Imagining the opening sequence for Season 4 of Byron Balasco’s ‘Kingdom’

**The following includes SPOILERS for season 3 of Netflix’s “Kingdom”**

Alvey, Jay, and Nate Kulina are seated at the table right off the main lane of a small yet cozy bar in Tucson, nestled close to the jukebox machine and the pool tables. It’s a bittersweet and fulfilling night for the Kulinas, a tortured family who are still putting the pieces back together and trying to be a family. A fighting family, but more so in the octagon than outside of it.

Alvey’s mother tried to take her life just a matter of days ago, but the patriarch is holding firm emotionally and relaxing with his sons. In Jay fashion, he gets up to go talk to the pretty lady seated at the bar. A well-spoken Casanova with a heart of gold, Jay absolutely must charm every lovely woman in town, whether it’s Arizona or California.

Alvey is drunk, but still able to tie words together and acknowledge them in return from his youngest son. Nate direly needs to tell his father something, a personal note that he has kept caged and partially-strangled away in his soul. A tucked-away vital piece of his persona is something Jay and a few others know, but not his dad, his coach, his chosen mentor.

“I’m gay,” Nate says. Alvey doesn’t hear him. Nate says it again, but more emphatically so his dad can hear him. A cloud of confusion overwhelms the older fighter-turned-trainer, like someone who just had a jet plane fly right over his head in the middle of a barbecue.

“What the fuck do you mean you’re gay?! I don’t understand … what?!”

Nate looks instantly distraught, like the light is slowly leaving his body and rage is flowing in. the water is simmering, but the boiling tendency is around the corner. He’s trying to allow his caveman father to grasp this idea that his son is a closeted gay man. Time is running out, but Alvey again tries to comprehend the news.

“Why now? Why didn’t you tell me earlier? Did your brother know?”

Nate is angry yet measured. “I told Jay because he would understand, but it’s clear you do not. What’s the matter with me being gay? Does that hurt you?”

“I don’t know, son. I … I … I just need a minute here to take it in. For fuck’s sake! I don’t know what to say to be honest.”

Nate starts to see an opportunity to help his father get it. “All you have to say is … I got you, son. I accept your choice and life, and I love you.”

“But what if I don’t mean it completely, Nate? It’s not like closing the door of the cage and knowing it’s fight or die. I may not completely mean it.”

“It doesn’t matter. Just say it. Prove it later.  Okay?”

Alvey, perplexed and still agitated by the abrupt news, pauses with his response, starting and stopping. Nate gets anxious and starts to get up out of the booth. Alvey gets up in front of him, as if to block him from running away. The two men stare each other down, like generations being inverted suddenly without warning. Alvey thinks about a life where his sons are both happy, that the anger and violence can stay inside the ring for once. He’s hopeful yet scared, sad yet reflective. An old lion trying to quickly adapt to a new world.

“I can try,” Alvey says. “I can find my way there, but I just need some fucking time to process it.”

Nate, once determined to walk past his father, sits back down in the booth. Alvey does the same. Father and son found a way to meet in the middle, a place many families with a homosexual son or daughter get lost. Alvey and Nate are okay … for now.

Jay comes streaking back into the booth. “How are we doing?” Scanning the room, Jay can tell something was discussed and pondered. A sly smile comes across his face. “Well, look at us, a family transported from the stone age all the way to the present. Maybe we should go get some avocado toast tomorrow morning.”

Alvey and Nate laugh just enough to snap out of their concentration. “Shut the fuck up, you maniac,” the elder fighter says as the three men prepare to walk out of the bar. One of them is fighting soon, another can stop fighting, and the third simply tries to pick the right fights.

Alvey looks at Nate, and produces that patented Alvey cackle, but finishes it with a knowing nod. He’s got his son, and that’s all counts. Sometimes, just like in a fight, you have to be patient and wait for the right time to make your move. But then, once you’ve got there, you need to still be patient and see it through. Take the fucking time.

SUDDENLY, Alvey wakes up on the couch. The light hits the furniture almost as brutally as it hits Alvey’s face. The empty bottles roll around the table as he grabs his phone. It’s fight day for Ryan, but there’s still something else to do first. He may have lost a son due to a foolhardy mentality, but he’s going to try and salvage this one. Try and take the time, do what he didn’t do with Nate.

Alvey drives his motorcycle over to an office, getting a text upon his arrival. Lisa wants to know if Wheeler is golden for the fight, because of past in-decision. Alvey assures his ex-girlfriend that everything is cool. “How are you,” Lisa responds. “Good … enough,” Alvey retorts.

Alvey walks into his shrink’s office for his latest session. He sits down on the couch. At the other side of it sits his oldest son, Jay.

The psychiatrist asks the two men a pivotal question.

“What do the two of you want to talk about?”

Alvey and Jay look at each other finally, and both say at nearly the same time, “Ah fuck…”

End of scene, play intro music.

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