LIGHTS OUT 1.06 ‘Combinations’

Lights suffers a serious injury during training and his brother screws up yet again.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

LIGHTS OUT 1.06 'Combinations'

Episode Title: "Combinations"

Writer: Stu Zicherman

Director: Tom Dicillo

Previously on "Lights Out":

After finally getting his wife, Theresa Leary (Catherine McCormack) to reluctantly sign off on his return to the ring, Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) discovered that his brother, Johnny (Pablo Schreiber) sold the rights to his next fight to the most ruthless promoter in boxing, Barry K. Word (Reg E. Cathey). Furious, Lights fired his brother from his management team and attempted to set up an exposition fight with another boxer. However, Lights’ prospective opponent ended up getting his hands crushed under highly suspicious circumstances.

When Lights confronted Word about the injuries to his friend, he denied involvement and upped his offer for Lights to fight Javier ‘El Diablo’ Morales (Gavin-Keith Umeh), a convicted statutory rapist who will be getting out of jail soon. Word also secretly met high end bookie, Hal Brennan (Bill Irwin) and the pair have apparently been manipulating Lights together. At home, Teresa couldn’t handle the stress of having Lights get in the ring again and tells him to move out for the sake of their daughters.  

Story:

Lights and his camp attend a press conference with Javier Morales and his crew, presided over by Barry Word. Lights and Morales stage a fight on the podium which is later revealed to have been scripted. But Morales warns Lights that his daughters should pray for him. Lights also continues to give Johnny the cold shoulder for selling him out. Lights’ father, Robert "Pops" Leary (Stacy Keach) takes over his training regimen to get him back in ring shape. However, boxing reporter Mike Fumosa (Ben Shenkman) visits him after training with rumors about Lights’ recent cage fight, which Lights refuses to acknowledge. But the next morning, Mike runs the story anyway.

When he wakes up, Lights rushes out to pick up his kids only to find that he messed up the day he was supposed to take them. He finds that Teresa has changed the locks to the house and she is noticeably colder to him. Lights tells his daughters there’s nothing wrong between them, but his oldest, Ava (Meredith Hagner) reveals that she heard one of Teresa’s friends suggest a divorce lawyer. Lights is distracted by the news during his sparring match with a young boxer when Word arrives to yell at Lights for getting bad press. The young boxer wants to impress Word and starts coming at Lights hard, accidentally landing a thumb in his eye. 

Lights vision is blurred from the injury, but he tries to hide the severity of it. Johnny offers Lights a night out to relax, but he refuses. Later, Lights confronts Mike about the cage fighting story and offers him full access if he makes it go away. Lights calls his home to speak with his family, but Daniella won’t speak to him and Teresa seems even more distant. Depressed, Lights takes Johnny up on his offer and we learn how Johnny was once a fighter himself. Two women also hit on them and Lights is left to take one of them home.

When the girl in his car keeps coming on to him, Lights realizes that she’s a call girl hired by Johnny. He tries to get her home without incident, but his eyesight is even worse at night and he crashes the car into a tree. Later, Johnny tells him that he’s paid everyone off to keep quiet. But Mike gets wind of the story anyway and threatens to run it with or without comment from Lights. Lights even tries to intimidate Mike but it doesn’t work. Desperate to spare his family the impact of finding out from the morning paper, Lights confesses to Teresa. Needless to say, she doesn’t take the news well.

Lights throws her attitude towards him back at her and mentions the divorce lawyer talk. She says that she turned down her friend’s advice but may be reconsidering. The following day, Mike’s story doesn’t appear in the paper. Lights tracks him down to thank him, but Mike tells him that he was fired because the official police report says that Johnny was driving. Elsewhere, Word and "Death Row" Reynolds (Billy Brown) watch Morales tear through his sparring partner. Reynolds is worried that Lights won’t be able to beat Morales to get to him for a rematch, but Word tells him to trust the plan.

Alone at the gym, Lights experiments with tilting his head at different angles to reduce his double vision before returning to his training.

Breakdown:

"Lights Out" has quietly become one of the most rewarding dramas on TV. It’s not as good as "Terriers" was, but it’s got that FX feel and the story has been really compelling.

The opening press conference was one of the best parts of the episode, and Lights showed a classic sense of humor when he used the walker to approach the podium. The episode also did a lot to build up Morales as a credible threat to beat Lights. Every time we saw Morales, he was intimidating or impressively overmatching his training partners. The revelation that Death Row is in on the plan to manipulate Lights with Word was also interesting. It was also hinted that he and Word want Lights to have his rematch with Death Row even if he loses to Morales in the next episode.

Since the beginning of the series, we’ve seen some hints that Johnny was once a formidable fighter himself. And we finally got most of the story here when we learned that he was an Olympic level fighter who got injured before his big shot. That was a brilliantly constructed character revelation that built upon the earlier episodes. And I always appreciate story details like that.

Lights is also turning into more of a sympathetic character as well. Holt McCallany has been good in the role from the start, but there were a couple of times when Lights veered off in a more unlikable direction. Here, he’s the underdog again and he might actually lose. The "Rocky" comparisons are inescapable, but the world of "Lights Out" is noticeably darker and more dangerous than that film series. I think that "Lights Out" might actually move past that and find its own story to tell.

Mike Furmosa made for an interesting antagonist for Lights because he was in his own way, even more desperate than the fallen champ. The ironic thing is that Mike is portrayed as being an a**hole for not playing ball with Lights when in reality, everything that Mike wrote about him was what actually happened. Lights did assault the dentist, he did fight in an underground cage match and he did crash a car with a hooker in the passenger seat. And just because Mike is out of the way doesn’t mean that Lights is in the clear. He keeps making these mistakes, so he’s likely to repeat them in the near future… even with the best of intentions.

Ryan Shane’s absence as Daniella was very noticeable, which made me wonder if she simply wasn’t available for the episode. Daniella’s anger towards her father is understandable after last week’s episode where he threatened her to keep quiet about his diagnosis. But it was strange not to see her at all. She’s also one of the few female characters on the show who doesn’t come off as incredibly selfish. Teresa definitely seemed like she was ready to cut Lights out of her life when she changed the locks to their house and seemed like she was getting divorce advice. There was a good balance for her that was struck about two episodes back when she found out about the family’s money problems, but she hasn’t been as well rounded since.

Regardless, this was another solid show from a surprisingly strong series. "Lights Out" deserves a bigger audience, so now’s the time to start recommending it to friends if you want to see another season.

Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.