LIGHTS OUT 1.12 ‘Sucker Punch’

Lights' mother returns unexpectedly as rumors on the street lead Barry K. Word to believe he's taking a dive in his rematch

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Sucker Punch"
Writer: Stu Zicherman
Director: Jean de Segonzac
Previously on "Lights Out":

Weeks away from the fight of his life with Richard "Death Row" Reynolds (Billy Brown), Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) got an unwelcome blast from the past when Councilman Randall Hess (Patrick Collins) was arrested and he began linking Lights to a bribe set up by mobster Hal Brennan (Bill Irwin). And when Lights sought Brennan's help to deal with the situation, Brennan essentially left him to fend for himself as the cops moved in and arrested Lights for the bribe.

Around the same time, Lights had encountered a former boxing champion named Jerry "The Rainmaker" Raynes (David Morse) and he tried to help the man by giving him work at his gym. Despite the efforts of Robert "Pops" Leary (Stacy Keach) to protect Jerry's dignity and prevent further injuries, Jerry flew into a rage at the gym and nearly injured Lights with a hurled weight. Lights' wife, Theresa Leary (Catherine McCormack) even casually suggested setting Jerry up for the fall on the bribery charges.

But in the end, it was Jerry himself who took care of the Hess situation, by pummelling the hapless councilman who later recanted his testimony against Lights. In gratitude, Lights gave Jerry a significant payoff.

Two weeks before the big fight, Pops admits that Lights is in great shape. But privately, he shares his view that Death Row is a much better fighter than he was five years ago and Lights will need to outlast him in order to reclaim his belt. Barry K. Word (Reg E. Cathey) then storms into the office and demands a private word with Lights. Once alone, he tells Lights that the line on the fight has dropped sharply because word on the street is that Lights is throwing the fight. Lights is shocked and he denies the allegations. But Word is livid and blames Lights' association with Brennan.

But that doesn't prepare Lights for the next shock that he receives. His mother, Mae (Valerie Perrine) approaches him while Lights is out on his run. She thanks him for all of the money that he's sent to her over the years despite running out on her family. She also states that her long time boyfriend is dead and she wants to reconnect with Lights and her other children. Lights brings her home to meet his daughters, who are all ecstatic to finally meet their grandmother. Lights' brother Johnny (Pablo Schreiber) and his sister, Margaret (Elizabeth Marvel) are less forgiving. Margaret even refuses to see Mae.

However, Pops is more than happy to ignore the past with Mae and he is noticeably happy to see her. Pops even cleans up well and he acts very romantically towards her, which she seems to reciprocate. Meanwhile, one of the lead boxing reporters hassles Johnny for a real story to report on and she starts to zero in on the return of their mother, much to his anger. Johnny reluctantly comes to a family dinner with Mae at Lights' house, but Margaret stays away. And while talking with Brennan outside of her diner, Margaret is nearly hit in a drive by shooting.

The entire family visits Margaret at the hospital, but Margaret freaks out when Mae arrives and demands that she leaves. Back at the Leary house, Theresa notices Mae acting suspiciously and speaking to someone over the phone that she claims is Pops. After getting a little drunk in front of Theresa, Mae takes off to a seedy hotel. Upset and suspicious himself, Lights tracks her there where he finds her plotting with her (not dead) boyfriend to milk him for money. He angrily breaks the boyfriend's hand and asks his mom if any of what she said was real. Mae later shows up with a black eye and claims to have left her boyfriend behind, but Lights gives her one last payment to get her out of his life.

Meanwhile, Johnny gets the line to correct itself by calling an ambulance to Death Row's home and starting rumors that he had a mild heart attack. Word chides Lights for that scheme, but Lights fires back that someone took a shot at his sister. Word denies involvement in that. Even Brennan doesn't seem all that worried about Margaret when he finally sees Lights. He confesses that he was behind the lower line because he's setting up Lights as the underdog so that when he wins, Brennan will have enough money to shut Word out of their lives. He then advices Lights to prepare for war.


It's pretty common knowledge now that FX has canceled "Lights Out" and next week's episode will be the final one ever. I'm just hoping that the conclusion is as compelling as the rest of the story. Despite the lack of ratings, "Lights Out" has been the best new drama on TV this year.

The introduction of Mae was an unexpected move for the penultimate episode. But once again, I'm impressed by the way that it was set up many episodes earlier by small scenes of Lights mailing cash to someone that turned out to be his mother. That's not the first time that "Lights Out" has seeded a plot before pulling the trigger in the series itself. And it's a testament to how tightly plotted "Lights Out" is that the revelation doesn't feel like it came out of thin air. It actually makes perfect sense for the characters.

I never really realized it before this episode, but Pops has a lot of class. Despite the fact that Mae left him 17 years previously, Pops never calls her out on it and when she leaves again, he doesn't express any outwards anger. It's clear that he never stopped loving her and his scenes with Mae were actually very charming. It's been pointed out that Pops' greatest love is for boxing, but it's very telling that he blew off Lights' training just to spend time with Mae. And it would have been kind of romantic if Mae's feelings towards Pops had been genuine. Despite Pop's genial attitude towards her latest betrayal, the look of disappointment on his face was unmistakable.

Valerie Perrine was very good at making Mae's sweet side endearing while also making her convincingly conniving enough to want to bilk her son for as much money as she could. And sure, on one level Lights was beating up an old man when he confronted his mom and her lover. But breaking the guy's hand seems like a slight punishment for all of the pain that he put that family through. It's also easy to see why people are so intimidated by Lights. He broke down that hotel door like he was the Incredible Hulk. Now that I think about it, Holt McCallany does kind of remind me of Lou Ferrigno.
Johnny's scenes with the reporter were fun because she seems to be as driven and underhanded as Word and Brennan. And weirdly enough, Johnny seems like he's turned on by her capacity for duplicity. I'm also looking forward to seeing Lights finally smack the smug look off of Brennan's face.

In the final match with Death Row, there are really only two ways it can play out successfully. Either Lights wins and regains the title (possibly losing someone or something close to him in the process) or he loses and he has to rebuild his life from that point. A draw isn't going to cut it.

But I'm looking forward to the last episode with all of the anticipation of a real title fight. And I'm rooting for Lights all the way.

Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.