Quick Take: Lights Out, "Crossroads"
"You're going home. This is where you belong." - Johnny
Review: Lights Out, "Crossroads"
(S0107) Episode number seven, the mathematical mid-point of the season, is aptly (if not obviously) titled "Crossroads." (When I popped the DVD screener in I had pretty high hopes for this episode; historically, Crossroads are awesome. Exhibit A: The woefully under-appreciated, Britney Spears road trip movie, co-starring Zoe Saldana and Tarryn Manning. Exhibit B: "The Crossroads" by Bone Thugs 'N Harmony. "Damn, I miss my Uncle Charles, y'all." 'Nuff said). The episode is like a mid-season finale, wrapping up a portion of the story and setting up the final six hours.
Much of Lights Out, until this point, has felt like a game of chicken, with Patrick (Holt McCallany) on one side and the life of boxing he left behind on the other. In "Crossroads," the collision happens as Lights finally gets back into the ring. The episode was by no means perfect (I'll talk about some of the issues I had a little later), but it was pretty fun watching Pops (Stacy Keach) ride Lights during the training sessions. Pops treats Patrick like a 25-year old fighter in the prime of his career, pushing him to limits. "He's in training, if he's not suffering, he's not doing it right," Pops reasons.
I figured that the pugilistic dementia (PD) subplot would play more of a central role, but it seems -- at least for now -- that the issue has been put to bed. Going into "Crossroads," Daniella is the only character who knows about Lights' medical problems. Throughout the episode, as the fight gets closer and closer, she starts dropping not-so-subtle hints to Theresa (If he boxes, we're going to lose him"). Eventually, on fight night, she breaks down and tells Lights' sister, Margaret (Elizabeth Marvel), who basically blows Daniella off, saying that doctors diagnose all boxers with PD. "It's like telling a baker he has high cholesterol," she says. It's not exactly clear if she means what she says or if she is just trying to ease her nieces' fears.
The most absurd byproduct of the PD story is Daniella's (Ryann Shane) behavioral change. In the blink of an eye, she makes the jump from goody-two-shoes to a Catholic school version of Chalky White. When she gets busted for selling liquor to classmates, her excuse is "I'm just doing whatever I want, Just like everyone else." I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the "the sugar in Schnapps clogs up the hairspray nozzle" line. Other than Lights, Pops and Johnny (Pablo Schreiber), I could really do without any of the Leary family members. The show has not done a great job getting the audience to care about Lights' home life. It's clear that Lights Out has borrowed a lot, stylistically, from The Sopranos, but what the FX show can't seem to replicate is the dynamic between Tony and his family. For a show based around a boxer giving up his career for the sake of his family, Lights Out hasn't done enough to make us feel like that was realistic decision. If I were Lights, I would use any excuse I could to get away from Theresa (Catherine McCormack) and the kids.
The absurdity doesn't stop with Daniella. The weigh-in before the Morales (Gavin-Keith Umeh) fight was absolutely ridiculous. First, El Diablo brandishes a machete and waives it around in Lights' general direction. Then, he threatens to "kill (Lights) until (he) dies" and grabs his crotch while talking trash about Theresa. I don't know if it was intentional, but Morales comes off looking and sounding like a mildly racist caricature of a Latino fighter. "I kill you until you die"? Seriously?
I want to preface this final observation with a bit a of a disclaimer; I'm a sports fan, so I am relatively familiar with boxing. I watch most of the big fights, I can name a dozen or so current contenders, but I am by no means an expert on the sweet science. That said, am I crazy for thinking that there was something really off about the Lights/Morales bout? After absorbing a slew of blows (including several below the belt) in the first round, Patrick unleashes a barrage of punches to open the second round. El Diablo doesn't try to avoid or block any of them. He just stands there and eats the punches and when he's full, he falls to the mat in defeat. The way I interpreted the scene, one of two things happened; either this was just a terribly choreographed fight scene, or Morales took a dive. After Lights emerges victorious, no one in his camp suggests that Morales could have thrown the fight, but I still think that could be a possibility. Barry Word (Reg E. Cathey) has a stake in securing the Leary/Reynolds rematch, so is it really that much of a stretch to think that he could have convinced his fighter (El Diablo) to take one for the team? If Morales were to beat Lights, the title shot against Reynolds would all but disappear.