That’s the way you begin a season.
We knew how Tom Spade died, and we knew how it affected his sons, but we never knew what happened in the immediate aftermath.
With Jack and Ace once again at odds, Heels Season 2 Episode 1 gives us a peek into how Jack began leading the DWL and how Ace became its leading man.
It’s a perfect time to go down that dark and winding road.
Jack made a terrible mistake putting his own feelings and hopes for the DWL’s success before his brother.
Sure, siblings do that kind of stuff on the regular, but not in the wake of a father’s suicide that had already threatened to tear the family apart at the seams.
Ace has been reeling more than anyone else in the family. He not only found his father dead, but he was home when it happened. Carrying that kind of guilt is devastating.
Even worse, he partly blamed himself for being a failure. Tom had fully supported Ace’s athletic abilities, urging him to be the very best, but, in Ace’s mind, he f#cked that up.
Tom embraced Jack’s participation in the DWL, but he closed the door for Ace, who felt that he was being punished for his misdeeds rather than understanding it was his father’s way of protecting him.
Family often does things in roundabout ways, and acting with someone else in mind doesn’t always turn out as you’d hoped. Did Tom realize how much Ace wanted to join his family in the ring and how much he yearned to be accepted in what he considered a small, elite circle?
We may never know, but we’d have to hope that if Tom did realize how his decisions affected Ace, he would have reconsidered them.
Carol Spade seemed to think it was inevitable that, ultimately, Tom’s dream would crash as quickly and as dangerously as it had.
Financially, they were shot. She even lamented Wild Bill for abandoning Tom, something that caught Bill off-guard to the point he offered her all the cash he had on him as a way to make up for it.
Carol wanted to take a wrecking ball to the Dome, putting the DWL out of its misery. For her, no good ever came from the investment, and once it took Tom’s life, she was done with it.
But it wasn’t her decision to make.
Willie and Jack considered turning the Dome into a microbrewery. It wouldn’t have had the same appeal as the DWL, but it could have been a living memorial to what was. Honestly, that seems incredibly depressing.
There was such an enormous outpouring of grief across Duffy in the wake of Tom’s death that Jack asked the guys if they would want to put on one more show in honor of the great King Spade.
If they had not been on board, we might not be where we are today, but the DWL is as ingrained in Duffy as the water tower they so love to visit. Duffy is the DWL, and the DWL is Duffy.
Jim: I don’t know how to say this, man, but uh, there’s no Duffy without the DWL. I understand it, but it sucks that it’s over.
Willie: It’s a blessin’. More people were here for his funeral feast than the last three shows combined.
It reminds me of the Ted Lasso pub where Richmond fans gather to watch their beloved team, except in this case, it’s the entire town getting in on the action.
Before Tom’s death, Jack was just another wrestler. It was in the wake of it that he became the scribe, creating scintillating feuds and other gregarious acts for the wrestlers to play out in the ring.
In the days following Tom’s death, Jack first pit himself and Ace against one another in a Cain and Abel-type feud that fueled the spiring of the DWL through the present.
Of course, we know that the bigger Ace’s dominance became, the more reckless he was, and the more Jack began to curse the monster he had created.
What started as Ace’s chance to do in the ring for the first time — what his father wouldn’t allow — became much more. His athleticism and good looks were the icing on the Face cake that Jack created.
Jack: I don’t know how you picked all that up in a week. There are wrestlers who work that their entire careers don’t tap into what you just did. You got it.
Ace: Thanks for sayin’ that, Jack.
Jack: It’s not stupid.
Ace: Say again?
Jack: This is not a stupid thing, this thing. This is an amazing thing. The fraternity and the camaraderie; it’s so far from a stupid thing.
Ace: I agree.
Jack: We should keep doin’ it.
Ace: You serious?
Jack: We should make this into what it could have been, what we just proved it can be if we work together. We can pull this off. We just have to, we’re gonna have to work hard, trust, grant, have each other’s backs.
Ace: Remember when we’d fight as kids, and Dad would make us shake hands and say that?
Jack: Yeah, maybe we should have said it before we fought. Stop the fightin’ upfront.
Jack & Ace: I got your back, brother. [they laugh]
It seemed there was no stopping Ace Spade — except for Jack.
On the eve of the Southern Georgia State Fair, it seemed to have hit Jack — finally — that he had gone too far. You could sense the urgency of his search and his frazzled state of mind awash in memories as he combed top to bottom, trying to find Ace.
His search bore no fruit. Instead, he was still on the hunt the next day, which is when he discovered that Ace packed up and left.
Even hearing that he took a prized possession with him, Jack couldn’t bring himself to consider how dire it might be, but we saw Ace’s actions. He wants to be as far away from his brother as possible.
Carol’s opinion of the DWL hasn’t changed. She cheered him on as he left, giving him atta boys under her breath. You have to wonder what it was about Jack that left him unprotected in a family hellbent on protecting Ace.
Carol has to know what’s going on between her sons, but instead of urging them to work it out, she’s rooting for Ace to find another path.
All of this will begin eating away at Jack because Tom left a note — the only one — for his eldest son. It merely said, “Take care of Ace.“
Jack’s been a mess himself. His actions have driven away his wife and son, and his brother. He’s got to get a handle on why he’s in a downward spiral so he can right the wrongs and bring everyone together.
He bought a house, fed his family. Didn’t do much other than wrestle for most of his adult life. That not being enough of a life for him? That’s his declaration. He’s a pussy. He’s a coward, and he took the coward’s way out.
After all, the whole point of keeping the DWL in the family was because he and Ace could run it together, bringing it to new heights of success.
They shook on working together to ensure any arguments they had would not tear them apart. At this point, that handshake has disengaged. Jack needs to pull it together, find Ace, and turn the DWL around again, for a start.
In doing so, he should be able to come to peace with his feelings for his father and win back his wife.
I’m the guy that named his own son after his dead dad that he don’t miss. And I’m sorry if that scares you. It scares me.
And Ace? Well, he needs to accept responsibility for the cad he’s become with his fame. He treats people miserably. It’s easy to see why Jack is so unenamored with the monster he created, even if his methods to right the ship backfired.
With both brothers blaming themselves and each other for what’s transpired, we’re at a very good launching point for the season.
Ace may be gone, but Jack does have another rising star in his midst. The crowd adores Crystal Tyler nearly as much as they loved Ace. Now that she’s got the belt in hand, perhaps a new era of the DWL will begin.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.