Tulsa King Premiere Recap: Will You Go Another Round With Stallone Drama?
Paramount+’s Tulsa King debuted this Sunday with “Go West, Old Man,” an eventful premiere that acquaints us with Mafia capo Dwight “The General” Manfredi as he establishes a new criminal organization in the titular Oklahoma city.
Dwight (played by Sylvester Stallone) starts us off with an opening monologue played over his character prepping for release from a Pennsylvania prison. His voice weary but his tone even, he describes the monotony of his 25-year sentence in solid detail. Every new thought crashes into the rear of the one before it, his ruminations devolving into a syllabic pileup hammering home the idea that this guy is exhausted. And itching for his freedom, obviously. As the cell bars slide open and Dwight walks out, he says, “I married this life, and after keeping my mouth shut for all these years, I’m gonna see if it married me back.”
Immediately after his release, Dwight is whisked away to a posh Long Island estate and escorted into a room by jumpy bodyguards. There, he reunites with the mafia higher-ups for whom he languished in prison: Don Charles “Chickie” Invernizzi (The Wire‘s Domenick Lombardozzi) and his father, Pete Invernizzi (A.C. Peterson). After a bit of expository outrage (in which we learn about Dwight’s estranged family), Chickie decrees that Dwight shall go to Tulsa, to build a new criminal empire from scratch.
An upset Dwight relents and travels to Tulsa, where he promptly forces his “protection” on local dispensary owner Bodhi (Silicon Valley‘s Martin Starr) in exchange for a weekly commission. At this point, Dwight has already threatened dispensary employees, knocked a security guard out cold with a water bottle, and threatened to break Bodhi’s foot. To make things more confusing (for everyone but him), Dwight extends a hand in, um… his version of friendship. Bodhi, aware that he’s one wrong move away from being crippled, smartly asks, “Do I have a choice?” The obvious answer is no.
After checking into his motel, Dwight ends up at a cowboy bar called Bred2Buck, where he meets Mitch (Garrett Hedlund). Mitch is friendly but guarded, piquing Dwight’s interest. (Dwight later returns to the bar and learns about Mitch’s past as a bull rider.) Keep in mind that we still don’t know what Dwight is up to; we have some idea of his long-term goals, but no clue how he plans to achieve them.
The next morning, Dwight’s driver/assistant, Tyson (Jay Will), pulls up in a beaten-up Nissan. Tyson had picked him up from the airport in a cab, and Dwight had given him a stack of cash with specific instructions to go buy a Lincoln Navigator. Tyson explains that the car dealer wouldn’t sell him the car. Annoyed, Dwight has Tyson drive him to the dealership where he assaults the owner. The two leave the dealership in a sleek new ride.
Their first post-dealership stop is the mall, where, over ice cream, Dwight laments how long it’s been since he’s tasted dessert that wasn’t prison tiramisu. As they leave the mall, an unwitting Dwight catches the attention of a man who seems to recognize him.
Dwight drops back by the dispensary and hands new security cameras to a bewildered Bodhi, who hilariously points out that they didn’t have any problems before Dwight’s arrival. Taking recommendations from Bodhi and Tyson, Dwight checks in to Tulsa’s popular Mayo Hotel. He then returns to Bred2Buck and meets a woman named Stacy Beale (Veep‘s Andrea Savage). He takes Stacy and her friends to a local strip club and, after some flirting, sleeps with her. The encounter goes well until Stacy discovers that Dwight is 75. Disturbed by the “age canyon” between them, Stacy leaves without telling Dwight her name.
The episode ends on two intriguing notes. The first is that the man who spotted Dwight at the mall definitely knew who he had seen and has started making phone calls to interested parties. The second is that Stacy is an ATF officer who, through fate’s twisted sense of humor, has been assigned to an active investigation into Dwight’s dealings.
The final shot sees Dwight reading an old letter (written by his daughter) and telling the Tulsa skyline that the city belongs to him….
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