Last night’s episode of Lights Out was bound to see a drop in energy after the previous two installments, which were dominated by the masterful acting of Eamonn Walker as Ed Romeo, Patrick “Lights” Leary’s new trainer/guru.
With Romeo now out of the picture (due to his refusal to allow Lights’ family to help/interfere in his training for the big rematch with “Death Row” Reynolds), Lights is now drifting further toward the dark side represented by his brother Johnny and by Don King-like boxing promoter Barry K. Word.
While not as riveting as the previous few episodes, “Cut Men” does a good job of showing the back room machinations of contemporary boxing, where the big fights—Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather Jr., for instance—often can’t seem to get made anymore.
The episode showed both Lights and Reynolds being manipulated by outside forces. The injury Lights incurred while breaking up last week’s fight between Romeo and Johnny Leary proved to be an opportunity for the shifty promoter Word to put the squeeze on both Lights and Reynolds.
Word knows that Reynolds, his golden goose, will retire after a rematch with arch-foe Leary, and wants to delay that event as long as possible. Lights’ injury provides the perfect excuse.
Word thus tries to force Reynolds to fight a Ukrainian heavyweight contender before he gets in the ring again with Lights (a little irony there in that the non-fictional current top heavyweights of the world, brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, hail from Ukraine as well).
Lights, meanwhile, knows that the purse from his successful first comeback fight is not going to last long, given what he owes in back taxes and such, and he comes across as increasingly desperate. And when a cunning operator like Word gets a whiff of desperation, look out.
Lights also finds out that wife Theresa is seemingly ready to forsake her medical residency to enter the private sector and and try to earn more money for the family, and he learns this not from her, but from a med school mentor to whom she seems to be growing uncomfortably close.
All of this only puts more pressure on Lights to make the fight with Reynolds happen, and serves to strengthen Word’s hand. The intense scenes with Leary and Reynolds were the strongest in “Cut Men.”
Both are heavyweight champions who should be masters of their own destinies, but who instead often seem to be puppets for outside forces like Barry K. Word and Johnny. They have a lot in common, actually, but they also dislike one another intensely.
As for the subplot involving Brennan and Lights’ sister, it seems a bit stilted to me, and Brennan comes across too much like a cartoon sleazeball/gangster.
Overall, a good but not great episode.