Starz’s wrestling drama Heels introduced viewers to the Duffy Wrestling League. Jack Spade (Stephen Amell) and his brother Ace (Alexander Ludwig) are the headlining act, and there are many other men in the undercard matches. There’s also Crystal (Kelli Berglund), who has fans wondering whether she’ll be the DWL equivalent of WWE’s women’s league.
[Spoiler alert: This article contains vague spoilers for season 1 of Heels.]
Berglund and Heels executive producers Michael Waldron and Mike O’Malley spoke on a Zoom panel for the Television Critics Association on Aug. 19. All three discussed what you’re going to see from Crystal by the season finale. Heels airs Sundays on Starz.
Crystal is the ultimate underdog of ‘Heels’
Crystal appears in the ring with Ace. She’s also his girlfriend outside the ring. Waldron promised Heels fans would see Crystal rise more than any of the other wrestlers.
“Crystal is a character that in a lot of ways I always wanted to kind of be the heartbeat of the show,” Waldron said. “I wanted the audience to be rooting for her. She’s at the bottom of the ladder when the show starts. And in the writers’ room, we always talk about, well, how fun would it be to end the season with her literally at the top of that ladder?”
On Heels, top of the ladder is literal. So look for Crystal to climb the top of the ladder in the ring.
“It’s an underdog story,” Waldron continued. “She’s an underdog. You don’t want to try and be so subversive that you turn away from what would be a really satisfying arc, which is this character rising above a lot of challenges and everything. If anything, what we tried to do is maybe accelerate the story that we probably could have teased out over a couple of seasons. Because now, where do you go from the end of this with Crystal? I think it becomes really interesting.”
Kelli Berglund rises up to Crystal’s challenge
Berglund said she could relate to Crystal. She was excited to go on her Heels journey.
“That’s why I fell in love with Crystal reading this script,” Berglund said. “I loved that she started with a fight. We meet her in circumstances that aren’t great and we immediately want to root for her. She keeps this very quiet resilience. I think we start to learn what Crystal wants and she’s not so outward about it at first.”
Crystal holds her own against heels and faces
The DWL may be a male dominated league, but there are important roles for women. Willie (Mary McCormack) runs things behind the scenes. Jack listens to his wife (Alison Luff), too. Crystal earns the respect of her peers, too.
“As we go on, we learn that people have more respect for her,” Berglund said. “She does know what she’s talking about and she knows that and almost doesn’t necessarily need the validation of everyone else. I think she just wants to be recognized for something she’s good at and something that she loves. She just wants to succeed. All these characters have a dream and especially with the way that Crystal is treated, we want to see that happen for her. So it was really exciting to watch that unfold over all the eight episodes and transform into this woman that gets what she gets. And I’m curious to see how she handles it.”
O’Malley added that Willie will be integral to Crystal’s story.
“Willie has a history that we’ll continue to reveal about what her history is at the DWL and how she relates to and how Mary played it relating to Crystal,” O’Malley said. “She has a turn later in the season where she sees what Crystal is doing and tries to express that to Jack.”
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