Movie Reviews: Heels Season 2

The first episode of Season 2 of Heels is a breath of new air. The season-opening, told almost entirely in flashback, examines Ace (Alexander Ludwig) and Jack Spade’s (Stephen Amell) relationship with their father, which Season 1 barely hinted at but left an impression that could be felt across most episodes. After a debut that is equal parts sensitive and exhilarating, you’d expect the next season would aim to improve on Season 1. That, unfortunately, is not the case.

In Season 2, Heels follows a bunch of wrestlers who put on weekly events for the people of a little town named Duffy. The battles are still phony, but everyone is into them since the thrills of simulated fights and rivalries are more than enough for the townspeople to have a good time on the weekend. Crystal (Kelli Berglund) is introduced to the schedule this time after putting on a show towards the conclusion of Season 1, showcasing how tough a wrestler she can be and having the fans shout her name.

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The main problem with Heels’ second season is the same as it was with Season 1. Because we are not physically present to root with the audience, it would be fantastic if the series provided us additional components to relate to and care about, such as a flashback to a practice moment or a specific move that a character had to work hard to perfect. However, we rarely witness practice sessions or the wrestlers’ tribulations.

Heels Season 2 robs us of creating a link between what occurs backstage and how it affects what happens onstage by keeping us primarily in the dark. As a result, our excitement in the fights wanes with each match because, just like in Season 1, there are only two dramatic possibilities to any performance: someone going off-script or starting to fight for real. When you’ve seen it more than a dozen times, the battles grow old pretty quickly.

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It’s not that Heels doesn’t try something new with each presentation. This season sees the arrival of a new large Batman-like persona to the ring, but it immediately becomes evident that he adds nothing except theatricality to the mix. What’s worse, Season 2 is so intent on surprising us as if we’re part of the audience that it throws logic out the window and has characters emerge on the ring in physically impossible ways or simply appear as if no one saw them walk in despite the lights being turned on.

Screenshot 28In contrast, the moments that might actually help us feel immersed in the bouts (rehearsals, arguments, developing plots) are seldom shown in the new episodes. In that regard, Season 1 outperforms Season 2 since we get to witness a lot more of Jack planning each battle and agonizing about stories, which helps us understand and care about him a lot more.

Season 2 of Heels accomplishes the absolute minimum to enhance its story arcs in terms of representation. The anime admits that female presence in fake wrestling is lacking, but it also appears content with having just Crystal as a significant star in the league while allowing her little to no autonomy.

That changes at the conclusion of the season, but given that it takes the better part of 16 episodes, it’s sluggish character growth, to say the least. And that’s not even going into Rooster Robbins (Allen Maldonado), the lone Black character among the key wrestlers who receives very little outside of the ring.

Ironically, Heels is very content to give Bill Hancock (Chris Bauer) lots of space, a character who is blatantly sexist and is seldom held accountable for what he says and does. It’s one thing for the characters in the tale to dismiss him, but the series itself offers Hancock a pass by providing several opportunities for the character to develop with the audience. True, due to his outmoded mindset, the character occasionally serves just as comedic relief. However, he does have a type of redemption and dramatic development at one point in the season, which makes him more complex than a slew of other characters.

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Screenshot 29Overall, Heels Season 2 has a lot to offer if you’re looking for a low-to-no-stakes series to watch. There’s a benefit in just witnessing small-town people exist and interact inside a certain microcosm while being only marginally active in their activities and concerns. Of course, it would be fantastic to go deeper, but Heels doesn’t seem to want to be a tough drama that puts you in the fetal position by the conclusion of each episode. As a result, even funerals in the show have a hint of optimism, and almost every character has the potential to offer comedic relief.

The finale of Season 2 foreshadows a major twist in the lives of several Heels characters, which might possibly shake up this framework and drastically alter the approach to the series’ basic core. Heels have the ability to substantially raise their emotional beats if the authors follow through on what is established. For the time being, we’re stuck with fights that aren’t very shocking and people that don’t get the attention they deserve.

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