Alert: Major spoilers are ahead for Glow season 1. Come back after you’ve watched episode 9, "The Liberal Chokehold."
While bingeing a Netflix original series, there are twists, and then there are twists. Glow episode 8, "The Liberal Chokehold," falls aggressively into the latter category. That’s because the episode plays with sexist tropes even the proudest of feminists can forget to register and then blows those assumptions up entirely. Of course, we’re talking about the surprise reveal the youngest Glow show-within-a-show star, Justine Biagi (Britt Baron), is actually the daughter of rough-around-the-edges director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron). The legitimately shocking twist comes after Sam inadvertently tries to hook up with his own daughter in a fit of self-loathing. The entire scene is worthy of your best uncomfortable Chrissy Teigen Cry Face and a few hits of the pause button between shrieks.
Throughout Glow season 1, Justine seems obviously smitten with director Sam. It’s a story viewers have been told so much, even I filled in the blanks for myself. Justin grew up obsessing over Sam’s schlocky grindhouse films, so she’s more protective of them than even her own burgeoning new relationship with a cute pizza delivery boy. She has such a crush on her idol, she enacts drastic schemes to accuse his current hookup of stealing. And she’s always hovering so close to him because, you know, crush. I’m ashamed of the fact I took these signals as cold, hard proof of Justine’s affection, but these are the assumptions you accidentally make after getting used to nearly 25 years of lazy film and television making. And, who am I to judge Justine for hypothetically being attracted to her favourite movie director? At some point in my high school career, I definitely questioned where Quentin Tarantino falls in a game of Fuck, Marry, Kill. I’m sorry.
Thankfully, "Chokehold" comes to upend all of our rude assumptions about Justine when the teen stumbles upon a solo Sam during a benefit the Glow women crashed. Although I was praying a cocaine-fuelled Sam wouldn’t take advantage of a young woman like Justine, I was excited to see her finally get her feelings off of her chest. She sits down very close to Sam and the very drugged up director completely misreads her signals. "I mean it’s not about the next thing, because the next fucking thing never happens. It’s just about whatever’s in front of you." Unfortunately, Justine is what’s in front of Sam. "You are pretty," he mumbles while staring at the teenager's chest. "I don’t even know if you’re over 18. But I don’t care."
After Sam pulls her into a deeply inadvisable kiss, Justine jumps back and screams, "Oh my God! I am your daughter!" She explains Sam was kicked out of a Sacramento Black Panther rally back in the day, ended up at Justine’s mom’s bar, and went home with the older Biagi woman. Of course, a very high Sam takes the news he’s a father poorly, yelling things like, "Do you want bone marrow?" and "Stop fucking looking at me!" at his child.
Cruel exclamations aside, the twist is a welcome one, since it perfectly explains why Justine ditched new boyfriend Billy (Casey Johnson) in the middle of a date after he mocks Sam’s movies. She’s not upset over some schoolgirl crush — her boyfriend just made fun of her secret dad. The teen was obviously nervous enough about her big reveal, she doesn’t need Billy taking shots at Sam too. And Justine didn’t try to frame Sam’s Glow girlfriend Rhonda (Kate Nash) out of rampant jealousy. Instead, she didn’t approve of her father’s choice in much-younger girlfriends. It's good to know a show like Glow, that gives us complex women in complex friendships, wouldn't reduce its youngest woman to any banal tropes.
And, thankfully, this story gives us something close to a happy ending, with a finale father-daughter reunion. It's clear Sam isn't the only one in the family with a dark sense of humor, since, as soon as the duo comes to a detente, Justine jokingly asks, "You wanna make out again?" Please, never again, Glow. Never again.