There are no good guys or bad guys in Kingdom. Every character lives in shades of gray, occasionally dipping his or her toe in the white and the black areas that life has to offer. But then again, what do you expect from people who live in a world where Ryan breaking down, drinking again, and showing his old anger is the best thing that can happen to his career and, quite frankly, to Alvey? It’s messed up (and endlessly fascinating to watch).
That being said, sometimes—just sometimes—the twisted world they live in results in justice, and that seems to be the case when we pick up with the two gangsters who attacked Nate getting arrested. From there, we check in with each character as Nate returns to lifting weights, Alvey works out, Christina practices yoga, Jay gives himself a much-needed shave, Lisa packs up linens, and Ryan packs up Keith’s belongings.
So what’s with all the packing? Well, after what happened with Keith, Ryan is going to stay with Alvey for now. Only, “with Alvey” means that he’s going to sleep on a couch at the gym, something that should not have seemed like a good idea to anyone. Honestly, this entire episode is about all the ways to make Ryan unravel. First, you put him in an environment where he can see Lisa again and try to rekindle that connection. Then, you have him visit a very drugged-up Keith in jail. And finally, you give him the freedom to go out, buy a handle of liquor, and spend the night absolutely wrecking the gym.
But part of me thinks that’s exactly what Alvey wanted. Alvey’s not a stupid guy, and there’s no way Ryan can be in the gym world without seeing Alvey as the guy who took Lisa, at least for a bit. And while Alvey’s not stupid, he’s also not so level-headed himself. As we learn this week, he’s decided to stop taking his meds because he prefers to live his life experiencing the highs and lows as opposed to coasting somewhere in the middle. Perhaps that’s why, when he gets a late-night phone call from the security company telling him to get to the gym, he initiates a fight with Ryan.
Let me back up: When Alvey shows up at the gym, he sees firsthand the damage Ryan has done, which includes but surely isn’t limited to shattering mirrors. And when a drunk Ryan tells Alvey, “You bend to me, coach” before explaining that Alvey was the one who threw the steak in front of the cave—”Shit was over the second I walked in here”—Alvey headbutts him and the brawl begins.
They duke it out for a bit before finally, Alvey resorts to his old ways: coaching. He tells Ryan to put his left hand on his left cheek before heading outside and calling Garo, the promoter, to tell him to set up a press conference for Ryan. And in a scene that perfectly demonstrates why these characters make for such complex, spellbinding drama, Alvey tells Garo, “My boy is ready” with an eery sense of pride… before he hangs up and spits blood on the sidewalk.
From one Kulina parent to the other, Christina has decided that she’s ready to live her new life. She wants the bars off her window and she wants to go shopping, which leads to her taking Jay and Nate to a thrift shop. Inside, Jay finds a suit, Christina finds a dress, and Nate finds an old boyfriend? Let’s just say Nate has a very interesting interaction with somebody he claims to be “some dude from high school” before heading outside and taking his anger out on a man who nearly hits Christina with his car. Yeah, there’s definitely more of a story there, especially considering Nate’s decision to stop doing his physical training with Diego, who just so happens to be gay. Just when I thought it wasn’t possible, things just got 10x more interesting.
After shopping, Christina pays Alvey a visit. Well first, she meets the gorgeous Lisa—who’s much younger than she anticipated—before telling Alvey he should be proud of his gym. More importantly though, she’s ready to get a divorce and move on. She tells Alvey that she doesn’t want half and that she’s willing to go about it any way he wants. Lisa doesn’t buy it for a second, but Alvey seems to think that Christina’s in a place where he can talk to her again, so he promises to handle it. That being said, Lisa hit the nail on the head when she told Alvey every feeling he’s ever had is unresolved. But isn’t that one of the greatest things about him?
As for Jay, he gets a legit fight through Garo—though he probably shouldn’t have signed those papers so fast—before arriving back home to find the two gangsters who beat up Nate leaving his house. Apparently, they’re not in jail, and all Jay knows is that he has their license plate number, and they made his mother cry. So with that, I’ll let you guess what Jay is going to do next.
P.S. Christina wins line of the night when Nate asked if she should be drinking: “With me it’s not so much the wine as it is the heroine.”
All in all, if Kingdom has anything to say about it, the reign of the anti-hero is over, mostly because “anti-hero” isn’t a complicated enough word to encapsulate these characters.