The old Ryan makes an appearance while Jay's life takes a turn for the worse
This episode begins with the words “I’ve never broken down before.” It’s Alvey’s voice-over as he explains his outlook on life: “You gotta think like a stoic, which boils down to enduring life’s ass whoopings without complaints.” Alvey never lets himself believe that he’s safe, because “when your head’s down, that’s when you get caught… and we all get caught.” That idea — everyone gets caught — along with the question of “Are you going to survive?,” is front and center throughout this hour and this series as a whole. In this specific episode, we see Dom, a desperate man doing whatever he can to survive. We see Ryan starting to feel safe in a new life, just before he gets caught. And then there’s Jay, who, by the end of the hour, is breaking down.
But we’ll start with Alvey, who finally went to see a doctor about his pain. And based on his MRI, there’s no structural damage to explain it, which means he needs to see a neurologist. But for now, he’ll settle for training at the gym — at least until he has a full meltdown inside the cage, which panics him to the point that he tells Lisa to call Garo and cancel the fight. If he can’t train, he can’t fight. (Don’t worry. He later changes his mind.)
He then leaves the gym and heads home, where he invites Christina over. (She’s in the area after having dropped off the girls at a job.) Together, they drink some wine, and he shows her the childhood photos his mom sent in the mail. Turns out, Alvey hasn’t spoken to his mother in years, because, as he puts it, “She doesn’t approve of the man I’ve become.” (Clearly, she hasn’t seen his hair.)
By the time they move to the couch, Alvey and Christina have the chat that’s been years in the making. “I wasn’t good to you,” he tells her, to which she responds, “Maybe I was too high to notice,” both of them admitting some fault. But with a line that took me back to Jay in season 1 and the way he blamed his father for his mother’s addiction, Alvey admits, “I know I put that needle in your arm.” Christina doesn’t respond. Instead, her phone buzzes, and she has to leave to pick up the girls. But when Alvey offers to walk her to her car, she almost acknowledges what he just said to her when she tells him, “I’ve slept in streets you wouldn’t drive down.”
I love what this show does with moments like this. This is a monumental moment for these two characters, but instead of loading it with drama and long speeches, the characters simply both find a way to say what they need to say — often not directly — and that’s that.
From Alvey to Dom, we watch as this guy makes yet another wrong move: He breaks into the gym late at night — using a key he had made — and puts up a display of his protein powder, which Alvey notices within two seconds of entering the gym the next day. And after Dom spends the day with Ryan — spitting compliment after compliment — he has to answer to Lisa, who’s already moved his protein powder to the sidewalk.
It’s when Lisa calls him out for trying to manipulate the situation that I feel like we get to see just how desperate this guy is. When he says that all he’s trying to do is get paid, it’s the most I’ve believed anything that has come out of his mouth. Is he manipulative? Yes. But is it all out of a need to get paid and survive? Yes.
After Lisa tells him to take a couple days off, he storms out… but he doesn’t stay away long.
(Next: Jay loses everything)
Later that night, Dom once again uses his key to enter the gym, but this time, Lisa’s there. And when the alarm goes off, she pulls a gun out of her safe, which makes for a nice, tense run-in when Dom rounds the corner.
He swears he’s just there to apologize, and once she takes his key from him, she lowers the gun and accepts his apology. She then tells him that when he gets back from his time off, he gets a clean slate. AND THEN DOM KEEPS PUSHING. This guy just can’t quit while he’s ahead.
When Dom brings up the fact that he and Lisa slept together — and even worse, that she was “eager” to sleep with him — she sets him straight: It happened once. It will never happen again. And no one can know about it. The only problem? Juan saw them leave the other night, and Ryan already asked Dom about it. (And based on the look Ryan gave Dom, he knows something is up.)
While we’re talking about Ryan, he starts the episode with a couple of guys knocking on his door, asking about his nice car and then trying to get him to give a donation to a children’s literacy program. Seems weird, right? Right. But we’ll get back to that.
First, Ryan takes Dom to his church support group, where Ryan talks about his struggle with Keith and God. He knows that Keith’s life is over and that he has to pay for his mistakes, but Ryan can’t help but question God when it comes to the hand Keith was dealt: “I question what my friend’s life was supposed to be about. Was nothing supposed to go his way?” Ryan can’t understand why God would put someone on this earth “just to suffer,” and as someone who has always felt that Keith brings out my favorite side of Ryan, I love watching him, in a way, defend Keith. He’s not defending his actions, but we’re watching Ryan really struggle with something, and it took me back to the scene in season 1 when he, once again in a group, told the story of what happened to his father… which will come back into play later tonight.
After Ryan has a little fun with a bartender, he arrives home to find that his house has been robbed. Or rather, is being robbed. The guys are still there. And here’s where we go from seeing the good side of Ryan — the guy who loves his friend — to the bad side: The guy who put his father in a wheelchair.
Once Ryan chases down one of the guys who knocked on his door earlier, he tackles the guy. And from there, he just can’t stop hitting him. You know what’s worse than watching someone punch another person over and over? Watching them throw elbows at another person’s face over and over.
Eventually, Ryan realizes what he’s done and calls 911. The episode ends with the Destroyer covered in blood in the back of a police car, and the question is: Have the last few years been for nothing? Back in season 1, should Ryan have stayed out of the cage and away from this life?
Finally, we get to Jay, who’s adjusting to his new life working two jobs: one that involves pushing garbage around, and one that allows him to drink and do drugs (semi-secretly) while he works security on a television set. But despite the fact that Jay’s working hard, he arrives home to realize that Amy has packed the car. She only waited for him so that he could say goodbye to his daughter. And as she drives away, leaving Jay in the middle of the street, the return of the tragic Jay Kulina is official.