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“WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE?”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
There’s plenty of disturbing events shown on television these days, but watching a man have a last conversation with his family before lighting himself on fire in public is right up there near the top. Tyrant has been a little up and down over the course of these first four episodes, but they absolutely nail these intense little moments that show how close to the boiling point the situation in Abuddin is.
The thing holding Tyrant back from pursuing greatness at the moment is the time in between these great scenes and the powerful character moments. We have a handful of strong characters on the show right now, but there are also too many expository scenes and bland subplots that aren’t terribly interesting to watch. The whole situation in Abuddin is ready to explode right now, so there’s a chance that the show will be able to break free of these shackles and continue to grow, but for now we’re stuck in a holding pattern.
After taking a break last week, the flashbacks returned (well, one flashback anyway!) to give us a quick look at a moment in Bassam’s life as he attended college. Everything we’ve seen so far has pointed to Bassam having an idyllic life in the US, but this solitary scene where his dorm room was vandalized due to his heritage actually helped add a whole lot more to Bassam’s backstory. Also great this week was seeing one of Bassam’s plans backfiring. In the first few episodes he’s walked headfirst into hostage situations and negotiated prisoner releases without breaking a sweat, so it was good for the sake of the show to have him chalk up a loss when the angry mob prevented Jamal from speaking in the square. Watching your main character navigate every twist and turn successfully wouldn’t be very interesting TV now would it?
Jamal continues to be a standout character, and it was rather telling to see just how fast he was willing to resort to potential mass murder in the wake of the protests. Attacking a crowd who is protesting over an event that happened twenty years ago where 20,000 people were brutally killed is quite obviously an absolutely terrible idea, so that’s going to be the next hurdle Bassam faces. His solution to this is to get his friend Fauzi to set up a meeting with the leader of the rebels, Ihab Rashid, in the hopes that they can meet some sort of compromise. As it stands I can see this whole thing going horribly wrong, leading to open rebellion in Abuddin. There are just too many volatile components in the mix for this to be resolved peacefully. On the one side you have Ihab and his rebels, who are starting to gain the full support of the people. On the other side there’s Jamal, who has Bassam whispering in one ear for peace and General Tariq whispering in the other ear for war. Jamal seems lost at times, and it may be a case of which voice talks the loudest to swing his decision.
Sammy has had the most interesting subplot out of Bassam’s American family, but that grew completely stale this week as it devolved into stereotypical relationship drama territory. Molly and, surprisingly, Emma fared much better in their respective scenes as they came to terms with life in Abuddin. Molly got a first-hand look at the kind of fear the citizens of Abuddin live under, including being terrified of even watching the news on television. Until now Molly has just been supporting Bassam because he’s her husband, but now she’ll hopefully get a bit more proactive and get involved a bit more. Emma was actually quite good too as she called out how ridiculous their living arrangements were compared to the normal people of Abuddin, along with ridiculing her absolutely obnoxious cousin Ahmed. Her tearful plea to go home was another great scene as we haven’t really gotten a look at how Bassam’s decision to stay has affected his children at all yet.
“Sins of the Father” really showcased Tyrant’s main strengths and weaknesses as the strong character moments and intense events were joined by some weaker scenes and boring subplots. After four episodes there is still plenty to suggest the show is just finding its feet and can move past all of this. After seeing Bassam have his first setback since joining Jamal’s inner circle, the question now is whether he’ll bounce right back to his winning ways or will the events he has set in motion blow up in his face. The situation in Abuddin is one gigantic powderkeg right now, and it looks like the fuse may have already been lit.
What do you think is next for Abuddin? Let us know in the comments below.
*We do not comment on anything relating to previews for the next episode and beyond.
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