TYRANT Review: “A Rock and a Hard Place”

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In the last episode of , the Caliphate’s use of children as weapons was strongly highlighted and it seems that children are still on the mind as the latest episode opens with kids in Caliphate territory playing soccer and a plane drops evacuation notices over the field. Rashid is busy viewing an anti-“American” Tyrant ad and is further irked when the evacuation notices are brought to his attention. Other than lightly hinting at the political campaign storyline that will recur throughout the episode, there’s not much drama here. Just the bad guy beating his chest.

TYRANT -- "A Rock and A Hard Place" -- Episode 305 (Airs Wednesday, August 3, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Adam Rayner as Barry Al-Fayeed. CR: Kata Vermes/FX

The next scene shows everyone’s favorite trusty butler delivering a missive to Leila from Daliyah’s Truth and Dignity Commission, which understandably upsets the Secretary of State. She will continue to dwell on it for the remainder of the episode.

Next, we see that Ahmed is taking Leila’s revelations of his true paternity seriously as he checks in on Sammy—who is pondering “being an only child” as Ahmed quizzes him on Bassam and Molly’s latest behavior. It’s a sweet moment, but somewhat disturbing that Ahmed would creep on the privacy of a family in mourning to satisfy his own curiosity about his new family relations.

TYRANT -- "A Rock and A Hard Place" -- Episode 305 (Airs Wednesday, August 3, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Moran Atias as Leila Al-Fayeed. CR: Kata Vermes/FX

Molly is under surveillance in bed after taking all those pills. Despite Bassam’s lack of attention to Molly when she’s awake and well, and his likely full plate as acting President, he still finds time to take over watching her and even gives her a cuddle.

Much of the episode is tied up with political campaigning, which began with the American Tyrant scene in the opening and continues to play out. During a meeting about her appearance before the Truth and Dignity Commission, Leila warns Daliyah against falling in love with Bassam.

Meanwhile, Bassam is busy taking advice from the army, who have told him to shut down prayer rooms as a suicide bomber made a failed attempt. Instead, all prayer must take place at a central location, further aggravating anti-Bassam sentiments.

Despite Bassam promising to watch over Molly, and Sammy’s statement that she is under 24-hour watch, Molly comes to on her own. And although she is suicidal, Molly manages to save her own life by not jumping off a balcony. I’m not a medical professional, but I’m not sure how effective it is to jump off what appears to be a second story building to kill anybody. As a doctor, Molly should know better.

Bassam holds meeting with religious leaders, including Caliphate-leaning Al-Qadi to discuss the closing of prayer rooms. The scene seems irrelevant but will later prove to have a possible effect on Al-Qadi .

Ahmed suggests Leila soften her image after campaign polls show her to be coming in second, after Fauzi. This is likely food for thought for the tough old bird and seems to put her in a reflective mood for the rest of the episode.

Fauzi holds a rally and once again turns to Daliyah for an ego boost after the event, just like Bassam is wont to do.

Al-Qadi’s wife continues to stir up trouble for the religious leader, as she harps on the importance of his doing what her Caliphate family desires.

Molly wants to check into a German treatment center for issues that remain nameless. For some reason, Bassam is thwarting her, despite not minding their previous bouts of long distance married life—with him wandering through the country as a dead man or her being back in Pasadena.

The family table continues to shrink with just Bassam and Sammy left—Sammy suggests a dog because puppies make everything better. The story of a childhood dog bite cements Bassam’s reputation as an absentee father. In this case, it doesn’t totally work, as a lot of parents tend to forget which kid did what.

As Sammy continues to have a relationship with the married professor, he finds out that his partner has never had an affair with a student before and that the philosopher disagrees with presidential policies like shutting down prayer spaces.

On his way to yet another rally for the episode, Al-Qadi encourages his family to leave Caliphate territory after being told of its horrors and moving to Abudeen, because he still believes in it.

Leila’s ongoing reflective mood has her reminiscing with Bassam as the president makes his own PB& J with crushed potato chips in the middle. It’s one of the few glimpses of humor as Bassam protests against being reduced to being the American infidel as he creates the decidedly American snack. Leila hints at his feelings for Daliyah and their own past history.

Leila’s reflection somehow prompts Bassam to call Molly and leave a crazy long voicemail about a b&b visit they did before the got married.

Meanwhile, Al-Qadi is busy preaching for peace amidst the oppression of the current government, which still manages to stir up some trouble in the crowd.

During all the drama of political rallies, Ahmed tries to shadow daddy at work as Bassam agrees to allow a military presence at the protest; even as he acknowledges it’s like being Jamal. Could this be foreshadowing drama yet to come?

TYRANT -- "A Rock and A Hard Place" -- Episode 305 (Airs Wednesday, August 3, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Chris Noth as General William Cogswell. CR: Kata Vermes/FX

Leila continues to have a relationship with General Cogswell, against her sister’s advice. It’s unclear why the sister offers the advice, given that she’s new to the scene after having been estranged for years.

The rest of the episode is filled with brief glimpses that will likely come into play in later episodes:

Cogswell meets with Fauzi as president-elect and I can’t wait to find out what was said there.

Ongoing prayer meeting as Al-Qadi makes peace between army and protesters, even as his wife and her super close brother with Caliphate ties discuss his leadership skills. Apparently, the message of peace is no good as the brother says that Al-Qadi has to go, even as Al-Qadi’s wife protests her love for her husband.

TYRANT -- "A Rock and A Hard Place" -- Episode 305 (Airs Wednesday, August 3, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r)Adam Rayner as Barry Al-Fayeed, Adam El Hagar as Siddiq. CR: Kata Vermes/FX

Bassam visits the refugee camp, which is beginning to open.

Leila has a date with Cogswell as he admits to meeting with Fauzi and she pours out her sister’s warning to Cogswell, probably due to her son’s advice to be more vulnerable. Cogswell says he’s been in love for five years and will never leave again.

Although Bassam never went to bed when Molly was in it, he now can’t stop staring at the empty bed so he calls Daliyah for consolation even as Fauzi arrives to thank her for dinner. Bassam wins as Daliyah is on her way to the palace when Fauzi shows up at her door, proper courtship materials of flowers and candy in hand.

At the palace, Bassam once again babbles his feelings to Daliyah as he strokes her hand and Daliyah pulls back but then Bassam goes for it anyway. Bassam leaves Daliyah alone so he can check halls and then takes her to bed—giving her plenty of time to reconsider but then they get all naked and whatnot—Bassam sleeps as she weeps before smiling and drifting off. Because an affair with the president is always a good idea, in any country. No repercussions at all.

This mid-season episode had a lot of setups that better payoff with personal relationships, future leadership, and other dramatic events. The preview seems like there might be some action next week as the Caliphate looks to be shooting up the Truth and Dignity Commission and Al-Qadi pleads with the leaders of the extremist group to be allowed to run in the election.

TB-TV-Grade-B-
Season 3, Episode 5 (S03E05)
Tyrant airs Wednesdays at 10PM on FX

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Twitter: @CarlyZzee / carlyzinderman.contently.com

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