Kingdom on Audience: “Be First” Review

Disclaimer: This isn’t not your standard “this is what happened and that’s it” recap. It isn’t a basic review. It’s my takeaways from it. Take it or leave it.


When-Wednesdays at 8pm central

Where-Direct TV/Audience/1114 on UVERSE HD

KingdomWhen it comes to fighting, “Be First” is the mentality. Be the first one to punch. Be the first one to react. Be the first one to decipher the other fighter’s code before you get popped. Episode 204 of Direct TV’s Kingdom rung the bell with another appearance from Sean Chapas, Alvey’s buddy from the past who showed up in the second week and immediately struck me as someone one could NOT trust.

Mark Consuelos looks like a decent enough guy. He’s smart, in good shape and seems like he wants to help the big lion of the Navy Street gym. He’s dropping pick me up tales about not worrying and seizing the moment, mentioning the big GOD and his effects in the process. He’s seems to have a button up pasted onto his body instead of wearing it. He’s snake and that’s why you can’t trust him. Somehow, he is going to hurt the Kulina and Lisa(Kiele Sanchez) is going to tell Alvey, “I told you so.”

We find Alvey spending time with Sean at one of his investment locations, a retirement home. Sean is giving Alvey a taste of a potential gold mine. It’s too bad the investment will cost Kulina 30,000 to get a share. The stock market is like tossing a hail mary blindfolded down the field. Something a fighter should invest in only if he is sure and isn’t dealing with a guy like Chapas. That’s TV for you. Imitation of life with more gasoline added in for good measure.

Nate is recovering from his knockout by rewatching it over and over again. Every fighter thinks they are invincible until they get knocked out cold. Afterwards, like a detective, they have to investigate what went wrong. He can’t seem to do anything in his house for long because his annoying as SHIT girlfriend comes in, rubs on him and tosses his phone away.

Let me admit something. Nate’s girlfriend, the sometimes drunk or stoned chick who won’t stop nagging, is a pain in the ass and doesn’t seem capable of understanding a fighter. Nate was chowing down on a burrito in week 2 and she whined about wanting the kid to go out, wedge down on chips and salsa and pay attention to her crap. The kid can’t catch a break and the girlfriend has to go. We will get to that later.

Jay is feeling upbeat as he strides into the house in the morning. He spent the night with Laura(Jessica Szohr) and feels like ten million bucks. A sad Christina mopes over a P&B sandwich before work. Jay wants to get her a new job, but she doesn’t care. Apparently, feeling sorry for yourself pays by the minute. She does perk up when asking for Laura’s number, but when he hears it, Jay has an alarm go off in his head. Christina wants my lovely new girlfriend’s number. Jonathan Tucker can do it a lot with a look. Mischief and contempt can be spelled with a single look. He knows it is a bad idea but he literally pulled this woman from the depths of drugs, hooking and sure handed misery. He gives it to her and the audience lights the match.

As she shops with Laura, Christina doesn’t feel right. Here is this new woman in her son’s life filling her cart up with art supplies and she feels weird. Only one thing can happen. The mother of men spills her entire story to Laura. The drugs, the abandonment of the kids and probably more. The look on Laura’s face doesn’t read, “Oh that’s okay, I’m just a lovable photographer who craves drama.” This girl doesn’t want a side of difficult with her slice of man. Her face spells duck and run.

When she stops returning Jay’s calls and texts, he wants to know what happened but won’t say it out loud. Maybe he doesn’t know. When he confronts Laura later as she is trying to leave for a party, she gives him all the answers he needs without using words. His mom spooked her and she is backing off. Who else uses the phone died excuse? They do know when phones recharge all those texts and voicemails come back on. Everybody on the show has IPhones. Steve Jobs ain’t fucking around people. This is sad for Jay.

Earlier in the day, Alvey asked him to either wait a fight or get skinny like Adrian Brody for his next fight if he will allow Ryan Wheeler to fight him. I’ll be clear. Alvey isn’t worried about Jay losing. He is worried about Ryan losing. If Ryan loses, the humpback whale money maker of the future dies a little. Here is a guy buying new trucks, new guns and thinking about kicking 30K to a business endeavor that may not pan out.

The great thing about Creator Byron Balasco’s characters are they seem like people we’ve seen on TV before, but there is always a wrinkle to their actions. They aren’t imperfect, screwed up and capable of acting like a fireball in a forest.

Speaking of Wheeler, he is doing more than flirting with the new female fighter, Alicia Mendez(Natalie Martinez). He trains with her in the ring, getting into positions that you won’t see two people commit to at Starbucks or Panera. Later on in the sauna, she pretty much strips down in front of him. The signs have been on for hours. These two will have some sex and good for them. It’s nice to see two people carry out the simple pleasure of conversation and sex. They are fighters, lonely people and in need. A simple story. Lisa may not like it but she has a baby inside her so she can’t stay mad for long at her ex-boyfriend and new fighter banging.

Poor Keith. The guy can’t shop in the grocery store, look at an avocado straight or hold his hard liquor. If anyone needs to get laid, it’s Keith. Paul Walker Hauser doesn’t get to participate in the fight scenes(nah, he just kills his enemies in the kitchen) but he is a fine actor and someone who doesn’t ask for your sympathy. He earns it. What looked like a simple plot device to get Ryan acquainted with someone from the outside has blossomed into a real friendship and one with complications. He’s still a liability but a necessary outside the ring distraction for the audience. Hauser really nails this role.

There’s an interesting exchange between Alvey and Lisa. She finds out earlier in the episode that the baby is a boy and the look of quiet resignation on her face peels the layers off her discomfort in Season 2. If any prospective mother needed a baby girl to quiet the storms of testosterone, it was Lisa. She won’t get that, because as her man tells her, he is “a maker of men”. Poor Lisa. Sad deals for her and Jay this episode.

Nate fails his exam with the doctor and isn’t cleared to fight. When he tells Alvey he is, the old man doesn’t believe him for a second. The more I think about this kid’s fight, I think the only place he feels peace with who he is comes inside the ring. I never listened to a single Jonas Brothers song but I think that is helping me appreciate Nick’s acting that much more. Here is a kid who was forced to be a star before he was 10 years old and has been riding that wave for so long that becoming something like Nate seemed like a far fetched idea. After 14 episodes, he has carved out an identity on this show. Every episode, we get to know him more and more.

So when the bomb is dropped and his annoying girlfriend finds some male pics and videos on his phone, we are almost happy for the kid as he is berated in the gym. Someone knows his secret, but that revelation may be the best thing that happens to him down the road. It could have been I just hated his girlfriend and glad she is finally moving out. I don’t know.

At the end, we see Alvey calling Chapas in for whiskey and bad decisions. It isn’t the idea that investing in retirement homes is a bad play. People are old and most need a place to spend the final days of their lives. I just can’t think of a good outcome with Alvey going in business with his old friend, who has a shit eating grin, is reconnecting with Alvey and seems to be bringing in dark clouds. When the guns come up in the conversation, I am assured of something. Kulina firing those weapons in the first scene of the premiere was a sign that down the road he will need that firepower to rid some poison from his life.

Alvey has a pregnant girlfriend. Two healthy kids. A champion fighter. A thriving training career. A gym. A motorcycle and truck. A trio of guns. He has it all. Why is he inviting more into his life? When does a fighter who can no longer fight feel whole? Probably never.

Things get real interesting when Jay tells Lisa that he wants the Wheeler fight, with or without Alvey’s approval. Shit is about to get real in this family and on this show. The next six hours will be hot.

What happens with the Jay/Christina/Laura tripod of doom?

Will Ryan’s rendezvous with Alicia have consequences?

Will Lisa ever smile again?

Is Alvey making too many plays?

Will Nate find peace if he can’t fight?

Will Jay fight Wheeler?

Answers come in the following weeks. Until then, I suggest rope work, a few laps and a bag to hit.

Thanks for reading this unqualified review.

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