Episode Title: "Crossroads"
Writer: Ken Girotti
Director: Robin Veith
Previously on "Lights Out":
Five years ago, Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) retired from boxing after losing his world championship to "Death Row" Reynolds (Billy Brown). However, financial problems forced Lights to come back to the ring, which in turn caused his wife, Theresa Leary (Catherine McCormack) to essentially kick him out of their house. Thanks to the mismanagement of his brother, Johnny (Pablo Schreiber), Lights’ comeback fight was tied to Barry K. Word (Reg E. Cathey); a ruthless boxing promoter who insisted that Lights fight Javier ‘El Diablo’ Morales (Gavin-Keith Umeh). El Diablo looked especially intimidating despite just coming out of prison for statutory rape.
As the fight drew closer, Lights suffered an eye injury during training that severely affected his vision. He also managed to end up in a car with a call girl that crashed. Johnny tried to quash the story, but boxing reporter Mike Fumosa (Ben Shenkman) was very close to printing the truth about what happened. But because Johnny finally greased the right palms and took the official blame for the accident, Mike was fired from his newspaper and the story was killed. Despite the loss of his job, Mike wished Lights good luck against El Diablo, for not quitting despite the overwhelming odds against him.
A few days before the match with El Diablo, Death Row pays Lights a surprise visit at his sister’s diner and offers him a detailed scouting report on El Diablo. He tells Lights that he doesn’t want him losing before they get their chance for a rematch, but Lights simply says that it’s good to see him and doesn’t seem to acknowledge the gift. While training, Lights gets an emergency call from his daughter’s school. When he gets there with Theresa, they learn that Daniella (Ryan Shane) has been caught giving liquor to the other students. She doesn’t even deny it, despite never having a history of acting out.
Of course, the real reason that Daniella is causing trouble is that she knows about his pugilistic dementia diagnosis, but she was forced to promise him not to tell anyone. Theresa presses her for answers, but Daniella manages to keep the secret. As for Lights, he has two physical problems heading into the fight: he’s losing weight too rapidly from overtraining and his eyesight is still giving him double vision. His dad, Robert "Pops" Leary (Stacy Keach) is also driving him harder than ever before, leaving Lights almost completely exhausted. Despite all of this, Lights is still cleared for the fight. He also sends a plane ticket for the fight to his wife, an old ritual of theirs.
After pleading with his wife over the phone, Theresa agrees to be there in his corner. Before the weigh-in, Lights drinks a large amount of water just to make the weight limit and he endures another threat from El Diablo. Back at home, Lights’ sister Margaret (Elizabeth Marvel) finally gets Daniella to spill about Lights’ medical diagnosis, but she also elicits the promise of silence from her. Before the fight, Johnny clears the room and gives his brother a much needed pep talk. Lights then goes to the ring and faces his foe. But the first round is a massacre, as El Diablo dominates Lights with dirty tactics, including a low blow and a devastating head butt.
Almost out on his feet, Lights looks to Theresa and regains his fighting spirit. He hits a low blow of his own on El Diablo and then lays into him with an impressive series of punches that finally send the man to the canvas. A ten count later and Lights is declared the winner. The corners spill into the ring and Death Row enters as well, to challenge Lights once again to a rematch. Word quickly says that the fight is on, but Lights quietly rehires Johnny to ask for more money.
Lights also reconciles with Theresa and moves back in with his family. But Pops is so unhappy with the way the fight went that he quits being Lights’ trainer. He tells his son that he was lucky against El Diablo and wishes him luck against Death Row.
I’ve been noting the improvement of "Lights Out" during the last couple of weeks, and there’s no doubt about it. This is the best new drama of the year, and I don’t even like boxing that much. But I love compelling stories and "Lights Out" is delivering like no other show at the moment.
Gavin-Keith Umeh has to get a quick nod for making El Diablo such a contemptible ass that it was a great cathartic moment to see him go down. The fight between Lights and El Diablo wasn’t the epic battle I was expecting, but the writers of this show are probably saving that for the fight with Death Row later this season. Despite that, the in-ring action was well staged and Lights was literally on the ropes for most of it. There’s some speculation among critics that El Diablo threw the fight because of Word’s involvement. It’s possible. But for now, it stands as one of Lights’ best hero moments to date.
Of course, it has to be said that Lights did fight dirty to win too and his dad is right, it may have just been a lot of luck that saved him. And now with two people who know about his condition, there was even some good tension as Daniella and Margaret watched the fight at home.
Pablo Schreiber also delivered an amazingly well written speech for Johnny as he psyched up Lights for the fight. It’s one of the few times that Johnny’s shown us a side of himself that wasn’t all about getting laid or trying to get rich. It also gave Lights and Johnny a convincing comradery not just as brothers but as fellow boxers as well. After that, it’s easier to understand why Lights rehired Johnny. Sure, Johnny’s a screwup, but they’re bound together, no matter what.
The resolution of Lights’ issues with Theresa was also a good step forward for those characters and finally made Theresa sympathetic again. Their prefight rituals were actually established a few episodes ago, which gave their reappearance here some added poignancy. Knowing the series as we do, at some point Theresa’s going to learn what her daughter and sister-in-law already know and we might be back at square one. But at least that would be true to the characters.
The sudden drama with Pops is a little forced, but I don’t really mind. It’s just another obstacle for Lights to overcome before the end of the season. And the quick preview of the second half of the season looks just as intriguing as the first.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.