If you were ever worried about how Kingdom would handle Lisa’s return to the show, this episode should’ve put you at ease. Handling an event as traumatic as the loss of a child, even within a fictional realm, is tricky enough, and it’s only made trickier when you’re asking an actor to relive something they experienced in real life. But both Kiele Sanchez and Kingdom showed such courage and integrity in the way they handled Lisa’s return. Somehow, they managed to stay true to her character while also staying true to her trauma. And it was nothing if not powerful.
We start the hour with a flashback to the night Lisa lost the baby. After spending an evening at the orchestra — listening to her mother’s favorite song — with her father, Lisa collapses on the way to the car. And if that wasn’t heartbreaking enough, the first thing she says is, “Call Alvey.” That’s our first sign that perhaps Lisa did want Alvey by her side throughout this journey.
In the present day, Lisa’s listening to that same song — her mother’s favorite, now ruined for her — while sitting alone in a hotel room, drinking. And that’s when she texts Alvey to say, “I’m here.” Alvey responds to set up a meeting as he’s on his way into Roxanne’s office, where he signs the settlement agreement and officially says goodbye to $150,000. Well, not all at once. Roxanne worked out a structured payment plan.
However, that’s the only plan she’s going to work out today. Alvey tells her they’ll play tonight by ear — translation: he’s waiting to hear from Lisa — before heading back to the gym for his private session with Alicia. Or is it a private session with Ryan?
Ryan, ever the alpha needing to piss on his territory, finds out about Alicia’s 2 o’clock and decides to call Alvey and move his session due to a “doctor’s appointment.” As for what time he needs? You guessed it! 2 p.m. And because Alvey has bigger things to deal with, he tells Ryan to sort it out with Alicia, which of course he doesn’t do. So by the time Alicia shows up at the gym, Ryan gets to assert himself as the king while Alvey asks her to wait to train. That being said, Alvey gives her twice the amount of time he gives Ryan. And the thing you have to love about Alvey is he’s going to be straight with you. So when Alicia asks if he realizes Ryan did it on purpose, Alvey tells her like it is.
Considering Ryan’s a world champion and Alicia’s won two fights, Alvey gives her a quick reality check before telling her to shut up and keep her head down. Once she puts a belt on her waist, THEN she can train as much as she wants (though Jay would probably argue that’s not always the case).
Speaking of Jay, he’s spending a very dark, very relaxed morning with Ava at the motel when Nate stops by. Nate tries to convince him to start training again — considering his rematch with Ryan is only six weeks out — but Jay seems to think he has time. Jay apologizes for his “condition” at Nate’s fight, but when Nate brings up Christina, things go south. If she wants him home, why isn’t she at the motel? That’s Jay’s mindset. Seeing there’s no getting through to Jay, Nate tries a blunt approach, telling him to pack his s–t. He’s coming home.
When that doesn’t work, Nate pleads with his brother. “You’re gonna f–king die in here and I need you. Do you hear what I’m saying to you? I need you. Please come home.” In this moment, Jay’s lucky he’s wearing his sunglasses, because they let him pretend he’s not nearly as affected as we all know he is. But for now, he heads back inside and promises to call Nate later.
And although Nate might not know it immediately, his visit did work. A few hours later, Jay is cleaning up the motel room, going for a run, and informing Ava it’s time for him to get back in the gym. By day’s end, Jay — with Ava in tow — has made his return to the gym, which is not to say it’s pretty. But it is a start.
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Elsewhere, Alvey meets up with Lisa, who tells him she’s seeing a psychiatrist who specializes in miscarriages. But after Alvey — struggling with how to act around her now — turns down some day drinking to train, he gives her the gym update: Ryan and Alicia are annoying, Jay’s in a downward spiral, and Nate… well, Nate’s good. (Of course.) And cue the moment we all knew was coming: Lisa tells Alvey she’s ready to come back.
Alvey informs her of the money situation, for which she agrees to take less off the top if she’s given 25-percent ownership in the gym. But Alvey’s still not sure if it’s right for her — in other words, he’s thinking about that $200,000 check her father wrote him. Lisa wants it to be a business decision, so she heads back to her hotel room and tells Alvey to call her when he’s made his choice (though that doesn’t happen nearly as quickly as she’d like).
NEXT: Nate has a new roommate
Back home from the motel, Nate is introduced to Chelsey, a.k.a. the girl Christina knew from rehab and gave her card to in case of an emergency. One rainy day later, Chelsey calls looking for a place to stay. So Nate might not have been able to get Jay home, but now he’s got a new roommate.
Nate confronts his mother about why she won’t talk to Jay, about her fear of what he’ll say. But when Christina denies it, Nate continues his streak of rather blunt honesty. As the only together one in the family, he tells her: “He’s like this ’cause of you. You’re worse than dad.”
Over at Ryan’s house, Keith is telling Ryan all about what he can expect from reading the Bible. As he puts it, the disciples are 12 fishermen who learn how to do “miracles and s–t.” The best line? “Those guys are ridiculous.”
Of course, Alicia interrupts the conversation to yell at Ryan and continue annoying Keith, who informs them both that they have a “bad relationship.” But sadly for him, that bad relationship continues, leaving Keith to listen to sex noises from the hallway. And when he finally confronts Alicia about it, she apologizes, but it’s Keith, so of course he tells her she’s “not how a woman should be.” For one thing, she’s not nearly as shy or embarrassed as she should be. Also, she has way too much sex, and she has a filthier mouth than the people he met in prison. As Alicia responds: “F–k you, alright. I like to f–k, Keith. Do you have a f–king problem with that?” There’s something you have to appreciate about two people who are who they are — and who aren’t going to make any apologies about it.
After Alvey spends the night avoiding Roxanne and contemplating what to do about Lisa, he heads to the gym the next day and talks to Jay after his training. Alvey needs Jay to sign the rematch contracts, and the good news is he got Garo to pay Jay more than Ryan. (But it’s only good news if you’re not Jay, who seems to prefer he get paid the same amount?) However, Alvey also has bad news, both for Jay as a fighter and for the struggling father-son relationship we’ve watched for two seasons. Alvey tells his son he’s going to corner Ryan in the fight and leave Joe Daddy to handle Jay. Jay might be his son, but this had to be a business decision, and based on the here and now, Alvey doesn’t trust that he can count on Jay.
As Jonathan Tucker told EW, it’s in this moment that Jay disconnects from his father. Letting go of any sort of expectations he’s had of Alvey, Jay looks out the windows of Alvey’s office and, by looking through his father’s eyes, finally understands how Alvey sees him — not as a son, but as another fighter and nothing more. And it’s this moment that, in a way, finally sets Jay free.
Yet, Jay’s not free of Ava. After he gets Mac to give him more cocaine, the two of them head back to the motel. However, at least this time, Jay does not partake.
So while Alvey figures out what to do with the Lisa decision, Nate sets up a meeting with Will. But it’s not what you’re hoping: Nate tells Will he’s not ready to do this just yet. But as sad as Will is, the hurting party in this scene is Nate, who still doesn’t seem ready to fully accept himself.
After Alvey meets Roxanne at a bar, where he gets drunk, picks a fight, and then makes me love her even more for how she handles his sh–ty day — by understanding it’s not about her, but also not taking any s–t — Alvey heads to Lisa’s hotel room.
“I need you,” he tells her. “The gym doesn’t work without you. I want you to come back.” Alvey agrees to Lisa’s 25-percent ownership, finally realizing she deserves at least that. As for their relationship, he feels the need to tell her he’s seeing someone. It might not be serious, but Alvey isn’t going to stop seeing her, so he wants Lisa to know. And in a beautifully navigated performance from Kiele Sanchez, you see her pain. And it’s not that it’s jealousy. It’s not that she wants Alvey back. It’s that, while she was grieving, he was dating.
Lisa simply asks Alvey to leave — and in a move we’ve never seen on the show, the episodes ends with a close-up on Lisa before slowly fading to black. Because in that moment, her face says it all.