Episode Title: "Cut Men"
Writer: Carter Harris
Director: Nick Gomez
Previously on "Lights Out":
Legendary boxing trainer Ed Romeo (Eamonn Walker) did wonders with Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) by getting him into the best shape of his life. But at the same time, Romeo drove a wedge into the Leary family by alienating Johnny (Pablo Schreiber) and Robert "Pops" Leary (Stacy Keach). Romeo also got a little too close to Lights’ wife, Theresa Leary (Catherine McCormack) and their children; which caused Lights to briefly doubt Romeo’s intentions. To complicate matters, Romeo’s control over Lights and his refusal to let him do publicity for the fight with Richard "Death Row" Reynolds (Billy Brown) led promoter Barry K. Word (Reg E. Cathey) to file a suit against him.
Lights eventually went behind Romeo’s back to give the interviews, but Romeo caught him in the act and had a public meltdown. Romeo later apologized, but Lights told him that they couldn’t work together any more. As Romeo prepared to leave, he had a confrontation with Johnny that led to his hands around his throat. When Lights tried to intervene, Johnny accidentally stabbed him with a pair of scissors. As Lights lay bleeding, Johnny and Romeo rushed to get him to the hospital.
Mike Fumosa (Ben Shenkman) is among the TV reporters camped outside Lights’ house after the incident, which Johnny has spun as "an unknown assailant" who attacked and stabbed Lights outside the gym. Barry K. Word visits the house and is all smiles for Theresa and the kids, but he tells Lights in no uncertain terms that if he can’t recover and resume his training in time then he’ll find a new opponent for Death Row. Worried, Lights visits Death Row at his home and asks for his support for a delay so he can recover. But the champ basically spits in Lights’ face for hiring his old trainer.
Lights tells Theresa that he doesn’t blame anyone for the stabbing, but she tells him that he can’t speed up his healing process. Theresa also secretly meets with the head of her medical program and gets his support to find a higher paying job once she graduates from medical school. Meanwhile, Lights meets with a less ethical doctor who offers to help rush his recovery, but he warns Lights that his immune system may be weakened. At the diner, Johnny is shocked to see that his sister, Margaret (Elizabeth Marvel) is dating Hal Brennan (Bill Irwin), a dangerous mobster who helped Lights before.
As expected, Lights doesn’t take the news well and Johnny unintentionally insults Theresa when she stands up for Margaret. Later, Mike warns Johnny and Lights that Word is secretly looking for fighters to replace Lights in the big fight. Death Row is initially against the idea, but Word convinces him that the rematch with Lights can wait. Brennan approaches Lights and offers to pay the penalties for pushing the fight back, but Lights rejects his help and warns him to stay away from his sister. Lights also tries to warn Margaret about Brennan, but she throws Lights’ misdeed with the dentist back in his face.
In training early, Lights accidentally tears his stitches. And over at Death Row’s house, his wife convinces him to stay true to his promise to retire after his next fight; which would kill his rematch with Lights if he left the fight. At home, Lights is angered that Theresa has begun looking for private sector job without telling him and he inadvertently intimidates her mentor. Mike then summons the Leary brothers with the news that Lights has been bumped out of the fight and that Death Row will retire afterwards. Furious, Lights confronts Death Row at his restaurant and taunts him until Death Row throws a punch. Their wild brawl is filmed by several spectators and sends both men through the restaurant window.
The next morning, Theresa is furious with Lights and barely speaks with him on the way to her commencement. At home, Death Row is so angry with Lights that he demands to fight him once and for all in the ring. Lights gets the news in the middle of Theresa’s diploma presentation and misses the moment entirely; which does not go unnoticed by Theresa. She later acts coldly towards him when he offers his congratulations for earning her doctoral. He and Johnny also make their peace with Brennan for his financial support before the fight, but both men are uneasy when Brennan says that they are almost like family now.
I’m disappointed that Eamonn Walker’s Ed Romeo appears to have been written out of the show, but this was still a very entertaining episode.
I remain impressed with the pacing of this series. Giving Lights an injury to overcome has already been done on the show, but the stakes have been raised impressively and his desperation was clear when he visited Death Row both times. It definitely seemed like Death Row was trying to intimidate Lights in their first meeting. From the earlier episodes in the series, I assumed that both men had respect for each other. But instead it seems to be barely disguised contempt. While that’s a good way to build the drama of their fight in the finale, I liked the earlier rapport between the two men.
Which isn’t to say that having them at each other’s throats isn’t fun to watch. Lights displayed an unusual cruel streak when he verbally attacked Death Row’s association with Romeo and accused him of ducking him. The leap through the window was over-the-top, but the rage really did seem to flow from their fists. I’ve also noticed that Lights himself is very deeply flawed. He’s generally a likable character, but he definitely takes a lot of shortcuts when he can. And it was a surprise when Lights’ incident with the dentist was thrown into his face by his sister. I don’t necessarily buy that Brennan would tell her about that. However, it does make Margaret the keeper of almost all of the secrets of the Leary family.
Lights also displayed a more brutish side when he scared Theresa’s mentor at dinner. During their later meeting, the man was clearly afraid of Lights even in the secure setting. There is the perception that Lights is unstable, which at times he seems to relish. He’s also really earning Theresa’s wraith this time, as opposed to most of his earlier actions.
Mike’s return to prominence was a little surprising as well, considering how far he fell the last time we saw him. He was a more useful character this time out, but Lights and Johnny were a little too friendly with him considering the way they parted a few episodes ago. The tension between them was gone even though they cost him his last job as a boxing reporter.
I’m also a little wary of the previews for next week’s episode, which revisits the second episode of the season in which Lights bribed a judge for Brennan in exchange for making his assault charges go away. That’s a big public scandal to throw Lights into and it seems like it could easily go off the rails. But "Lights Out" has been an amazing show to date and it’s more than earned the benefit of the doubt from me.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.