RUTH'S A GIMP! (GLOW EPISODE 7 RECAP)
WOWOWOWOW A huge shoutout to GLOW on its two Emmy nominations! It’s up for Best Comedy Series and Best Supporting Actress (Betty Gilpin), and I think both nods are incredibly well-deserved. Go Liberty Belle!
Episode 7 - Nothing Shattered
The episode picks up immediately where we last left off, with Ruth on the mat screaming in pain. It’s obvious that no one on the production has thought ahead about a contingency plan in the event of an injury--there’s no medics or even any medical equipment on hand, and no one’s sure of what to do (stop filming? Clear out the audience?). Bash continues to give a play-by-play as Russell and Sam attempt to get Ruth out of the ring: “Here comes the camera guy!” The wrestlers load Ruth into the limo, then pile in to accompany her to the hospital. Is Sam jealous that Russell is the one to carry Ruth out of the ring? We’ll get to that in the next recap...
In the waiting room, to the chagrin of the hospital staff, the cast and crew stick by Ruth’s side still in full costume. This gives the show a great opportunity to kick into bottle episode mode, allowing each character to react to Ruth’s injury in their own ways. Sheila offers to lick Ruth’s wounds, while Melrose offers her purse Valium. Jenny compares the tragedy of Ruth to plot of Ice Castles, while Cherry sees it as more of Joe Theismann situation. Amidst all of the chaos and the beginnings of a Valium/Klonopin fog, Ruth notices the one person missing: “Where’s Debbie?” she asks, and the room falls into uncomfortable silence.
Bash also arrives, and is stunned to learn that Ruth doesn’t have health insurance; in fact, none of his wrestlers do unless their parents are paying for it (Melrose) or they’re professional stunt people who don’t have a death wish (Cherry and Keith). So many aspect of this episode hit home for me as a retired roller derby skater. I’ve rallied around so many of my injured teammates, borrowed crutches then passed them on to the next skater, and donated to fundraisers to help cover medical bills. When the other wrestlers insisted on going to the hospital with Ruth and staying with until the moment the doctor arrived, it warmed the heart of this Unlikely Adult Contact Sport Athlete. Whether it’s wrestling on a low budget show, paying dues to compete in a flat track derby league, or pouring your all into a women’s sport that doesn’t get the same funding and attention as its male counterpart, we do it because We. Flat. Out. Fucking. Love. It. That love is what makes it worth the expense, the gigantic time commitment, and the constant threat of injury. During my time in derby, I never went home with a trophy, but 10 years later, I still have those die-hard friends who brought Twizzlers and US Weekly magazines to my apartment during the 10 weeks I spent stranded on my couch with an immobilizer brace on my knee. So for the record, can I just say SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL WOMEN’S SPORTS TEAMS.
OK, off the soapbox and back to the recap. Sam, who hates hospitals because of course he’s terrible at confronting his own mortality, runs into Arthie at the vending machines. He’s shocked to learn that she’s a med school drop-out, and realizes how little he’s gotten to know the cast of women he’s been working with this whole time. Over Nutter Butter crackers, he confesses to her that his biggest issue with hospitals is his memory of watching his mother die in one and realizing too late that he should have helped her accomplish her dream of spending her final days on a beach in Italy. “We should get to die on our own terms,” he says, and you can almost see the cartoon lightbulb turn on over his head as he realizes that the same principle applies to G.L.O.W.
Eventually, Debbie does make her way to the hospital after taking a long shower then changing into an oversized leather vest. (Category is: Crocodile Dundee XXL) She gets to Ruth’s hospital room just in time to hear the doctor deliver the news that Ruth has a fracture in her fibula. Ruth, who had been hoping it was just a sprain, is crushed, but Debbie’s immediate response after hearing the doctor mention 8-10 weeks on crutches, is a flippant “Not that long!” At this point, all of the emotions Ruth has been bottling up for weeks come pouring out and I don’t know about you heauxs, but man was I cheering this bish on. Debbie (who bee-tee-dubs has still not APOLOGIZED FOR BREAKING RUTH’S BODY) attempts to spin the argument back around on Ruth, bringing up her affair with Mark. But Ruth’s grown a backbone, and screams “I have eaten shit for months!” She’s done trying to make things right with a frenemy who has no intention of ever granting forgiveness. As they have it out, Debbie is confronted with a major truth: she never really loved Mark. Their marriage was never actually all that happy. Ruth continues to hammer away, calling out Debbie for using their friendship to make herself feel better: “You’re the success, and I’m the disaster,” says Ruth, remembering the times Debbie would egg on Ruth to tell her horrible dating stories, all for the selfish purpose of making her sad marriage look shinier in comparison. In addition to the fantastic writing of this scene, I can’t give enough credit to Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin (Emmy nominee-what-what!) for selling all of the hurt and emotion both of these women have been burying throughout their friendship. Debbie can’t handle the confrontation any longer, and storms out of the room while Ruth breaks down into tears.
In the meantime, Bash is still wracked with guilt over the accident. “Ruth’s a gimp!” he wails, but Sam, in typical grumpy fashion, replies “Don’t be so hard on yourself. She’ll go on to live a full life.” Bash pays off Ruth’s medical bills in full (which really makes me wish I had a processed food heir around when I was playing derby). When Sam and Bash return to Ruth’s bedside, we learn the real source of her heartbreak; she can’t stand the thought of sitting out the rest of the season on the sidelines in a cast. G.L.O.W. has become everything to her: “I have people now,” she says, referring to the ragtag group of devoted misfits in sweaty leotards in the waiting room. To this day, as gross as it is, I can’t smell a sweaty helmet without getting flashbacks to hanging around in a locker room, joking with my teammates and feeling so incredibly happy to belong somewhere. Sam tells her he doesn’t plan to make the rest of the season without her, recruiting her as a writer/director.
Debbie returns after picking up a clean change of clothes from Ruth’s motel room. During the errand, she had run into Sheila, who helped give Debbie additional perspective by sharing the story of her parents’ troubled marriage. “God, it’s so weird to think of you as having parents,” Debbie said, but Sheila’s words carry weight. Back in the hospital room, Debbie and Ruth are at a more honest place in their relationship. Bash, Sam, and Debbie take turns signing Ruth’s cast. Bash writes “A Bash Howard Production!” (which is adorbs and of course Bash is a person who uses unnecessary exclamation points everywhere). Sam signs his initials. And Debbie writes, “Sorry I broke your ankle.” Finally, an apology.
Injury and conflict have been followed by catharsis and healing. This ragtag group of producers and talent have a plan in place: to finish the season on their terms, doing exactly what they want. Or as Sam says, “Set the weirdos free and see what the fuck happens.” And Ruth is still going to be around as the behind-the-camera heart of G.LO.W.; after all, where they’re going, they don’t need... legs...