TV Review | GLOW | Season 1, Episode 8 | "Maybe It's All the Disco"
Episode Summary: Jenny whips up a party for Sheila’s birthday while Sam helps Ruth deal with a new complication in her personal life. Mark changes his tune with Debbie.
GLOW's quality continues to fluctuate from episode to episode, but at least this episode still gets the job done with some decent character work, managing to give Ruth and some of the supporting cast more depth.
The episode starts out with Rhonda and Sam arriving at the training facility discussing James Bond, but Sam says for her to wait and come in after him because it would look bad if they arrived together. Inside, Ruth and Debbie talk about what happened at the end of the previous episode, before Sam comes in and says the event was a success.
He discusses their roles when Rhonda comes in and he criticises her for being late. It's a funny moment, but also serves to highlight that Sam still isn't great dealing with women and will contrast his actions at the end of the episode.
That ending and Ruth's main story for this episode is then set up immediately after, with the ladies in the locker room, a number asking for tampons from Melrose, who says they’re a team now that they’re on the same cycle - something which causes Ruth to look concerned.
It's then time to focus on a minor character as Jenny - who has barely figured in the season so far, finds out it’s Sheila’s birthday and decides to throw a party for her, much to the She-Wolf's annoyance.
Sam tries calling Bash, but is unable to get hold of him, when Ruth comes in to see him and says that what happened in her match against Debbie was a fluke. Sam doesn't really care, talking with her about Rhonda and saying that actresses he usually sleeps with keep quiet about it, but Ruth says that everyone knew about the two of them anyway.
Just another moment with Sam and Ruth confiding in each other - I'm wondering if this relationship is heading towards the obvious conclusion, or if we're going to see a 'shocking swerve' at some point (to use wrestling parlance).
Debbie goes to see her husband with signed divorce papers, but he tears them up and says it was just a dramatic gesture to try and get some power back. He then says that he’s going to therapy in the hope that they can work on their marriage and asks her to stay for dinner.
Following on with her civil, almost friendly chat with Ruth at the start of the episode, Debbie is definitely starting to feel a lot more likeable, and her husband does come across as a bit of a dick. Considering what he did by cheating on her with Ruth, this goes a long way to making the audience sympathise more with Debbie.
Sam takes Ruth to a possible venue that used to be a porno theatre, but is where he wants their first proper show to be held. He walks Ruth through how he wants things set up and, after initially teasing him, she says it looks perfect. They head back to the motel and Sam sees Rhonda, saying it’s time to end things with her, driving off and leaving Ruth to take care of more personal business.
At the motel, Jenny and two other girls are decorating the exterior of Ruth and Sheila's room for the latter's birthday as Ruth returns from the pharmacy with a pregnancy test kit - her strange expression at the other girls all having their periods at the same time now explained - heading straight to the bathroom to try it out and killing time in the bathroom until it’s ready.
Before she can discover the result, Sheila returns and tells Ruth that she’s been hiding in the woods and will sleep there that night to avoid Jenny’s party - all she needs is a toothbrush. This prompts Ruth to dash into the bathroom and hide the pregnancy test, but not before she sees the result saying that she’s pregnant.
Shocked, she allows the other ladies to take Sheila away, leaving her behind on her own. That the test turned out to be positive was a surprise and left me wondering exactly how the show would deal with it, especially with Ruth wrestling, but it's a question that is answered very quickly.
Before that that, we Rhonda gets dressed having slept with Sam again, but the scene plays out a little differently than the episode had suggested it might, with her being the one to break up with him, saying that he’s paranoid and afraid of being alone, before leaving for Sheila’s birthday party.
Which turns out to be a roller party and Ruth helps Sheila onto the floor where they start slowly skating around together. The girls have fun and Sheila starts to enjoy it, howling and the girls howling in response. It's a really nice scene and reinforces the bond between the women that was so excellently established at the end of "Live Studio Audience".
Eventually, Ruth pulls to the side and watches the others as her new situation is getting her down, leaving and saying she isn’t feeling well to just-arrived Rhonda. Aside from this, Carmen and Cherry talk too, with the former implying there’s problems with money and the show might not happen.
Carmen had given Sam a look at the start of the episode when he was talking to them about the venue he wanted, all but confirming that Sam doesn't know about Bash's money issues revealed last episode.
As a happy finale to this scene, the ladies light the candles on Sheila’s cake but she’s having too much fun skating, but Jenny, a little upset that the night didn't go exactly as she planned, gets a little enjoyment out of blowing out the candles herself.
While a nice feel-good moment, this little subplot involving Jenny is just one more moment that makes me think the season could have been a couple of episodes shorter and simply given greater focus to the lead characters and central arc of GLOW being formed.
The episode then starts a downturn in tone as Debbie and Mark have the meal arranged earlier on, with the couple talking about his cheating and he says that she wasn’t interested in him even before their baby was born.
They end up hugging, although it's more because Mark's therapist has advised it rather than because Debbie wants to - her only engaging in 'couple activity' because of his needs doesn't seem the healthiest thing to do and it wouldn't be a surprise if Debbie calls things off permanently for this very reason in the future.
The episode ends with a unique method of dealing with what is normally a serious issue that would be the focus of a longer arc in most shows. At the motel, Ruth frets about her situation and calls Sam. The next day, he shows up and they drive off, with him claiming that he broke up with Rhonda (will that needless lie come back to haunt him?), before taking her to see a doctor.
At the clinic, he pretends to be her husband at reception and keeps her company as she waits and he keeps things light by joking with her about what she's doing and the episode ends with Ruth undergoing the procedure for an abortion.
"Maybe It's All the Disco" is tonally-varied episode, but - to the show's credit - it never feels jarring. The added depth given to Ruth, Debbie and Sam is fine, but the focus on Jenny feels a little odd. I can understand why you'd want to flesh out the group a little as it makes moments like the singing in the ring last episode and the roller party here work better, but giving one of the group more attention than the others does make GLOW sometimes feel like it's being padded out to fill the number of episodes needed rather than because the story actually requires it.