If last week’s Kingdom premiere left anyone wondering whether this is a show about MMA or a show about family, the second hour should’ve cleared everything up. Quite simply, this is a show about family … set in the world of MMA. But what the show is about is not what makes it great. It’s whom the show is about.
Specifically, the show is about a group of people who are just as strong as they are weak. They’re just as damaged as they are whole. Because, as Alvey put it, “Fighting’s a mindf—. Fighting hurts.” Fighting forces people to find the answer to the inevitable question: “Am I one of the weak? Am I one of the strong?” So who are these guys who fight for a living? They’re f—ed up, that’s what they are. And it makes for great television.
This week, we start at Alvey’s therapy session, where he talks about his feelings of being washed up. As a fighter, discovering where you line up in life’s pecking order is what feeds you. It’s what makes you strive for something. But Alvey doesn’t have that anymore. So what happens when everything you’ve done that’s meaningful has already happened? That’s the question Alvey faces every day. And unlike Jay, Ryan, or even Nate, Alvey can’t just step back into the cage.
But on the other side of that equation, you have someone like Ryan, who doesn’t seem to want back in the cage. After Alvey convinces Lisa that Ryan is the solution to their money problems—he’s the killer the gym needs—he tries to convince the Destroyer of the same thing. However, the only person Ryan’s destroying nowadays is himself. Here’s a guy with tattoos that implicate just how tough he was in the fighting world, and yet he’s cutting his hand with a butcher’s knife when no one in the kitchen’s looking. And instead of spending his days hitting someone or something, he helps his roommate find his teddy bear key chain.
And so when Alvey pays Ryan a visit and tells him he’s got a plan to get him back into the fighting world, Ryan can’t even think about being that animal again. That is, until he can. By episode’s end, he’s back at the gym, willing to see what happens.
Also back at the gym this week is Jay, who can’t seem to stop thinking about the men who attacked his younger brother. In a sparring session with his father, Jay appears to want back into the fighting world as well, asking Alvey to book him a fight despite his horrible history with blowing promoters off or showing up drunk. But a fight isn’t the only thing Jay wants. When the police aren’t answering his phone calls, he shows up at the police station, where a confrontation with the detective on Nate’s case ends in a shove that lands Jay in jail.
As for Nate? He has a nasty scar on his head and is in need of a lot of physical therapy, but he could be back fighting inside of six months if everything goes smoothly. But he’s not exactly coming clean about the men who attacked him. In other words, he hasn’t said anything about the fact that they clearly knew his father. And with no witnesses, the police don’t seem to have much of a case.
Add in new fighter Mac, Alvey’s HGH supplier, and the world’s most understated Lisa-centric conversation between Alvey and Ryan, and things are just getting started for this exciting new show. As demonstrated in the moment that Jay stole one of Nate’s pills before making sure his injured baby brother had what he needed, every character has his or her own problems while also having one hell of a support system. After all, this world of fighting is a mindf—.