Friday, December 2, 2022

‘Tulsa King’ Recap: Season 1, Episode 1 “Go West, Old Man”

TELEVISIONPARAMOUNT+'Tulsa King' Recap: Season 1, Episode 1 "Go West, Old Man"

Tulsa King is finally here, and it’s time to meet Sylvester Stallone’s Dwight “The General” Manfredi, a New York mafia capo who — after spending over two decades in prison — finds himself unceremoniously exiled by his boss to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Warning: This recap contains spoilers.

Meet Dwight Manfredi

We open at USP Canaan, a federal prison in northern Pennsylvania where Dwight Manfredi is finally being released after spending 25 years locked up. He reflects on if becoming a gangster was worth 25 years of his life, but really, it wasn’t even worth 25 seconds of it.

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Dwight makes his way back to New York afterward, and he spends the drive staring out the window, looking at how the world has changed since he’s been gone. He’s confused when the driver doesn’t stop at Scores, because he assumes there’s going to be a party for his return. Instead, they head to a fancy home in Long Island where his mob buddies are gathered. Dwight’s immediately on the defensive, because this wasn’t the type of welcome he was expecting, especially after he’s the one that did time to save them from murder charges. He’s thrown off by some of the changes to the hierarchy. They tell him that they’re sending him to Tulsa, Oklahoma to set things up there, because nobody else is running that town right now. Dwight’s resistant to the idea, so Chickie gets real with him as he makes it clear that there’s nothing left for him in New York — time didn’t stop just because he was in jail.

Brian Douglas/Paramount+

Dwight walks over to Pete and angrily brings up the fact that his wife divorced him when he went to jail, and his daughter hasn’t talked to him in 18 years. He kept his mouth shut for 25 years, and he essentially has nothing left to his name now. Dwight begins to argue with Chickie’s capo, and he knocks him out. Pete argues that he’s giving him a whole city, and Chickie instructs him to pull in five grand a week to start.

Welcome to Tulsa

Dwight arrives in Tulsa, and the moment he steps out of the airport, he’s immediately thrown off by a gigantic grasshopper (and a woman sprays him with holy water after the suggestive comment he makes about the size of it). He gets in a cab, at which point he starts asking the driver for information about the history of Tulsa. The driver is baffled when Dwight exclaims how nice it would be if someone invented a device where you could look up information, gesturing to his iPhone that’s literally mounted on the dash with the map. Dwight has no idea what he’s talking about, and he proceeds to get offended when he calls him a gangster.

Dwight and the driver bicker about the semantics of being called a gangster until he suddenly tells him to stop the car as they’re passing by a dispensary called The Higher Plane — at which point he learns that marijuana is now just … sold in stores. He asks the driver what “crew” runs the neighborhood — “There’s no crew up in here, man, you’re in the middle of nowhere.”

Setting down roots

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He hands the driver a stack of money to wait in the parking lot while he goes inside to do business. Dwight asks the young employee working the counter how the business works, and after learning that they’re cash only, he comments on how risky it is that they only have one guard and no cameras (since … well … they don’t get much crime there). After trying to intimidate the confused employee into getting his boss, the security guard tells him to leave, so Dwight walks back in and knocks him out with a water bottle.

Bodhi walks out from the back to see what’s going on, and Dwight tells him that he needs to see his books. After getting a look at what kind of money the place is bringing in, he gets Bodhi to show him where the safe is. He makes him a deal: he’ll take 20% a week, and in exchange …

DWIGHT: In exchange, I’ll protect you from the gangs
BODHI: What … gangs?
DWIGHT: And the law
BODHI: … this is legal

Bodhi, still completely clueless as to what exactly Dwight thinks he’s doing, is confused when he only takes a small stack from the safe.

After finishing his business at the dispensary, Dwight tells his cab driver — Tyson — that he’s going to pay him $2,000 a week to be his personal driver now. He hands him a stack of money and instructs him to go buy him a Lincoln Navigator. Tyson drops him off at his motel, which looks like it hasn’t been remodeled since before he went to prison. Later, when Dwight asks the woman at the front desk to call him a cab, she suggests for him to call an Uber … and he has no idea how to do that (so he pays her to do it for him, naturally).

Taking care of business

The next morning, Tyson arrives to pick up Dwight — as promised — but the car he’s driving is a far cry from a Navigator. Unfortunately, when he showed up at the dealership with a huge stack of money, they called him a crack dealer and threatened to call the police. Dwight makes him drive him back to the dealership. He waltzes in to talk to the owner, ends up punching him in the face, and they ultimately end up walking out with a fully loaded SUV. To celebrate, they go to the mall for ice cream cones after.

They return to the dispensary, and Dwight gives them a security camera. He goes into the back with Bodhi and starts asking about how much money they made that day and where they get their marijuana from. When Bodhi explains that they buy it from a licensed greenhouse a couple hours north of Tulsa, Dwight still doesn’t seem to understand how the concept of the dispensary works, because he warns him that places like that can be fronts for cartels. He then suggests that Bodhi start laundering the money, because back in the day, they used places like tanning salons, clubs, … discos. Sure.

Making friends

Brian Douglas/Paramount+

Dwight pays another visit to the bar, Bred 2 Buck, and he gets to know the bartender. Mitch used to be on the bull riding circuit until he ended up getting addicted to pain pills after getting hurt, then he spent eight years in prison. While they’re talking, a girl walks over and asks Mitch if he’s famous, and then she proceeds to ask him if she and her friends can take a picture with him. Mitch declines, so another woman from the group walks over to demand to know why he was rude to her friend. She starts flirting with him and invites him to join them for karaoke … but Dwight suggests a better place for a party: a dingy strip club.

After paying off the owner to let the party of drunk girls dance their hearts out on stage with the actual strippers, Dwight and the woman head back to his hotel. After having some fun, Dwight reveals that he’s 75 years old. She’s beside herself, because she assumed he couldn’t be older than 55, and she proceeds to leave as he calls their situation not just an age gap, but … an age canyon. He offers to call her an Uber now that he knows what it is.

As the episode comes to a close, a man that spotted Dwight at the mall makes a phone call to ask the person on the other end of the line if there’s any possibility that he just saw Dwight Manfredi in Tulsa. Meanwhile, over at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, they discuss a recent FBI alert they just received: a high-ranking mafia capo who was recently released from prison has just come to town. Dwight’s one-night stand, who just so happens to work there, is far from happy when she sees his face pop up on the screen. Whoops.

The first episode of Tulsa King is now streaming exclusively on Paramount+. Watch the next episode on Sunday, November 20, and stay tuned for our weekly episodic recaps. In case you missed it, check out our review.

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