'The moment I wanted to capture was these split-second reactions,' Byron Balasco tells EW

By Samantha Highfill
July 27, 2017 at 12:00 AM EDT
Justin Lubin/DirecTV
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SPOILER ALERT: This post contains plot from the July 26 episode of Kingdom.

For three seasons, Nate has been the “good” Kulina. Unlike his older brother Jay, Nate didn’t inherit the many demons of his parents. But with that being said, there is one thing that makes Nate a Kulina: his anger. Much like his father Alvey, Nate knows what it feels like to snap, and in the final moments of the show’s penultimate episode, he paid the price for that anger.

After enjoying a very long night out with his father and brother, Nate decided it was finally time to tell Alvey the truth: he’s gay. But when Alvey’s immediate reaction was one of anger and confusion, Nate snapped. The youngest Kulina stormed outside of the bar and waited for his father to show up so he could fight him. Jay was there to break it up, but when the bar’s bouncer also tried to intervene, Nate took him down, a decision that ended when the bouncer shot Nate.

For Nick Jonas, the final moments of that hour created his greatest acting challenge to date. “That was the scene I worked the hardest on with my acting coach,” Jonas exclusively tells EW. “And I had some really good conversations with Jonathan Tucker [Jay], who’s one of my closest friends in the world, and we just kind of broke it down over and over again and talked about the layers of the character. Something that I’ve truly loved about playing Nate is the ability to tell the story over a long period of time and have people at times wonder what I’m thinking and try to get inside my head and really figure it out. Because it’s not that he’s quiet, necessarily, it’s more that he’s got so much going on in his head that he’s got to maintain some level of composure amidst this crazy life situation. But it was really just about breaking the scene down and finding the different moments, the different triggers for Nate. They’re so alike, Nate and Alvey, in some ways, but also, I think they’re so polar opposite, and the ability to be totally authentic and transparent is new information for both of them so it will take time to fully process it.”

Justin Lubin/DirecTV

It’s time they might not get if Nate doesn’t recover. With that in mind, EW spoke with showrunner Byron Balasco about the shocking ending and whether this is the end for Nate.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Nate coming out to his father is something we’ve been waiting for since season 1. I’m interested in the decision to have this be the way the truth finally comes out.
BYRON BALASCO: I wanted it to come out in an emotional way. Sometimes you’re planning something and everything’s leading up to something, but eventually, you just have to do it, you just have to jump. And often times it can be an impulsive act. Obviously, given the other emotions swirling around that moment with Alvey’s mom and everything else, it wasn’t the cleanest time to do it, but at the same time, there’s really never a time like that. There was something about Alvey’s vulnerability that I think opened Nate up to do it. And I think too, if Nate had thought about it for 10 more seconds, he probably wouldn’t have picked that time, and if Alvey would’ve thought about what he said for 10 more seconds, he would not have reacted the way he reacted or they would’ve been able to have a conversation.

Nate’s anger in that moment was the most he’s ever looked like Alvey.
Sure, absolutely. He’s Alvey’s son and there’s always that DNA laced in him. He keeps it buried a lot and he’s different than Alvey in a lot of ways, but it’s still there. I think there was a part of him that hoped Alvey would be different, but a lot of him was saying, “This is exactly what I expected and now I’m going to fight.”

The second he stormed out of there, Alvey seemed to snap out of it.
That’s exactly right. The moment I wanted to capture was these split-second reactions. The truth is, Alvey had a terrible reaction but that’s who the guy was. Had he had a little bit of time to process it, he would’ve been able to let Nate know how much he loved him.

How will this moment affect their relationship if Nate survives?
It will be different. But it doesn’t change how Alvey feels about him on a deep level. Nate will no longer have to hide. There’s less deferring and hiding from his father.

The Kingdom series finale airs Wednesday, August 2 on DirecTV and DirecTV NOW.

Episode Recaps

In this DirecTV drama, Frank Grillo stars as an ex-MMA fighter who splits his time between operating a gym and being a father to his two sons—one played by Nick Jonas.  
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