come for my shit, boy."

    The reveal at the end that Jack himself is linked to the tissues thrown by the hecklers at Ace doesn't make things any better for the elder Spade brother. Jack's professional lives (as a wrestler, promoter, and lawnmower salesperson) seem to be unraveling, and his marriage to Staci might follow suit because of this new revelation. Hooboy.

    As always, the women bring a refreshing 180 to the episode's toxic masculinity. In the ring, Crystal proved to everyone—even Willie Day—that she's got some actual talent. Outside the ring, she displays a lot of growth as she asks Jack directly for forgiveness and another opportunity, and later on warns Jack that Ace had defected to FWD. It's a shame that Jack's head is stuck too far up his ass to see what Crystal can bring to the DWL.

    Meanwhile, Willie's relationship with her husband Ted contrasted her relationship with Wild Bill from the previous episode. Whereas Bill was too prideful to acknowledge his emotions, Ted's actually the emotionally mature partner who wants to be there for Willie. Unfortunately for Ted, Willie just wasn't in the headspace to talk—which is also fine from time to time—and she ended up lashing out at her poor husband. Props to Ted, though, for being a non-toxic male in this show about toxic men.

    We're a week away from Heels serving up its main event in the form of the season finale, and the show and its writers have done a stellar job in getting me pumped to see it all go down. Since the show revolves around the Spade family, I'm rooting for them to succeed by default. But I also hope that these characters feel the consequences of their toxic behavior because a lot of what they say and do just isn't right. Sure, there's no changing Tom because he's gone. But guys like Jack, Ace, and Wild Bill can still change with the help of therapy, right? Right???

    Cheap Takes From the Cheap Seats

    • Once again, Apocalypse, Bobby Pin, and Diego Cottonmouth find themselves in a hilarious and well-written little back-and-forth. This time, it's about the merit of food stamps and who pays for them. If you didn't know, now you know.
    • Just when you thought Ace's consecutive streak of episodes in which he has sex has ended, he found himself a new partner in bed.
    • Poor Rooster defected to the DWL because he wanted to have his long-overdue title run, only for us to find out that Gully was just using him as a pawn to lure his bigger haul: Ace Spade himself.
    • Speaking of Gully, not only is he a dirtbag. He's also pretty demented for having that Rule 34 image of Jack and Ace at the ready as he spoke to Ace. Side note: the mention of Rule 34 popped the hell out of me.
    • The Charlie Gully we've seen in the last couple of episodes looks different from the one who appeared in the pilot. That guy looked like a biker. The Gully we see now? He screams LDE, as in the exact opposite of BDE.
    • The Dad actually looked like a competent wrestler? But why is he dressed like a pencil-pusher or a corporate slave? He could've at least worn a polo shirt, shorts, high socks, and Crocs.
    • Which established pro wrestler are you betting on seeing in the season finale? Cody Rhodes has been linked to Heels as early as 2019, but he said on GameSpot's wrestling podcast Wrestle Buddies last May that he doesn't think "[he'll] ever put on tights in a television format ever. It's just too much wrestling for [him]." But he did take that quick hiatus from AEW—and died his hair black—after he lost the TNT Championship to the late Brodie Lee. So... it's got to be Cody, right?
    • Willie mentioned Bob Backlund, Jimmy Snuka, Andre the Giant, and Hulk Hogan in the episode. So the WWE does exist in the Heels universe???
    Images from 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 7 Review: Don't Come For My Shit, Boy Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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