Welcome to Jack Spade’s Apology Tour, everybody. The reviews are in: Very heartfelt, not enough crying. Admittedly, there would never be enough tears for me, though (I want my grown men sobbing), so all in all, Jack does good this week. He’s really turning things around! Perhaps it was the dissonance of seeing the DWL succeed in ways he had been dreaming of for years while realizing he had lost his wife, son, and brother in the process — that’ll really get a man thinking about his own assholery. Credit where credit’s due: Once Jack realizes he needs to make some changes to his behavior, he goes out, and he makes those changes.
Jack is an adult human and therefore at least somewhat responsible for his actions and general demeanor toward others, but Heels does seem to be making the case that the house in which Jack and Ace grew up in would make it difficult for anyone to come out even halfway decent. We’ve already seen flashbacks showcasing the emotional abuse Jack, especially, endured from his father, but “Discord” kicks off with a flashback that shows some physical abuse at the hands of Jack’s mother. Abuse she justifies with Bible verses, no less. Carol is such an interesting character — in a single scene, you can feel both pity for and disgusted by her — and while her adult sons seem to mostly discount her at this point, I hope the show digs a little deeper into her whole deal. For now, Jack storms into her house, takes her phone to use the Find My Phone app and locate Ace, and tells her that when it comes to how he treats his child and his brother, he doesn’t know much, but he does know that he doesn’t want to be anything like her.
Jack finds Ace at just the right time. The morning after his fall, Ace is rescued by two hikers. They get him bandaged up and take him to a nearby motel … and Ace promptly propositions them about having a threesome. “If you interpret being nice as an invitation to fuck, you don’t know what nice looks like,” one of them says on her way out the door. You know what? She’s dead on — Ace doesn’t really know what nice looks like. Did you read the thing about his mother? Anyway, that interaction, heaped on top of seeing the DWL already moving forward without him, heaped on top of all the shit his brother has put him through, finally all comes to a head, and Ace, in a real moment of self-loathing, destroys the motel room. And that is the state that Jack finds him in. It’s a great testament to how much Jack loves his brother and a great advertisement for the Find My Phone app.
There are such great dynamics to this entire scene between the two Spade brothers (this episode was written by Victor Levin). Ace is just as angry as you’d expect, seeing Jack for the first time since learning how he utterly and purposefully humiliated him, but he’s also just as ridiculous as he always is. “Fuck you with a massive icicle dick,” he tells Jack, concerned about the state of Ace’s body and the state of the room. He’s pissed about the Find My Phone app — Jack reminds him that he is still on the family plan, after all — and promises to beat the shit out of Steve Jobs if he ever meets him in hell. How Jack keeps a straight face through all of this is a mystery, but he does, and it’s not long until he begs his brother to allow him some room to apologize. He goes all in — on how he simply couldn’t handle Ace not only getting the accolades from the higher-ups, but the thought of Ace leaving just as they were creating something great, on how he let his envy and desperation get the best of him. He opens up about being more affected by their dad’s suicide than he wanted to admit. “You and me are trying to survive after finding out Spade men aren’t supposed to survive. We’re supposed to come home and blow our heads off on the back porch and let our sons clean us up,” he says to Ace. It’s a bleak outlook, and it’s the thing that really shakes Ace out of his indignant act. After all, he was the one who screamed at his brother that Jack was destined to die in Duffy just like their dad.
Like Jack, Ace has a surprising amount of self-awareness (a near-death experience on a cliff and a threesome rejection will also expose one’s assholery, it seems). He also has a hefty amount of self-loathing to contend with. “I’m not a good guy,” he freely admits. The type of person who would say that to their own brother is not a good guy, according to him, a self-proclaimed “shit-heap.” While Ace hasn’t always been the most stand-up of men, you can see it pains Jack to watch his brother talk about himself this way. He tries to remind Ace that deep down, he is good. He’s a great uncle and a great teammate. But Ace is reckoning with the fact his sports career — the place where he found his self-worth — is over and he has no idea how to function without it (it’s one of the reasons wrestling must have been so tempting). Jack knows too, that if he’s as fucked up from their dad’s death as he has come to realize, there’s no way Ace isn’t messed up from it, too. When Ace tells Jack that he’s just not ready to go back to Duffy — he’s going out West, as one does — Jack shows us that he’s really changing and doesn’t fight him on it. He lets Ace know that he loves him, he gives him a giant wad of cash to help him out, and he says good-bye. Jack is letting Ace figure out what he really needs.
It’s a tactic that winds up working with Staci, too. After their blowout in the school parking lot, Jack told his wife that he wouldn’t ask her to come home anymore because he hadn’t earned it yet. He makes good on that promise. He gives her space. It’s that space and some outbursts from Tommy (and some light prayer work) that eventually lead Staci to realize that being away from Jack isn’t helping anyone. Jack comes home to find Staci and Tommy asleep in Tommy’s bed. When Jack wakes her, he immediately apologizes for everything. He’s sorry he put the DWL first and that he has been this warped version of himself since his dad died. She’s sorry for keeping Tommy away from him. They love each other. They’re going to figure it out. Apologies are really working wonders for this dude.
In fact, the next morning, there’s a knock at the door. Ace, after having a truly horrific dream about Crystal and his dad’s blown-up face, has returned to Duffy after all. Maybe he believes Jack meant everything he told him, and he can recognize that Jack, despite the tissues of it all, does actually have his back — or, at least, will from now on. Maybe Ace is finally starting to realize what nice looks like. Carol won’t let Ace back in the house — again, more deets on Carol, please, I am begging — but he’s welcome at Jack’s.
Things are certainly on the mend, although I can’t imagine things will be smooth sailing between the brothers forever (how boring!). However, the Spade Brother Healing Fest, as temporary as it could be, couldn’t come at a better moment because now Jack and Ace have a common enemy knocking at the DWL door.
In the middle of Jack making amends with those he loves most, he gets a not-so-friendly visit from Charlie Gully and Rooster. Charlie has an ultimatum for Jack: He can either agree to do a cross-promotion event with the DWL and Dystopia or Charlie’s going to sue Jack for assault and battery and take him for everything he’s worth. The real rub of the whole thing is that just moments before, Jack had made a cryptic comment to Willie that intimated he might be thinking about getting out of wrestling for good. All of this personal drama has shown him that there are more important things in life than wrestling (blasphemy, I know). Whether or not Jack would actually go through with that doesn’t matter now — he’s headed for a showdown with Charlie Gully, and it’s not going to be pretty.
• Jack leaves Willie in charge of writing that week’s scripts while he tracks down Ace, and Willie takes an immediate liking to it. Have we ever seen her so enthusiastic before? I love this for her.
• Willie and Crystal come up with some great ideas to keep Crystal-mania alive and well, but after some major news reports come out about a wave of professional athletes committing domestic violence, it’s clear that they should ease off of having Crystal getting beaten up by men week after week. It’s also clear that the DWL desperately needs a women’s division.
• We get a peek into Rooster’s life out of the ring: He uses his new Dystopia money to buy a hospital bed for his dad, who, by the way, is very concerned about his son’s new place of employment. More of this, please!
• Crystal and Bobby are so cute; I love them, and I will not apologize. Bobby’s so nervous about asking Crystal if their kiss after the State Fair meant anything more than just a kiss, and she responds with a resounding yes. If Ace comes back and messes this up, I will rage.
• Forty-six people listened to Diego’s new wrestling podcast! He’s very hype about it!!
• “What in the hell is happening? How many people you got hiding around here?”