Episode 5 was heavy. Ruth was recoiling not only from network honcho Tom Grant’s #MeToo-worthy overtures, but former best friend Debbie’s stinging indictment of her decision not to put out. Episode 6 doesn’t exactly lighten the mood (more on that in a moment), but it does offer a wishful catharsis to counter Ruth’s all-too-relatable brush with harassment and brushing off from her female confidante. Sam, of all people, slips out of his confessedly defensive, sexist pose and offers Ruth nothing but support (“fuck that guy,” were his exact words, smashing Tom’s windshield the next day for emphasis). And that’s only fair, given she’s only one close to him who shows up for a screening of his Gina the Machina at a local “I’m With the Banned” cult film fest. (The irony that Sam, auteur of arguably sexually exploitative B-movies, is in fact more personally enlightened than the TV exec who pats himself on the back for airing a show that empowers badass women, is hard to miss.)
Whether Sam likes Ruth as more than a friend and colleague is still a bit murky, as are the odds of Debbie and Ruth ever making nice. Though the latter looks seriously in doubt now that Debbie has gone on a coke-and-vodka bender before their main-event match and legitimately torn something in her leg to shreds. If only Debbie would have listened to Ruth and Carmen and accepted that a prolonged chase to get her daughter back was more compelling than continuing her win streak. Thing is, Debbie needs a win. But she, like Sam, carries herself defensively to where she’s unknowable and unsympathetic. If only Ruth knew that she’d just discovered Mark was dating his secretary Susan (Susan and Debbie crossing paths at the car wash as Debbie primped herself for Mark was a bit contrived, but que será ), proving you can sell your marital bed from its original home, but you can’t separate your divorce from a newly housed repurchase of said marital bed (long story).
The good news is Debbie hits rock bottom roughly an hour after starting to unravel, so the rest of season two is unlikely to double as a PSA cautioning about single moms spiraling into drug abuse. Unfortunately, the ramifications for Ruth and G.L.O.W. are huge, as they were just beginning to battle back against their new 2 a.m. graveyard slot in earnest. And those scenes of Carmen and Cherry readying their troops are well-earned catnip for us wrestling fans, as the cast’s continued training under WWE/WCW legend Chavo Guerrero Jr. pays dividends. The montage of Tammé (who, as has been noted, needed little guidance), Melanie, Arthie, Stacey, Sheila et al selling one flapjack, frog splash and back breaker after another was a season highlight, but also underscores the care GLOW takes in demonstrating how delicate and creative the art of pro wrestling is. And it’s made it all the more devastating when Debbie gets caught up in her emotions and risks her opponent’s safety, a cardinal no-no in the business no matter your offscreen relationship.
Another taboo subject that was broached and will likely create some backlash for Carmen is the decision to heed Cherry’s encouragement and steal her brothers’ moves for use in G.L.O.W. Not that the Lumberjack Chop is particularly precious. And nowadays, wrestlers regularly pay explicit homage to their influences and predecessors by simulating their signature flourishes. Outright co-opting, however, was and remains an unwritten show of disregard — especially when one of those moves is misused to cause injury (ahem, Debbie).
This is a big episode for Britney Young, who plays Carmen and gets to tongue-lash the roster when they’re busier bickering than practicing, a contrast to her cowing in front of Bash when he flips his lids about a perceived lack of intensity. (One can certainly take issue with Carmen’s assertion that the male counterparts who’ve taken their 10 a.m. timeslot succeed because “cause they shut up, do their jobs and don’t talk about their feelings,” but it was motivation enough.) That commitment is consistent with season two’s amiable efforts to substantiate the entire ensemble, except for poor Reggie of course, who has yet to rematerialize. It does come at the expense of moving storylines along (where, oh where, is our beloved Florian?)
Maybe now that Ruth is on the sidelines, she can help Sam brainstorm where champion Liberty Belle’s narrative goes from here. Now that Sam is suddenly reinvigorated by teen-geek adulation at his screening and apparently a champion of womankind, he’s already installed Justine as a co-director of sorts. (Debbie’s status as an included producer is probably in serious jeopardy, this time of her own making.) So why not cede some behind the scenes machinations to Ruth so he can tap back into that gonzo 20-something who made bloody good horror out of ground chuck and grinders? So long as he and Ruth don’t actually wind up hooking up. A lot more of a bond needs to form between them before I’ll buy into that. Although Debbie probably wouldn’t mind if they did it on Mark and Susan’s bed.
Apart From All That:
• Glenn got off easy, if you ask me.
• If only Sam knew Bash was just in pain over Florian’s estrangement.
• Sweet Dead Milkmen shirt, Justine.
• Gina the Machina might be a hat-tip to Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45.
• Still wouldn’t have minded a direct confrontation between Sam and Tom.
• The silent credits were a touch melodramatic.
• Episode writer Marquita J. Robinson can do no wrong in my eyes, owing to her work on the most underappreciated cable comedy of the decade, Survivor’s Remorse.