Season 3, Episode 4
Date of release: August 9, 2019 (Netflix)
Okay, this is weird. Four episodes in and there has only been one wrestling move, continuing the season’s phase from getting away from the original premise of the show ad moving towards character drama. It’s a change I don’t like for reasons already established, but for some reason I liked the drama in this episode. Maybe it’s because Sheila was front and center as a character and I do love her uniqueness — her outfit is not a character she performs, her outfit is what she wears for life, and for the first time she seemed ready to shed it, just to have it taken care of and make something better out of her stagnated life. Maybe Sheila met a man with Bobby Barnes who was not only to her liking, but is also someone who understands what it means to dress up, put a wig and make-up on and hide your real face and how hurtful it can be when someone does not understand why they are dressing up like this. Maybe there is a friendship in this story, and maybe Sheila will learn something from this and develop as a person. Maybe this is the lead to her getting her own show in Vegas, since the season seems to be very interested in breaking up the wrestling show from within by having all the characters deal with their own emotional and physical turmoil, forcing them out of the ring and into a new career. Some become ill, others want to have a family, and then there are a few who have bigger aspirations. Maybe this episode is the start of Sheila’s dream to become something bigger than just the She-Wolf in the ring? It would definitely connect with her dreams of becoming an actor, which I didn’t think was the meaning of her getting acting classes in the previous episode.
The premise of some of the cast members thinking about leaving was continued in this episode with Carmen, whose brother Kurt spoke of taking her on tour as she is talented enough to be a real wrestler. The season definitely has a theme now, as life changes and choices left and right threaten the wrestling show. Everyone deals with their ow stuff these days ad develop other interests, which is essentially the depiction of the wrestling show getting a knife in its back very, very slowly. At this point who is even interested in continuing for Bash, and when is he going to notice that he is about to lose all the women and has to recast his entire show (here is a premise for the next season that could be exciting — GLOW repeating what GLEE and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS went through because of their characters leaving high school and therefore leaving the central premise of the entire show)? Debbie is about to go through some mental illness, Rhonda and Tammé may have physical problems, Carmen and Sheila dream of something else, Melrose may realize she gets more money by offering her body, Dawn and Stacey are somewhere else entirely and I’m never sure where they really are, Ruth could go into directing, and Sam could actually go off and make his movie. Meanwhile, Cherry could decide to give it all up for a family, Yolanda could go back to dancing (Arthie can follow her, she never liked her wrestling persona anyway), and I’m pretty sure Jenny doesn’t give a damn either way. So yeah, what is going to keep them with Bash in the long run? It turns out that this narrative in the season is actually quite intriguing and tense, and while I still miss the wrestling portion of the show, I am starting to accept and see where the writers were going with this season.
The episode did have a little fun, reminding us all that GLOW started its life as a comedy drama. Seeing Debbie and Cherry get high while talking about their miserable love lives (or in Debbie’s case, her many conquests of men she has allowed inside) gave me a smile, as well as the necessary distance to Debbie’s bulimia arc that started in the previous episode. I would almost hope the writers have forgotten all about it between episodes, but it does look like the narrative is jumping through time a little bit. In the previous episode the characters were talking about having to get through the live shows for two more months, and in this episode Ruth and Russell were teasing each other that it’s only one month until the end of the live shows, which means it must be March 1986 in the narrative now. It does make me wonder if the writers were jumping through all of this time, knowing that the wrestling show is indeed frozen, which means nothing really can be shown on screen due to repetition. Does it mean the next episode will deal with the end of the Vegas show already and suddenly there is a new premise? Will the live shows be extended (Bash did mention the show is sold out, so it might be popular after all), giving the characters even more gruesome and horrible days to live through until they can’t do it any longer?
By the way, Bobby Barnes was most likely introduced for reasons beyond Sheila. Bash witnessing his show and rejecting him is just another sign joining the many that have come before this episode, telling me that Bash is closeted and that he fears to come out. Bash repeatedly called Rhonda “my wife” to Bobby, which depicts alienation and nonacceptance of his married status, as well as Rhonda. And it very much seemed like Bash was affected by Bobby’s performance somehow, yet couldn’t get out of there faster, shaming himself for even considering Bobby as part of his show, let alone considering Bobby as a person he wants to be one day. No matter what, I liked Bobby Barnes in this episode, and here is to hoping that he will have a recurring role after this. After all, Britt Baron is in the credits for some reason and she hasn’t appeared for four episodes. She must have had a great agent, essentially getting credit for no work.