Spoiler alert: This post contains details from the Aug. 3 finale of Kingdom.
After 20 episodes, Kingdom’s second season came to an end with one emotional scene after another. Jay, in the midst of mourning Ava, lost the belt to Ryan, who ended the hour trying to feel less alone with Lisa. Then there’s Nate, who finally told his brother that he’s gay, only to find that it changes nothing between them. Christina apologized to Jay, and as for Alvey, he said one final goodbye to the man he will never be: his friend, Sean Chapas.
I have to be honest with you: Watching this finale, the longer it went on, the angrier I got, thinking about how the entire world isn’t watching this show. This is the sort of quality television that doesn’t come around every day, and everyone and their mother should be tuning in. I realize this argument is lost on you, because if you’re reading this, odds are you watch the show. So I guess all I’m saying is: Good for you! And also, how phenomenal was this finale?!
When you set a show within the world of mixed martial arts, you have to be willing to take your drama inside the cage. At the center of every character’s life on Kingdom is fighting, whether they are in the cage, standing outside it, or battling their own inner demons.
If this season kicked off with Jay at his best, it’s ending with Jay at his very worst. After realizing that winning fights wouldn’t fundamentally change his life, he found himself a new kind of addiction, and her name was Ava. Together, they spent their days drinking, doing drugs, and blocking out the rest of the world.
Sometimes, life imitates art. Other times, art imitates life. But for Kingdom’s Kiele Sanchez, she made the conscious choice to use her art to tackle an issue that she’d recently dealt with in life.
Kingdom has never shied away from tackling serious issues. But what it’s doing with Lisa’s miscarriage story line very well might be the show’s most powerful story to date. Much like how this show has handled other issues, namely addiction, Kingdom succeeds because it approaches each topic like its an opponent in the cage: It pulls no punches; it refuses to back down.
When Lisa first met Alicia in Kingdom’s second season, she saw potential. And thanks to a lot of hard work, that potential is finally turning into something tangible — wins. But can Alicia beat her toughest opponent yet? That’s the question she faces when she gets in the cage in this week’s episode.
EW has an exclusive sneak peek of Alicia’s fight. Fair warning: It’s arguably the series’ bloodiest.
Kingdom airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on AT&T Audience Network.
Alvey and Jay Kulina don’t have the typical father-son relationship. From Kingdom’s pilot, we saw that Jay blamed his father for his mother’s drug-addled life, and for Alvey, it seemed like he’d given up on his eldest son after Jay made a series of poor business decisions. (Translation: He’s not always great at showing up to his fights on time… or sober.)
If you were ever worried about how Kingdom would handle Lisa’s return to the show, this episode should’ve put you at ease. Handling an event as traumatic as the loss of a child, even within a fictional realm, is tricky enough, and it’s only made trickier when you’re asking an actor to relive something they experienced in real life. But both Kiele Sanchez and Kingdom showed such courage and integrity in the way they handled Lisa’s return. Somehow, they managed to stay true to her character while also staying true to her trauma. And it was nothing if not powerful.
And the fight goes on.
EW can exclusively reveal that AT&T Audience Network has renewed Kingdom for a third season. Produced by Endemol Shine Studios, the critically acclaimed drama, which stars Frank Grillo, Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas, Kiele Sanchez, Matt Lauria, Joanna Going, and Natalie Martinez, is currently in the middle of airing the back half of its second season. The show, which is set in the world of mixed martial arts, tells the story of Navy St. gym and the fighters within it.
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