If this season kicked off with Jay at his best, it’s ending with Jay at his very worst. After realizing that winning fights wouldn’t fundamentally change his life, he found himself a new kind of addiction, and her name was Ava. Together, they spent their days drinking, doing drugs, and blocking out the rest of the world.
But eventually, when the time came for Jay to rejoin the real world and begin training for his rematch against Ryan, Ava was alone. And in a moment of desperation, she asked the creepy guy who stayed a few doors down from them at the motel for some cocaine. The result? She ended up murdered at the bottom of the same pool where she once lay with Jay. What was a part of their blissful bubble is now ruined when Jay discovers her body there.
I could say so much about the final moments of this episode — the way in which Byron Balasco chose to shoot it, Jonathan Tucker’s soul-crushing performance — but instead, I’ll simply say it’s one of the most impactful scenes I’ve seen on television, made more impressive by the fact that Ava was not a character I was overly invested in. That this show can kill a character I only sort-of care about and make me feel things other shows can’t when they kill someone I love speaks volumes.
Backtracking to the start of the hour, this episode also reminds us of Keith’s dark side. As easy as it might be to forget this is someone who’s capable of murder, it’s important to remember exactly what we’re dealing with. And after purchasing a hammer last week, Keith contemplates using it on Alicia. Once Ryan leaves for a run, Keith stands by a sleeping Alicia, holding the hammer — never more his father’s son than in that moment.
Thankfully, Keith cannot bring himself to go through with it, and when Alicia wakes up, he runs back into his room and punishes himself by using the hammer to break his own hand. Ryan tells Alicia he’ll talk to Keith, but all he gets when he asks Keith if he was going to hurt her is a very honest, “I don’t know.” So yeah, they’re going to have to talk about that some more later. But for now, Ryan assures Keith he’s not moving out. (Because lord only knows what Keith would do if he actually lost Ryan.)
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While Alvey reconnects with Roxanne, whom he hasn’t seen in a couple days, Jay uses his training time at the gym to steal Nate’s phone and set up a date with Will. He then invites Lisa along for a night out. After Lisa finds out Alicia is leaving Navy St. to go train with Greg Jackson, she could probably use a drink.
NEXT: Tragedy strikes…twice
The bar is where we get Jay’s side of his downward spiral, when he talks about how nothing came his way after winning two fights. But Lisa’s back now, and she promises to get him some sponsors if he promises to keep a needle out of his arm. And for now, they’ve got a deal.
After Lisa leaves, Jay finds Will at the bar, where he does little more than lay eyes on the guy. Getting the confirmation he needs from the situation, Jay pays for Will’s drinks before calling it a night. Will, however, gives Nate a call and tells the youngest Kulina to lose his number. Will’s not into games, and when Nate has no idea what he’s talking about, Will forwards him their conversation.
Back at the gym, Ryan once again screws Alicia over to make himself look good. After telling Alicia she has to be the first to talk to Alvey about Greg Jackson, Ryan uses part of his training time to give Alvey the “heads up.” And by the time Alicia takes the issue to Alvey, he has his speech prepared.
Alvey tells Alicia she’s family, which means his door is always open for her — though we later learn he only said that because “anything else would be weak.” In reality, Alvey remembers every fighter who’s ever left him… and let’s just say his door isn’t really open to them. At all.
Later that night, Alvey’s time with Roxanne is interrupted when a drunk Lisa barges in and asks to meet the new woman in his life. The women say hello before Roxanne heads out, leaving Alvey to face Lisa. In what might be the most heartbreaking line of the season, Lisa asks, “Why didn’t you come get me? When our baby died, why didn’t you come get me?”
Alvey explains that Ron told him she didn’t want to see him, but as she puts it, “I’m dying and you’re respecting my wishes. Did it ever occur to you that I didn’t know what the f—k I needed, that maybe what I needed was you?” What’s even more upsetting about this scene is that I’m not sure that thought ever did occur to Alvey. Sure, he’s a selfish character, but in this case, I feel like he genuinely thought he was doing what he felt was right.
When Alvey brings up Ron again, Lisa throws her glass at his head, and when things get physical, he pins her up against the wall. “You killed me,” she says through her tears. “I f—king hate you.”
In the moment that tells you everything, after Lisa leaves, a clearly upset Alvey calls himself a “f—king pussy.” So maybe he knew he should go, but was scared. Either way, he knows he messed up.
And now we find ourselves back at the motel, where Jay has discovered Ava’s body. By the time Ryan and Alicia arrive, Jay’s learned she was killed by James Gibson, who was released from prison six months ago after serving 25 years for rape and murder. When Ava refused him, he stabbed and then strangled her.
Between that final Alvey-Lisa scene and the last moments of this episode, there’s nothing I can say…other than that this is some of the most powerful television on right now.