A review of tonight’s “Lights Out” coming up just as soon as I’m in a dark room for a week…
“So for this fight, we gonna make some changes.” -Ed Romeo
Last week, I noted the unfortunate coincidence that Lights’ big fight episode was accompanied by “How Ya Like Me Now?,” which was already used in a very similar way in “The Fighter.” “Head Games” doesn’t have any familiar music cues, but in many ways is even more evocative of the Oscar winner in the way it shows its aging, comebacking fighter struggling to not be dragged back down by the negative family members for whom he’s been a longtime meal ticket.
Of course, it’s not like either that film or this show are reinventing the wheel. Plenty of boxing stories have dealt with the negative energy of family (“Million Dollar Baby,” to name yet another Oscar winner). What matters is the execution. And in bringing in Eamonn Walker as Lights’ eccentric new trainer Ed Romeo, “Lights Out” has executed the hell out of this particular trope.
Walker’s an interesting case. I tend to prefer my TV drama actors to be fairly natural in style, yet I’ve almost always enjoyed the mannered, theatrical nature of Walker’s performances on shows like “Oz” and “Kings” (though that was a show where everyone was theatrical) and now here. Walker never quite lets you forget that you’re watching him acting, but the things he’s doing – here with the hoarse, deliberate manner of speaking and his slumped but guarded posture – are usually so compelling that I set it aside.
And in this particular case, Walker’s otherness turns out to be an advantage. He’s not a white Irish guy, but he also seems to be from a slightly different show than even Barry Word and Death Row – and that works, because “Head Games” is all about how Ed’s arrival shakes up Lights’ world, and so unsettles his blood relatives.
Walker and Holt McCallany quickly develop a good rapport, and the episode plays on some other tropes of the genre that always work well, as the new trainer introduces his various unorthodox ideas (swap around your body clock! have lots of sex with your wife!), and I look forward to more in the coming weeks. At the same time, given how unstable Ed is, I wonder if he’s actually going to be around all season, or if Lights and his dad are going to have to reunite sometime before the Death Row fight.
All in all, another solid episode – and another one in which the scenes involving Lights’ personal life are a bit of a drag. Subplots about the kids on shows like this always tend to be dicey – even “The Sopranos” was pretty hit-or-miss on telling interesting stories about AJ and Meadow – and the only one of Lights’ children I’m invested in at all is Daniela, and only because she’s the one who’s (mostly) keeping his dementia secret. Ava and Katie (who’s conveniently off at a Girl Scout retreat) are just furniture so far; they represent what Lights is trying to protect, and also what he could lose if he takes a few more bad hits, but devoting actual story time to them thus far isn’t really working.
What did everybody else think?