Keith makes a big decision while Jay and Ryan get a rematch (of sorts)
In the last episode, Alvey asked to be taken off Lexapro because, as he put it, in order to fight again, he needed to be who he once was. And thanks to his dream, which opens episode 3, we get a glimpse at that Alvey — the one who had a loving wife and a needle in his arm — paralleled with his fear that he can’t become that man again, at least not inside in the cage.
That fear begins to manifest itself in other ways throughout the hour, but first things first, Alvey has one more hurdle to tackle before the fight’s official: money. While Alvey sits in a bathroom instead of attending a press conference — an effective method masterminded by Lisa — Lisa tells Garo that Alvey’s having a full meltdown (while really he’s just bored). And considering that Garo has a room full of press waiting, he’s desperate. So when Lisa gives him a number, he caves. That number? Oh you know, just 1 MILLION DOLLARS. Alvey Kulina is going to make a million dollars on this fight. And he’s so excited that he heads to the bar, despite the fact that the press conference has already started.
Once Lisa finally gets him to the conference, he doesn’t stay long. After referencing his “unfinished business” with Matt Hughes, Alvey starts being asked questions about his “mental condition,” most recently brought about when Hughes called him a “head case” before he arrived. And, not surprisingly, Alvey’s not one to appreciate such questions, so he walks out, leaving his “mercurial reputation as a fighter” fully intact.
When Lisa later stops by his office to ask him if his attitude has anything to do with coming off the Lexapro, he assures her that he was putting on a good show and not having a meltdown. Instead, he promises he’s following his doctor’s orders when it comes to his mental health. And for his physical health? Well, for that he has Mac, the kind of doctor who gives Alvey anything he asks for when he thinks he has a pinched nerve. Remember that fear manifesting itself? I could be wrong, and Alvey could have something seriously wrong, but right now, the fact that his hands are “numb” right after having the dream in which Ryan knocked him out? That seems significant.
But whatever it is, I’m glad it’s happening, solely because it gives us the interaction between Mac and Alvey, in which Mac decides that Alvey’s issues are most likely due to one of two things: ALS… or coffee. “Is it coffee or is it ALS?” might be one of my favorite Alvey lines ever.
At this point, we don’t know what it is, but we know Alvey’s not following doctor’s orders when it comes to drinking. By the end of the episode, he’s a little drunk when he decides to call Christina and tell her about the dream in which she took the bullets out of his gun. And this is where I have to call out another line. Fresh off doing a cam show, Christina is in bed with a glass of wine when she and Alvey talk about Maya’s upcoming baptism. Christina reminds Alvey that he’s the reason Jay thinks he’s Catholic, which gets us here…
Alvey: “Be careful. God is listening.”
Christina: “Well, I just hope He’s not watching.”
(If you’re not watching this show carefully, you could miss a gem like that.)
Elsewhere, Lisa heads out on her date with Tim, but only after Dom takes looking sketchy to another level. First, he asks to be paid in all cash — it doesn’t work — and then he tells Lisa, his boss, that she looks “delicious” as she’s on her way out to a date. Because that’s not inappropriate. He then proceeds to call her in the middle of her date because he was “accidentally” in the shower when Joe Daddy locked the gym, and he needs to get out, which means she has to direct him to a key and give him the security code. Yeah, I don’t trust this guy.
As for the date, it seems to go okay, but when Lisa invites Tim home, he makes the biggest mistake possible with Ms. Prince: He’s polite to the point that she feels judged. We all know that Lisa’s not looking for a gentleman, so there’s a good chance we’ll never see this poor guy again. I’ve honestly never heard, “Thank you for being such a gentleman” sound like such an insult.
(Next: The old Jay is back)
And this brings us to my favorite story of the week: the tale of how Ryan awakened the real Jay Kulina. After Jay and Amy disagree on whether to accept a very expensive stroller from Ryan — Jay thinks it’s a gift; she thinks having something they can’t afford feels “fake” — Jay heads to Navy St. to pick Ryan up and show him some potential housing options. That’s right. Ryan’s thinking of moving out, a fact that he shares with Keith, who just finished hiding butcher knives all over the house. But after Ryan drops that bomb on him, Keith ends the episode by packing up a few of his knives, removing his ankle monitor, and effectively running away. (Don’t go, Keith!!)
But back to the Jay-Ryan of it all. This entire interaction is essentially watching Jay lose the battle to put his old self behind him. We start at the gym, where he won’t even go past the front desk. Instead, he asks Shelby — who’s pregnant with Mac’s baby, by the way! — to get Ryan as opposed to allowing himself, the alcoholic, to set foot back inside the bar.
After an overly enthusiastic introduction to Dom, Ryan and Jay head out. Jay’s showing Ryan a few potential places to live, which Ryan immediately finds weird. It doesn’t feel right for Jay to be showing him houses “like a bitch,” Ryan says, and you can see Jay flinch at the phrasing. “This is what I do now,” Jay says, before Ryan starts his whole speech about how Jay should be fighting. Has Jay forgotten that he and Ryan are 1 and 1? Doesn’t he want to know which of them is the better man?
Jay claims that he already knows, humbly kneeling at Ryan’s feet, but Ryan’s not buying it. Jay eventually shuts down the conversation with one sentence, in relation to his decision having everything to do with Maya: “You weren’t raised like I was.” With that, Ryan (temporarily) drops it.
From there, Jay and Ryan have a bit of fun by heading to a $5.7 million property — one of Dan’s listings — where they lounge by the pool and discuss life. Ryan claims he needs a woman like Amy, and this is where we get the story of how Amy and Jay met. It’s a pretty short story, actually: Amy was a woman at a bar, and five hours after meeting Jay, she was pregnant, a fact he found out when she called six weeks later. As Jay puts it, he got lucky because “I f—ed up with the right girl.”
But the truly revealing moment comes when Ryan asks Jay why he loves Amy, and his response is, “Because she loves me and I believe it. And now we have Maya.” Our precious Jay, who’s too sensitive for this world, has only ever wanted to be loved. It’s why growing up with Alvey as a father took such a toll on him. It’s why he fought so hard to save his mother. And now, it’s why he loves Amy.
But does he love her enough to betray who he really is? That’s the question that’s been hanging over his well-groomed head all season. And now, when Ryan sees an opportunity, he decides to pose that question… in a physical way. As the two get ready to leave the house, Ryan stands in Jay’s way and refuses to let Jay pass until the real Jay Kulina breaks through and throws the first punch.
Just like that, Jay is unleashed — it’s as if you can see the chains of his new life melt away. As Jay puts his hands up, the two go at it in the front yard until Ryan puts Jay to sleep. And when Jay wakes up only seconds later, it’s like watching the Jay we’ve known for two seasons wake up after being asleep for a year of his life. Jay, realizing what’s just happened, at first tells Ryan, “F— you,” but by the time they reach the car, he throws his arm around his brother. Let’s be real: Jay’s happier than any of us to get to be himself again.
This is my takeaway from this hour: So much story is being told in every single second of this show. Behind every look, every line, every dream, Kingdom is further developing these characters. It’s the kind of sophisticated storytelling that made me fall in love with this show, and it’s the very basis of why this show is must-watch television.