Alvey loves life inside the cage, because it gives him clarity of purpose. When the bolt drops, a fighter can let go of everything else and focus solely on their instincts. They have to take out the guy in front of them. It truly is as simple as that.
But say you do take that guy out. Then the cage door opens … and what? Is your life all that different? Is winning all that you thought it would be? That’s the question posed in this week’s episode, which finally sees Jay get his chance to take on the Destroyer.
We start the hour with Alvey, still seeing his therapist, admitting to the struggle he’s been going through lately. He’s found himself in a very damaging cycle: He drinks himself to sleep, then he wakes up, pukes it out, and works it out. It’s not the least bit healthy, but as he admits, “The truth of it is: I think it’s keeping me alive.” This is also the first time we hear him speak openly about Lisa. He misses her, but he also admits that he’s nervous because whenever she does come back, he knows it’s not going to be the same.
And to pile onto all of that, it’s fight day, so Alvey has to find a way to support both Jay and Ryan without showing any sort of favoritism. Well, after he heads down to the police station to help with the Chapas case. It seems the cops still haven’t perfectly pieced together the evening — which is good news for Alvey — though they are suspicious about the man who beat up Chapas before he died. Regardless, it seems evident that Chapas was in way over his head, not to mention that Alvey was seen cornering two fights that night. So yeah, he’s probably fine.
Meanwhile, Nate is making sure everything is perfect for Jay’s fight while Keith does his best to stay out of Ryan’s way. Ryan’s focused on his knee, which seems fine but not great. Jay, however, is focused on nothing but the fight. (Well, that and maybe a picture of Ava’s breasts.)
Just as Alvey finds out he’s being sued by the cyclist from last week, we catch up with Christina at rehab. It seems Jason still hasn’t gotten the message that she’s done with him, so she tries to make it as clear as possible. “I’m starting to think you’re not a very good person,” she tells him before asking him to leave her alone for the week she has left.
Of course that only pisses Jason off, so he tries to stop her from attending Jay’s fight. But Christina doesn’t go down without a fight, and when she threatens to essentially blow up Jason’s life, he concedes.
At the arena, a very excited — so excited he threw up twice already out of joy — Garo promises to hook Alvey up with Roxanne, his lawyer, to help him with the suit. From there, Alvey hugs both fighters before asking Alicia to join him across the street at a bar so that he can get a real drink. (The bar at the arena only serves wine and beer.)
Once at the bar, Alicia asks the question we all want to know the answer to: Who does Alvey want to win? He avoids answering, simply saying that he’s “more worried about who’s going to lose.” Changing the suspect, she says she’s sorry about Lisa, alerting him to the fact that everyone knows. But it’s when he asks about her father that we get more information about Alicia’s childhood.
When Alvey asks, “How f–ked up was your father?” Alicia’s curious as to why he’d think he was f–ked up. Well, because she’s a fighter, and after meeting Ava, Alvey’s starting to think Alicia might be the normal one. And this leads me to one of my favorite lines. Alicia says that Alvey barely knows Ava, but as he puts it, there’s just something in her eyes. “I married one,” he says, referring to Ava. And in that moment, it’s as if we’re suddenly able to pinpoint the thing that’s seemed off about Ava. It’s the Christina quality.
Alicia tells him that their mother died of breast cancer when they were young and their father went to prison, where he remains, for raping one of Ava’s friends.
NEXT: Ryan Wheeler vs. Jay Kulina
Speaking of Ava, she wishes Jay good luck before he and Ryan both enter the cage. It’s a close fight. Ryan seems a bit wobbly after round one, but Jay barely escapes a choke hold in round two. After that, Nate tells his brother that he has to go after Ryan’s knee. “F— your conscience,” Nate tells Jay. This is a fight, and Ryan’s coming after him.
As soon as the bell rings, Jay starts kicking Ryan’s leg. And when he finally gets him down on the ground in a triangle chokehold, Ryan has no way out. Jay begs his brother to tap so that he doesn’t have to break his arm, but Ryan’s far too stubborn for that. But Jay also can’t bring himself to break his brother’s arm. So instead, he puts Ryan to sleep, thereby becoming the new lightweight champion of the world.
And yet, it’s not the sort of celebration you’d expect from Jay. For one thing, he spends the first moments after his win making sure Ryan’s okay, but even after that, it leaves you wondering whether it was everything he wanted it to be.
In another of my favorite moments, Alicia texts Alvey that Jay won, and for just a second, Alvey can’t help but smile, so proud of his son for getting it done. But then that joy quickly shifts to an “oh s—” moment when he realizes that means Ryan, the diva, lost.
Heading to Ryan’s — where an overly emotional Keith is ordering a pizza and being adorable — Alvey leaves Jay a voicemail telling his son how very proud he is of him. But inside Ryan’s house, Alvey’s focus is on the rematch. Ryan’s going to get another shot. As for the leg? Alvey tells Ryan to keep his mouth shut about the leg unless he wants to look like he’s whining to the press and/or the guys at the gym.
Ryan gets 48 hours to feel like s—, and then they get back to it. Just as Alvey’s on his way out, Ryan asks if Alvey wants to be his coach. Leaving him with Joe Daddy isn’t good enough for Ryan. “I needed you tonight,” he tells Alvey. But Alvey stands his ground: “You fought my son, Ryan.” Needless to say I doubt this is the last we’ll hear about this.
At Ava’s hotel suite, Jay informs Nate that Ava is an angel solely for the fact that her boob pic brought him good luck. Jay then brings up the elephant in the room: The press is going to say he won because of Ryan’s leg. And yet, that’s not something he can control. So instead, he celebrates and ends the night by listening to Alvey’s voicemail, snorting some cocaine, and enjoying Ava’s impressive lingerie collection.
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Alicia then pays a visit to Ryan’s bed to help cheer him up, which means he’s no longer the person having the worst night. After Jason shows up at the rehab center drunk — he just came from a banquet where he won an award, ironically — he decides to choke Christina and force her into sleeping with him.
Thankfully, he doesn’t go through with it, but the moment he says, “I didn’t penetrate you, so I didn’t rape you” as if that makes what he’s done okay, Christina hits him over head with his award. No, he’s not dead. But it’s probably safe to say Christina’s done with that facility.
Walking away from this episode, we’re left to wonder if Ryan or Jay is better off leaving the fight. Sure, Ryan’s bummed, but they’re already talking about a rematch. As for Jay, will he wake up tomorrow and still feel good about what he did?