Last night’s episode of Lights Out featured a terrific guest turn by versatile actor David Morse (St. Elsewhere) that rivaled the scene-stealing work of Eamonn Walker earlier this season. Morse portrays destitute ex-heavyweight champion Jerry “The Rainmaker” Raines, a friendly sort who suffers from pugilistic dementia (i.e. he’s “punchy”). Lights no doubt sees his own possible future in Jerry, and, as he is one of the fighters who had given The Rainmaker a beating in the ring, feels some responsibility toward him.
The Rainmaker is given some menial tasks to do around the Leary’s gym, but proves unable to control his temper – due to his condition he is prone to violent outbursts and blackouts. Morse gives a harrowing, heartbreaking portrayal of what can happen to boxers when the lights have indeed gone out, the audiences have gone home, and all that is left is the pain.
Meanwhile, Lights’ dealings with sleazeball gangster Brennan (some critics have been wowed by this character, but to me the portrayal is cartoonish) have finally caught up to him, and the squeeze is being put on Lights by both Brennan and the FBI. I found it interesting how Lights’ usually very moody wife Theresa was very calm and reasonable about the whole matter, even helping Lights construct some possible alibis. The portrayal of Theresa has been schizophrenic to say the least, a major flaw in this first (and possibly only) season of the show.
The ending caught me by surprise, even though it was somewhat telegraphed – some very good writing here. Jerry the Rainmaker, who just wants to feel useful and part of life again, is given a secret assignment by Lights, and he carries it off with aplomb. The final scene, with the two fighters sitting together in Jerry’s bedsitter, sharing a smile and a laugh at the dirty deed they have pulled off, felt like those scenes on The Sopranos where the audience and the characters share a conspiratorial moment. The viewer who gets a vicarious kick out of criminal behavior is forced to question his or her own morality, as well of that of “Lights” Leary.
Lights Out airs Thursday nights on FX.