Heels (Season 2) Review
FAMILY once again face-off in the second season of Starz original series Heels. The show's coming-out season proved successful, showcasing the tragedies which can occur in and outside the ring in this melodramatic representation of the world of professional wrestling. And while season two doesn't quite live up to its predecessor, what has been delivered continues the long-lasting feud between family and friends fresh.
The success of the DWL's show at the South Georgia State Fair came with a heavy cost - the trust and love of Jack's (Stephen Amell) younger brother Ace (Alexander Ludwig). Bitter at his brother's betrayal during season one, Ace leaves the DWL and Duffy behind, leaving the promotion in a state of disarray without one of their biggest draws. After much-needed reflection, Jack sets out on a journey to find Ace and convince him to return home.
Season one's finale left the series on a monumental cliff-hanger regarding Jack and Ace's tumultuous relationship, leaving many to wonder how it would be resolved in this season. The conflict is must certainly a leading point for the season's first half, but despite featuring refreshing character development for Ace as he faces his demons by embarking on a spiritual awakening, Jack's concurrent story of rebuilding the DWL without Ace felt repetitive and stale only due to the face Ace's story was much more interesting. The manner of which it is resolved also felt rushed, with Jack convincing Ace to return to Duffy by the end of episode three. There was certainly some great moments to be found during these three episodes though, with highlights being flashbacks of Tom Spade's sudden death in the season premiere, as well as Ace's insecurities and bravado catching up to him in a butterfly effect manner in the episode following.
Wrestling appeared to get pushed to the side for much of the season, but its backhalf returns to the squared circle in a plot point that would continue until the season's end. Most, if not all, of our characters feel integral to this story's progression as a massive show leads many to question the ability of not only themselves, but their higher ups - particularly Willie (Mary McCormack). Her purpose feels much more fleshed out compared to the season previous as financial worries shroud the DWL, most of which are revealed during the season's best episode: Appearances. The episode features flashbacks to a young Tom (David James Elliott), Willie and Bill (Chris Bauer) as they are presented with and inevitably flub a near-identical opportunity to one Jack is being offered. Elliott and Bauer are standouts throughout this episode, starting off as dear friends before dissolving into a toxic relationship only resolved mere days before Tom's suicide. Bill's monologue where he acts out the meaning of the afterlife is a powerful one, filled with emotion and a dark omen to where his life would take him and a standout in one of the series' best episodes.
Heels' second season may not have started as strong, but its focus on the past eventually comes full circle to give viewers an engaging experience littered with intrigue and deception. The show's "faces" and "heels" feel more relatable, giving the show a better sense of realism amidst the spectacle of its impressive stunt choreography. The season, much like its preceding one, also ends on a cliff-hanger, one that will change the course of the entire series if handled properly - and if it's handled with enough care and commitment, it could go down as the show's greatest season to date.