The first episode from Heels Season 2 is a breath of fresh air. Told almost entirely through a flashback, the season premiere dissects Ace (Alexander Ludwig) and Jack Spade’s (Stephen Amell) relationship with their father, which was something that Season 1 only hinted at but left an effect nevertheless that could be felt throughout most episodes. After a premiere that’s equal parts tender and thrilling, you’d think that the new batch would angle towards improving over Season 1. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

In Season 2, Heels continues to follow the group of wrestlers that put together weekly shows for the inhabitants of a small town called Duffy. The fights are still fake and everyone’s into them regardless, since the joys of simulated fights and rivalries are more than enough for the townsfolk to have their weekend fun. This time, however, Crystal (Kelli Berglund) gets added to the slate after putting on a show by the end of Season 1, proving how fierce of a wrestler she can be and having the crowd chant her name.

The biggest issue with the second season of Heels is the same as Season 1. Since we are not physically there to root along the crowd, it’d be great if the series gave us other elements to relate to and care about, like a callback to a rehearsal scene or a particular move that a character had to train hard to nail. But we rarely see rehearsal scenes or the wrestlers’ struggles during practice. By choosing to mostly keep us in the dark, Heels Season 2 robs us of making a connection between what goes on backstage and how it influences what happens onstage. As a consequence, our interest in the combats decreases with every match because, just like in Season 1, there are only two possible dramatic outcomes to every performance: somebody going off-script or starting to fight for real. When you’ve seen it more than a dozen times, the fights tend to get old quite fast.

RELATED: ‘Heels’ Season 2: Release Date, Trailer, Plot, and Everything We Know So Far

‘Heels’ Season 2 Struggles to Keep Viewers Invested

Image via Starz

It’s not that Heels doesn’t try to do something different with every presentation. This season, we get the introduction of a new big Batman-like character to the ring, but it quickly becomes clear that he brings nothing else into the mix except theatricality. What makes it worse is that Season 2 is so committed to surprising us like we are members of the audience that it throws logic out the window and has characters pop up on the ring in physically impossible ways or just appear as if no one saw them come in despite the lights being on. In contrast, the moments that would really help us get invested in the fights (rehearsals, debates, coming up with storylines) are rarely seen throughout the new episodes. In that sense, Season 1 fares better than Season 2 because we at least got to see a lot more of Jack planning each fight and obsessing about storylines, which helps us understand and care a lot more about him.

When it comes to representation, Season 2 of Heels does only the bare minimum to improve its story arcs. The series acknowledges that female representation is poor when it comes to fake wrestling, but the series also seems satisfied in having only Crystal as a major name in the league while giving her little to no agency. That changes a bit by the end of the season, but given that it takes the better part of 16 episodes for this to happen, it’s slow character development, to say the least. And we’re not even getting started on Rooster Robbins (Allen Maldonado), the only Black character among the main wrestlers that hardly gets a storyline outside the ring.

Ironically, Heels is pretty comfortable in giving plenty of space to Bill Hancock (Chris Bauer), a character that’s openly misogynistic and is rarely held accountable for what he says and does. It’s one thing to have the people in the story wave him off, but the series itself gives Hancock a pass by offering multiple chances for the character to grow with the public. True, the character sometimes works as nothing more than comic relief due to his outdated worldview. However, at one point in the season, he even gets a sort of redemption and dramatic arc that makes him multidimensional — which is more than you can say for a slate of other characters.

If You’re a Die-Hard ‘Heels’ Fan, You Probably Won’t Be Disappointed

Willie and Jack in Heels Season 2
Image via Starz

All in all, if you’re looking for a low-to-no-stakes series to watch, Heels Season 2 certainly has a lot to offer. There’s a value in just seeing small-town folk exist and interact within a certain microcosm and get only moderately involved in their affairs and worries. It’d be great to delve deeper, of course, but when it’s off the ring, Heels certainly doesn’t suggest it wants to be a hardcore drama that leaves you in the fetal position by the end of every episode. That’s why even funerals in the show have a tinge of optimism and basically every character has the chance of being a comic relief.

The end of Season 2 hints at a big twist coming to the lives of many characters in Heels, which could potentially shake up this structure and radically change the approach to the series’ very core. Should the writers follow up on what is introduced, Heels has the potential to greatly elevate its emotional beats. For now, however, we’re stuck with fights that are not too surprising and characters that don’t get the spotlight they deserve.

Rating: C

The Big Picture

  • Heels Season 2 continues to follow the wrestlers in a small town but fails to provide elements that would make us care about the characters’ struggles or the backstage dynamics, resulting in a decrease in interest.
  • Despite attempts to introduce new elements, like a Batman-like character, Heels Season 2 focuses too much on surprising the audience and sacrifices logic, which takes away from the investment in the fights.
  • While the representation of female wrestlers and a Black character is acknowledged, the second season falls short in developing their storylines and agency.

Heels Season 2 premieres July 28 on Starz.

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