Ace’s emotions got the best of him once again during the September 12 episode of Heels. After Crystal went off script and broke up with Ace in front of everyone, Ace retaliated by breaking Bobby’s leg. It’s a gruesome scene, with Ace bending Bobby’s leg until the bone breaks through the skin. Crystal watches in horror as it all goes down in front of her.
HollywoodLife got the chance to talk EXCLUSIVELY with Kelli Berglund about this game-changing episode. Crystal really showed off her skills and asserted herself, but it didn’t turn out the way she’d hoped. Kelli spoke about Crystal and Wild Bill’s bond, Crystal’s visions for her future, and whether she thinks Crystal and Ace are good for each other.
This whole episode was just a roller coaster of chaos. Crystal went off script, she broke up with Ace in front of everyone, and then Ace broke Bobby’s leg in the most brutal way possible. Do you think there’s part of Crystal that feels guilty for what happens?
Kelli Berglund: Absolutely. I think there’s so much weight that is already on Crystal for doing her job and making sure she does the best job possible to then work her way up. I think part of her in that moment, especially having the conversation with Wild Bill, it’s finally put in front of her: you have been treated like absolute crap for so long now by all of these people, and it’s about damn time to show them who you are and what you can do. So I really like that moment for her, and I like that moment of triumph in the ring where it’s Crystal’s time to shine. She actually has a real voice for once. I think she isn’t worried about pissing off Ace and what that will do to their relationship because we’ve seen how he has treated her. Over time, while there is a connection between them, it’s not great the way that he takes his emotions out on her, but the last thing she would have ever wanted was for Bobby to get involved because we’ve seen this friendship develop, and they find such comfort in each other. That is her source of comfort and safety and friendship that is no strings attached. They can just be each other with themselves. So the fact that ends up happening, she absolutely feels like this is all her fault. She knows that Ace is an emotional guy, but in the end, if she wouldn’t have gone off-script, then that wouldn’t have happened. It’s such a high and such a low for her. It’s interesting for her to deal with, but she hates that it happens.
I think it’s not even that Ace is jealous of what he thinks may be between them. It’s almost like hurting Bobby means hurting Crystal and her chances to be in the spotlight.
Kelli Berglund: He wants it for himself. It’s about Ace. It’s about his success, and he kind of takes everyone down around him to achieve that. He knows he’s hurting Crystal. He is literally hurting Bobby. He knows that Jack is going to be pissed, but he doesn’t care because that’s kind of how Ace is.
Crystal and Ace have a very tumultuous relationship, to say the least. Things get messy when you mix business and feelings, but do you think Crystal’s in love with Ace?
Kelli Berglund: I think Crystal’s a young girl. I want to say she’s maybe 20. I don’t know if that’s fully defined in the show, but I think she’s a young girl that has a really big dream and a love for something like this. She’s a girl with real emotions and feelings for someone like Ace. I think she’s the kind of girl if it came down to it, she would choose her career over a relationship. But like a lot of the women in the show, I think she knows that Ace needs her as a support system and as someone to comfort him and make sure he’s okay and keep him in line. So while they’ve been in this kind of on-again, off-again dating thing, I do think there is a real love between them. I think Ace really loves Crystal. He just doesn’t really know how to balance that with his career and his relationship with Jack and the trauma that he’s recovering from with his dad. I think he’s kind of a mess of a human. She’s put Ace first. She’s put the DWL first, but in the end, it’s time for Crystal to start looking out for Crystal. I think that becomes very clear as the show goes on, and I don’t think she’s purely using him to get to the top. I think there’s an element of that, and she wants to do it together and thrive together. But I don’t think it’s purely just her seeking success.
Do you think he views her as a threat?
Kelli Berglund: I think so. I think probably not at first, but you have to wonder why there are no women wrestlers at the dome. It’s kind of a crazy concept, and we know that Crystal can wrestle. I love that Jack acknowledges it multiple times throughout the season, and you see that little connection between Jack and Crystal. It’s almost like, this girl’s got ideas. Maybe I will take advice from little Crystal that is just the valet. I for sure think that Ace sees that as much more of a threat than Jack does, but he knows that if Jack knows it’s a competition now between Ace and Crystal, that’s going to mess with his [Ace’s] head. He doesn’t want that. He wants everything to run smoothly. So, unfortunately, Crystal’s put in the position that she is, but she’s absolutely a threat there.
There are real feelings there, but are Ace and Crystal ultimately even good for each other? There’s a lot of toxicity there.
Kelli Berglund: That’s the question. They clearly bond over a lot. They both love wrestling. They love this world. They grew up in this small town of Duffy. But maybe it’s just the wrong timing. Is there ever a right time for them? I’m not sure. Can they thrive independently without each other? I think they’re in a very weird spot in their lives where they’re not totally sure of that yet. But no, I don’t think that Ace’s treatment of Crystal is necessarily good for her mental health. I think she’s a really strong girl that can set a lot of that aside and realize it is exactly what it is and not let it get to her. But she’s a human at the end of the day, and these things do probably get to her, and she bottles it up and it eats away at her, which is not healthy whatsoever. I think in their lives right now for sure this is borderline toxic.
Wild Bill’s really come out of nowhere. When he first came onto the scene, he was sort of just a caricature of the man he was, but he’s slowly but surely become a source of wisdom.
Kelli Berglund: Isn’t it crazy the turn his character had? It’s like, am I sitting here sympathizing with Wild Bill right now? He just does such a good job at being this wild character that you somehow still love and want to see succeed. He does a great job at that.
He gave Crystal a lot of confidence, or at least that little boost that she needed to showcase her talents. Do you think Wild Bill could be a good ally for her?
Kelli Berglund: I think so. I kind of like that right off the bat, you don’t really know what to think of Wild Bill. Is he this villain? Is he this person that we can’t trust? I think he’s just quite the character, and this is a great example of what fame can do to someone, amongst other things. But I think while he’s dealing with his own issues, I think there is something very genuine about the conversation that he’s having with Crystal. He does not need to go out of his way to pull Crystal aside and tell her all of these things. Unless, of course, it’s just for the sake of watching chaos unfold. But I think he’s a little smarter than that, and he does know this world. He does see Crystal’s potential, and I think he’s doing that for a very real reason.
At the beginning of episode 5, we saw Crystal in the ring showing her talents. Jack liked where she was going with things. He recognizes what Crystal can do. They have this nice back and forth with each other. What can you say about their dynamic going forward?
Kelli Berglund: That’s something that I’d really like to see develop further in a potential season 2. Clearly, Jack’s number one worry is this dome needs to function, Ace needs to function, we all need to function because we all just want a stable job and we want to be happy and we want to do well. There’s the obvious threat of Crystal making Ace upset in any way. We have to keep Ace happy, that’s number one. I think it’s episode 1 or 2 where Jack goes, ‘What’s your name? Cheryl?’ And she’s like, ‘Crystal.’ I like that Crystal has no problem asserting herself to Jack, but not in a way that oversteps a boundary where she’s being disrespectful because she can’t. She’ll be kicked out in two seconds. Ace has had valets over the years, and she can be out literally any second, so it’s walking that fine line of putting up with sh*t but also staying quiet. After episode 2, when Ace is totally off the rails, there is this sort of awkward, charming moment between Jack and Crystal where she just hops in his car. She’s like, ‘Let’s go find him because I care, and this is my opinion and I don’t care.’ It all starts there with the idea that Crystal thinks Ace could be a good heel, and she’s not wrong. That’s like where this all blossoms from. And while he can’t be obvious about it in front of everyone else, the two of them have this sort of unspoken dialogue and unspoken energy. They do respect one another and that follows all the way through until episode 8 where Crystal’s doing risky stuff, and Jack gives her the approval to do it because she does know what she’s doing. She has a plan. She’s been in this world. She’s not stupid, so that is something I’m really curious to see develop between the two of them because it’s this unexpected relationship and respect. I really like it and I’m glad that someone of Jack’s nature and importance can acknowledge that with Crystal’s character.
Crystal grew up in the small town of Duffy. For some people, it’s hard to ever leave the place they grew up in. What is the future she’s perceived for herself? Do you think she’d be happy outside of Duffy?
Kelli Berglund: I think she would. I think Duffy’s all she’s known, and she’s been okay with it. But I think there’s something about Crystal that’s wise beyond her years, and she’s realized it at a fairly young age of 20 or so that she does see herself beyond this. She’s working in a strategic way to get to the top somehow or see a career outside of Duffy. I don’t think she has a hatred for Duffy. I think it’s a part of her and it always will be. She found something in this town that grounds her there and that she loves, so I don’t think she’d ever spit on Duffy in that sense if she did gain success in the wrestling world beyond this. But I do think her career’s important to her, and she wants to be up on stage, in the ring, doing her thing.