Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Even rocky relationships are hard to shake on Kingdom

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The first season of Kingdom introduced its “weak versus strong” theme by having Alvey pose a mostly rhetorical question to a therapist: “Are you one of the weak, or are you one of the strong?” That dichotomy has been dusted off for season two, and not just in the form of taglines on promotional materials. But even if Kingdom occasionally assigns its players to one camp or the other, these aren’t rigid affiliations, especially given how quickly their luck can turn in and out of the ring.

So with those terms in mind, “Happy Hour” saw some relationships grow stronger (and closer) while others took a blow. We’ll start with Alvey and Lisa, who actually spend a lot of time together this week (living and working together will do that). The episode opens with Lisa chiding him for responding to a blogger’s dismissal of their Navy St. gym (and by extension, Alvey) as irrelevant. A drunk Alvey posted a nasty comment on the blog post at Sean’s drunker urging, and now he has to deal with the fallout—it’s gone viral!—and a hangover.

But since he’s at least contrite, Lisa sets aside her doubts about raising a child—a son, at that—with Alvey long enough to ask him to rub her feet and, later, assess her new fighter Alicia. He dutifully performs both tasks, which could be why Lisa invites him back into their bedroom (he’d been sleeping on the couch) for some carefully-orchestrated sex with a heavily-pregnant woman. Lisa still hasn’t really responded to his marriage proposal, though, and since she’s bound to notice the $30,000 withdrawal Alvey recently made to invest with Sean, things won’t stay rosy for long.

This is the first episode in weeks that doesn’t feature Sean and his meddling, which means it’s time to check in with Ryan, who’s been taking care of his quadriplegic father. Ryan doesn’t know much about looking after others, though, as evidenced by his sharing a bottle of his mother’s bargain whiskey with his dad. Their relationship is still uneasy, because it’s hard to know how to act around the person you paralyzed, let alone forgive the person who paralyzed you. But that’s where Ryan and his father find themselves now that Ryan’s mother has left to live with her mother. They drunkenly watch a nature show and Ryan’s father comments on the power of the brown bear.

Not much is known about Ryan’s mother (other than that she loves Lisa), but I thought her abandonment of her ailing husband seemed out of character for someone who’d shown such devotion to him in the first season. And it looks like I was right, because now it seems that Ryan’s father (no first name has been given, sorry) pushed her away so that he could just be put out of his misery already. The father doesn’t remind his son of what he’s done, but when he tells Ryan that euthanasia for animals is considered a most “humane” act, it’s clear that he wants him to finish the job. What’s not clear is whether or not Ryan will comply—their relationship is rocky, but he doesn’t appear ready to give up on it or his father just yet.

After recently enduring rejections from both of the women in his life, Jay is trying to focus on something a little less painful—dropping 30 pounds to move down a weight class in order to revamp his career. But the ebb and flow of their relationship has shifted into the latter, as Laura welcomes him back. Their reunion is all too brief, though, as Jay’s insecurity gets the better of him when he learns she’s still friends with an ex-boyfriend. She tries to tell him that there’s no quid pro quo in her relationship with her ex (though she lives in his house for free), but he screams at her that all relationships are transactional. Despite having just heard how much his abandonment by Christina has messed Jay up, Laura just thinks to ask if he’s ever considered therapy. All that’s left is for Jay to quote a John Lennon song and watch Laura walk away, because he certainly can’t eat his feelings or numb his pain with booze (“empty calories”).


Nate’s lost his beard, so he’s ignoring doctor’s orders and looking for a fight anywhere he can get it. This leads to a shady encounter with a dirtbag promoter played by Jeff Ross, whose appetite for chicken wings is diminished when he sees the scar on Nate’s face. But since neither one of them really cares about Nate’s health, a deal is struck for a fight in Fresno with a guy who’s unskilled, but a brute nonetheless. It’s not long before Alvey catches wind of Nate’s upcoming fight, but he allows him to train in the gym rather than see his son strike out on his own. Nate’s clearly posturing in an attempt to shake off last week’s reveal, but his ill-advised decision will probably only serve to set his recovery back instead of confirm his heteronormative masculinity.

Navy St.’s resident unpolished fighter, Alicia, finally gets her wish and gets some one-on-one time with Alvey. She wants so badly to impress him that she keeps forgetting her footwork, and grows so frustrated that even Alvey has to tell her to stop saying “fuck” so much. When he finally does compliment her, she responds by hitting on him. The temptation isn’t too strong for Alvey to resist, though. So now, Alicia has slept with Lisa’s ex and flirted with her…something (the show has thankfully avoided using the term “baby daddy”). Still, I’m not sure that she’s actually being set up in direct opposition to Lisa. They’re in a business relationship after all, even if Alicia lacks focus, which is something that her poor record can attest to. I’d argue that the similarity of their first names and their involvement in the mixed martial-arts world suggests the characters are potential mirrors for each other. But it remains to be seen how effective or interesting that will play out in the long run.


Stray observations

  • No Keith this episode, because Ryan mostly just hung out at his dad’s place, but it says something that his father had more dignity while drinking than Keith did last week.
  • The bargain whiskey Ryan and his father drank appeared to be a Jack Daniels knockoff, but was still fancy enough to use “John” in the brand name.
  • “Dirtbag promoter” is an ideal role for Jeff Ross.
  • Nate cannot actually think it’s a good idea to fight with a head injury, but at least he’s currently recovering from a head injury—what’s Alvey’s excuse?