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Heels season finale review: The champ is here

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DWL closes its biggest show of the year—and its season—with the right person coming out on top.

STARZ

For weeks and weeks...and weeks, I kept saying that this is ultimately Crystal’s story. Not just because she is one of the few characters on Heels capable of change, but because she has the more interesting story. Jack and Ace Spade are two cats who can’t get out of their own respective ways. Can they change a little? Sure. They’re not inhuman. But they’re both incredibly stubborn with egos the size of Texas. As Wild Bill aptly points out in several episodes this season, the Ace boys will always ruin a good thing if you let them.

Maybe that’s why Bill was initially attracted to Crystal. Bill recognized a humility in her that Jack and Ace definitely don’t have, but also realized she’s got the “it” factor neither of them possess. That’s not a diss to either of them, just reality doing what reality does best. “Double Turn” puts Bill’s intuition under the hot lights of the Georgia State Fair, while bringing us full circle to where we started: Jack and Ace Spade fighting for the DWL championship but with several added wrinkles. Only in the end, the true star of the company, Crystal, is the one holding the belt high to the roars of the crowd.

Jack’s desire to balance his professional and personal lives takes an L in this episode. While he wants to see Staci sing the National Anthem at the fair, he knows that’s impossible based on the timing of her event and his. Plus, not for nothing, but she doesn’t want him there. Staci, getting her Columbo on, realized Jack is the one who helped fuel his little brother’s heel turn weeks ago. Jack bought tissue boxes in bulk, handed them out to the crowd, planted one specific person, told her want to say, and thus the idea of Ace being a “cry baby” was cemented in DWL history.

If there’s one issue I have with this storyline—Staci upset at Jack for engineering Ace’s heel turn—it’s that I don’t fully understand Staci’s anger. The show doesn’t fully communicate if she’s upset because of what he did or because he didn’t tell her. But this is still professional wrestling and he’s still the guy in charge. Staci loves her brother-in-law and knows he can’t stand the idea of people not liking him, but she’s smart enough to understand this is part of the business. Staci and Jack’s heated conversation ends when the former questions the latter about what type of man he wants to be. That rings hollow because...it’s professional wrestling. Heels’ biggest flaw its freshmen year is sticking to its own internal logic. There are times when characters, like Ace or Staci, understand that this is part of the business and comes with the territory.

But then we get other moments, like the one in the finale, where they seemingly forget. It’s drama for the sake of drama. Which, ironically, is probably the most professional wrestling thing one could do. There’s enough marriage beef between Staci and Jack where this added wrinkle means nothing. Their paths are diverging as a couple and one wonders what their marriage looks like next season as Staci finds her independence and Jack tries building off the success of their biggest show.

And that show didn’t go off without hitches. Charlie Gully and his right hand man—shoutout to Jey Uso—want to sabotage the main event for payback. His idea? Tossing tissues into the ring during the ladder match between Jack, Ace, and Wild Bill. Ace suffers his own version of PTSD and questions if this is his brother’s doing. Jack pleads ignorance but does admit to his little brother what his wife figured out earlier. Ace, of course, loses it and just like in the season premiere, a real fight breaks out during a staged one. Like I said, these two will never get out of their own way and their sibling rivalry, once again, threatens the livelihood of everyone who works for DWL.

Heels never apologizes for either man though, which is a testament to the show. Like the best wrestling stories, it presents us with information and lets our own moral compasses do the work. While it’s indeed stupid for Ace to put Jack in a chokehold and almost ruin the biggest match in the history of the company, it’s very understandable. And also makes sense for a character who isn’t as grown-up as he thinks he is.

Wild Bill can’t save the match at this point, either. While there’s a sh*t show happening in the ring, an actual one is happening outside of it. Bill actually craps his pants and camps out ringside for obvious reasons. Crystal, remembering Bill’s advice about improvisation and calling her shot, steps in the ring to not only ascend but save everyone in the process. “Double Turn” uses the art of wrestling to illustrate how Ace and Crystal are in a much better place now than they were even when the show started. Ace trusts her as a professional and a wrestler, and knows what has to be done. The two work together beautifully, showcasing the chemistry they had as a tandem, but in a much different context. The beauty of this show is it can use moments like this to do more than words ever could.

Jack’s trust for Crystal grew episode-to-episode, so he happily lets her “take care” of him when he’s too injured to finish the match. As Crystal climbs the ladder, Gully and his stooge make their way to the ring to stop the match, more poetic payback for what Jack did to them. But Wild Bill, ever the ring general and professional, issues a beat down to both men—crappy pants and all—allowing Crystal to grab the belt and become the new DWL Heavyweight Champion.

STARZ

And no one is surprised. Not the boys in the back, not Willie, not even Jack and Ace. Who knows how this plays out if there is a second season, but it’s the logical conclusion of season one. The underlying story was always DWL’s evolution. What does the company look like in 2021 and how can it truly escape the shadow of its past glory?

Crystal as its face is only partially the answer. For the company—and the show—to continue, it needs to incorporate different faces and more talent. The war between Jack and Ace can’t function as the heart of the show forever, nor can the company succeed with those two knuckleheads constantly jeopardizing everyone else’s paychecks.

But that’s for another day and another season. For now, let’s celebrate the success that was Heels. There’s no word on whether or not STARZ wants to stay in the wrestling business for another year. If they don’t, this was a well-told story that served its core audience while never alienating those who don’t watch this stuff on a regular basis. Props to everyone involved and I hope we get to see you again.