For one, we finally get an episode that wrestles with how Tammé (Kia Stevens) deals with playing the racist caricature Welfare Queen when her Stanford-attending son tags along to one of the matches. Later, we get a glimpse to the sad, strange life of producer Bash Howard (Chris Lowell), and how the death of his former butler unleashes what appears to be his deeply internalized homophobia. Meanwhile, the ornery director Sam learns how to handle parenting duties now that the teenage daughter he just learned he had has moved into his house.
But the show is at its best when it's dealing with the fractured relationship between Ruth and Debbie (Betty Gilpin, giving one of the year's rawest and best performances). GLOW opens with the revelation that Ruth has been sleeping with Debbie's husband, but by the end of the first season, they've reached an uneasy truce for the sake of their colleagues. Still, their resentment for each other is still very much there, and the way it festers and explodes in Season 2 is gut-wrenching and painfully honest. Debbie, high on cocaine, breaks Ruth's ankle in a match, shortly after blaming the show's cancellation on Ruth's unwillingness to sleep with a lecherous network head. (The sequence where the exec schedules a "meeting" with Ruth in his hotel room is eerily reminiscent of countless Hollywood #MeToo stories.)
In the hospital, they finally have it out in a brutal fight where their heartbreak and anger tears down the walls they put up. Debbie is still hurt, yes, but that has morphed into a bitterness that borders on callous. The affair, she believes, caused her neat life to fall into disarray. Ruth rebukes the idea that Debbie even enjoyed that existence and reveals how demeaning their friendship felt to her. She knows she did an objectively bad thing, but her anger at the way Debbie would consistently belittle her and her acting career feels no less legitimate, just as Debbie's point about not wanting to feel sorry for her success in the wake of Ruth's failures also rings true. Their battle is cathartic, and, ultimately, healing. The freeness they now feel leads to the most straight-up joyful half hour of the season: A full, grainy recreation of a GLOW episode, complete with wrestling matches and songs.