“Dusty Finish” is all about fallout. Not of the nuclear variety, but specifically the aftermath of the premiere episode’s third act twist. Spoilers for anyone late to the party, but Jack went into business for himself, changed the ending to the match on the fly, and put his younger brother in a legitimate…wait for it…armbar. Now, that’s bad for a plethora of reasons, but the icing on top of the terrible cake was Ace Spade, the company’s most popular good guy, having a post-match cry in the middle of the ring. This wasn’t a “lost my smile” cry either; this was a full sob that compelled the audience in attendance to bombard the ring with popcorn, soda, and anything else they wanted to throw.
So yeah, that definitely complicates things for the entire DWL.
Heels’ second episode drills into its characters and centers on how we see ourselves vs. how the world sees us. Jack Spade sees himself as a father and a wrestler, but the town knows he sells lawnmowers. Ace Spade believes he’s made for bigger and better things. In his mind, he’s the golden child and a natural good guy that everybody should love. In reality, Duffy is probably his ceiling, and he has more in common with villains than heroes. That same idea reverberates throughout and adds depth to the background players of this brother against brother saga.
Crystal (Kelli Berglund) is Ace’s valet and semi-girlfriend. Much to her chagrin, both of those roles are ill-defined. They’re also all the people in Duffy thinks she’s capable of. “Dusty Finish” uses a few scenes to show Crystal is probably the brightest wrestling mind in DWL but has aspirations to wrestle. She didn’t grow up with visions of valet dresses in her head; Crystal is a wrestler, period. She commiserates with the rest of DWL’s motley crew, who also feel like prisoners to perception. It’s common knowledge Rooster Robbins (Allen Maldonado) is the best wrestler in DWL.
The crowd loves him, and he’s one of the few guys on the roster with an actual personality. And yet, he’s nowhere close to even sniffing the championship. The episode briefly acknowledges the elephant in the room when Rooster and Apocalypse, played by James Harrison, talk about pro wrestling’s checkered past with race. If there’s one miss for “Dusty Finish,” it’s not making their conversation longer and more in-depth. As the only two Black men in the company and two of the few Black characters on the show, there’s a lot for them to talk about. Hopefully, the show picks up this thread again.
Those are detours to the main journey, which is the brothers Spade making amends. Or at least figuring out how or if they can continue working together. Ace is a laughing stock around Duffy, while Jack has no problem being the villain. Ace, fearing his tears washed away his chance at the big time, is aimless for most of the episode’s running time. His sadness culminates in a third-act fistfight at Rooster’s 9-5.
Ace’s thin skin—and alcoholic intake—pushes him over the edge, and a brawl ensues with bar patrons who don’t know any better. Jack and Crystal arrive just in time, resulting in more of the show’s dope fight choreography and stunt work. I’m spoiling the fight because that’s not the point of the episode. As always, with any wrestling story, it’s about the finish.
After the fight, we’re left with two brothers who aren’t sure if their relationship is salvageable. Despite fighting and bleeding together, some wounds are too deep. Heels does a great job at making larger-than-life wrestlers uniquely human.