When we first met Ryan Wheeler, he seemed like a lonely guy, full of regret, doing everything he could to get his life back on track. But the more we heard about his past, the more we heard about this other, diva-esque side to him. And if anything has brought out that other side, it’s the fight against Jay. For much of this season, Ryan’s ego has been on full display — and in losing the fight to Jay, he’s feeling more vulnerable than ever, which means he turns into an even bigger pain in the ass.
But what I love about this episode, for those of us who found Ryan perhaps a bit frustrating this season, is that this hour puts it all into perspective. It reminds you this guy lost his father and, quite simply, feels alone. Many of his actions come as much from a place of loneliness as they do a place of pride. And in the first three minutes of this episode, which feature Ryan attempting to visit Alicia at the gym only to realize he’s all alone once again, we get a very visual representation of how Ryan’s been feeling. He’s constnatly looking for someone, but no one’s there.
Ryan’s journey then continues as we see him seek counseling — a scene that takes me back to the end of the pilot, when he told the group what he’d done to his father (also known as the moment I knew Matt Lauria was going to do great things with this character). Ryan admits he’s having a hard time controlling his anger, and when asked to whom he turns for emotional support, he recognizes Alvey, his teammates, and Keith before eventually coming around to the realization, “I mostly keep my own council.” That’s why he’s looking for help. As he explains, “I don’t want to go back to the way I was.” Just like that, we’re taken back to the guy we first met, a man who’s struggling but who really does want to better himself. Ryan never wants to be the worst version of himself. But it’s not as if his life makes things easy for him.
Elsewhere, Alicia is enjoying her slow morning at Alvey’s house while he spends some time with Roxanne, who’s decided they can’t have sex again tonight because she draws the line at three nights in a row. Instead, she agrees to dinner sans sleepover.
With that to look forward to, Alvey meets Ryan and Garo at the gym. Unable to get in touch with Jay — who they assume is pissed about Mario Goldsmith’s article on how Jay’s win “comes with an asterisk” — they discuss the terms of a rematch. Alvey tries to shake Garo down for more money, but the bottom line is Ryan lost the fight. However, Garo does agree to give Ryan a bonus if he wins. And at this point, Ryan just wants the fight, so he’s in.
Garo then asks about Alicia and offers to bump another fighter to get her on an upcoming card in Pasadena. And I just have to say this: Anything that comes out of Bryan Callen’s mouth as Garo is gold. I love that he’s having a bit more fun with his scenes this year.
Speaking to Jay’s whereabouts, he and Ava have been shacked up at the house for four days, and it’s clear Christina’s not exactly a fan of their current lifestyle (or Ava in general). She figured Jay would be back in the gym by this point, but Jay claims he’s taking some time off. However, after Christina heads off to volunteer at the needle exchange, Jay’s time off is interrupted when Jason decides it’s a good idea to show up at the house and apologize to Christina.
Immediately recognizing Jason as the man who assaulted his mother, Jay knocks him out cold and asks Ava to go spend the day with her sister so he can get to the bottom of things. With a juice box in one hand and a cigarette in the other, Jay sits down to have a talk with a tied-up Jason.
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In a scene that’s nothing if not a showcase for Jonathan Tucker’s ownership of this character, Jay asks Jason to walk him through his relationship with his mother. It seems Christina and Jason started sleeping together as early as one week into her stay. Trying to explain himself, Jason makes the misstep of claiming that Christina manipulated him. And in a moment of brilliance, Jay raises his hand.
When Jason calls on him — again, let’s take a second to appreciate this moment — Jay asks for the purpose of Jason’s visit. Of course, Jason claims he’s here to apologize. As for what Jay’s plan is, well, he needs a moment to process all of this information.
NEXT: Christina returns home