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TV Recap | GLOW | Season 1, Episode 10 | "Money's in the Chase"


The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling arrive for their first television event in GLOW
 

Episode Summary: On the day of the big taping, Sam attends to unfinished personal business, while Ruth scrambles to make last-minute changes to the line-up.


I have to open with an admission: I didn't check how many episodes there were in this first season for GLOW, simply assuming it would be the usual thirteen for a Netflix Original series. Instead, this turned out to be the season finale and that isn't really a good thing as it only served to highlight the show's story-telling flaws.


The episode opens with the ladies getting everything packed into Melrose’s limo for the event when Sam shows up having been drinking for three days following Justine's revelation in the previous episode.


He tells Ruth that Justine is his daughter and she takes him to her room at the motel to talk to her, but Arthie tells them that she probably spent the night at Billy’s (the pizza guy from earlier in the season) and Ruth tells him to go find her. Considering how long the central story-lines are taking to move along, it would've been a pleasant surprise to see this plot moving along a little quicker if it hadn't been the finale.


Before they leave the motel for their first event, Debbie packs her own car, moving out of the motel and back in with Mark, leaving the show. This seemed like a major plot point being glossed over a little too easily and quickly, and so it eventually proves in the finale. Regardless, the rest of the ladies head to the Hayworth to see the ring and cameras set up and seating around the ring.


They're all nervous now that everything they've been working towards is proving real, but Ruth tries to get them all warmed up to the situation. It's nice to see her take a leadership role even if it isn't exactly a surprise considering how much Sam seems to trust her. That, and all of the others are simply too frozen with fear to take over themselves.


The ladies start getting ready and Ruth asks Bash to do the announcing role with Sam off visiting Justine, which he is delighted to do as he’s brought a tuxedo especially for the night. While this is going on, Tammé, Sheila and Melrose see that the crowd is only small, so head to the nearest cinema and pay people queuing to see Back to the Future (a nice little call-back to the previous episode) to come and watch them instead.


It's then back to the Hayworth where Bash is excitedly getting ready, rushing past Glen, the TV network executive, who comes into the dressing room to speak with Cherry and tell her she got the TV show part, but that she can’t do the show and GLOW. I thought this would happen, but it feels a little weightless dramatically here, especially as it's completely irrelevant to this season.

Justine (Britt Baron) watches Sam (Marc Maron) leave in GLOW

In the ring, Bash tries to start the show but the crowd don’t care, even as Rhonda and Arthie make their way to the ring for the opening match. As they perform, a number of the crowd turn out to be more than a little nationalistic and prove extremely unappreciative of Arthie's terrorist character, Beirut.


They start hurling abuse and even beer cans – one of which cuts Rhonda’s head and prompts a fast finish to the match. While certainly believable (today, as well as in GLOW's Eighties setting), the change in tone is a little jarring and stands out a bit as there are no other moments like it in the rest of the episode.


To prove it, the next match involves Vicky the Viking taking on Cherry, with the latter taking advantage of her husband refereeing to tell him that she got the TV show. Going from light-hearted to serious and then back again just doesn't work and it feels like they could've either really played up Cherry's conflict between the TV show and GLOW, or made the over-eager crowd in the previous match a little tamer.


The show then starts to really jump about as the event proceeds at full steam, with Ruth still trying to organise things backstage, with Carmen's nerves at performing in front of a crowd coming out once more. Sam finally shows up as Melrose and Sheila come out for their match, and he's happy to let things continue without his involvement and watch from the crowd until he spots Debbie watching with Mark.


They talk when she heads out of the ballroom where the ring has been set up to get a drink, but end up trading insults with her informing him that Ruth has a plan for the main event - a seemingly throwaway comment that I imagine a lot of people will gloss over, but is another hint that there's something more going on because when would she and Ruth have discussed any plans?


Satisfied that she's told off Sam, Debbie heads back to her seat next to her husband, but he only proceeds to run down the show to Debbie’s irritation, saying that he had the same criticisms of the soap opera she previously starred on. In the ring, Carmen's Machu Picchu is up against Tammé's Welfare Queen and she freezes up again until her father starts a chant for her – she spots him and grows confident enough for the match to go ahead.


It's nice to see that little sub-plot pay off, one of few from this series that do, especially as Carmen is such a likeable character, and it's great to see her win the match too, clearly making her ecstatic at overcoming her concerns.


Sam is getting increasingly following his chat with Debbie, getting annoyed at the cameramen, when Justine shows up following a chat the pair had at Billy's place earlier in the episode. She arrives just in time for the final match to start, with Ruth and Jenny (Zoya the Destroyer and Fortune Cookie) against the Beatdown Biddies. The match goes on but the crowd aren’t enjoying it, with Ruth and Jenny running out winners, before Zoya turns on her partner and beats Fortune Cookie to be crowned the first GLOW champion.


I thought it was a little underwhelming and not that great a plan for Ruth to have, but then she starts to run down the booing crowd until Debbie shouts out that she’ll fight Zoya and heads to the ring in her wrestling gear that she'd been wearing under her clothes.

Carmen (Britney Young), aka Machu Picchu, celebrates her victory in GLOW

Ruth and Debbie wrestle a great match that the crowd love until Debbie lands the top rope cross-body and wins the title, completing the routine they failed to do in their practice event after Mark showed up. Debbie is given the crown, but Tammé comes in and takes it, telling Debbie that Sam changed it and Welfare Queen becomes the champion after pinning Debbie, much to the latter's anger.


Ruth and Debbie go to speak to Sam saying that he had a sneaky little plan to match theirs and walks off to check out the roster battling in the ring. Ruth and Debbie talk outside the ring and agree their match was great, with Ruth asking Debbie if she wants to get a drink but Debbie says that they aren’t there yet.


A nice way to end the season from a character perspective for the central pair, but entirely lacking in catharsis. So much time has been spent building up the group that it feels strange to go in the opposite direction for the finale and hope it works. It only reinforces my belief that the season should have focused solely on Debbie and Ruth and been several episodes shorter.


GLOW then takes a cue from the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a scene during the credits, where Sam finishes editing the show and hands it to a frantic Bash who sprints to get it to the control room. Post-credits, the girls are chatting excitedly but quiet down when the show starts on TV with Bash introducing the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. A relatively subdued way to finish a debut season.


"Money's in the Chase" is a fitting finale to GLOW's first season, displaying the show's schizophrenic approach to story-telling one last time by completely ignoring how much time was spent building up the supporting cast for what should be their moment to shine, and instead focusing on the primary characters like it should've done all along. There's nothing especially bad about the episode, but neither is there anything particularly good either.

[5/10]

 
Debbie (Betty Gilpin) and Ruth (Alison Brie) look on in GLOW

GLOW Season One overall impression: That last line in the review above really does sum up a lot about this particular show. It's certainly got flaws, but nothing particularly egregious, but it's high moments aren't anything to shout about either. The main issue with the show is that it never seemed to really make up its mind about what it should be about.


A lot of Netflix Original series get criticised for stretching things out for longer than necessary and that's definitely the case here. Why were there episodes giving greater focus on Jenny and Sheila when their characters didn't really go anywhere or do anything? To set up plot threads for season two? I really hope not, because what we got here was so little depth added, that if they do become more important characters in the next season, I'm still not going to care about them.


It was clear from the start that the Ruth and Debbie relationship was the most important, emotional and dramatic dynamic in the show, so I cannot understand the reasoning behind side-lining it for huge chunks of time. GLOW is already shorter than other Netflix Originals, why not ask for even fewer episodes, trim non-essential plots and focus on the best bits?


Another thing is the tone being all over the place, going from almost-farce one moment to serious drama the next, and then back to more light-hearted fare straight after. It just doesn't flow or allow the audience to get comfortable with the show, with some scenes just sticking out like they were just edited into that spot because there was nowhere else to put it.


In addition to that, there's the matter of the first episode, "Pilot". It really does live up to its name, feeling far more like a serious show with some comedic moments that was made as a proof of concept and produced entirely separately from the other nine episodes.

Ruth (Alison Brie) celebrates as Zoya the Destroyer in GLOW

Even looking back at it having seen the first season as a whole, the language, casual nudity and sex really don't fit in with how the rest of the show unfolds and instead makes you wonder what we could've got and if it was Netflix who asked for those things to be toned down. Either way, I'd advise watching until at least the second episode before deciding whether to continue or not because of how different the rest of the show is.


Now that does sound like a lot of criticism, but they are structural and tonal in issue. The performances are as good as you could want from this particular setting. Alison Brie is as reliably excellent as you'd expect; Betty Gilpin also stands out despite being given some wonky material to work with in the first half of the season; and Marc Maron is great and also very funny as Sam.


I think most people will enjoy spending time with the ladies (and handful of men) of GLOW, but might also find that they are left underwhelmed once the final episode finishes. Despite some great performances, the show never really figures out what it wants to be and ends up just existing. Again, it's negatives aren't enough to ruin things, but neither does it ever excel.

[6/10]

 
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