Warning: Spoilers ahead for GLOW season 3 finale “A Very GLOW Christmas.”
The cinematic dash through a packed airport is the quintessential piece of proof that you’re watching a love story. Absolutely no one runs through a terminal, the bustling version of hell on Earth, for anyone they don’t love with all their heart. So, with the final scene in GLOW season 3, the Netflix dramedy confirms its two leading ladies, best friends Debbie Eagan (Emmy-nominee Betty Gilpin) and Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), are in their own version of a rom-com. Only in this story, its protagonists get the thriving friendship of their dreams rather than the guy.
That is why the ending of GLOW’s 2019 finale, “A Very GLOW Christmas,” is so heart-breaking. After a season of real growth, Debbie and Ruth’s friendship comes to a screeching, burning halt following that airport marathon. We’re left wondering if the wrestling series' bedrock friendship is breaking up for good. Thankfully, if you look at romantic comedy mechanics, there’s still hope for Netflix’s best pair of wrestler pals.
Debbie’s all-important airport run arrives in the last few minutes of “GLOW Christmas.” As the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling depart Las Vegas for their hometowns, Ruth’s flight is delayed. For a few seconds, Debbie believes she will have some time to talk to Ruth, her long-time friend and the most type-A person in the GLOW crew, about her big business secret: she has convinced Bash Howard (Chris Lowell) to buy a television station. It is a deal Debbie stole from her season 3 boyfriend, Tex (Toby Huss). Debbie will be the president of the network and she wants Ruth to direct the new for-TV iteration of the GLOW floorshow.
This possibility is what really makes Debbie's heart sing — sorry, Tex.
Ruth is the one who has been sending original helmer Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) — who fled Sin City after Ruth rebuffed his romantic advances — daily director’s notes. Ruth is the one who continuously craves narrative control of GLOW and has been pitching storylines and set pieces for seasons. Sam even recognised Ruth’s tenacity for directing and named her co-director of the initial TV show at the end of season 2. Ruth is perfect for the job.
“I’m going to build us an eden,” Debbie promises. “Where we run the show. You and me. No more auditions. No more being at the mercy of these fucking idiots. We’ll call the shots.”
It’s the great romantic pledge made for the friend-com. But, Ruth says no. She is clearly hurt by the rest of Debbie’s speech, which rightly points out that if Ruth was supposed to be a famous actress by now, she would have become one. Why keep auditioning for people who don’t appreciate you when there’s a lucrative and fulfilling creative off-shoot that puts all of the power in your hands? Although Debbie is fully correct, Ruth pulls back, saying the directing power plan isn’t for her. “I don’t want what you want,” Ruth says, admitting, “I don’t want an off-ramp. I never even got on the road.” When Debbie says she doesn’t understand Ruth, we get the top rom-com line of the season.
“Yes you do — probably better than anyone,” Ruth shoots back while walking onto the plane and away from Debbie. The season closes on Debbie’s bewildered face before fading to black. As with many rom-coms, our central pair has to split up before they can come back together, stronger and smarter than ever.
GLOW suggests such a future is possible since Ruth’s departure can’t be the end for her and Debbie. Although someone getting on an airplane traditionally means a full break in pop culture, it’s not like Ruth is staying in Denver forever. As she says, she still wants to get on the road to successful acting. That means she will be heading back to Los Angeles after the holidays if GLOW is renewed for a fourth season. That’s the same city where Debbie, Bash, and their network will be based, as well as Ruth’s estranged love interest Sam, who is now working on a movie with his daughter Justine (Britt Baron). Although Ruth may be trying to run away from Debbie’s very good plan, it’s inevitable these storylines are going to pull GLOW’s main foursome back together.
Maybe Ruth will agree to be an actress on new GLOW as long as her schedule allows her to keep auditioning for other parts. Maybe she’ll end up helping Sam produce his feature once she gets over the sting of his professional rejection in “The Libertines.” That way, she'll catch the directing bug. Maybe Ruth really will become an A-list actress and lead another program on Debbie's network. But, no matter what, Ruth is bound to get pulled back into Debbie’s GLOW orbit, just like any rom-com before this.
Only this time, something is bound to happen to make Debbie and Ruth the professional power couple we all know they can be. Those are just the rules.