FX 'Lights Out' Mar. 8 preview: McCallany talks Infight, and Eamonn Walker

Great news: Ratings are up for FX's excellent pugilistic drama "Lights Out."

FX's blood-sport drama is on fire as Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) prepares for his first fight in five years, while dealing with an unorthodox trainer named Ed Romeo (Eamonn Walker) who has managed to split the Learys into two camps.

Episode 9 is "Infight," and it sees the restrictive training regimen Ed Romeo (Eamonn Walker) is imposing on Lights. Romeo's bedside manner has divided the Leary family: Theresa (Catherine McCormack) and the girls don't like his late-night hours, but they adore Ed.  Sister Margaret (Elizabeth Marvel) and Brother Johnny (Pablo Schreiber) don't like Romeo, and he's upset that Ed won't let Lights promote the Reynolds fight.

For his part, Ed thinks that Lights' brother is "bleeding him dry."

Infight airs on Tuesday, Mar 8, 2011 only on FX.

The pride of St. Cloud, Minnesota, radio personality Kevin Key has been writing the most righteous recaps of this series.  Read 103.7 The Loon - Kevin Key's last week's recap of episode 8, Head Games, here.

Holt talked to Monsters and Critics Sunday, March 6, and gave us a heads up on the action to come this Tuesday.

"This episode begins at the shark tank at the famous Coney Island Aquarium and includes another spectacular performance by Eamonn Walker as Ed Romeo.  He gives my youngest daughter Katie a lesson about conquering her fears," says Holt.

Holt's extensive knowledge of boxing has underscored this entire series. "Being able to control fear is one of the most important things a boxer must understand. The great boxing guru Cus D’Amato used to say that the hero and the coward feel exactly the same emotion. They both feel fear but it's what they do that makes them different."

The action sees an HBO type cabler try to get the inside scoop on Lights and Death Row, and their divergent schedules cause problems for Barry K. Ward (Reg E. Cathey).

"In the lead up to the Reynolds/Leary heavyweight championship fight a '24/7' style television show is following Death Row and me around to get a behind the scenes look at the training regimens and the fighters’ preparations for the upcoming bout," says Holt. "Needless to say my new trainer Ed Romeo is not very happy about our training being interrupted by media though I'm doing my best to try to juggle both."

"My father is going away on a long overdue vacation, leaving me and Ed at night alone in the gym to continue with his unorthodox training techniques. We’re working on speed and timing.  It's painful for me to see my father walk out of his own gym with me staying behind in the ring with another trainer, but I'm really enjoying working with Romeo and I feel his training techniques are helping me," says Holt.

Pablo Schreiber is cast as Johnny, Lights' brother, who bristles at Ed Romeo's hold on Lights. "The tension between Ed and my brother Johnny is continuing to mount and the Leary clan are all mistrustful of Romeo. They feel he is trying to poison me against them and it's clear that he feels they are poison for me to have around," says Holt.

"Part of me is concerned that I'm not getting enough sparring. I haven’t sparred once since we started training and the fight is only a few weeks away. 'Death Row' has looked very impressive in his recent bouts and is stronger, more muscular, younger, and more explosive than I am, but Romeo is convinced the real battle is the psychological."

This episode will see Billy Brown as Death Row step up and get more screen time. "In this episode we get to see a lot more than usual of my opponent Reynolds. We get a glimpse into his family life and an opportunity to see that this athlete is a very smart, spiritually centered intellectual man, but Romeo trained him from the time he was a boy so he understands Reynold’s psychology better than anyone else in the world. I'm trusting in that," says Holt.

"As strongly as the Learys are opposed to Romeo's presence, Theresa and the girls have embraced him just as strongly. He has developed a particularly close friendship with my middle daughter Daniela. It's no exaggeration to say that my wife and children are falling in love with my new trainer," says Holt.

Daniella (Ryann Shane) deep down has Lights' heart, as she is more concerned for her dad's welfare and less worried about money and fashion, like her sister Ava (Meredith Hagner). 

"Daniella continues to be deeply troubled about my return to the ring. She's the only one of my daughters who knows that I've been diagnosed with pugilistic dementia. Romeo tries to assuage her fears and convince her that what he’s teaching me is the will minimize the possibility of my getting hurt," says Holt.

In a key scene in episode 9, you will find Eamonn's character Romeo reading the controversial Austrian psychologist Wilhelm Reich. Holt says, "I remember the day we shot the scene wondering to myself exactly what it was I was supposed to understand about Ed from this choice:  I can tell you that Patrick Leary would draw the line at Orgone Accumulators if that's where this unorthodox training style is leading us!"

Holt continues, "I keep trying to persuade Ed to let me go through the motions of promoting the fight on the 24/7 television show but he's adamant.  Things would be a lot easier if Ed would just let me fulfill my contractual obligations in the way we've agreed upon or rather in the way my brother Johnny agreed we would."

Eamonn's Romeo has tunnel vision in the training of Lights Leary. "But Romeo is a purist. He doesn't believe in anything but the work. He is improving me as a boxer. I'm feeling stronger and faster every day but my relationship with my father and brother is deteriorating at the same speed. I finally decide I have no choice but to go ahead and do the promotion without Ed."

Holt reflected on his guest star. "Eamonn Walker is giving a very rich, interesting and complex performance. Ed Romeo is clearly a deeply troubled man but also brilliant. In a way he’s hypnotized me and my wife and kids. What is so fascinating about Eamonn’s portrayal is that he keeps you guessing about what might happen next - which is always interesting."

A troubling moment knocks Light back to the ropes. "When I come into the gym and find him having a picnic lunch and a bottle of wine alone with my wife, I start to become for the first time a little skeptical. This is a very different kind of boxing training than I've ever heard of," says Holt.

This episode reveals both the conflict between promotional business and athletic arts, but the double edged nature of many of an athlete's relationships. Holt says, "What does a fighter really need to be successful? Yes, part of it is physical, and yes, part of it is psychological. But part of it is also emotional and if a fighter is not in the right place emotionally no matter how prepared to  he is physically and mentally there will still be something crucial that's missing.  Romeo is a great trainer and inspirational man with fascinating and very effective techniques, but finally the fighter is alone in the ring. The trainer controls the fighter throughout his preparations but ultimately cannot accompany the fighter into the ring."

This pivotal episode focuses on the control and the relationship between a trainer and boxer.  A trainer controls what the fighter eats when he works out, when he sleeps when he runs and when he spars. A trainer tries to control as many aspects of the fighter as he can, but ultimately the thing the trainer can't control is the fighters emotions.

Holt concludes, "Romeo is brilliant and a great trainer. But without my family there's a void.    I can't cut my family out of my life. Your body can be right, and your head can be right, but your heart has to be right too and my heart is with my family, with my dad and my brother.  As much as I respected Romeo I come to understand that I need my father and my brother in my corner. They’ve been there from the beginning and they'll be there until the end."

Be there Tuesday, March 8 on FX for this no-miss episode.


Further Reading on M&C

Holt McCallany Biography - - Holt McCallany Movies - Pablo Schreiber Biography - - Pablo Schreiber Movies -