Alvey and Jay Kulina don’t have the typical father-son relationship. From Kingdom‘s pilot, we saw that Jay blamed his father for his mother’s drug-addled life, and for Alvey, it seemed like he’d given up on his eldest son after Jay made a series of poor business decisions. (Translation: He’s not always great at showing up to his fights on time… or sober.)
Throughout the show’s two seasons, we’ve watched Alvey and Jay attempt to navigate balancing a father-son dynamic with a coach-fighter dynamic. In some moments, it feels like they’re drifting further apart — when Alvey suggests his son drop a dangerous amount of weight for a fight. And in others, it seems like there’s hope — when Alvey calls and tells Jay he’s proud of him after he defeats Ryan.
But for actor Jonathan Tucker, there was a scene in Wednesday’s episode that he feels was the most important in their relationship so far this season. When Alvey pulls Jay into his office to tell his son that he’s not going to corner him in his upcoming rematch with Ryan, something finally clicks for Jay.
“The scene where he says he won’t corner me — for me, that’s maybe the most pivotal scene in the 10 episodes,” Tucker says. “It’s the last wisps of, ‘Can you be my dad?’ And when he doesn’t, it’s this really liberating thing. Because finally I don’t have to have these expectations.”
For a character that’s spent much of his life yearning for a relationship with his father — whether he’d ever admit it — it was that scene that told Jay everything he needed to know about how his father sees him.
“When we shot it, I said, ‘I want to be able to turn around in the middle of the speech when he’s saying he’s not going to corner me, and I want to look out through the windows that he looks out through every day, the same windows that he sees other fighters out there, and I want to see those fighters the way he sees me right now, which is just like any of those replaceable bodies training out there,'” Tucker says. “And then to finally just be able to let it go. I finally, totally see how he sees me. And I don’t have to be concerned with this anymore.”
And once Jay lets go of those expectations for his father, it opens up a world of possibility. “I think that’s what’s going to be interesting moving forward,” Tucker says. “The ground has been raised in some respect. I have no expectations of him being my father, so I have no allegiance to anything anymore. Not in a bad way. I’m not mad at anybody about it. It is what it is.”
Kingdom airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on AT&T Audience Network.