Sunday, August 11, 2019

REVIEW: 'GLOW' - A Trip to the Desert Forces a Number of Vulnerable and Honest Confessions in 'Outward Bound'

Netflix's GLOW - Episode 3.06 "Outward Bound"

A camping trip in the desert canyons outside Vegas spirals into a night of soul-searching, bitter showdowns and bombshell revelations.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's GLOW.

"Outward Bound" was written by Liz Flahive & Carly Mensch and directed by Anya Adams

The women of GLOW head out to the desert for a camping trip in order to have all the meaningful conversations they need before embracing life in Las Vegas for the remainder of the year. That was such a bombshell that Bash dropped on all of them. He delivered the news as an ultimatum. The show was already doing a number on these relationships though. The burden of it all highlighted just how difficult the personal lives for a number of these characters continued to be. And now, they are given the freedom to voice their concerns in a way that is extremely healthy. The decisions they reach here may not ultimately make things better. It's just clarifying so that they all know what they are aspiring to do now that the show's run has been extended. Tammé's back problems were obviously the most pressing issue. The previous episode made a big deal about them and how she may no longer be able to wrestle. And now, it is all seemingly presented as something that could go away over time. She doesn't want to see a doctor to know if it's something more serious. She is more than comfortable just being a manager in the wrestling ring. She'll allow others to do the hard work and heavy lifting while she heals. That's a solution that everyone is comfortable with even though it once again presents as Carmen being the only one who understands wrestling at all. Tammé's back problem was the reason why the performers decided to switch up the show and who played which role. It was a liberating experience for some of them. And yet, it only made some problems more apparent. Cultural appropriation runs rampant throughout this production. Melrose doesn't see any problem with the way she portrayed Fortune Cookie. She believes she was given the freedom to do that stereotypical Chinese performance because she has an Asian friend. To Jenny though, it presents as the way she thinks Melrose sees her. She's no longer a human being. Instead, she is reduced down to tropes that are offensive to her. This appropriation is widespread around her. She wants to be proud of her heritage while not letting it be the only thing that defines her. She details how she and her family lost so much of their identity because they fled war. It's a shocking story that features Jenny at her most vulnerable and the rest of the ladies as incredibly compassionate. They never knew just how devastating all of this was for her. It simply became too much for her. Sharing this story may not be enough for her to change things though. She may still be popping out of a fortune cookie every single night. She just needs her friends to understand just how offensive it is. The same is also true of a new obstacle that appears in Arthie and Yolanda's relationship. Yolanda has fought against homophobia. She sees it in so much of her daily life. She wants to live in a world where people don't discriminate against her because of that. It's an ongoing struggle for survival though. Meanwhile, Arthie hasn't faced that kind of hatred and bigotry. She sees Dawn and Stacey making an awful comment as one of the many offensive things they say. That's simply who they are. People shouldn't be taken aback by them. And yet, it should hit personally for her. Now, it's also drama that boils up because Arthie can't say that she is gay. It's perfectly okay for her to still be exploring her sexuality. She doesn't have to identify as a lesbian either. It's fine for her to be bisexual or pansexual. It's just hard on Yolanda because she sees it as yet another straight woman teasing her along before rejecting her because the feelings aren't real and genuine. That's tragic even though Arthie repeatedly says that she wants things to work out with Yolanda because she does envision a future with her.

This episode may be the most transformational when it comes to Sheila. She goes on a hike with Ruth, Debbie and Reggie. Along the way, she gets dehydrated and encounters a real wolf. Now, it's unclear if she passes out before or after this meeting. It's just a significant visual for her. One that highlights how a wolf has the grace and strength to be exactly what it wants to be. Sheila may have always identified more as a wolf. That's no longer all that she aspires for though. She has gotten bit by the acting bug. She wants to explore what more is possible for her. It may be realistic for her to have to reject the She-Wolf persona in order to gain those opportunities. But the show presents it as a journey of self-reflection and acceptance. This isn't something that Sheila is forced into doing. She went out onstage as Liza Minnelli. She still embraced her She-Wolf persona though. And now, she has the strength to know that throwing away the costume doesn't mean also abandoning all of the qualities that have meant so much about the animal. She can still be strong and vicious. She can just continue to do so as a woman with complete acceptance over who she is and what she wants to do next. It's very empowering that she has this moment alongside Ruth because those two have a long history together especially when it came to respecting who Sheila was behind the mask. Ruth also helps Debbie accept that she has to keep fighting for exactly what she wants as a producer. The solution to her mom guilt may be simple. Both Ruth and Tammé say that she can just bring Randy to Las Vegas. Sure, that may sound insane and ridiculous. And yet, it may be the only thing to ensure that Debbie feels like she is remaining a part of his childhood. This is important to her and everyone understands just how badly she needs to fight for it. She should also have the freedom of making her own schedule. The recent experiment in the ring shows that many of these women can play the various roles. As such, the burden is no longer on them individually to play these parts. They can be interchangeable. That may give them all some time off if they need it. In fact, Sheila could really step up in that regard because she transformed so much in the last match-up. Of course, Ruth and the rest of the women don't know the true extent that Debbie is struggling. As such, the pressure could still ultimately lead to tragedy of some kind. For the moment though, Debbie is able to help Ruth figure out the emotions she's feeling about Sam. Now, that relationship may be incredibly forced and unnecessary. But Ruth finally admits that she feels scared and excited about Sam's recent declaration of feelings. In fact, she even lets it slip that she loves him. That's a major move. One that actually does make it devastating when Ruth returns to the hotel and Sam has checked himself out early. He's the one person who actually takes Bash up on his offer to leave. Everyone is being vulnerable and honest in the desert. Meanwhile, Sam runs away without telling anyone what he is doing or thinking.