Warning: Spoilers ahead for Tulsa King
In Tulsa King, Dwight “The General” Manfredi discovers a strange downtown location called the Center of the Universe, a pedestrian walkway that has attracted not just tourists, but also modern-day spiritualists and philosophers to its steps. Taylor Sheridan’s comedic, fish-out-of-water mafia/crime drama Tulsa King regularly puts Dwight in situations that typical crime genre viewers wouldn’t expect a mobster to be. It’s what gives Tulsa King – Sylvester Stallone’s first television show – its comedic touch. This is another example of this trick – a mafia capo exploring a tourist attraction is a naturally funny scenario.
However, Tulsa King‘s use of downtown Tulsa’s Center of the Universe is also when the show introduces elements of magical realism. Like Dwight’s books in the Tulsa King pilot episode, the Center of the Universe is a handy symbol that helps reveal more about the show’s protagonist. Here’s everything else viewers need to know about the Center of the Universe and why it’s important Tulsa King.
Tulsa King: How The Center Of The Universe Works
The Center of the Universe is a circular spot of cement on the ground big enough for a person to stand on, and any sounds made inside this spot reverberates as a powerful echo – only audible to the person inside the spot. It’s theorized that this is due to the fact that the spot is at the very center of equidistant quarter-circle concrete benches located less than 10 feet from the center, which bounce sounds right back to the source. To anyone standing outside the central spot – even if they’re inside the concrete benches – the sounds and their echoes are completely inaudible. The Center of the Universe is one of the few real-life elements in Tulsa Kingand anyone in Tulsa can visit the location and test the effects out for themselves.
Notably, these effects weren’t intentional. The Center of the Universe is located on the site of a bridge that burned down in the ’80s, and then reconstructed by the city into a pedestrian walkway. The curved concrete slabs that produce the effects are part of the original bridge’s structure, inadvertently creating the acoustic anomaly that has helped draw crowds to Tulsa. Due to this unique phenomenon, there are many who claim that the Center of the Universe is a spiritual site, which is where the spot got its name.
Why Dwight Sees A Horse While Inside The Center Of The Universe
The first time Dwight stands in the central spot, he says “horse” because he sees a horse in the distance, and he marvels at how the homeless woman standing nearby couldn’t hear a word. Apart from being a symbol of power for the mafia, the horse implies a possible connection between Yellowstone and Tulsa King – suggesting that Dwight Manfredi exists in the same universe as the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. Whether this is the case, the surreal moment evokes the magic realism of prominent mafia crime dramas like The Sopranos and Barry.
Why Dwight Returns To The Center Of The Universe
The last scene of Tulsa King season 1, episode 2, “Center of the Universe” sees Dwight returning to the spot at night, still emotional from the marijuana edibles he took hours earlier. At the Center of the Universe, while standing in the spot where he can speak as loudly as he wants without anyone else hearing his words, Dwight realizes a crucial truth about himself and his family. In his first real moment of vulnerability since getting released from his 25-year prison sentence, Dwight finally admits out loud that he stopped seeing his daughter not because it was hard on her, but it was hard on him.
At this moment, Tulsa King‘s Sylvester Stallone proves himself worthy of leading the Tulsa King cast, and shows that Dwight “The General” Manfredi actually has a heart. More importantly, this also reveals Dwight’s greatest weakness: his daughter, whom he hasn’t spoken to for the last 18 years. Although his fellow gangsters in the New York mafia may be too honorable to use Dwight’s family as leverage against him, Dwight has other enemies to watch for. In fact, Dwight’s presence in Tulsa has not gone unnoticed by a resident who seems convinced that Dwight is there to kill him. Perhaps more alarmingly – though not entirely unexpected – the local branches of law enforcement agencies like the FBI and ATF are watching Dwight Manfredi as well.
Tulsa King‘s use of the Center of the Universe allowed Dwight to have a vulnerable moment while ensuring that no one around will hear his words, a somewhat brilliant use of the unique effect to simultaneously show Dwight’s strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, the episode’s title itself – “Center of the Universe” – could just as well be referring to Dwight’s perception of himself. Tulsa King using a known downtown landmark is undoubtedly a gimmick, but it’s one that works quite well in fleshing out Tulsa King‘s main character – who’s not a fish, but a great white shark-out-of-the-water.
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