Heels Episode 7 recap: Does [SPOILER] leave the DWL for the FWD?

Heels Season 1, Episode 7 - Courtesy of Quantrell Colbert/Starz
Heels Season 1, Episode 7 - Courtesy of Quantrell Colbert/Starz /

Heels Episode 7 is the penultimate episode of the season, and boy, is it a doozy. Titled “The Big Bad Fish Man,” this episode has many moving parts and pushes the plot forward after the previous slower (but excellent!) talk-heavy hour. You might be wondering what that title means. It’s a reference to Charlie Gully, who calls himself the Big Bad Fish Man. There’s a more significant reason for that revealed at the very end of the hour.

We begin with a flashback to a particularly tenuous car ride featuring Jack and Tom. Based on their interaction, it sounds like Tom had much higher hopes for Ace, who he hoped would escape the DWL altogether and be a successful football star. He was happy to let Jack settle in his footsteps at the DWL.

But even in the past, the DWL was hemorrhaging money. Not much has changed, with Jack still trying to convince people around him to invest in the league and care about it as much as he does. The opening culminates in Tom and Jack fighting on the side of the road as Tom promises his son that if he can pin him in three seconds, he’ll sign over the league and let him run it however he wants.

Heels Episode 7 recap: Jack and Willie try to keep their professional and personal lives intact

Post-opening credits, we check in on Charlie Gully and his crew at the FWD. Even though his buddies don’t think Jack or the DWL is a threat, Charlie doesn’t want to underestimate Jack’s resilience or Wild Bill’s popularity. They take a helicopter to the DWL to prank Jack.

The prank involves gluing fliers depicting DWL wrestlers like Bobby and Diego in photoshopped ads for the FWD and an invite to a pre-show party at Gully’s mansion. It’s a concerted effort from Gully to poach Jack’s guys. Well, he already succeeded in poaching Rooster. Jack isn’t all that bothered by the fliers. Gully has a habit of recruiting DWL wrestlers, and the ones who have bailed in the past always came crawling back a few months later.

Heels Episode 7
Heels Episode 7 – Courtesy of Quantrell Colbert/Starz /

What’s more surprising than Gully’s prank is Jack’s announcement that he intends to give up the belt at the Georgia State Fair. Either Bill or Ace is the most likely contender to take it next, and Jack asks for their creative input. Bill argues that he should win the match because it’s a tried and true tradition, but Ace contends that they want new fans, and while they’ll cheer for Bill, he’s old news. They’ve already seen all of his moves, whereas if the up-and-coming kid (i.e., him) wins, they might attract newcomers. Ultimately, it’s up to Jack to decide which way to go.

Jack and Willie are both reaching the end of his rope regarding the DWL, and it’s affecting their families more than ever. Thomas is acting out in school, punching a bully because he saw Jack shoving Ace at the hospital after breaking Bobby’s leg. It’s getting harder and harder for Thomas to differentiate between what’s real and what’s fake, especially after being told that wrestling is fake his entire life, only to start seeing the real-world drama bleed into the ring and vice versa.

As for Willie, she lashes out at her daughter because she forgot to clean up her cereal bowl. It prompts Ted to give her some advice: maybe she needs to quit the DWL. Is it really benefitting her life? She’s drinking more, and she’s constantly stressed. “Just because the Spade family has staked their entire identity on this league doesn’t mean we have to.”

Heels Episode 7
Heels Episode 7 – Courtesy of Quantrell Colbert/Starz /

Heels Episode 7 recap: Crystal tries out to be a wrestler

Jack arrives home to find a contrite Crystal waiting for him on his front porch. She issues a heartfelt apology (and letter!) for going off script and inadvertently triggering the nasty fight between Ace and Bobby. Jack coldly dismisses her. At least Staci is there to offer some kind words. Both of these women deserve better treatment from Jack!

Crystal finally gets an opportunity to audition to be a wrestler for the DWL at the open tryouts for the Georgia State Fair. She gets a cute pep talk from Bobby, but everyone else is just shocked to see her there, like Willie. But Crystal holds her own, even against Bill! To the point that Willie vouches for her to Jack.

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Instead of realizing that Crystal presents an excellent opportunity to take the DWL in a bold and inclusive new direction, Jack balks at the idea of putting her in the main event at the fair, playing the big brother card as if he actually cares about her and Ace’s relationship.

Plus, we already know that Ace and Crystal made amends. Jack is just nursing some latent misogyny and punishing Crystal for messing with his script. Willie points out that it was Ace who broke Bobby’s leg, not Crystal. At least Willie has the decency to let Crystal down gently in person.

Heels Episode 7 recap: Party time at Gully Mansion

While the tryouts are going on at the DWL, Ace can’t resist visiting Charlie Gully’s mansion to defend the league’s honor. Gully isn’t phased in the slightest. He predicted that Ace would show up and wastes no time sidling up to him with similar persuasion techniques he used on Rooster—and we saw how that worked out!

Charlie convinces Ace to stick around for a while and see what the FWD is all about. To me, it seems like the FWD is all about a life of excess. Gully points out that most people see Ace as a laughingstock who is always getting f**ked by his brother (literally, he introduces him to the infamous Rule 34 and respective fanart of Ace and Jack…well, you know).

Heels Episode 7
Heels Episode 7 – Courtesy of Quantrell Colbert/Starz /

A night at Gully Mansion is all it takes for Ace to turn on the DWL. He FaceTimes Crystal to tell her the news and even offers her a chance to join him there. Not as his valet but as a fellow wrestler. Crystal proves her loyalty to the DWL by going straight to Jack to tell him what’s happening, adding that she’s afraid for what might happen if Ace does nestle down in Gully’s clutches. Sure it looks like the lap of luxury on the outside, but with booze and cocaine flowing so freely, it seems like an easy way to spiral downward to me.

As soon as Crystal tells him the news, Jack immediately drives to Jacksonville, baffling Staci. If Ace wants to go so bad, why doesn’t Jack just let him? Jack is adamant that he knows what’s best for Ace. And while he’s gone, Staci makes a pretty shocking discovery. Jack was the one who bulk-ordered all those Kleenex tissues that people were throwing at Ace the week after he cried in the ring. That means he had a big hand in coaxing Ace into turning heel by sabotaging him.

It doesn’t take long for Gully to show his hand. “Rooster’s just the bait, you’re the fish.” Poor Rooster. The second he gets the championship belt, Gully is already planning on how to take it back and put it into Ace’s hands—even Ace doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable with that, especially since he’s used to Jack’s more intricate storytelling. As for Rooster, it sucks that he went from being used by one arrogant white guy to another.

Except when Gully cues up Ace to make his big debut, it’s a different Spade brother that climbs into the ring. And Jack delivers a very real beatdown in front of the massive crowd. Once Charlie is on the ground, Jack looks to Ace and the two exchange significant looks.

“Man, ya’ll got a f**ked up family.” You said it, Rooster.

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Odds & Ends from Heels Episode 7

  • “I gave you a gift, Jack, the gift of my a** and you don’t look a gift a** in the mouth, because that mouth is my a**hole.” The person who writes Bill’s one-liners should win an Emmy.
  • Staci gets asked to sing the National Anthem at the Georgia State National Rodeo Competition. Do we think Jack is going to disappoint her yet again?
  • Bobby definitely has feelings for Crystal. Apocalypse nudges him to let her know since “girls like that don’t stay alone for long.”
  • I found it interesting that there wasn’t a scene of Jack or the DWL members discussing Rooster jumping ship to the FWD. That was a pretty significant plot point, and I would have liked to see everyone’s reactions. Skipping it makes it seem like no one at the Duffy League cares about Rooster, and while Jack might not as much as we should, we know Diego and Apocalypse do.
  • Do we think Jack and Staci’s marriage is going to survive? Something has to give, and soon.
  • Thomas confesses to Staci that he’s struggling with feeling sad, and he’s worried he’ll end up like his grandpa with a broken spirit (remember Ace told him that Tom’s “spirit got broke”). I appreciated this scene, and Staci is the best mom with the perfect response. She tells Thomas she’s proud of him for revealing how he feels rather than botting it up. I think this could be a great storyline for Heels to explore mental health and reduce its stigma, especially for young boys and especially for someone like Thomas. A lot of toxic masculinity surrounds him.

What did you think of Heels Episode 7? Will Ace join the FWD? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

The Heels Season 1 finale airs next Sunday at 9/8c on STARZ.