Beware the ornery man with nothing but time on his hands and a need for constant public adoration. Wild Bill’s been fired from “the big show up north” and Willie’s life, and his offer to help Jack build the DWL “from Daddy’s little weed to a big weed” is brutally rebuffed. So Bill is left on his own to get his career back on track, stroke his ego, and mess with those he feels have wronged him. And he’s decided it’s all going to come courtesy of Jack and his little weed.
Fortunately for Bill, the timing couldn’t be any better. Jack and the DWL have an opportunity to perform at the South Georgia State Fair, an event that would put Jack, Ace, Crystal, Bobby, Rooster, Diego, and the rest of their crew in front of 10,000 people to be cheered and booed. It would be the biggest audience the DWL has ever seen, and Bill wants in on that action.
To seal the deal with the fair folks, Jack has planned a special night at The Dome, one that will wow the wrestling neophytes on the fair planning committee. Top billing will be a cage match between Ace and Bobby, and the winner will be the first to climb out of the fence-encircled ring.
But real life is going to intrude on Jack’s script. Ace’s heel tendencies rear their ugly head after witnessing one too many friendly moments between Crystal and Bobby. He announces to Jack and Willie that the Church’s Chicken-lovin’ Tricia, the bartender from Cooper’s with whom he started a dalliance with last week, is his new valet. Crystal doesn’t get the news straight from the horse’s mouth. She hears it from Jack, who quickly crafts a storyline in which Ace breaks up with Crystal right before the cage match, saying he caught her smooching up on Bobby. He’ll introduce Tricia as Crystal’s replacement, and Crystal will now valet for Bobby because the two of them are in love.
And although it’s an excuse that lets Ace off the hook, it might be true? Bobby is definitely into Crystal, and she has noted that Bobby’s nice guy routine beats the hell out of Ace’s moodiness and tantrums. But the truth hurts, though, and Crystal isn’t happy with this development in her professional life. Especially since she just gambled her paycheck from the convenience store to win enough scratch to buy the new outfit Willie ordered her to wear for the evening.
The messiness provides just the opening Bill needs to pounce, and pounce he does, strutting into the autograph sessions at The Dome, marinating in the starstruck reactions of the fans before sidling up to Crystal when snotty Ace takes a potty break. Bill tells her valets are underrated … she is underrated, and she should demand the respect she deserves for the contributions she makes to Ace’s act. Crystal’s starting to think maybe this just isn’t the place for her.
“Fortune must be enticed to reveal itself,” Bill says and tells Crystal to push her hair back away when she enters the ring because it’s her face the fans want to see.
That’s the beginning of the end for the kayfabe and the cage match tonight. Those fair folks are giddy about what they’ve seen so far, but when Crystal enters the ring and grabs the mic from Ace, all gimmicks drop away. It’s time for real drama. She tells Ace, and the crowd, that she’s dumping him because he can’t satisfy her. She needs a man, “not a crybaby boy,” and she’s been cheating on him with Bobby.
“Don’t worry,” she tells a seething Ace. “You’re so lucky, ’cause sometimes you find someone more pathetic than you.” Tricia comes out to boos, and the crowd is lovin’ Crystal more than ever.
“One more thing,” she tells Ace. “We’re over. I’m with Bobby now.”
But it’s Bobby who reaps the worst of what Wild Bill sowed. Ace’s latest humiliation inside the ring leads to him putting a real hurtin’ on Bobby. He improvises a superplex, a move Bobby has never performed before. It puts Bobby down on the mat, and Ace puts him in a leg lock.
“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Jack leans over the ropes to ask Crystal. “You do not get to change things!”
Back to the action, Ace squeezes harder and harder, getting angrier and angrier the more Bobby tells him it really hurts. But Ace ignores Bobby’s pleas and referee Jack’s commands to stop, and he finally snaps … Bobby’s leg. It’s a sickening sight and sound when Ace literally tears Bobby’s leg like he’s pulling off a snack from the Thanksgiving turkey.
Jack stops the match, and chaos ensues. The fair folks are excited, but they were assured earlier that it was all fake. Ace picks up the mic and points at Bobby. “That’s what happens when you mess with Ace Spade!” he yells. The rest of the audience doesn’t know what to think as Bobby is taken out of the ring on a stretcher.
Backstage, Bobby is in agony but apologizes to Jack (Bobby may be too good for this whole lot). Jack tries to calm him down while the ambulance is on the way.
In the confusion, the ring is left unattended, which presents yet another occasion for Bill, who rises to it with mic in hand. “I look around at the fear in your faces, and I want y’all to know, I too am horrified by what I see here tonight. Injury, so horrifying, yet so avoidable,” he says. “But apparently, that’s what the DWL has become in King Spade’s absence.”
Bill goes on to tell the locals he has come home to Duffy to slow things down and enjoy the “Three Fs: food, fishin’, and fornicatin’.” The crowd loves it. Bill says that was his plan until he saw what the Spade boys were doing, making a mockery of Tom’s legacy. Someone has to “Right this ship … and if someone’s gotta do it, it might as well be Wild Bill Hancock!”
The fans are on their feet and cheering for Bill, who challenges Jack and Ace to a ladder match for the DWL championship belt. By this time, Jack has returned with the belt and a mic of his own. He dismisses Bill as a drunken has-been who doesn’t belong in the ring before bafflingly accepting his challenge nonetheless.
The DWL team end the night gathered in the waiting room at Sanctity Faith Medical Center while Bobby’s in surgery. Thomas is with them, and he’s shaken up by what he witnessed. He knows when Jack flashed an X with his arms, it was a signal that Bobby’s injury was real. To make a dramatic situation all the more traumatizing for a child, Jack and Ace start to fight in the hospital over the stunt Ace pulled. Jack throws Ace up against a Pepsi machine as Ace swears it was all an accident. Jack calls Ace a “piece of shit,” and Thomas sees it all: his father calling the uncle he worships a bad guy.
But Bill got exactly what he wanted, and he’s not the only one. After his tussle with Ace, Jack gets a call from the South Georgia State Fair committee. They liked what they saw and want to feature the DWL at the fair in one month.
Notes From the Squared Circle
• Unless Starz created an elaborate ruse of a website, the South Georgia State Fair is real.
• I had to restrain myself from making this recap a collection of the best Wild Bill quotes. Kudos to episode writer Rachel Sydney Alter for a script loaded with lines like this, which Bill uses to explain to Jack why he was cruel to Willie: “Sometimes when you drink and blurt, you hurt.”
• And another one: to Staci, who stumbles upon Bill shopping during her first day as a new employee of the Piggly Wiggly: “Keeps me grounded to purchase my sustenance among the poor, hard-working folks.”
• And another one: Bill to Debbie, who asked him what he said that encouraged Crystal to confront Ace in the ring: “Thankfully, Debbie, we live in an age when all it takes to get a woman to act boldly is to tell her the time has come for change, and she’s the one who should change it.”
• And one last one: Bill, at a press conference, when asked about the rumor that he was fired: “Like many long-serving employees of American corporations, I have been abandoned. What do you call an entertainment empire built upon the broken bodies of men and women who, once the juice is squeezed out, are kicked to the curb with no safety net other than drugs, alcohol, and self-inflicted gunshots?”