So the opener to the third season of Netflix's GLOW started things off with a *bang* – and the rest of the season just carried right on from there.
In case you're out of the loop, you can find the spoiler review for the first episode of the new season of GLOW right over here. Oh, and there are major spoilers in this article – though I'm really not sure what else you expected.
The next few episodes set up the season's main plot lines and character arcs – which do and don't pay off in a number of ways. Serious plotlines take over in some cases, which I completely prefer – but we do spend a lot of time early-on with all the relationships.
Ruth and Sam are hanging out again, but it's because Ruth thinks they're friends and Sam clearly wants to steal her away from her boyfriend. How will this turn out? My bet is on "poorly for Sam because he doesn't get his way and worse for Ruth, who feels bad for not having feelings for him."
Artie and Yolanda navigate their relationship, which is not without its ups and downs – but overall going well.
Speaking of relationships (geez, is that all this season is?) Rhonda and Bash feel their way around their new marriage with varying degrees of learning curves, but on the whole it's pretty adorable. I just wonder when they're finally going to out Bash and break Rhonda's heart. Will it be later on this season?
And in even more relationship news, Cherry and Keith are trying to start a family…but Cherry gets serious cold feet after hearing tales from the trenches from showgirls and seeing Debbie and other women forced to choose between a career and motherhood.
Let's see…is that all of the relationship news? Oh! In non-romantic relationship news, it seems like Ruth and Debbie are in an "on again" spell of friendship.
Speaking of Debbie, she's totally wigging out about missing Randy's childhood while working out in Vegas. She's also completely losing it after realizing that she has to choose between starving herself to compete with the younger actresses and industry talent in order to continue her career or to quit performing, raise her son, and move into solely a producer role. Tough decisions, Debbie. Too bad you chose to take the predictable route of dance class incited eating disorder – straight out of an after-school special. I mean, it is 1986.
As a total side note, good for GLOW for casting actresses who aren't solely in the 0-4 size range and for tackling the issue of ageism, which I know is a topic that will be addressed even further throughout the season.
And on a lighter note, things get freakier halfway through the season when Sandy (Geena Davis) offers to extend GLOW's contract at the casino through the end of the year – yes, that means another 9 months of the same show, the same partying, the same back problems and repetitive injuries.
This spawns her to come to the show that night and in a wild twist, everyone changes up characters! It's great fun…and surprisingly more racist than even the original show. (Oh, don't worry – it's problematic even in-universe).
But most importantly, Sheila branches out and wrestles as…Liza Minnelli?!? LOVE IT!
After approaching the Fan-Tan's resident drag queen for a last minute makeover, she tag teams with the only other original character in the night's show: Reggie as a nun. It was weird, but it's fantastic and I absolutely love seeing Sheila grow as a character and branch out from living full time as a wolf.
Speaking of Sheila's journey, he gives her the safe space she needs to work through her identity and learn to see herself outside of the canine front she puts up.
Right after that amazing display, Bash gave them all basically a giant middle finger and accepted Sandy's offer to extend the show another 9 months… without asking any of the girls and despite both Sam and Debbie being way more than unsure about staying in Vegas a second longer.
And then there's Tammé – she's been having worsening back problems, to the point where she should totally for sure see a doctor and get it checked out, but instead she's just going to cry through the pain because it's only a few more shows, right? Not anymore…
So why did Bash make this completely irrational decision? Selfishness, it would seem. It's his money, his name on the marquee, and his show – everyone else be damned. My money is on the fact that he's probably sick (even though the show is set in the '80s, I'm hoping they don't got the "closeted gay man acts out only to admit he has AIDS/HIV later" route other shows have gone) and wants to do something successful as one last hurrah.
In a great "kumbaya" moment, the girls go camping to deal with the bombshell Bash dropped on them and they have a really cathartic conversation about racial stereotypes – specifically Jenny, who finally comes out with the fact that she is a survivor of the Cambodian Genocide: her and her father escaped on one of the last boats out, because he had friends at the embassy. She is one of the very, very lucky ones – and now she jumps out of a fortune cookie every night at an "oriental" themed casino featuring white waitresses in slutty kimonos.
To say she's having a moment of culture betrayal brought on by seeing Melrose play Fortune Cookie last episode is an understatement. Of course, it's not helped by Melrose always being the loudest voice in the room, especially when she brings up her Jewish heritage and how her people know all too well about genocide.
Debbie and Ruth have a great friendship moment as well wherein Ruth suggests that she not leave the show and instead bring Randy out to Vegas, so that she can still work and be there for his childhood. Tammé then seconds that – maybe they're onto something!
Also – remember Sheila's exploration of identity? It all comes to a head when she burns her pelt and wig, committing to being the human she knows she is, even though she knows it's a scary world without anything to shield her from other people. Don't we all know it, Sheila.
In other news, Justine (remember her? Sam's daughter!) is in Vegas and she wrote a screenplay! Sam takes her around to shop it to the studios, and in a crazy twist, it gets picked up…and Sam has a heart attack. Literally!
Bash's mom, Birdie is in Vegas to meet Rhonda, her daughter-in-law that Bash completely neglected to tell her that she now has. Things go surprisingly well though when Rhonda admits to Birdie that she knows that Bash is basically the human equivalent of a golden retriever and can't be trusted with the important things, like money…
…which prompts her to reveal the real reason why she's there: Bash no longer has money problems; upon marriage, he has come into his full inheritance, to the tune of 40 million dollars. Holy cats! Rhonda just went from living in her car to insta-millionaire.
Speaking of rich beaus, Debbie is now seeing a rich rancher and things are going well! He bought her a horse and Sheila is a great actor and all of this causes Ruth to spin out, especially after learning that her boyfriend Russell is doing a movie in Spain for the next two months.
Though fear not! Ruth doesn't stay sad for too long – Sam is making Justine's movie and he wants her to go out for a part. Things don't go her way and she doesn't get the part… again… but she does meet Sam for a drink after and they finally do something about the sexual tension!
Ruth admits she loves Sam, and of course he screws it all up by telling her she didn't get the part. Needless to say, things do not end in a sexy times direction.
Bobby, the Fan-Tan's main drag queen act, is hosting an underground fundraising ball to raise money for AIDS relief. It's very Pose and I am living for it. The girls from GLOW do seem a little out of place – but they're there to support Sheila and Ruth, who are doing a scene.
Of course, Ruth is caught up in LA with Sam and completely flakes on Sheila, so she has to go on all by her own, and she delivers a phenomenal personal monologue about her upbringing.
And in a weird attempt to rekindle the spark in their sex life, Rhonda hires a gigolo to come and make Bash jealous enough to send him away so that she can finally get some… but it just turns into a threesome. Because Bash is gay. Remember?
In a cut away from that scene, we see Sandy St. Deveroux in full showgirl regalia perform at the ball…only to be interrupted by a fire in the back of the ballroom. Everyone exits…only to find hate speech gratified all over the road and exterior of the building. Guess they got the word out, indeed…
Side note: seeing Davis, a full figured 63 year old woman, in full showgirl regalia, (which in case you weren't aware is little more than a bedazzled thong and crystal pasties) was absolutely amazing and let me tell you why. The showgirl world is pretty similar to the professional ballet world in the sense that once you age out or gain weight (or both), you are done, career over. You will never wear costumes like that again, because they don't make them to fit curves or anyone over a size 4. Enter our "high priestess of bling" Davis – who not only bares her curves and boobs that are larger than the requisite "champagne saucer" size that is the showgirl standard, but she has no problem with it and revels in the fact that she's mature and not a young tiny standard showgirl. You go, Geena Davis and everybody off camera who brought us that moment!
Back in-universe, the finale episode is a Christmas special and the girls are swapping names for a secret santa exchange. Ruth is still moping, Debbie is getting too bold for a woman in the 1980's business world, and Bash's little sexual awakening threesome is creating problems with his marriage – while Rhonda just wants him to be OK.
Poor Bash – he's trying to navigate his sexuality and live up to everyone else's expectations, and it's kind of broken him. He's crying into Debbie's lap asking what he should do. She tells him: buy the TV station her rich rancher boyfriend is low-balling.
So, Debbie is partnering with Bash in producing, because she's the brains and he's the man-shaped front that she can hide behind in order to be taken seriously. Oh, 1980s sexism in the business world, how you suck.
But! Their in-ring rendition of A Christmas Carol goes over incredibly well, with a surprise ending – Carmen is Cherry's secret santa, and she gets her exactly what she wanted: Keith in a Santa costume – live and in person!
Everyone's presents are thoughtful and adorable and sweet, but the best present of all is all the adorable camaraderie we get at the end as the ladies fly home for holiday break to do it all again next year.
But wait – Carmen reveals to Debbie and Ruth that she's not going home: she's really going to Phoenix to meet up with her brother and go on tour to really wrestle… because GLOW was fun, but now it's boring her to death.
After that, Debbie drops another bombshell on Ruth – she is president of the TV network Bash is buying, and she wants Ruth to direct a women's wrestling program… but Ruth turns her down and talks about how that's not her and she'll keep banging her head against a brick wall trying to get her acting career started.
Oh, Ruth – Debbie is right: if it was going to happen, it would have by now. Just take the opportunities presented to you! Though I do completely feel her on having a path to success presented to you, but wanting literally anything else, or at least something that will make you feel fulfilled and valid.
That, my dear reader, is where we leave our ladies from GLOW for this season… and it makes me want some eggnog after that Christmas special… real, real bad.