‘Tis the season for a GLOW season 3 finale and Christmas special! New beginnings are promised in season 4, but how will we get there?
Zoya the Scrooge? In the GLOW season 3 finale, a Christmas spectacular takes over the showroom, much to the delight of Carmen and the assembled crowd. In fact, this is the most enthusiastic audience we’ve probably seen all season. That’s partially due to the lack of time and energy spent in the ring over season 3, but also due to the new energy that comes naturally when performers are given something new to wrestle with.
There are shadows of their wrestling alter-egos around, but ultimately, the GLOW ladies are taking on new personas as characters from A Christmas Carol. Ruth takes up playing Ebenezer Scrooge, Rhonda is Bob Cratchit, Shelia hangs from the ceiling in Bob Marley’s chains, and Debbie is the narrator relaying the story to her son (Bash) in full White Christmas finale attire.
The costumes are incredible, and given that this was the final show of the year that Ruth “just wanted to get through,” it’s hard to believe they had time to throw this together.
But GLOW is not immune to Christmas miracles, and as a result, we’ll take this one with a grain of salt as the rest of the payoffs in the episode are the result of seeds planted along the way.
‘GLOW’ season 3, episode 10 recap
Debbie burns it all down
Debbie goes all in for one final play in Vegas, putting everything in her personal life on the line to make a huge move in her career. The endless dinners with Tex, the fighting with Bash, the number of times everyone has taken extreme efforts to acknowledge her presence have all piled up inside of her and enough is enough.
Debbie has kept her mouth shut for most of her relationship with Tex when it comes to the business side of things. She has her producing title and her own work woes to lament in his presence, but Tex has done a great job of keeping her around the right people. There has not been a single person on this show who has overestimated Debbie’s abilities.
And enough is enough.
When Debbie makes a comment about the business deal that Tex is currently negotiating, he is shocked to find that he is not unloading this frustration onto a robot who will just say, “Sorry, dear.” Rather, he is throwing his problems at a sharp-minded woman who is interested in his business holdings, not for the profit they will bring her as his partner.
She finds fault in his negotiating tactic via a misvalued asset and tries to bring it to his attention. He would prefer she remain the pretty gem on his arm and not the woman snooping into his plans.
Tex backed himself into this corner by assuming that Debbie was tuning out the business chatter, as it was likely well above her head. So, she makes a move. She brings the deal to Bash as a way to get them both a ticket out of Vegas and pave her path to a title that she earned and can thrive under — president.
Not everyone can be Liberace
Stealing the deal from Tex was not Debbie’s original plan. Frustrated with him, with the show for putting on something so extravagant without her input, and with Bash for allowing it all, she marches to his hotel room to drag him out to the show. What she finds, however, is a shell of Bash — drunk, listless, and terrified.
Still reeling from the night spent with Rhonda and “Joe” in episode 9, Bash has also just discovered that he slept with a gigolo that works the hotel bar. Debbie, not knowing any of this, calls him pathetic and goes to storm off. But when she realizes that there is more to this mood swing than just Bash throwing money at his problems and not caring about those around him, she settles down to hear what is going on with him.
Debbie is not quite sure how to shake Bash out of dealing with his feelings, but she can offer him a lens through which to examine them. What does he want from his life? This does not have to be a bad thing.
But Bash is concerned about Rhonda — who watched him like what he did with Joe and he knows full well that he is going to do it again. He’s worried about his mother — that he will not be the son she wants him to be and will toss him aside. And, he finally admits, he is scared to die.
Being gay and dying are intrinsically linked in his mind as Florian’s death is likely never far from his thoughts. Rhonda provided distraction for a while, the shows for a little bit longer, but once routine settled in, things became too stagnant and thoughts and unresolved emotions started creeping up again.
If staying with Rhonda is something that he wants to do and he’s experiencing all of this upheaval in Vegas, maybe it’s time to get out. Sell the house, pull out of the shows here, and get back to Los Angeles. Debbie has just the way to make that happen — buy a television network.
And the plan goes off without a hitch. The lawyers love it, the business managers love it, Bash and Debbie have a way out. But Bobby and Sandy… they are left in the dust. As Bash pulls the funding from Rhapsody, the show closes, leaving Sandy to fire everyone right before the holiday.
Unfortunately, this is likely going to be the last we see of Sandy and Bobby. These two have been a gift this season. I would love to spend another year with them, seeing what becomes of Bobby’s show, watching him and Shelia become closer friends, and seeing Sandy run the casino in her fabulous ’80s garb. But the show was not built to last in Vegas and the West coast is calling GLOW back.
A Christmas to remember
It’s hard to follow the seasons when GLOW shows the passage of time with only a few subtle nods. But things slowed down a bit as the show sped through 150 performances in the span of a cold open. From there, the series has kept things firmly planted in the month of December 1986, and yet the holidays still crept up on us.
As the episode opens, Carmen welcomes us to the final week of shows before a hard-earned Christmas break (which seems odd considering an increase in travel during the holidays to places such as… I don’t know… Vegas?). Despite that, Carmen wants to spread some joy among the girls, a mantle she has taken up over the course of the entire series.
The effort seems easy enough, a $10 (no gift shop) given gift to your secret Santa. But the intent behind the plan is a moving tribute to the connection these ladies have built together over the past three seasons. During the gift exchange, the presents are cheap, but loaded with emotion. Tammé gets a Hot Tub Club custom shirt, Dawn gets a bong, Carmen gets her show. But Arthie gets a gift from Stacey that serves as a physical symbol of the journey she has gone on this season — a pride headband.
Arthie announces to everyone that she is gay prior to opening the gift, discovering that she needed to say it aloud for herself, not anyone else. And though she takes up the mantle to fight injustice in the world all at once, she is still taking baby steps to make her way back to Yolanda.
One more surprise gift comes from Carmen during the show — Keith. Cherry and Keith’s reunion has been a long time coming and pushed aside for quite a bit of the backend of the show. Turns out that they both wanted to reconnect, but it took Carmen’s olive branch to serve as the bridge to make that possible. Kids or no kids, Keith has found a way to give Cherry everything she wants and still be a happy participant in their relationship.
Plus, he gifts us with the best line to deliver after any sort of winding tale of woe and/or apology: “That’s my country song.” Brilliant.
Not everyone wants an off-ramp
“How did it feel to be up there doing exactly what you wanted to be doing and be good at it?”
“It’s the best feeling I’ve had in my life… until the hate crime.”
Ruth and Shelia have this exchange at the top of episode as they return all the library books Ruth has been spending her time reading instead of working on her craft this season. I’ve been beyond frustrated with Ruth this entire season, and kudos to Alison Brie for challenging me to reassess the character every single episode.
For the first 25 minutes of the GLOW season 3 finale, I felt as though, after the debacle in Los Angeles, Ruth gained some perspective. She is seen here with Shelia reflecting on the path she’s taken in her career, she reluctantly gives in to Carmen’s wishes and feels fulfilled on the other end having pulled off something incredible. It’s a new Ruth! Maybe!
Until it’s not. Ruth is content to settle into the job she has, the routine she’s become accustomed to because she is accepted there. There is no challenge that comes with being a director in Vegas of a show that is locked in routine. There are more rewards offered to her through playing Zoya for a new audience every night, but even that begins to run its course after a year.
Ruth wants to claw her way into the industry; there is that dream of wowing producers and directors in the room and making her mark on screen. It’s a part of her and she doesn’t realize that the scary part of making it happen is making a bold decision. And Debbie has one for her, all wrapped up in Christmas bows.
Debbie is ready to get everyone on a one-way flight out of Vegas and build an entirely new show for television. New characters (because they don’t own the others), new direction (with Ruth at the helm) and new leadership (Bash is still involved, but Debbie calls the shots). Debbie calls it an Eden, a place free from rejection and where they can finally carve out a piece of the entertainment industry for themselves.
“How many times are you going to break your own heart?” Debbie asks Ruth before she boards her plane to Omaha. She concludes with a line that I have said over and over in these recaps, “MAKE A MOVE.”
But Ruth does not want an off-ramp. Some part of her wants to be the struggling actress; she wants to tell that story. Or, more accurately, she wants that story to be true to a point. The big break is the story she wants to have, and if Sam won’t (as she sees it) give it to her, then she will have to wow someone else.
Final thoughts on ‘GLOW’ season 3
- Carmen deciding to leave to join Kurt in Arizona is very much a “YOU GO GIRL” moment. She deserves to be on the road, actually wrestling and performing the narratives she knows and loves. There is nothing easy about her decision. As the Christmas-special winds down, the majority of the wrestling focuses on Carmen and Ruth, where Carmen plays into the Undertaker style role she has crafted for herself. She makes these moves and orchestrates drama and intrigue. And so, as the camera lingers on her face as Ruth thanks her for all of her efforts this holiday season, we know something is coming. I hope GLOW finds a way to keep Carmen in season 4. But if not, this is the perfect send-off.
- Sam adopting Justine nearly killed me. I love a celebration of a found family even if it is a real family.
Check out all the info we have on GLOW season 4, the final season, which will be available on Netflix in 2020.