Here’s the thing about Kingdom: Every week, the quality is consistent, but the content is never the same. Every hour gives us a new level of drama, and every hour offers us more insight into these characters, whether that’s by revealing more of their history or by pairing up individuals who don’t usually spend time together. For instance, this week gave us the most interaction we’ve seen between Nate, Jay, and Ryan. And for Alvey, it gave us the most interaction we’ve seen between him and someone outside of the fighting world. All at once, it felt like the show’s most lighthearted hour and its heaviest. In other words, it was pretty great.
We kick things off with a wake-up call for Jay. It’s cut day, which means Jay has approximately 20 minutes to enjoy a hot (and salty?) bath before he needs to put on his plastics, hit the gym, and lose 10 pounds. No big deal, right? Well, the same can’t be said for Ryan, who has to lose 20 pounds. But before we get to that, Nate lets his brother know that he’s decided not to press charges against the gangsters who beat him up. Surprisingly, Jay’s willing to put it behind him. (But will we ever get to know what happened when they showed up at the house?!)
With Alvey missing for the day, Lisa asks for Jay and Nate’s help getting Ryan ready. But here’s the thing: Ryan hates plastics (which I wish were a Mean Girls reference). He’d rather peel his forehead—don’t picture it—than get in the suit. But don’t worry. His horrific prison stories don’t work on Jay and poor Nate, who couldn’t cut weight even if he wanted to because, well, he was physically assaulted. With that, Ryan is suited up and on a bike, where Jay continues to give him shit, this time about breaking the mirrors in the gym. Could these two be any more fun to watch? (The answer is no.)
Back in Alvey’s office, Lisa finds his pills and realizes that he must’ve stopped taking them weeks ago. She still hasn’t heard from him and Jay’s assurance that he did this to Christina a few times does not help. So instead, he heads to the sauna with Ryan while Nate goes outside to keep Lisa company.
After Alvey sends an “I’m OK” text, Nate tells Lisa that she should leave his father. “You don’t deserve this shit,” he says. Alvey chooses not to help himself, so why doesn’t she walk away? She claims it’s because she loves Alvey and Jay and Nate, so Nate drops it. Instead, he tells her he loves her (and suddenly I want 50 more scenes with them).
However, in the sauna, Ryan’s the one who’s in love … with Lisa. After admiring Jay for being sane after all they’ve been through, Ryan admits that he loves Lisa more than ever. Not only that, but he doesn’t see the point in moving on. If he’s got something good, he’s not backing off.
And what does Alvey have to say about all of this? Well, nothing, because he spends the episode at the Sunset Hawaiian, where he’s checked in for a day off, which includes drinking screwdrivers by the pool and making friends with the hotel owner. Sitting by the pool, Alvey talks about how fatherhood helped prepare him to transition from being a fighter to being a coach, and before he knows it, he’s invited to dinner, which is where we learn more about Alvey and Christina. Alvey finally admits that Christina wasn’t totally crazy. He was never a very good husband, and most of that had to do with the fact that he’d come home from a fight on the road and have to transition from being “the man” to being a husband, and he wasn’t good at balancing the two. Now? He’s embarrassed by the guy he was.
So while Alvey drowns his sorrows in Purple Drank—cold medicine and soda—Jay and Ryan are still hard at work. Jay, ever the pep-talk expert, convinces Ryan that he is indeed a champion (if only he could find his pants). Also, it would help if his parole officer didn’t show up in the middle of things. The good news? Mr. Parole Officer is a “salipheliac,” someone who is sexually attracted to salty things, particularly sweat. (If this is real, someone please tell me.)
Minutes later, Ryan’s without his shirt, and Mr. Parole Officer is giving himself a happy ending in his car. So, there’s an image for ya.
By day’s end, Ryan and Jay both make weight, after which Ryan all but calls Alvey out on not being around for Lisa—she’s not having it—and Jay leaves his dad a message on his phone in what might be the sweetest moment we’ve seen between the two. They’re not in the same room, but Jonathan Tucker’s performance does all the work when Jay updates his dad on the results of cut day before saying, “I don’t know where you are, but I hope you’re alright.” Again, 50 more scenes with them, please?
And finally, Alvey admits that he still has that animal streak in him, and every day feels like war to him. He’s tried to see things differently. He’s read all the “show-me-the-way books,” but nothing’s worked. “I’m hardwired for conflict,” he says in one of my favorite lines of the series. And that conflict isn’t going to end soon, particularly now that Nate is trying to convince Mac to give him some HGH and Lisa, well, might not love him anymore. When Alvey calls her at the end of the episode, he asks her if she still loves him and when she doesn’t respond, he hangs up.
Much like Alvey, Kingdom is hardwired for conflict, which is why it keeps viewers on their toes. That being said, for a show about people who literally punch others in the face for a living, it is one of the most subtle dramas on TV.