Every new character that comes on this show teaches us something about the central characters, whether it’s an old friend of Alvey’s, a new love interest for Jay, or Ryan’s roommate at the halfway house. But this time, it’s Alicia’s sister, Ava, who arrives in town, and she’s come equipped with a melancholy vibe and a Mercedes.
According to Ava, she drove all the way from Miami to LA and would like to see her sister. And when she arrives at the gym, we learn that Alicia goes by her mother’s maiden name, before we find out that Ava spent the last year working as a model in Europe. But Alicia isn’t the only character Ava serves in this scene. As soon as Jay enters, it’s obvious there’s an interest there, and most of it is coming from Alicia’s younger sister, who convinces “Ali” to go out with her that night.
Meanwhile, we get our first glimpse of how Christina’s handling rehab as she sits in a group meeting and speaks rather freely. When someone named Reggie wants to talk about his great life, Christina calls him on it, pushing him to talk about the fact that he left his daughter in a car and pointed a gun at his wife. Turns out, Christina’s not into wasting her time. And when it comes to how she’s allowed to speak so freely, well, we get that answer pretty quickly: She’s screwing the man in charge, some guy named Jason.
But unlike what we saw Christina do last season, this feels less like it’s about her need for male attention — which I’m sure is part of it – and more about her finding a way to get what she wants. Christina’s never liked rules, and rehab is no exception. So after Jason tells her that they have to stop what they’re doing because he’s newly married, she agrees. Quite frankly, she doesn’t seem to care one way or another. All she wants is his okay for her to break curfew tonight so that she can spend time with Jay. And of course, he grants her wish.
While Nate trains Jay at the gym, Alvey — fresh off an eventful night at the hotel — heads over to check on Ryan, but things quickly go awry. Just as Alvey goes to get out of his car, he hits a cyclist with his car door … or the cyclist hits him? Either way, Alvey reacts in the most Alvey way, instantly fed up with the situation. Of course the cyclist is claiming he broke his collarbone, so Alvey calls an ambulance.
And cue Keith’s epic season 2B entrance! Hearing the commotion, he walks out in his robe, lighting up my world as he holds a cup of coffee in his hand. As Alvey tells the 911 responder that the guy hurt his collarbone, Keith corrects him: “Clavicle.” (And this interaction is the magic of Keith and Alvey.) As Alvey leaves Keith to sit with the cyclist, he heads inside to see Ryan. Then Keith politely informs the grumpy cyclist, “With an attitude like that, it’s going to be a long day, sir.”
Updating Alvey on the knee, Ryan lies and says he hurt it while grappling with Juan in the cage. But no matter what happened, the only question anyone cares to know the answer to is whether Ryan can fight, so Alvey gets him a last-minute doctor’s appointment. The resolution? With only 10 days until the fight, the doctor tells Ryan to let pain be his guide. And according to him, he’s not pulling out of the fight.
In another great interaction, Ryan then asks Alvey, as his coach and Jay’s father, not to tell Jay how bad his injury is, “no disrespect.” Alvey, not appreciating that Ryan would think he’d do such a thing, responds, “A lot of disrespect! Lots.”
In this moment, I have to talk about Frank Grillo. Although he is the central character of this show, it’s easy to get distracted by some of the louder characters surrounding him, but Grillo is as solid as any performer you will find on TV. His firm grasp on this character gives every interaction a feeling of authenticity. In a way, it feels like his performance gives viewers permission to sit back, relax, and live in this world, which in turn, allows him to use Alvey’s darkness for both dramatic and comedic purposes. He goes from making you laugh in this utterly uneventful moment to the next, much more emotional scene, where he’s telling his sons that Lisa lost the baby.
Sitting in Alvey’s office, Alvey updates Jay and Nate before asking them not to tell anyone else. With nothing else to say, Jay simply stands and hugs his father before pulling his brother into a group hug. “I love you, boys,” Alvey says (as I tear up). A moment like this is so simple it shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s just a family hugging and comforting one another. But on Kingdom, it’s such a rarity that we get to see that familial bond between Alvey and his kids, particularly Jay. And now I’m crying again writing about it.
From there, Jay heads out to get dinner with Christina. The two discuss the fight, Jay admitting that he doesn’t want to fight Ryan: “Ryan’s my friend, I don’t like fighting my friends.” But Jay also realizes that Ryan is the next step, and it’s a step he needs to take. At this point, Jay’s just ready to fight, and Christina claims she’s going to do her best to be there. As for her curfew, she tells Jay she gets “special privileges” for being such a model resident, which, sure, that’s one way to put it.
NEXT: Nate has a night he’ll want to forget…