For as much as episode one of Kingdom set the table last week, episode 2 did little to move things forward. It watched like a series of four-minute scenes that lacked cohesion. By the end of the show, I couldn’t tell if episode two had a real purpose, or just filled time. This week was an unexpected lull after a promising start.
Round 1: Kingdom continued to bring in recognizable fighters this week. Joe Stevenson was back. They even referred to him as Joe Daddy instead of giving him a new identity.
Chris Leben, a beloved veteran with a host of drug and personality issues, made an appearance as Tyler.
Considering the HGH, pills and money issues all going on at the gym, it felt like Leben was looking for a SoCal gym to get a work out in and happened upon a television show. He mainly spent time kicking the shit out of things, or using that famous left hand to punch things as hard as he possibly could. Lisa was not amused. She spent most of the episode peppering him about paying his bill or leaving, because no one trains for free (until Alvey tells them they can).
Round 2: Ryan’s parole officer is either just a great bit character or the writers are setting him up for one shining moment. As of now it’s unclear. He seems to know who Ryan is, and doesn’t want to just out and say that he’s a fan. So instead he says things like “you look like a fucking iron maiden poster” when taking a shirtless intake photo, or asks Ryan if one perspires a lot while wearing a suit for weight cutting. He provides some humor and levity, albeit as a salty, ornery veteran of the parole game.
Round 3: While writing this recap it became clear what my issue was this week. Alvey may be the lynchpin that holds all of the other characters together, with his family ties, his love interest, and his gym, but he can’t carry an episode. And this week was tunnel-focused on Alvey. It turns out that he’s hyper-aware that time is starting to pass him by. He starts the episode on a shrink’s couch, waxing philosophical about what it means to be a fighter. Then he says that despite not sleeping, he can’t justify taking the sleeping pills he’s been prescribed, putting just another pill in his body. Then he gets shot up with HGH. All the while he gets scolded by Lisa for not making fighters pay their dues (literally, they aren’t paying their membership fees). Alvey would never admit it, but he is desperately trying to keep the all-for-one and one-for-all feel of a successful gym while maintaining his own relevance. And very little of it worked this week, both on camera and from my couch. Maybe next week will work out better.