After a break of more than seven months, Kingdom is back June 1 for the second half of its second season on AT&T’s Audience Network, and the MMA-based series is delivering a lot of power in its punch this time around. If you haven’t seen the Byron Balasco-created show starring Frank Grillo, Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas, Natalie Martinez, Joanna Going, Matt Lauria and Kiele Sanchez, then I strongly suggest you tune in.

I suggest that because Kingdom returns hard and relentless, not just in the fights of this fightin’ world but where it really matters: in the drama and the characters.

Set among the gyms, boardwalks and back alleys of Venice, CA with a lot of sex, drugs and cage matches, Kingdom follows the fights, victories and failures of ex-MMA fighter-turned-Navy St. gym owner Alvey Kulina (played by Marvel Universe and The Purge alum Grillo) and his loved ones. It’s a sometimes harsh, often painful and almost always intense world that is addictively watchable in these new 10-episodes and very bingeable. As I say in my video review above, I was late to the game on Kingdom, which first debuted in October 2014, but that’s OK in one sense because Kingdom 2B is a series truly flexing new muscles.

deadline-review-badge-dominic-pattenFighting with himself and his loyalties more than ever, Grillo is great. As is Going as Alvey’s estranged wife Christina and Sanchez as Lisa Prince, Alvey’s current but also now-estranged lady who was running Navy St. until recently. More than pulling his weight is Jonas as Alvey and Christina’s youngest son Nate, a fighter with great potential and ambitions but weighed down by personal struggles.

However, with the lightweight battles between ex-con and now championship-defending Ryan (the fantastic Lauria) and Jay (Tucker) propelling the episodes thematically, the belt here belongs to the ex-Parenthood actor. As the oldest Kulina son, Tucker goes deeper, harder and darker with the character than we’ve seen in the past as Jay seeks both victory and acceptance. The other standouts for me in a muscular cast were Under The Dome alum Martinez as female fighter Alicia Mendez, who battles on many levels in this testosterone-drenched arena, and Lina Esco joining as Alicia’s sister Ava, throwing all new spanners in the already fragile works of Navy St.

Look, you don’t have to be a fight fan to like Kingdom, but if you are a fan of driven ragged heart and soul, then you need to watch this show. And now that AT&T owns DirecTV, you can also stream Kingdom on U-verse too.

So click on my review above and tell us what you think.