Knight (Shaun Mixon) summons his most prosperous salesman to a private meeting. However, the mysterious crime lord has much more than business on his mind. The secret he reveals to his prolific young protégé is nothing short of a revelation. The question is, how will Khalil (Maurice Whitfield) take the news?
“Ties That Bind” deviates from the structure of the first few episodes of Touye Pwen. Like the relatively short “Sins Remembered,” it focuses on one very powerful exchange between two characters. Also like that episode, a bombshell is dropped that will likely have repercussions somewhere down the line. This time around, R.L. Scott takes his cue from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. In other words, he offers his personal take on the granddaddy of all plot twists.
When we first met Khalil, his confidence was unwavering. He seemed sure that no one would dare cast a disapproving glance in his direction, much less attempt to cross him. His tone of voice alone instilled fear. Here, Khalil reveals humility and vulnerability as he comes face to face with the boss. It’s an interesting contrast, which is again reminiscent of the greatest Star Wars film of all time. Remember when Darth Vader went into his private quarters to confer with The Emperor? He knelt down on one knee and bowed his head, never once looking up at his commander as they spoke. In that one instant, a fearsome villain was rendered a mere lacky. “Ties That Bind” has a similar effect.
On the other end of the spectrum, Knight is starting to emerge as Touye Pwen’s answer to Keyser Söze. Few deal directly with him or get to see his face. He maintains as much anonymity as possible. In that sense, he leads a similar existence to real life black Gangster Frank “Black Caesar” Matthews. Matthews was a flamboyant heroine kingpin who lorded over an empire that stretched over 21 states during the late 60’s and early 70’s. He operated with near impunity for years despite his flashy ways, because law enforcement could not believe that a Black criminal could achieve and maintain such power. Knight may not be flamboyant, but it’s obvious that he maintains considerable reach while remaining behind the curtain.
I also like the political angle that Scott introduces here. It turns out that Knight was an assassin in Haiti who had political ties. That reminds me of how the socio-economic and political conditions that existed in Jamaica during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s gave rise to the Posses. The Posses soon migrated to the U.S, establishing one of the most violent and prosperous criminal enterprises this country had ever seen. It seems that Knight has established a similar path for himself.
“Ties That Bind” is the best episode of Touye Pwen yet. It offers high drama and genuine human emotion along with jarring plot twists. R.L. Scott walks a fine line between realism and melodrama, offering a series that has one foot firmly planted on both sides of that divide. Knight remains comfortably in the shadows, while his minions carry out his bidding and suffer the wrath of both enemies and law enforcement. Knight isn’t a dookie rope wearing dope boy looking for fame. He’d rather rule with an invisible hand, which is something that black gangsters in movies and television rarely get to do.