Episode Title: "The Shot"
Writer: Justin Zackham
Director: Ed Bianchi
Previously on "Lights Out":
In the middle of soaring health and money problems, Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) was challenged by Richard "Death Row" Reynolds (Billy Brown) for a rematch of a disputed bout that cost Lights his world title. However, Lights hadn’t had a professional fight in five years after making a promise to his wife, Theresa Leary (Catherine McCormack). Although Lights told his brother, Johnny (Pablo Schreiber) to kill the speculation about the rematch, the $10 million fight purse made Lights at least consider his return.
As Lights’ money situation grew more desperate, he agreed to collect a debt for Hal Brennan (Bill Irwin), a high end bookie. But Lights went too far and broke a man’s arm. To get out of legal trouble, he participated in delivering a cake packed with cash to pay off a judge and a prosecutor. One of the men at the bakery later attempted to steal the cake from Lights’ car before he fought him off. Later, the thief was listening to Lights’ iPod when someone blew his brains out on a park bench.
To raise money for his family and failing business, Lights appears on QVC to sell memorabilia from his previous fights and merchandise like bobbleheads of himself. His prized gloves from his second fight with Death Row Reynolds come up for auction and go for an astonishingly high $25,000 to an anonymous bidder. But the bidder later shows up at Lights’ house and reveals himself to be none other than Death Row. He returns the gloves mockingly and wants Lights to finally agree to a rematch. They almost come to blows before Lights’ daughter distracts him. He doesn’t give Death Row an answer on the rematch, but he does tell him not to come back.
Back at the gym, Johnny and his father, Robert "Pops" Leary (Stacy Keach) are excited that a challenger has just dropped out of a major fight and they think Omar Assarian (Pedro Pascal), their current prized fighter can fill that slot. Johnny claims that the promoter, Barry K. Word (Reg E. Cathey) owes him a favor but Omar warns them that if he doesn’t get it then he’ll sign with Barry directly. At Barry’s office, Johnny waits for hours to see him and sweet talks his secretary. Eventually she tells him that Barry is in Atlanta, but he makes a connection with her. Back at home, Lights’ daughters decide to create a memory book of his best fights and mementos for his upcoming 40th birthday.
At the gym, Omar is more concerned with his flash and style than with his ring work. Lights tries to offer him some meaningful advice, but the kid ignores him and Pops tells him to back off. But eventually, even Pops gets tired of Omar’s bull sh**. Despite claiming that Omar already has the fight locked up, Johnny returns to Barry’s office and only a tip from the secretary allows him to catch Barry trying to sneak out the back into a limo. And then Barry turns down Omar for the fight without even seeing him. Elsewhere, the two cops who previously harassed Lights pull up and tell him that his iPod was found with a murder victim, but Lights plays dumb until they go away.
Later, Lights tries again to reach Omar and then witnesses him doing meth to make weight for the fight. At home, Lights loses his temper with his daughters and briefly seems to flash to his other recent acts of violence. At Barry’s office, Johnny has a quick tryst with the secretary before she tells him where Barry is staying. Johnny sneaks into the hotel room dressed as a bellman and makes his pitch directly to Barry, who tells him that he has only one thing that he wants. At Lights’ home, his wife talks to him about his blow up with their daughters and even urges him to try harder to guide Omar.
Taking Theresa’s advice, Lights reaches Omar with a dramatic display and finally gets through to him. Together, they train hard and Omar seems to be really learning. On the day of the big title fight, Omar and Lights part on excellent terms as Pops and Omar head to Atlantic City while Lights remains to celebrate his birthday with his wife and daughters. But he finds that he can’t sleep without knowing how Omar’s fight ended. It turns out that Omar had a very solid fight and had the champ on the ropes. But near the end, he reverted to his old habits and let his guard down long enough to be knocked out. The sight deflates Lights as he watches it live on TV.
This might be the episode where "Lights Out" finally found itself. The two previous episodes were entertaining, but this one was fantastic. And almost every character was compelling this time.
The beginning of the episode with Lights on QVC was brilliant and the unexpected appearance of Death Row Reynolds was suitably intense. I think this was actually the first time they’ve had a scene together outside of a boxing ring. Death Row makes a great villain because as far as he’s concerned, he’s the hero of his story who has been injured by Lights’ constant barbs that he really won their fight. And it’s hard to argue against Death Row’s POV, when he’s willing to put his title on the line just to finally settle their feud.
Although the supporting cast was a little weak in the pilot, they all brought their A-games in this episode. Pablo Schreiber gets a special nod for making even Johnny into a relatable character as he bent over backwards to land that fight. His relationship with Barry’s secretary was kind of sweet and the lengths he went through to reach Barry were impressive. And that last meeting is going to come back to haunt the Leary’s, as it’s obvious the deal that Johnny struck will involve Barry getting something from Lights’ eventual return to the ring.
Until now, Catherine McCormack’s Theresa has just been kind of demanding and oblivious to Lights’ problems. But here she’s actually understanding towards him and even leads him to a major breakthrough. McCormack also had a great delivery in a scene where she explained how Theresa and Lights met in the first place. Instead of cutting to a flashback, the story came alive from her performance and it was finally believable that Theresa and Lights got together.
Holt McCallany has been terrific in this series, but his scene in the dark with Omar was the best work he’s done so far. Up to that point, Omar’s character was pretty much an insufferable jerk, but that single sequence not only redeemed his character, it showed us a lot about Lights himself. The brief training montage between the two was also entertaining, even if it was dipping back into "Rocky" territory. But "Lights Out" is starting to carve its own niche out of that story.
By the time the end came around, I was fully on Omar’s side and wanted to see him win… so of course he lost because he slipped back into cockiness. That’s an aggravating outcome, but it’s perfect. Now Lights HAS to get back into the ring. Omar was his last chance to do something else with his life or bring in a new champion to restore their business. Basically, Lights is hanging on to the ropes of his life before the bell rings. And he has to fight his way back one more time.
Sure, it’s a cliché to say, but I want a ring side seat for that.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.