Alvey Kulina inside the cage is a man with a purpose. He’s like an animal chasing his prey — he knows what he’s after. But Alvey Kulina outside the cage is lost. He still has that animalistic mentality, but he has no idea what he’s working toward. And that means he has no idea how to deal with unexpected twists. When something comes along that he didn’t anticipate, he has no choice but to react instinctively.
And that’s where we find him when season 2B premieres. Having just received the devastating news that Lisa lost the baby, Alvey, unsure of how to handle his emotions and furthermore, unsure of what to feel, destroys his office and puts his fist through a glass trophy case. Then, he bandages up his hand and heads to the press conference for Jay and Ryan’s upcoming fight. Because if Alvey understands one thing, it’s that the show must go on.
At the press conference, Alvey explains that he will work with both fighters as they prepare to get in the cage in a Navy St. v. Navy St. showdown. But when the day comes, Nate will be in Jay’s corner, and Joe Daddy will be in Ryan’s, allowing Alvey to stay neutral, at least on the outside. And when it comes to which fighter will win, Alvey borrows a saying from the Greeks: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” (This is a solid contender for Alvey’s epitaph, right behind “f–k ’em all.”)
The press conference is also where we get our first glimpse of Ryan and Jay and how they’re handling the idea of getting in the cage together. When asked about each other’s weaknesses, Ryan quickly lays out the areas where he intends to take Jay down, but Jay, well, he’s Jay. “Ryan Wheeler has no weakness,” he tells the crowd, Jonathan Tucker’s undeniable presence and total ownership of this character smacking us in the face after months away. “Look at him. That’s God’s work. That’s 155 pounds of get-down with a smile to take your breath away, ladies.”
Needless to say, Jay’s not going to stop being Jay. But it’s also very clear that he’s taking this fight seriously, and the same can be said for Ryan. Although they handle themselves very differently, both as individuals and as athletes, they’re clearly ready to get this thing done.
But for now, they’ve still got a little time before the big fight. Heading back to the gym, Ryan focuses on helping Alicia cut weight for her fight while Jay gives Mario Goldsmith a tour around the semi-functioning gym. At least until he tries to show Mario how Jacob’s ladder works only to discover that it’s broken.
Jay quickly takes the problem to Nate, who’s been filling in for Lisa for the past three months, and spoiler: He hates it. He might be “the best bad choice” that the gym has to handle an upper-management role, but that doesn’t make him a good choice and it certainly doesn’t make him willing.
So while Jay calls the repair man for Jacob’s ladder, Nate heads out to his new gig: Serving as a personal trainer for some rich guy named Bob who clearly has some boundary issues. From the moment he tells Nate, “I’d love to see you fight,” you can tell something is off about this guy. But all Nate sees is a $10,000 check. It seems Bob is a busy man and wants to put Nate on retainer for the month. Just like that, Nate’s willing to look past any weird vibes … for now.
With Ryan taking over Alicia’s weight cut for the day, Alvey heads off to his den of depression: The Sunset Hawaiian hotel, home to Degranzo, the one man Alvey knows is good for a drink (or 10) and zero judgment. And from the minute Alvey explains that his visit was “last-minute,” Degranzo knows something’s up.
A few drinks later, Alvey catches Degranzo up. And in what might be one of the most selfless moments we’ve seen from Alvey so far, he can’t seem to get over the fact that, “She went it alone, man. I wasn’t there.” In this moment, it isn’t about Alvey’s pain or what losing this baby will do to his life. It’s about Lisa and how going through something like this is causing her pain … and he’s not there. After two seasons, I honestly think this might be one of the sweetest Alvey moments we’ve seen, because he seems, if only for a second, to be fully removing himself from the situation and thinking about someone else. Maybe it’s growth or maybe it’s a fleeting sentiment, but either way, it’s moving.
NEXT: Ryan loses control