Heels returns this week after its mid-season break, and episode 7 of the professional wrestling-centric show has left no stone unturned to set up a mouth-watering season finale. The women's wrestling revolution, an homage to great rivalries between major wrestling promotions, and the power of relatable human emotions exploding in high-pressure situations – Heels' latest offering hooks its audience in every possible way from start to finish this week. The episode brilliantly builds off the tense and emotional situation episode 6 created for everybody involved with Duffy Wrestling League and starts to slowly pay off long-lasting storylines while expertly leaving a lot of intrigue for that big finale. Wrestling fans might feel like Vince McMahon is behind the wheel of this episode to ensure everybody's eyes are on DWL's high-profile show at the Georgia State Fair.
The episode kicks off with a flashback that shows Jack Spade and his father Tom discussing the family business during a road trip. Here we see a further illustration of why Jack's feelings towards his father are so complex, but audiences are also shown the genesis of his ideas for the DWL, much to the dismay of his father. Fast forward to the present, the wrestling war heats up between the DWL and Charlie Gully's FWD, as for the first time, Gully is scared of DWL's chances of victory due to the momentum of their state fair event. So, the first shot, reminiscent of DX's invasion of WCW on Monday Night Raw in 1998, is fired. It nicely sets up the large looming threat to Jack and DWL's grand opportunity at a time when tensions are already high, but Gully's actions also insert an element of hope for audiences because they are able to understand the significance of the state fair show.
Although Heels has earned a great deal of praise from the wrestling community, justifiably so, it has received some complaints about living more in wrestling's past, particularly in its presentation of Crystal and how she's not given the opportunity to wrestle due to her gender. That's addressed head-on in this episode through Crystal joining DWL's open tryouts for wrestlers and Willie expressing our feelings by telling Jack to “write for the times.” Although Crystal's struggle remains intact, despite her obvious talent, the show's decision to place this wrestling bubble in a more old-school environment allows for audiences to emotionally invest and support Crystal that much more. So while some will continue to criticize the presentation due to wrestling's growth, from a storytelling perspective, the approach is proving to be a successful one, and it's added to by Kelli Berglund's gripping performance, particularly in her apology to jack.
The conclusion of this week's episode of Heels is arguably the most exhilarating one yet that ends with a powerful visual of Jack in a ring staring deep into Ace's eyes. It offers a wonderful twist, heart-warming sentiment from the older brother, and riveting excitement for what the grand finale is going to provide next week. To draw a wrestling comparison, it was reminiscent of the great build-up to Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock in 2001, where the two finally burst into battle before WrestleMania 17 – leaving you with a sense of urgency to see how their story will finish at the ‘Grandest Stage of Them All'. Heels provides a similar feeling this week but also keeps that family focus intact to keep non-wrestling fans invested.
Episode 7 is a thrill ride from start to finish that also offers nice nuances and breathing room for ongoing side stories. In addition to that, there is a little bit of humour with Wild Bill's jokes, which constantly receive a look of utter disgust from Willie. Also, aside from nit-picking the conclusion by perhaps questioning the logistics of Jack entering FWD's arena, it's difficult to point to any major flaws in this week's outing of Heels. In the end, Heels did what it should, keep you invested and get you amped up for its season finale.
Heels episode 7 drops today (October 3) on StarzPlay.