NOTE: this post contains spoilers for Tulsa King episode 4, "Visitation Place."
While enjoyable, the opening three episodes of Tulsa King had to lay the foundation of the show going forward. Not only did they need to introduce viewers to each of the characters, but they had to establish the world, as well as Tulsa King's main plots and conflicts. Thankfully, with "Visitation Place," Tulsa King finally explodes into life and action. So much so that, by the end, we finally have a solid idea of what is going to drive the show in future installments.
"Visitation Place" doesn't waste any time in dealing with the main issue at the end of the episode 3. Dwight (Sylvester Stallone) and Armand (Max Casella) finally come face to face and we learn about their history together. It turns out Dwight doesn't have any idea who Armand, also known as Manny, actually is. Manny explains he was a member of the Invernizzi crime family, who fled New York City to Tulsa 19 years ago. After spotting Dwight at the mall in episode 1, Manny immediately assumed he'd been sent to kill him. Why else would Dwight be in Tulsa?
That's exactly why Manny tried to kill Dwight, who quickly has to deliberate over whether he should show Manny how it's done. The only reason he doesn't is Manny says the name of the man Dwight killed in prison. He then explains that Pete Invernizzi (AC Peterson), the former head of the family, hired the man to murder Dwight, because he didn’t think he could do 25 years behind bars without speaking to the police.
Dwight decides against shooting Manny. Instead, he tells Manny that he now works for him and he needs to pay him $300 a week. Manny protests, saying, "This isn't New York! It’s Tulsa!" Unsurprisingly, Dwight departs unmoved, just as Manny's wife returns home to find her husband beaten on the floor, with a lot of explaining to do.
Meanwhile, several canisters of nitrous oxide have arrived at Mitch's (Garrett Hedlund) bar. With instructions from Dwight, Tyson (Jay Will) and Bohdi (Martin Starr) head off to the Oklahoma State Fair to sell hits to make some more money. Once they're there, though, members of the local biker gang, Black McAdam, confront the pair, insisting that they're on their turf.
Tyson and Bohdi are able to verbally dispense them with ease. But it turns out that their boss, Caolan Waltrip (Ritchie Coster), is far from pleased that his underlings didn't deal with the situation. Caolon gives the pair a beating. Then, alongside various other bikers, they return to the Oklahoma State Fair the next night to dish out violence on Tyson and Bohdi, before robbing their earnings and stealing their remaining canisters of nitrous oxide.
Dwight immediately starts to plan his revenge. He gets his own gang together. As well as Tyson and Bohdi, this includes Bad Face (Jonathan Joss), a bodyguard for weed supplier Jimmy who we met in episode 2. There's also Fred (Justin Garcia-Pruneda), the security guard at Higher Plane, and Bohdi's friend Clint (Dashiell Connery). As part of his debt, Dwight insists that Manny joins them, too. There's one hugely surprising addition to the posse, in the shape of Mark (Michael Beach), Tyson's father.
After having another confrontation with his son about working with Dwight, which concluded with Tyson throwing the money he’s earned in his father's face and storming out of the house, Mark followed Tyson. When he learns why the gang are gathered together, he decides to join them in confronting the biker gang.
What unfolds is arguably the best scene of Tulsa King yet. Set to Edwin Starr's "War (What Is It Good For)," we see the eight of them using bats to attack 12 bikers. During the bout, there are even some nice character moments.
At first, Bohdi is overwhelmed and beaten, only to be saved by Bad Face. Something then ignites in Bohdi, who starts to ruthlessly smash the bikers with his bat. Mark and Tyson also work together to hit them and Manny even saves Dwight from being hit over the head.
After getting their money and canisters back, all eight of them share a drink at the bar. Manny tells Dwight that felt "cathartic," only for Dwight to remind him of their agreement. At the same time, Mark tells Tyson that this isn't "the bonding moment" he thinks it is and says that if he continues to work for Dwight, he can no longer live in their house.
As the episode concludes, Tyson picks up Dwight, deciding to be his own man. We also see Manny use violence on his neighbor, whose dog had been pooping on his lawn, before defiantly telling his nervous wife, who had been searching for new houses in Florida, that they're staying in Tulsa.
This all sets Tulsa King up very nicely for the rest of the season. Dwight now has his own group of borderline criminals at his side, with Mitch even working as a makeshift consigliere. Plus, there's a clear villain in the shape of Caolan and the Black McAdams, who undoubtedly want retribution against Dwight. That's before we even consider how Stacy, who spent the episode pursuing and landing a satisfying one-night stand, and the BATFE will get involved, too.
One other plotline to note in the episode was Dwight reconnecting with his siblings Joanne (Annabella Sciorra) and Joey (Lou Mastantuono), with Dwight giving an emotional goodbye speech to Joey on his deathbed.
There are still many moving pieces and various locations for Tulsa King to try and control. But, after Visitation Place and the recent confirmation that the show has been renewed for season 2, Tulsa King finally looks as though it’s on the right path.
New episodes of Tulsa King premiere on Paramount Plus Sundays in the US and Mondays in the UK.
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Born and raised in England but now based in Philadelphia, Gregory Wakeman has written for the BBC, New York Times, The Guardian, GQ, and Yahoo Movies UK, all while defiantly trying to keep his accent.
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