All roads lead to Harmageddon. Heels has done a wonderful job of building momentum into its main event of the season — the big showdown between the DWL and FWD, or, more specifically, between Jack Spade and Charlie Gully. Every major storyline gets some movement in the finale, and even if there’s not much closure to the journey every character has been on this season, there’s enough forward momentum and interesting questions raised that I have all my fingers and toes crossed for a season three renewal. The bulk of “High Flying” takes place during Harmageddon, and yet all the trauma, conflict, and tension is given room to crash into each other in and out of the ring. It’s a gorgeous and heartbreaking finish to the season.
And yet, through it all, the story that shines brightest and wreaks the most havoc on my cold, dead heart is easily that of Jack and Ace Spade, their relationship with each other, and the diverging ways they’re dealing with their father’s death. Look how far our boys have come! They began the season not speaking to one another. Jack was an asshole to everyone! ACE FELL OFF A CLIFF. Did you ever once imagine that by season’s end they’d be able to have such a lovely, vulnerable, teary-eyed conversation? Sure, they apologized to one another back in that motel room, but this pre-match conversation feels like a much more genuine, healing version of that conversation. It is the perfect bookend to the development of their relationship (let’s give it up for Victoria Morrow, who wrote the episode). Jack has signed the contract with Gully stating that if Harmageddon goes down exactly the way it’s booked — they don’t give away all the details, but we know going in that Ace is supposed to lose and FWD take all the glory — Gully will no longer be able to hang that threat of suing Jack for all he’s worth. Ace has to lose in order for all the Gully problems to go away. After tonight, the Spades can move on from this hell.
As much as Jack understands what has to be done, he’s devastated that it comes at the expense of his brother. He tells Ace that he should be the one who wins tonight. They’ve only gotten this far because of Ace, and yes, of course, Jack still carries guilt from the shit he put him through turning him heel. It’s such an honest, heartfelt admission, and Heels has perfectly built Jack up to be able to give it in a believable way.
But Ace has been on a journey, too, this season. He’s (sometimes comically) zen now. He (always comically) makes vision boards. He has seen the bigger picture — watching a man take his last breath, as Ace does at the senior-living facility, will do that to a guy — and has realized that the point of life isn’t competition; it’s living in service of other people. He’s done with winning and ambition and instead wants to lead with kindness. It’s a complete 180 from where we met Ace in the pilot, and yet, the man did literally hit rock bottom, so I believe the transformation. He brings that peace he’s found to, oddly enough, a thing titled Harmageddon. He reminds Jack that it’s just wrestling, and even if he is losing, that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to be impressive (remember, Jen from Continuum will be watching closely). He is in service of the story, and he reminds Jack after this Gully mess is over, they can always write a new story. He tells his brother, who is really beating himself up over everything, that he is the one who really saved the DWL. As Chris Farley once astutely said, “Brothers gotta hug,” and guys, they do. They really do. Jack and Ace are both teary-eyed and telling one another to go fuck themselves before they head off to get ready for the big night. It is the purest form of brotherly love on the planet.
All they have to do is stick to the script and they can move past this. Gully says it to Jack. Ace says it to Jack. When Bill comes to see Jack and — sorry, I’m crying just thinking about this — thanks him for giving him a family, he says it to Jack too. The sheer amount of times Jack is reminded of this simple stipulation means that there is no way in hell he’s sticking to the script. As Rooster will note later, it’s just not in Jack’s nature.
So, how does Harmageddon go down? Crystal — who, you’ll remember, is now part of Dystopia in kayfabe — goes first, wrestling with Elle Dorado once again. Crystal is just as good as a heel as she is as a face, and she eats up the crowd’s boos. Jen from Continuum, sitting in the front row with Staci Spade, is an immediate fan. Crystal is a star, and everyone knows it, thankfully, even after Willie once again presses her to join Dystopia for real — this time Gully has attempted to win over Willie with gobs and gobs of cash — Crystal once again tells Willie she isn’t interested. She may be yelling “Dystopia for life!” in the ring, but in reality, she’s DWL until the very end. Or, like, until Willie figures out another way to convince her otherwise. Time will tell!
Next up, Wild Bill and the Luchador take on FWD’s The Hole and some other man in a real nightmare of a mask. The DWL’s tag team wins with ease, but mostly the match serves two purposes. First, it allows Diego time to relish in a big win. Not that he’s had much of a story line this season, but the gist of it has been that he feels underappreciated and ignored. Here, Bill steps aside to give him the spotlight. It’s a nice little bow on the whole thing. But don’t think all of the celebrating is distracting enough for us not to clock Bill in pain as he takes in the applause. Later, backstage, something even more alarming goes down: Bill seems to be grasping at his arm. Has he just injured himself or is he about to have a heart attack? I will riot if they kill this man!! He has just gotten the wrestling family he always dreamed of! Do not do this to us, er, to him!
And finally, we get to the main event. Ooh, baby, Jack Spade has written a real barn burner for this one, guys. It begins with the billed Last Man Standing match between Rooster and the Condamned. It quickly morphs into the entire FWD against Ace. Gully ties him up in the ropes and begins hitting him with a baseball bat. Sure, there are no rules in a Last Man Standing match, but this crosses a line. Even Rooster knows that. So, when Gully hands Rooster the bat and tells him to finish Ace, he hesitates. Suddenly, Crystal’s out in the ring too. She doesn’t want any part of this — they signed up to be wrestlers with the FWD, not this. Both she and Rooster defect back to the DWL. But wait! Then Jack Spade arrives. It looks like he’s there to scare away all the other Dystopia wrestlers, but he quickly reveals that he’s there for another reason: He’s been working with Gully all this time — they’re partners, and he’s there to kick Ace’s ass. I guess now I’m recapping Jack Spade’s story, but I do want to say — what an ingenious way to reignite the Jack/Ace rivalry within the ring, always one of the strongest elements the DWL had going for it. Maybe all of Jack’s preciousness about his craft has really paid off! I am very into it! More importantly, so is Jen from Continuum.
And so, the main event becomes a Last Man Standing match between Jack and Ace, a battle for the DWL’s existence. It’s very good. The two brothers give it everything they’ve got. Both get the upper hand at points, and Jack even jumps off the entryway onto Ace, who is lying underneath on a table. Everything is going exactly how Jack planned it. That is, until he sees just how much Jen is into it, and he cannot repress his desire to show her more of what he can do. He cannot help himself! Now, I’m no psychologist, but I’d bet so much of Jack’s drive to succeed comes from his desire to prove his dad wrong.
The episode starts off with a flashback to Jack attempting a shooting-star press and his dad basically telling him that he’ll never be able to do it, he isn’t built for aerials, and he shouldn’t try to be something he isn’t. He should just give up now. When Tom leaves, we watch as Jack gets back up on the top rope, only to climb back down. His dad has gotten to him. We’ve seen this dynamic between Jack and Tom before. Tom would shut Jack down before he even had a chance to try. Tom would be the first to inform Jack that he would never be able to do something. He wasn’t good enough or he wasn’t the right fit. This entire thing with Continuum has surely brought those feelings to Jack’s mind. If he can get the DWL to the next level, he’ll be proving his dad wrong. He so desperately wants to prove him wrong. It’s so far removed from the way Ace is dealing with his daddy issues.
As Ace reveals to his mother, since his dad’s death, he’s been carrying around this feeling of guilt and failure. When he found his dad on the ground after Tom shot himself, he couldn’t go near him. He couldn’t try to comfort him. He couldn’t even call 911. He just cried until Jack was there to figure it out. His mother assures him that Tom was already dead, but Ace has felt like a coward all along. But now, thanks to his new revelations of what’s important in life, he can dedicate his time to making up for it. He’s making it his mission to be there for other people, and in doing so, he’s able to let the ghost of his father go. Meanwhile, Jack is conjuring up that ghost any chance he gets. It’s why, when he’s so close to finishing this match as planned — with him defeating Ace and winning Harmageddon for the Dystopia, thus putting the Gully problem to bed — he has to go off script. He climbs up on the top rope to do the shooting-star press. And guess what? He pulls it off. It’s incredible. But there’s a problem. He pleads with Ace to stand up and take the win. At first, he tells him it’s because he deserves it, but Ace wants to stick to the plan. Finally, he tells his brother what’s going on — Jack’s hurt, and it is for real. You can see it all over his face. You can see the pain as he envisions Tom Spade out in the crowd booing his stupidity for trying something like that. As Gully screams for Jack to get up and end this, Jack tells Ace to sell it. Ace does what his brother tells him. Ace wins the match. Gully is livid, promising to end Jack. Everyone watching backstage is some version of confused or angry or both. How could Jack jeopardize the DWL like this? And then, as Staci notices Jack still hasn’t gotten up after the match has been called, she runs over to her husband and asks him what’s going on. Jack can’t feel his legs.
To everyone else, it’s the end of another exciting night in Duffy. To Jack, it might be the end of everything.
• The real kicker of Jack and Ace going through all of this in the name of expelling Charlie Gully from their lives is that unbeknownst to them, Continuum’s plan is to combine Dystopia and the DWL into one promotion for their platform. No one is going to be happy about that little twist!
• Jack being injured and also royally screwing things up with Gully aren’t the only problems facing the DWL should the series return. Staci finally gets her wish — she gets Willie to tell her everything about the shady tax dealings she and Tom have gotten the DWL into, and it’s a real nightmare situation. Basically, they’ve been lying about what their land is zoned for in order to get a tax break. Willie shows Staci the “Spade Family Farm” that has helped them cheat the system (along with that friend in the county tax office) and tells her it’s her problem now. Willie’s so fun, isn’t she?
• Crystal and Bobby say “I love you” to one another, and yes, they are adorable, but it mostly makes me wish we spent more time with them outside of the Dome. Do they talk about anything besides wrestling? Inquiring minds want to know! Also, hey, are we going to get anything more about Crystal’s mom? Let’s firm up some of these ensemble backstories next season (fingers still crossed), okay?
• Where was Big Jim?
• Eddie Earl really is so pure. His big line when Jack comes out and pledges loyalty to FWD? “He’s not getting a Christmas card from Annie and I this year!”