TV Recap | GLOW | Season 1, Episode 9 | "The Liberal Chokehold"
Episode Summary: With the show’s future in jeopardy, Bash and the ladies search for creative ways to drum up cash. A pair of revelations leaves Sam reeling.
A decent episode of GLOW this time, although nothing more than that as the story spins its wheels yet again, although continued strong stuff for Ruth, Debbie and Sam at least keep you entertained. Saying that, the summary above - taken directly from Netflix - isn't quite accurate as Sam actually gets three revelations which hit him hard.
The episode opens with the girls watching news coverage of the Flight 847 hijacking, leading to them wondering what constitutes Lebanese food. The point of this scene? I don't know. It feels like they needed something to put before the GLOW title card and couldn't come up with anything better. In other words: filler, much like this episode.
Sam then finally finds out that the money from Bash is gone after a meeting with the TV executives where Bash showed up late and looking more than a little worse for wear. This leads to Sam telling the girls and conceding that they should start looking for new jobs, but Ruth and Debbie are insistent that they can raise the money for the venue themselves, suggesting a bikini car wash.
I'm glad that the issue with the money is now out in the open, and couldn't understand why this wasn't dealt with last episode instead of focusing on Jenny for no immediately obvious reason.
Anyway, the car wash goes ahead with some of the girls getting grossed out at the state of some of the vehicles they're cleaning, and Debbie surprised when her husband, Mark, shows up. Having convinced her to have breakfast with him earlier in the episode, he's obviously trying to force himself back into her life, even agreeing to pay double for his car wash after Debbie insists.
While this is going on, Cherry heads into her room to clean herself off when she receives a phone call offering her an audition for a leading role in a TV show. I really like her character, so I hope this isn't setting Cherry up to leave the show but does lay the groundwork nicely for some potential dramatic friction later in the season.
While the girls have been trying to raise money, Bash went to see his mother to ask for money, but she refuses and demands that he shows up at her fundraiser that night to introduce her. Bash heads back to the motel and is berated a little by the ladies, gathered around a fire for a drink, before suggesting that they crash the fundraiser and try to convince his mother to give them the money they need.
It's a nice moment for Bash, as we see he genuinely wants GLOW to succeed, but I'm still finding it a little difficult to completely buy his sincerity considering his considerable superficiality earlier in the season. Does he want GLOW to succeed for the ladies, or simply to prove something to his mother?
So it's off to the fundraiser, with the women dressed conservatively at Bash's insistence. Not only is this because his mother is a right-wing conservative, but also because he uses the cover story that the ladies are former drug addicts and part of a group called WAD - Wrestlers Against Drugs.
This whole sequence takes up the rest of the episode and is a lot of fun, but it's again a little frustrating that it's taken so long to get to this point. Being a little more economic with the story-telling could've got us here a lot sooner.
Regardless, Sam is frustrated despite the free booze and food, telling Ruth that they lost the venue. He then heads off to do drugs with the band, telling them about GLOW and detailing the plot to his planned movie, which makes the band members mock him as it's virtually identical to Back to the Future.
This is one of those genuinely funny moments where you know where it's headed and is still funny when the punchline arrives, although the reveal does leave Sam even angrier.
There's then a nice conversation between Ruth and Debbie that proves why the show should've been focused around their characters (and Sam). Debbie thanks her former best friend for staying out of the way and reveals that Mark wants her to move back in with him to work on their marriage.
But she also says that she really enjoys the wrestling because it makes her feel like her body belongs to her rather than any man and it makes her feel like a superhero. It's a really great moment and one of the most openly-feminist messages seen so far in a show focused around a group of women.
The conversation does end on a downer though, with Debbie almost breaking up as she says that one of the things that makes her really mad at Ruth is her sleeping with Mark means the two of them can't ever really have a normal conversation again.
This sets up the scene where Bash, to his mother's irritation, gets the ladies to tell pre-prepared stories about their drug addiction, although Ruth goes off-script and confesses publicly to sleeping with Debbie's husband and admitting that resentment she didn't even know was there was to blame.
Alison Brie's performance is perfect and, again, makes you wish that GLOW wasn't such an ensemble show - it's definitely been enjoyable so far, but everything between her character and Debbie shows that it could have been so much more.
One upside to Ruth's confession comes later, as Bash gratefully collects money from his mother's guests, but his mother interferes and runs him down for misleading people. However, she does then turn to Ruth and says that what she said, including her statement that wrestling saved her and made her feel better about herself, did get her to see the potential appeal of GLOW, and - to Bash's delight - says that she won't give him the money, but will let him use the ballroom at the Hayworth Theatre instead.
From one episode, Bash's mother already has more depth than a lot of the wrestlers and it all came naturally from the story - again, why couldn't this be done with more of the supporting cast?
While all this has been gone, Justine went looking for Sam and found him alone on the floor of a bedroom upstairs, and he vents about his idea for a movie having already been made. He also admits that she's probably the only person left who actually cares about his movies, and tries to kiss her.
She quickly pulls away disgusted, revealing that she's actually his daughter, which also ties in with an earlier scene showing her concern that GLOW might not work out and they won't see each other again - and also her behaviour towards him in previous episodes.
Sam's bad side then flares up again, getting angry with her and asking what she wants from him, and the episode ends with Justine running out of the room, clearly upset, and leaving Sam behind. I'll admit that I didn't see that coming, although it does certainly explain why Justine received earlier focus in the season and also lends hope to the idea that there might be some pay-off for Sheila, Jenny and Cherry too.
"The Liberal Chokehold" is fine, with nothing especially wrong but still comes off as feeling a lot like a filler episode which shouldn't be happening in heavily-serialised stories like these. It's entertaining though, thanks to focusing on the central trio of Ruth, Debbie and Sam, with some nice character work that is unfortunately stuck in an otherwise average episode.