“YOU’RE BROKEN, AND I CAN’T FIX YOU.”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
Now that’s what I’m talking about! Tyrant has had an up and down first season with each high point balanced by a dull, low moment, but “Preventative Medicine” capitalized on weeks of set-up and gave us a powerful hour of television that deftly set-up the next stage of the show’s plot. It wasn’t all perfect, with the middle of the episode sagging a little, but boy is there plenty to talk about.
For perhaps the first time this season, Jamal had a serious rival for the most interesting character on screen with Bassam giving him a right run for his money. After the opening ten minutes or so, I was predicting that this review would contain plenty of glowing praise for Ashraf Barhom yet again but hats off to Adam Rayner’s performance as Bassam faced several incredibly tough decisions. The first surprise of the episode for me was finding out the Sheik had survived Jamal’s attack. I immediately rolled my eyes in anticipation of a clichéd coma storyline, but what followed was a strong moment where Jamal asked Bassam to finish the job for him.
I must say that I never thought Bassam would even consider his brother’s request, so it wasn’t surprising to see him turn Jamal down. After declaring he just wanted to go home and calling Jamal broken, Bassam then found himself getting some news from his mother that turns his whole life upside down. I’ve mentioned a few times in previous reviews that I believe Tariq will be a proper villain on the show and this news reaffirmed that, as we find out he organized the attack on his own barracks that we’ve seen in the flashbacks and used that as the pretence to gas all of those people without Khaled’s knowledge. This hit Bassam like a ton of bricks, as he realized that he has hated his Father for all of these years partially due to something he didn’t do.
This sent Bassam into a major guilt trip, with him even going so far to try and find the family of the man he executed while he was a boy. This part, along with Bassam’s trip to the mosque to pray, kind of dragged on a little for me but in hindsight it was these little moments that ended up leading to Bassam making the decision to sacrifice the Sheik’s life for the sake of possible peace in Abbudin. Of course by sacrifice, I mean murder, and having Bassam go through with killing the Sheik could prove to be the shot in the arm Bassam’s character needed. When compared to the larger than life Jamal, it’s quite easy to forget that Bassam has a dark side too that includes taking a man’s life, so it looks very likely that Bassam is about to shed his “nice guy” approach and wade into some darker territory in his quest to bring peace to his country.
Jamal was wonderful to watch as always, with him slithering away from the crime scene at the top of the episode, full of fake smiles and later empty concern. It’s funny that he called out Bassam about running away considering he spent the majority of this episode contemplating fleeing the country himself. After being rebuffed by Leila, he turned to the arms of his American mistress, Katerina, who was all too willing to run away with him. I have no doubt in my mind that he would have actually followed through on his plan if Bassam hadn’t killed the Sheik, but unfortunately for Katerina he soon found himself having to tie up loose ends. I must admit the paranoid TV watcher in me had Katerina pegged as a CIA spy, but instead it appears she was just a poor, young girl who knew too much and ended up getting smothered to cover up Jamal’s doubts. Of course we could still get a swerve that she was a spy (incredibly doubtful at this stage) which would have the CIA out for blood, but for now she serves as another reminder of how dangerous a “lion” can be.
I really enjoyed where this episode ended up taking us. Following on from last week’s solid episode, “Preventative Medicine” gave us a game changing hour for Bassam as he took a man’s life and decided to scheme against his brother. Whether this means Bassam is going to try and run against his brother in the election or not is unclear right now, but it’s an exciting route for the show to take. One thing I didn’t really mention was Bassam’s sister-in-law arriving in Abbudin, but I think I’ll reserve any judgement on that side-plot until it plays out a little more. Tyrant’s strongest episode yet contained a few great twists and some great character moments, and it gives me real hope that it can continue this form going forward into the last three episodes of the season.
Will Bassam’s plan to oust Jamal succeed, or is his brother too slippery? Let us know in the comments below.
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