Interview: ‘Wheelman’ writer/director Jeremy Rush

With Netflix’s Wheelman, writer/director Jeremy Rush set out to make something different.

Working with a simple setup (getaway driver gets sabotaged, spends entire night figuring out who wronged him), a first rate leading man in Frank Grillo and dynamite producer (Joe Carnahan, launching War Party with Grillo), Rush tricked out the action thriller genre entry like a fast car lover would with an old muscle car, replacing an old engine with sophistication instead of the ordinary expectation.

The result was an 82 minute thrill ride, punctuated by pulpy excitement and an exhilarating energy; an experience that triggered old school cinema which relied on its own idea of cool instead of recycling someone else’s model. Continue reading “Interview: ‘Wheelman’ writer/director Jeremy Rush”


‘The Grey’: Joe Carnahan’s masterpiece resonates six years later

How a man recaptured his soul in the wilderness.

Sometimes, movies are memorable for what they don’t show you, instead masking their intentions in their deception. Six years ago, Joe Carnahan produced a masterpiece with The Grey by resisting the urge to show his full hand at the end of the film.

DISCLAIMER: If you haven’t watched the film, I implore you to stop reading and check it out, because this column will include spoilers and give away pretty much the entire movie. Since it’s been out for roughly 1,900 days, I figure it’s time this film got the deep dive it deserved.

The movie chronicled a group of oil workers traveling on a plane over Alaska who are forced into desperation when their aircraft crashes in the middle of nowhere-and near a territory that a pack of wolves have marked for their own.

A group of guys against a pack of wolves was what the studio wanted you to believe the movie was about, but the juice of this film was the fact that it was never about that particular struggle.

The workers were a true band of lost boys, including Liam Neeson’s Ottway, a born leader who was clearly hiding a dark shade of himself behind a thin cover of fearlessness; Henrick (Dallas Roberts) and Talget (Dermot Mulroney), two family men trying to make an honest living; Diaz (Frank Grillo), an ex-con trying to walk the straight and avoid the criminal urge; and Flannery (Joe Anderson) and Burke (Nonso Anozie), two men unfit for the conditions). An island of misfit toys lost on a strip of Earth where few make it out alive. Continue reading “‘The Grey’: Joe Carnahan’s masterpiece resonates six years later”

Here’s What I Know, Volume #13: Stanton arousal, “lit” issues, Mel Gibson comeback, and the need for cold weather

All the fucks that are fit to print.

Hello there, folks. While the regular writing gigs allow me to distribute opinions far and wide, I do feel the slight urge of restriction when I type. The trigger finger denial. As in, being unable to say certain things in a certain manner. So I come here, and release some hot air.

Shall we dance? Hit the fucking button. Let this bullet round of H.W.I.K. Volume #13 commence! 1,000 words or less, here we go.

  • People say “lit” too much. Like way too much. I know Tony X, the late to the party Blues fan, started this a couple years ago, but can we please kill it? During a conversation that took place in my backseat, a couple women said it ten times in an eight minute ride. TEN! It’s lazy. Get a better word. I’ll file this in the “bruh” category of nonsense.
  • What isn’t lazy? The well-timed usage of the word “fuck”. It can’t be printed on certain news websites or said on AM radio air, but damn it, the word isn’t useless or indicative of a lesser mind. Some of the wisest minds I’ve been around slung this word like it was released from the jaws of Poe, Hemingway, and Franklin. You can’t overuse it, but please feel free to unleash it when needed. Anybody who thinks it’s lazy or inappropriate needs to lighten the fuck up.
  • Uber Driver update: Four months in and I like my job, but there’s one sad confession. St. Louis city is dead as a fucking (see what I mean) door nail when there’s no sporting event downtown. I mean nothing. When the Cardinals were playing, I averaged up to 500 dollars a week. Now, it dips down to 300 dollars. Maybe it is due to the fact that our city is the second most dangerous city in the country. A few of my riders have taken four dollar Uber rides right across downtown because of a fear of getting mugged. I can’t blame them.
  • In case you didn’t notice or couldn’t care less, I’m back on the air. Every Friday WGNU from 6-8 in the evening and every Tuesday at four in the afternoon on 590 The Fan. Slowly, but surely, I am doing what I want to do and getting paid for it. I don’t crack the bank in half with my earnings, but I’m pecking away. It feels good. I worked in hot ass warehouses for close to eight years. Have you worked in a warehouse? It’s far from glamorous and a rough way to make a living. I don’t miss it at all, and every time work without dirt covering my face and soreness in my knees, I smile.
  • This is the first year that the NFL is losing relevance. I don’t hear as much about it as usual and fans are walking away. The recklessness of the league, danger of the game, or the straight outta assholeville workings of Roger Goodell are all fine reasons, but I think it’s just losing excitement. How about those Rams? You can’t tell me Stan Kroenke told Jeff Fisher to tank those games. That team didn’t change that much from last year or the years before. They went from average to pretty good in a short period. Crooked bullshit. No thanks. I haven’t watched a single quarter this year, and I used to watch from noon to sundown.
  • Giancarlo Stanton is a once in a lifetime talent. Marketable superstar and mayor of studville. Do what you have to do in order to get him. If it costs Alex Reyes, so be it. I’ve crossed that bridge. You are giving yourself at least 5-8 extra wins for one player over the next three years. Reward comes with risk. The Cardinals and John Mozeliak must be bold this winter. 

  • The Blues are playing good hockey, but there are some cracks in their facade. Back to back losses have made them a less than white hot shit 13-5-1. However, they are still first in the Western Conference and set up well to finish the month. Their special teams are shit and Jake Allen isn’t an elite goaltender. If they don’t fix these areas, you can kiss the second round of playoffs goodbye.
  • It’s Hot Stove season in the MLB, folks. Remember, don’t believe a fucking thing you hear before it’s a reality. Rumors, sources, and reported statements are like itchy assholes in dry cold weather. If you scratch it, the area will only inflame and get worse.
  • Frank Grillo and Mel Gibson are making a movie together next year, and I have no problem with it. Is Gibson a good person? Probably not. Did he say some demonic shit once upon a time (or back in 2013)? Yes. But he didn’t molest or sexually abuse a 14 year old kid, so let’s keep him out of Spacey-ville. He’s said a lot in his life, paid for it with years of his career lost, but he’s making a comeback. I am all for it. He’s a valuable player in Hollywood, proven by his Hacksaw Ridge Oscar showing. He’s not perfect, but compared to the new shit in Hollywood, he’s far from the worst.
  • How far and fast can one person fall? Look at Louis C.K. A week ago, he had a film set for distribution, HBO deal, FX deal, and a publicist. Today, he has none of those. All for beating off in front of five women, which I am not condoning at all. He had a cup of coffee with the heat and paid the price. BUT…he will work again. He took the hit, fell down, but unlike Spacey and Weinstein, will be back.
  • I interviewed Wheelman director Jeremy Rush today, and among the juicy things discussed over the 30 minute chat, was about the need for original films in today’s cinema landscape. No superheroes, reboots, or remakes. Just proudly made original stories like Wheelman and Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Writer/director jobs that feel personal, different, and say something. We need more of those. Stop going for the easy cash, make-believe bastards. Be better.
  • For fucks sake, can we please get COLD weather in the Midwest? The temperatures go down, sneak back up, and then trickle down. This makes the human body feel like absolute dogshit. Make up your mind, mother nature. Give me the cold weather. I like it. I love it. I want some more of it…now. Thanks.

1,100 words. Close enough.

I appreciate the time. Be good.


Here’s What I Know, Volume #12: Soccer, NFL-less, and Harvey filth

Live from Courtesy Diner on Kingshighway after a seven hour Uber shift, let’s talk.

~How about that USA soccer team? 

Disclaimer: I care as much about soccer as I do the safe passage of decaf coffee towards my table. Fine sport and all, but there’s only so much time in the world to play with, and soccer just doesn’t do it for me. Perhaps a few garbage fires on the field would help. However, the most casual fan in the world can’t avoid the heartbreak and letdown that occurred Tuesday night when the soccer team failed to qualify for the World Cup. In losing to a team nobody has heard of, the country was embarrassed on a large stage. I drove someone home from a bar that simply couldn’t understand how the country couldn’t find 11 worthy players to win a single game. So much for that.

I woke up today feeling the same way about the team as I did yesterday. Is Landon Donovan still playing?

~What’s happening in the NFL?

I am asking because I clearly have no idea, nor do I want to. I hear the New York Giants are in trouble and the Dallas Cowboys are losing. The Green Bay Packers are winning, but the Patriots aren’t perfect. I really don’t care. 2017 marks the first time I haven’t watched at least a full quarter of football. And I have no regrets about missing the action. It’s an absolutely selfish sport, where the Commissioner clearly has no regard for the players or the fans. Without fantasy football, the sport would be half as relevant. Players are leaving the sport every month. Parents aren’t letting their kids play.

Why? Check out this scenario. “Hey son, you can grow up playing a sport for your entire life, possibly make a little money but probably not, and end up with a deadly brain disease from it for which the NFL will do nothing about.” Think about it.

It is true that Roger Goodell and Jerry Jones gave Stan Kroenke the leash to jam a fleshy tubesnake up the ass of my city and take the Rams from St. Louis-and in a horrible way. But that’s not the real reason I don’t watch the NFL. I just feel nothing for the sport. It gives nothing back and is the biggest hypocrite of all sporting events. Fuck it. Continue reading “Here’s What I Know, Volume #12: Soccer, NFL-less, and Harvey filth”

‘Wheelman’ trailer: The love child of John Frankenheimer’s car chases and Michael Mann’s action sequences

Jeremy Rush and Frank Grillo aim for something different.

Jeremy Rush’s Netflix original film, Wheelman, features a very angry Frank Grillo-and for good reason. Grillo’s expert driver is pulled away from a job right before he is betrayed and whisked around town by a mysterious voice on a cell phone. He is shoot at repeatedly while getting his daughter out of harms way and trying to figure out who kicked him down the rabbit hole of “holy fuck” bad nights.

Rush isn’t here to make a standard action film that gives you temporary arousal; Wheelman aims to be something else. In the 100 second trailer that dropped Monday, he dials up the tension by introducing old fashioned yet potent SOUNDS into the viewer’s eardrum. The burnt rubber of a tire on wet pavement. The sudden shocking sounds of broken glass from gunshots raining down on Grillo’s Porsche.

It’s like John Frankenheimer’s car chase scenes had sex with Michael Mann’s action bravado, and Wheelman is the fucking baby.

Excuse me, but I like angry Grillo. Frankly, I like all types of Grillo, but this is my favorite blend. The authentic man of action is at his best when he plays anti-heroes with nothing to lose and plenty of reason to be pissed off. When we first meet his driver with no name, Shea Whigham’s criminal is getting into the car and treating the car like a Starbucks, becoming all chatty with the man behind the wheel. Grillo wants none of that bullshit. He’s a professional and his world runs on time.  Continue reading “‘Wheelman’ trailer: The love child of John Frankenheimer’s car chases and Michael Mann’s action sequences”

The Monday Rant 

Let’s punch Monday in the throat with a stream of consciousness.

Live from the Tesson Ferry medical clinic–

I’m tired. Let’s just start there. 

The wife is having surgery on her wrist-round 2 if you are counting in the waiting room-and I’m uploading coffee into the system as I type. No, a nurse isn’t holding a cup near my mouth, but I’ll check if that’s in the insurance plan. 
Since I don’t have wifi in the lounge and the April issue of Sports Illustrated doesn’t interest me, I’ll come here and rant. Off the cuff chat. Monday morning musings. The Wakeup Blues. 

It has been said that the more we talk shit out, the easier we sleep. Who knows if that is true, but let’s go ahead and tap into my stream of consciousness:

*Bethalto isn’t that bad. I mean, there’s a Schnucks grocery store with a Shop n’ save pharmacy and there isn’t a movie theater for miles, but it’s a quiet place to get away. It’s not like you can be driving down I-44 towards Webster in STL and get shot or anything. 

*I hate going to bed early, so I often don’t do it. You’re told what to do outside your house, so why obey the rules inside your four walls? Even when there is a reason to, like today. The wife tells me to get some sleep and I tell her not to worry. I watch Rocknrolla and Knight and Day instead. Bad idea. I’m very tired and they make these rooms at the clinic super bright. Like, do they not have respect for Italian vampires?

Sidebar: Hey Guy Ritchie, what happened to that Rocknrolla sequel you promised us back in 2008? The part before the end credits where the screen teased, “Coming soon, The Real Rocknrolla.” Well, nine years later, and you sir are a real fucking liar. The first film cost just 18 million to make. A sequel would have been a better investment than that King Arthur turd you shat out this past spring. Yeah, I did type SHAT. 

*Ready for a medium hot take: A radio show shouldn’t have more than three hosts. Then it turns into an overcrowded party where people talk over each other constantly and the listener gets confused about who is saying what. When people decide to turn their dial towards your stream, don’t take that shit for granted and pack the room full of voices. I don’t care who the hosts are, it’ll be a mess. 

*The NFL starts in two months. Kickoffs abound and fantasy leagues launch. Husbands and wives lose their spouses for undisclosed periods of time. Owners sit in suites and talk about building new stadiums they don’t need and possibly moving the team if they don’t get what they want. Money is earned. I mean, stupid money. So much cash. Football returns in two months and I couldn’t care less. Fuck you Roger Goodell. When I look up gutless scumbag whore in the dictionary, your picture pops up. 

*In eleven days, I move into my new house. So exciting and also not. Like getting a massage from someone who needs to clip their fingernails. My wife and her sister are already planning to fix the electric, which means possibly gutting the walls. Don’t get me wrong, a mean demolition is quite fun, but not in my house. A new home means one thing: projects. Fuck. Me.  

Side note: I’m writing this on my phone, and I’d like to tell my iPhone for the hundredth time that I do want to type “fuck” and not “duck”. 

*There are four hours of Kingdom left. That’s right folks. The MMA series has officially entered its Gettysburg movie status. Four hours. I can’t tell you how sad I am that this series is closing up its doors at Navy Street after the August finale. There are certain TV shows that you wish would have stopped a long time ago (Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, etc.), and this one simply isn’t one of them. Frank Grillo and Jonathan Tucker deserve Emmy awards. Matt Lauria and Kiele Sanchez are so great. The goal of this TV series was to dive into messy parking lot that is a fighter’s mental state. Imperfect people who trip over themselves in an imperfect world. Four more hours left people. 

*Whenever I mention Grillo’s name around people, I get a certain look. An aggressive eye roll type move. Like they are expecting me to wax poetically about him again. And I think to myself-yeah, so what? Don’t be jealous that my favorite actor to watch is also a friend who I admire as a person and a performer. I bet half these eye roll people don’t even take the time to watch a Grillo movie or show. They just don’t. Try it out. See if I’m wrong. I’m not alone. There are Grillo addicts everywhere and for good reason. In a landscape stuffed with egos and false personalities, Frank is as authentic as they come. And he could kick your ass. And your dad’s ass. And your brother too. You get the point. 

*Annoying pack of jack-wagons #407: the ones who say they are done watching Cardinals baseball after a bad loss. Don’t kid yourself. A bad loss just makes you watch more. Watch harder. Closer. Become more addicted. These are the needy types too. The LaVar Balls of baseball fans. 

*Speaking of LeVar, maybe I can have Grillo knock that oversaturated athlete parent the fuck out. I mean hard too. Ball gives all dads at the little league game a bad name. Just shut it down dude. Let your kid play. 

*Let me ask a question. Why can only one website write about a player or topic? This is so common in sportswriting these days. I don’t get it. There’s enough room at the table for hundreds of websites, but if a website writes about a topic covered two days or two weeks after another site covers it, they are bad. Scorned. If the world got rid of all the sports oriented know-it-alls, it would be a better place. Here’s the thing: they are as full of shit as the next person. They don’t know it all. Not even close. They got their information from someone else and basically reformatted it for their own discretion. The realty is we are all staring into the looking glass pondering the next thought. You know who you are if you read this part. Give it up. 

*Hey, did you hear about that NBA trade? Oh cool. I couldn’t give a shit if I was paid to. Well, it depends on the money I guess. I get more arousal out of the back 9 of a golf game than I do an NBA contest or off-season gaming. 

*Can we get a good winter this year, because the mosquito bites that I’m getting this summer are brutal. They aren’t just taking a bite; these bastards are taking a pint. So selfish. And I know bugs play a part in our way of life. But I didn’t agree in the “Bugs Occupation Package: Volume 2017” for mosquitoes to bite the shit out of me. 

*As much as I liked doing the battlegrounds, I don’t need to do it again. Once you get in the mud for a couple hours and go to that extreme, a good run or workout suffices. Never say never, but I don’t think I need a repeat. 

*Favorite dinner food. Simple surf and turf. Give me a ten ounce strip streak cooked medium and shrimp or a slab of Atlantic salmon sautéed on a stove. Here’s another medium heated take: I’ll take steak and shrimp over brisket and pulled pork. BBQ is overrated. 

*When it comes to chicken wings, the skin must be crispy. If not, no thanks. There’s no place in this world for slimy skinned wings. 

*Pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza. Ask any chef in Italy. It’s no good.  

*Game of Thrones starts in six days. Since I don’t have premium cable, no Thrones for me. 

*Here’s the shitty part about exercising: it makes you want to eat more. As you get older, the mantra is that you need to take care of yourself. I’ve been doing that since I was 17 years old, so it’s not headline news to me. But they don’t warn you about the food desires that rise up as you increase your activity. And sometimes a bowl of veggies won’t cut it. An example: last night at 11 p.m., I absolutely destroyed a bag of Cheez-it’s. Gone. Working out just increases the need for a larger food intake. Fuck you appetite. 

*To the people who drive 45 minutes or more to work in the morning or at night, I applaud you. That’s tough business. 

*This week will mark my first week as an Uber driver. I’m trying to make money and not work a shit job that makes me miserable, so I’m trying this. I’m not messing around, so I got gum, mints, water, and other small goods for my passengers. The better the reviews, the more customers come your way. Also, it’s a great chance to explore the city. Here goes nothing. 

*Full confession. I love to talk, but there are times where an extended period of silence is just golden. The need to fire away constantly is a drain. Shut up and listen. Or just appreciate the quiet. 

*Beautiful women of the world, don’t be so hard on yourself. I know it’s tough. You’re pretty enough. Yes, your makeup is subtle. The dress doesn’t look too tight. The hair is done up just right. Your breasts are perfect for your body type. Sure, yoga pants are acceptable outside of a gym. As judgemental as we are-and we all are-a little “you” is always needed. 

Side bar: The ass remains the most seductive part of a woman while the eyes cut us off at the knees. 

One last thing: protect your knees. As a guy who runs on hard concrete, I can assure you that making sure your knees receive care is of the utmost importance after the body turns 30. Aging isn’t always classy. 

Also, the only thing better than people watching is spotting other addictive people watchers.  

Okay, I’ll shut up now. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. 


‘Kingdom’ Recap: The ties that bind the Kulinas 

Last week, the MMA drama zeroed in on Alvey and Jay Kulina.

One of the bittersweet facts of life is that whether we like it or not, there are certain traits of our parents that can’t be deleted from our personality and can’t be hidden from our daily activities. The good things are promoted like an unbeaten championship fighter, but the bad parts are usually covered up and pushed into a corner, or at least we like to think it’s that easy.

We are our parents in so many ways that when the attempt is made to break out on our own, the past doesn’t let us go without mortgaging our future. The result can be an overbearing need to be as good, or better yet, try to be better than what came before us. Make them proud without sacrificing yourself.

This week on AT&T’s Kingdom, we were fed another brilliant hour of television, and my biggest takeaway from what fathers and sons do to each other in order to co-exist.

Example #1: Jay, Alvey, and a need to be involved

Jay Kulina (Jonathan Tucker) is trying so hard to NOT be like his father, Alvey (Frank Grillo), that he has stripped away everything that he is as person. He quit fighting, drugs, and doesn’t even hang out with his friends. He isn’t doing this to make a good life with Amy and his daughter; Jay is doing this to distance himself from a future painted in Alvey colors.

Since Kingdom debuted, there has been a seething tension between Jay and Alvey, like two similar beasts trying to figure out how to navigate their way down a highway in cars waiting to be wrecked.

When I interviewed Tucker last year, he broke down the Jay-Alvey divide. “He (Alvey) wasn’t a good father. There’s no love or compassion. He has an inability to see the wounds he has caused. Jay is an addict but he knows what he is. He is trying to seal the wounds that his father has torn apart,” Tucker explained.

Jay blames Alvey for the abuse done to his mother, the drugs and alcohol addiction that tore the Kulina family apart years before the show brought us into their lives. The love and compassion is something that Jay has all but stopped waiting for from his father.

Last season, when Jay won a title belt by cutting an extreme amount of weight, and the post-fight congratulatory moment from Alvey rang false to Jay, because Alvey seemed to make a bigger deal of the fact that his son won a belt, and not that he had done everything asked of him. Alvey was impressed by the belt instead of being proud of his son.

Jay elaborated on that moment: “You care about this trophy more than anything else. Jay wishes that Alvey would have put him in rehab or taken care of his mother. Now Jay has self worth because he has a belt. Alvey should have been proud of Jay when he came in under weight. It seems so false to Jay.”

Fast forward to Season 3, and Jay doesn’t invite Alvey to his daughter’s baptism. This was no accident. Jay didn’t want Alvey there. When he finds out from Nate (Nick Jonas) that everybody else including Lisa was invited but not him, it truly hurts Alvey. You can see it in the true grit expression on Grillo’s face near the end of “Ritual”. He has damaged something that can’t be healed, but he wants to try.

Think about this: one of the only reasons Jay went back to fighting was to try and make a last ditch effort to please his father. He saw how close Alvey was with Nate, and wanted some of that. When he made the comeback and won the belt, and saw the look on Alvey’s face of shock and awe after defeating Wheeler, something in Jay died. He did all of that to lock onto his dad’s good side, and it was for nothing.

Nate and the Ultimate Reveal

The other father-son dynamic on this show is between Alvey and Nate, with the ticking timebomb of a reveal of Nate’s sexuality. When Garo (Bryan Callen) tells Jay that the reason Dickson dropped out of the fight was due to rumors about Nate being gay, the pot starts to boil very quickly in several corners of this show.

Nate finds out from Jay as he is sitting down to dinner with his dad, and the acting from Jonas makes you tremble in nauseous anticipation at the reaction he will get from Alvey when the mystery is pulled away. How Alvey reacts could make or break his connection with Jay as well, so imagine losing both your sons in one reaction. That’s how fickle life can be to a flawed soul. You make one bad move, and it’s an uphill battle in muddy shoes.

Will a King Beast contract cost Ryan in the end?

Speaking of Garo and anticipation, he shows up at Ryan’s house with a brand new Dodger Charger, and wants to take him out for a night of cocaine, naked women, and perhaps some green paper. Garo offers Wheeler a three fight contract for 300,000 thousand dollars, and sprinkles 25K on top of the pot to get a signature at the strip club. One can only imagine this is how deals between fighters and promoters come to fruition in real life. Ryan signs the contract, much to Lisa’s dismay (she gets a text from Garo) and us as well. While I was happy Ryan is getting paid, I trust Callen’s suit as far as I can throw him.

Keith and his mad world

The new car and stack of cash can’t hide a tumbling down the rabbit hole of avocado despair Keith from interrupting phone calls and answering doors with a knife in his hand. Something is happening with Ryan’s “friend”, and the ending will be a troubling one. Creator/showrunner Byron Balasco’s writing is so good due to the fact that he has a restraining order from melodramatic tendencies in storytelling. His stories feel real and honest, and that shows in true fashion with Keith’s condition and the father-son trials and tribulations.

Dominick Ramos: A New Poison on Navy Street

Every season of Kingdom has a poison it seems like, with Mark Consuelos’ Chapas in Season 2A and Lisa Esco’s Ava in Season 2B. They drop in to poison the well, and test one of our main characters in ways that usually ends in their death, but not before cutting their victim off at the knees. You take Chappo away from Alvey, and maybe he doesn’t tumble so far down the drunken path. If Ava isn’t introduced to old habits with Jay, maybe the Kulina son doesn’t run away from fighting. Maybe not, but this season, the new “oh no” disturber is Kirk Acevedo’s Dominick Ramos.

With Alvey going back to fighting and needing to train, the gym needs a helping hand on coaching, but this guy looks like trouble. Acevedo’s Ramos is an ex-fighter from the Bronx who talks like he’s pulling wisdom word for word from his stomach. The slow drawl style that he chooses every single word like a sniper chooses his ammunition is a warning sign that this guy has something else going on.

He interviews with Lisa (Kiele Sanchez) and Alvey, and when Prince offers him the job later, we see Ramos shoveling protein powder from a bag to a canister in his boxers. Apparently, there was some trouble back East with money and certain people, but something tells me this is tied to Alvey. Something during their interview-especially the phrase “the Kulinas cast a long shadow”-makes me think bad deeds are ahead.

Ramos may have gotten the job, but I don’t trust him for a second. He’s like a human can of gasoline being kicked over on the mats at Navy Street. Watch out.

Christina Kulina, California brothel captain

The episode opens up with Joanna Going’s Christina stuffing a grocery cart with pizzas, ramen, and other goods. Did she become a nanny? Did she move somewhere? What is she doing? It turns out she has opened a brothel with Mr. Sleaze with an a Bond accent, with at least 4-6 girls posting webcam videos and doing some jobs on the side. If Christina can’t make a clean break from the life that has wrecked her life, she can at least move to a coaching position, and make some money.

Going was too good on this show to be killed off in that near overdose sequence from Season 2, and this season looks like a fresh body moving around in a wise soul. She helps nurture a young girl from Miami who gets roughed up in her first “scene” on the town with Mr. Sleaze, and is doing well. She doesn’t like that Jay is distancing himself from the family, but can’t help but cuddle her new granddaughter. She is one of the few that knows about Nate, so that makes me sweat in waiting for Alvey’s reaction.

Final thoughts:

*We all know the real estate thing isn’t going to work out for Jay, but will he at least get to punch that mean tenant in the jaw? As a person currently looking at homes and selling his own, I understand the decency in vacating the premises for a showing. Poor Jay. Trying to make an honest living, but that beast is always raging. Glad he still has the bags in the backyard.

*Who is taking care of Lisa? After getting so close to Wheeler at the end of Season 2B, Lisa is now living by herself and she looks lonely. Which male character will win this woman’s heart in the end?

*Did I mention how having just eight episodes left now is extremely saddening? We will all need a heavy bag in August.

*I have a fever, and I need more MAC BRANDT! The brown leather drug pouch is also a nice touch.

The thing I miss most about Kingdom when it’s gone are the Frank Grillo monologues. The soliloquies of wisdom that usually come on a couch or with a drink in his hand. Early in the episode, Alveys tells his therapist that he is returning to the ring, and part of that great speech from the trailer arrives. “I need to feel my full range of emotions. I need to be who I was.” If that last line doesn’t awaken something in you, get your pulse checked.

Grillo knows how to properly disperse gravity in his line readings, and when he talks about getting reacquainted with the beast inside, I had to rewind and watch it a few times just to soak it up. You can tell that Balasco wrote this character for Grillo, because the actor will never play another role that exists so close to his true self or mirrors his own fight in life, and he invests everything into these scenes and Alvey’s trek.

The scenes I rewind the most are the Alvey Kulina speeches. The moral compass of a show about flawed and damaged fighters needs to have weight, and Grillo packs a punch.

See you next week.