Jay Kulina is a fighter, a brother, a friend, and a son. But perhaps more than anything, he’s an addict, and this week’s Kingdom saw him hit his lowest point when he secluded himself to a motel room with Ava, leaving only to collapse at his brother’s fight.
With Ava by his side, Jay has created a drug-ridden escape for himself, and right now, he has no interest in leaving it. “Ava brings him to the lowest low. She brings out the addictive quality in him,” Jonathan Tucker tells EW of his character’s troubling situation. “Addicts find ways in which to fulfill their addictive needs in different places, whether it’s people or the discipline of the gym or alcohol or eating disorders or drugs. They all find these different outlets, and she has a bit of that fire that he can’t walk away from, and part of it’s tied to that addictive quality.”
As Kingdom creator Byron Balasco puts it, Ava (Lina Esco) came along at just the right time, meeting Jay at the tail end of his camp, moments before he defeated Ryan in the cage. “She’s the right drug at the right time so that he can allow himself to gently slide from the high of the win,” Balasco says. “It’s almost like two people looking for a place to die together who don’t really know each other that well, but they go into this kind of bubble together and it feels like they’re the center of each other’s worlds. They don’t really know each other at all — they just have this common feeling of giving over to numbness.”
And as Alvey (Frank Grillo) pointed out in this week’s episode, Ava is not dissimilar to a young Christina (Joanna Going). As Alvey put it, “I think she reminds me of somebody I used to know.”
Balasco sums up the parallel by saying, “The relationship between Jay and Ava might be what Alvey and Christina looked like at one point in time, except Alvey got out of that hotel room and Christina never did.”
Kingdom airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on the AT&T Audience Network.