“Orion” sees Mayor of Kingstown really hit its stride with an episode that has something to say — albeit, as with most of Taylor Sheridan’s scripts, through split lips and cracked teeth.
This recap of Mayor of Kingstown season 1, episode 5, “Orion”, contains spoilers.
It took a while, but as of “Orion”, I really feel like I get what Taylor Sheridan is going for here. Perhaps it didn’t require a scene quite as on-the-nose as the late one of dogs being neutered and kennelled juxtaposed with prisoners being shaved and led to cells, but sometimes it’s good to show your working out. Mayor of Kingstown is about being trapped. The prison system is a good avenue for exploring that idea, but it isn’t the only one. Felons aren’t the only people unable to escape from Kingstown; everyone who lives there is trapped by something, whether it’s their neighborhood, their family ties, their bank balance, their skin color, or whatever it is they owe to whoever is keen to collect. Not every door and window has bars on it, but there’s a prison everywhere you turn.
Mayor of Kingstown season 1, episode 5 recap
After the out-of-nowhere shootout that capped off last week’s episode, Kyle and Ian remain in the firing line as they’re forced to prove the shooting was justified. It seems likely that the owner of the pizzeria was dealing drugs to his customers, and that the tweaker who looked like he was casing the joint was really looking for his next fix. Most of the people involved would be content with a drug bust. But a drug bust requires drugs, and thus far, despite the owner’s prior convictions for drug-related offenses, none have been found on the scene. We haven’t heard the last of this, but it’s shelved for now as “Orion” introduces some new subplots and clients and nudges the ongoing storylines in the right direction.
We’re introduced, for instance, to a prison guard named Ernest who has taken to hanging around the penitentiary on his days off and eating Vienna sausages from the can, since he’d rather do that than care for his quite clearly severely disabled son and his put-upon wife. What relevance this guy will have going forwards remains to be seen, but one assumes his story won’t be a positive one. Likewise, the prison guards continuing to torment Bunny’s guy P-Dog by serving him bowls full of human sh*t isn’t going to be tolerated for long either.
These aren’t the only subplots that are teed up for subsequent episodes. A man named Duchard wants his straight-A student little brother out of prison, though both seem to have more of a gang affiliation that he claims, and a representative from the District Attorney’s office wants Mike to try and get another confession out of the semi-famous child murderer who killed – and, according to Bunny, perhaps ate – his daughter. A confession will mean another trial, which will delay his imminent execution and thus prolong his suffering. It’s the least he can do.
And then there’s Iris. Having been relocated from New York to Kingstown, she’s forced to work in a local strip club since Milo doesn’t want her walking the street like the hookers. After being made to strip off to prove her willingness, she manages to swerve actually dancing – which she “understands the concept of” – by “selling the idea of a dance”, which seems to be working out for her. For now, anyway. As she’s told, once the mystique wears off people are going to want more of her, and she already seems to be catching the eyes of the wrong people given she’s a) important to Milo and b) claims to already be in a relationship with Mike, news of which I’m sure he’ll be pleased to hear.
In return for helping out with Duchard and the attorney’s problems, Bunny wants a favor from Mike – to escort his nephew, Hakim, to a hockey game, since Bunny can’t leave the block without getting killed. Hakim wants out of Kingstown, like everyone else. Hockey might be his way to do that, if only it weren’t for all the racist parents who aren’t happy about a kid from the wrong side of town checking their boys. As ever at hockey games, a fight between the players breaks out, but when one of the parents grabs Hakim, one breaks out in the stands, too. On the way home, Mike tells Hakim he’s going to take him to every game with half the Irish mob, and he means it. His subsequent conversation with Bunny at the end of “Orion” is great, classic Taylor Sheridan stuff, two deeply flawed men lamenting their circumstances. Bunny claims that for 500 years being able to run fast has been a Black man’s only route to freedom; slavery ended 150 years ago, and it still comes down to that. As they look up at the constellations together while drinking 40s, Mike describes how a carving of Orion was discovered in an ivory tablet over 30,000 years old. For all those years, men very different from them have sat and gazed at the same stars. Perhaps none of us are all that different after all.