GLOW season 3, episode 1, “Up, Up, Up,” checks into the Vegas strip. Here’s our review of the premiere episode, and who we are looking forward to learning more about this season.
There are many downsides to binge-watching a series. The biggest, in my opinion, is going into a new season of a show where I have no idea what state I left the characters in. In the case of GLOW, I mean that both literally and emotionally.
And while, sure, you can jump right into a new season and pick up context clues along the way, I think the best way to appreciate what the GLOW season 3 premiere is able to do is by watching it back-to-back with the finale of season 2.
The final words of season 2, “You’re going to hate it,” could not be more wrong.
Moving the show from Los Angeles, roughly 300 miles East to Las Vegas, is the best thing that the series could have done. The women of the series are moving with new titles (co-director Ruth) and new challenges (co-parenting from a different state), but the show will stay the same.
The premiere sets the excitement of opening night in Vegas against the backdrop of a national tragedy — The Challenger explosion. It presents all sorts of unexpected professional and personal complications, including whether or not “the show must go on.” But this is Vegas. And as Sandy (new cast member Geena Davis), the entertainment director, points out, if the shows danced through the ashes of the MGM fire, they can get through this.
‘GLOW’ season 3, episode 1 premiere review
As Sam leads the most lack-luster rehearsal to ever happen, GLOW takes the opportunity to examine the different reactions to the tragedy as the day goes on. The lighting crew and stagehands are distracted, Bash is throwing himself into the party planning, and most of the wrestlers are concerned with honoring the dead in their performance, while the rest cannot break the cycle of watching continuous coverage on the news.
I feel like if we keep watching it, something might change.
The premiere provides a great 18,000-foot view of the characters and sets the stage for what we should look out for as the season rolls on. And while I wish there would be time to equally showcase these characters, these are the three storylines that I felt most invested in by the end of “Up, Up, Up.”
Bash and Rhonda
Bash’s self-centeredness is on FULL display in the season premiere as the nation recovers from a tragedy. His only concern is about the opening night party — which, he realizes, perhaps too late, is space-themed. In the mix of all the characters, Bash’s rise to becoming one of the leading men of the series has not exactly been one of my favorite bits of the series.
However, once the stunt wedding in the GLOW season 2 finale involving superfan Toby — aka Ham Porter — marrying Britannica resulted in Bash saying “I do,” there was no way to deny that he would be a major player in season 3.
While I do not believe that Bash and Rhonda are “meant to be,” I do think their union is good fodder for some deeper storytelling. Following the ceremony, the couple hint that there could be something more that develops between them, but for now, they will get some real rings and then start on their journey together. It’s a marriage of convenience — Rhonda gets a green card while Bash gets the chance to do something selfless and bury his emotional response to Florian’s death.
As much as Bash wants to run away from the events of the past few weeks, it will not be that easy. We see him repeating the patterns of the finale as his spiral over The Challenger leads him to overcompensate on party details. Rhonda tries to smooth things over with the party and takes care of a lot of the heavy-lifting. But as Bash runs through the list of reasons why he is freaking out over this party, he stumbles when he says, “I don’t know these people, and this isn’t my house, and I don’t have…I don’t recognize half the names on the guest list.” That pause is a wave of unresolved grief.
There is much soul-searching that needs to be done on Bash’s end. Not only does he need to process his recent loss, he needs to do some work on all the relationships in his life, including repairing his friendship with Carmen.
Sidenote: Oh, Carmen. What I want more than anything is for Carmen to find something that makes her feel fulfilled. When Bash stepped in to marry Rhonda, he crushed the hope that their relationship could evolve. GLOW has a hard time balancing fulfilling stories for most of its characters. And while there was some great work done in the finale to cast off her brothers’ shadows (albeit by embarrassing herself and giving them airtime on TV), there is still so much missing for her.
Ruth and Sam
Ruth has a rough go of things on opening night, what with the whole making fun of The Challenger as it exploded on local television and then her boyfriend not being able to make it to opening night since he needs to cover the local news reaction to the events. Not to mention that she and Sam still have some unresolved issues adapting to being work place proximity associates.
There is something that Sam says in the finale of GLOW season 2, where you make a space for someone in your life (in this case Justine, his daughter) and then suddenly things change, and you’re left with an empty room that you have to look at. With Justine, that applies to both physical and emotional emptiness.
There is no denying the chemistry between Ruth and Sam. Watching them in the booth co-directing the final match in season 2 highlighted their working relationship. Say what you want about Sam, but he is soft. From his conversation with Arthie in the strip club to finding a way to get Zoya in the ring one last time, Sam has grown to see these women as his family.
Watching as all the women pile into the elevator on their way to the party and then Sam pushing himself out is one of the best snapshots of this give and take. For as much as he is a pain in their ass, they are a pain in his. But there is so much love there that it is literally overwhelming for him. He delivers his best opening night congratulations and pep talk to the group through the intercom (even though Debbie turns it off).
Of course, those feelings run deeper for Ruth, but more on that next episode.
Watching Debbie say goodbye to her son and get on the bus to Vegas paints a picture of what some of these women are losing by heading off to the strip. And while Debbie does her best to keep things on track for the opening, I couldn’t help but notice her distraction and hesitance around making moves.
Even with the producer credit and starring role in the show, Debbie still needs to work at making her presence and position known. When Sandy arrives to discuss the evening’s performance, Debbie must introduce herself as a producer when she is assumed to be Bash’s wife. Sam makes a point of referring to Sandy as Debbie’s “ghost of Christmas future,” which I think leads Debbie to quickly course correct. As the ladies return to the casino following the fire alarms going off, Debbie undercuts Sandy’s efforts to assuage the jitters of the day’s events with a few dollar chips for the tables.
“Her girls” need more than just a few dollars to lift their spirits. A couple hundred chips sweeten the deal and Debbie is visibly rattled by the thrill of asserting her power.
I’m hoping that GLOW gets to see more of her throwing her weight around and opening new doors for her future. It’s hard to watch her struggle with keeping things balanced with her son and career, but I want her to win and have it all.
As Debbie takes Ruth outside to see their name in lights, Ruth reminds her that it’s actually Bash’s name that draws top billing. But even though “nobody knows [her] fucking name or what [she] does” Debbie tries to drag Ruth back to what matters — they created something that people really like, they are opening a show in Vegas, all of this could end come April.
But for now, they made through the day and they are still here.
‘GLOW’ season 3 is streaming now on Netflix
The show is locked, the stage is set for the next three months, and GLOWseason 3 is set to explore what all of this mean for the key players of The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for a review and recap of each episode!