“Even ugly things can be pretty …”
Summing up episode three of Kingdom: High Quality Drama.
Television is character-driven. Whenever we obsess about a fictional character, we obsess about how he is, not about what he does. I honestly don’t remember what cases Sony has solved on “Miami Vice” ( I vaguely remember a few), but I still remember his attitude.
Kingdom, Television be praised, is all about characters and their relationships. And “Piece of Plastic” (the name of the episode) introduces in full details characters that stood in the background up to now. And raises the stakes in the process.
“ I love college. I was gonna major in Graphic Art. But then I found out that you end up designing only pharmaceutical pamphlets. So I just switched to Art History. I’m actually a pretty good artist. Not good, like, to really do it, but I still sketch. Even ugly things can be pretty.”
First, meet Christina. Alvey’s first wife. A drug addicted hooker with a SOB pimp, called Terry. She’s not young, but can become the fantasy of horny college students eager to have fun in a cheesy motel. At the same time, she’s Nate’s and Jay’s mother for whom she abandoned the studies. Of the two boys, Jay is the only one who is in contact with her. He even passes himself for a customer, paying 300$ to spend an hour with his mother. The scenes, beautifully acted by Joanna Going and Jonathan Tucker (I’m running out of adjectives to describe his performance), are raw, painful and touching. What a joy it is to watch these two actors creating on-screen conflict. Could watch them together over and over again. Their body language and gestures let us know that there is so much suffering on both parts. Will Jay do something to get his mother out of this world? Will Christina be willing to let herself be saved?
“What’s your name?”
“I’ll remember that, Terry.”
Alvey is aware that 4 years have passed since Ryan fought in the arena and he knows that you can’t catch up with that lost time easily. Regardless of their personal history, camaraderie comes first, some would say watching their re-bonding. “Trust the process, trust your coach”. But is it that easy? Alvey tries to talk to Ryan’s parole officer about having Ryan officially at the gym. He is, however, opposed by the latter’s severity:
“Some of these guys, you gotta cut their balls off.”
So Alvey sells his most treasured trophy for 4K to a customer in Japan and lies to Lisa about it. Lisa on the other hand, tries to deal with the fact that she’ll have Ryan all the time at the gym. Are there any feeling left? What’s scaring Lisa?
Another interesting paring that adds so much to the script is Ryan and his room mate, Keith. Keith, who is being bullied, receives fighting lessons from Ryan. The bonding is awkward, difficult, since Keith seems to be mentally impaired, but at the same give the sensation of humanity in a place forsaken by all.
The only character who seems to not find any connection at all is Nate. From the beginning, he’s aloof, not interested in women ( as his brother), disciplined, quiet as a mouse about the guys who attacked them. He’s just a ticking bomb ready to explode. Does it have to do with Alvey? Next episode’s promo hints it that way.
Officially, Kingdom is my new favorite TV Show of this season!!!!
Featured on the soundtrack of “Piece of Plastic”. Enjoy!