Television

Tulsa King Season 1 Episode 2 Review: Center of the Universe

Dwight isn’t wasting any time setting his new life in order.

Sure, he’s fresh out of the joint and already back in the game, but Tulsa King Season 1 Episode 2 shows he’s going a lot more going on than a life of crime.

His most impressive trait is his ability to connect with people, even if his plans for them aren’t on the up and up. But will that innate sense be enough to reconnect him with his daughter, Tina?

I’m still having a blast with his fish-out-of-water routine, even though, as I’ll note below, I think most of it is bunk.

He’s not ignorant, but he does need someone savvy like Tyson to get him through the mundanities, like opening a bank account and getting his driver’s license.

Dwight: This is why people break the law because they make everything legitimate so frigging complicated.
Tyson: It ain’t all that complicated. We’ll just get you a new license.
Dwight: You’re such a good citizen.

And I could not be happier that Dwight schooled Tyson on the difference between jail and prison.

Tyson: Why’d you go to jail?
Dwight: I didn’t go to jail. I went to prison. Jail’s like a five-star resort they put you in before they send you to prison.
Tyson: So, what’d you do?
Dwight: Ah, I tore the tongue outta this guy who kept asking so many stupid questions.
Tyson: That’s a bit excessive, don’t you think?
Dwight: I’m impressed.

It drives me nuts how, especially in entertainment, they use the terms interchangeably when they couldn’t be farther apart. Dwight explained the difference easily, which isn’t a surprise. Despite what others may see as his depravity, he’s intelligent and cultured.

By contrast, he looks at the rest of us as depraved. It’s downright embarrassing that while people scream from the rafters about going green, they only offer paper cups in most coffee shops.

And darn it, putting coffee, especially espresso, into a paper cup changes the taste. It’s criminal!

I fully expect Dwight to have Tulsa eating out of his hands in no time because no matter who he meets, Dwight makes an impression.

He’s still a criminal, though, and sending bundles of cash through the mail on someone else’s credit card will have to come up later in the story. He’s not stupid enough to attach his name to that, and he knows that cash is still king, even if we lean hard on the fake stuff.

Heck, he made an indelible impression on Stacy Beale, the ATF agent aghast at the fact she’d just slept with someone 30 years her senior.

Stacy has a lot going on in her life, and her predilection for drinking and her therapy visit indicate she’s got a yen for mayhem. Who better to spice up her life than a mafia capo who looks a hard 55 and puts her job on the line?

She’s already making excuses for him. Only a woman with a penchant for bad boys would lean so hard on Dwight’s integrity for not rolling on his made family.

Stacy: I’m just saying; at least he’s got some integrity.
Agent: Nothing sexier than a cold-blooded killer with principles.

Based on her reaction, an honest conversation with her girlfriend, and her tip to Dwight that if he gets jammed up in Tulsa, it would be unlikely she could help, it seems Stacy is in it for the long haul.

That doesn’t mean they’ll become the hottest ticket in town, but he intrigues her personally more than he piques her interest from a job perspective.

Stacy: Listen, I need you to know that if you get jammed up here, there’s nothing’ I can do to help you out.
Dwight: I don’t expect you to. We done, Miss Stacy Beale?

She says she won’t be able to step in but saying it leans toward the opposite. She could be his eyes and ears on the ground, warning him of impending doom. With as quickly as he’s looking to increase revenue, having her in his pocket will be a very good thing.

By now, I’ve decided that Dwight is trolling Bhodi about his business. He knows how the game is played, and he’s lured Bodhi into a sense of comfort with their deal by acting dumb about it.

Dwight is right about the financial opportunity available by going off-book with some illegal weed, too. The clientele is already coming in the door, and just by looking at them, you can tell they were stoners far before medical marijuana was introduced.

But damn, it was impressive when he opened his mouth, and a mountain of information came flooding out about the biz. He spent 25 years in the joint and apparently soaked in everything he’d need for when he was finally released.

While Dwight surprised everyone by knowing his way around the weed business, he failed to foresee that the dip he was snarfing down was laden with THC. To that, I say Thank God.

It offered yet another comical take on life on the outside and allowed Dwight to get inside of himself for a walk down memory lane. Dwight’s hero was Mickey Mantle, who was everything his father was not. His dad let a baseball bounce off his chest rather than catch it and talked with a thick accent his friends mimicked.

Now an old man himself, Dwight sees the error of his ways and is even a little disappointed that Tyson and Bodhi don’t cite their fathers as their heroes. But really, Dwight was thinking about the love he squandered as a father more than the love he didn’t shower on his.

Dwight was in prison for 25 years and hadn’t seen his family in 18. The first inclination is to think they abandoned him, but it was he who did the abandoning.

I’m sure it was difficult for them to watch Dwight behind bars, refusing to roll over on his mafia family. But his disappointment in himself overpowered his love for his family, and he pushed them away.

Dwight didn’t need to be Tina’s hero, but he did need to be her dad, and by pushing her away, he stole that from her. From the sound of the phone call, Tina, now married, has children of her own.

Reconnecting with a man she likely never discusses will be doubly difficult now. Moms will do anything to ensure their children don’t suffer the same fate, so Dwight has a massive hill to climb to prove to Tina he’s worthy of her love and trust.

If I was laughing out loud at the start of Tulsa King Season 1 Episode 1, my heart melted at the soul-crushing scene of Dwight acknowledging his deepest fears at the end of “Center of the Universe.”

There’s plenty to uncover as the season continues, and I look forward to taking this journey with you.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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