The second episode of TYRANT opens in Caliphate territory amongst amputees and Ihab Rashid being fitted for an arm, as bent on revenge as ever, setting the tone and structure for the rest of the episode.
It turns out that Chris Noth’s General Cogswell is in Abudeen to make an offer that Barry is meant to accept. Barry turns down the offer American troops playing a role in the future of his country, but General Cogswell sticks around to pop up and surprise the audience with future reveals. As Ahmed is still acting emotionally while mom Leila continues put ruling the country ahead of all else, it seems that the son of the best actors on the show is finally catching on to things.
Although she is rarely talked about or on screen, Bassam’s daughter, Emma makes her first appearance in the episode, which means that she will likely finally be a part of the family drama. The first cheesy moment of the show is an attempt by the writers to draw people into the horrors of war: Emma sees a photo of a wheelchair victim and utters, “He doesn’t look that much older than me.”
Meanwhile, Bassam is once again dealing with friend’s (Fauzi) daughter’s death, as he struggles whether or not to reveal that he is the one that killed her. Once again, he must turn to wise counselor Delilah to make his decisions for him. Eventually, the audience finally catches a glimpse of Jamal coming home, even as his medical aids are less than accepting of his previous life as a mad dictator. You can’t blame them, but really hope that Jamal wakes up so that he can get into the drama and stop being part of the past.
As an apparently flawless human being, Delilah encourages Bassam to confess to killing a friend’s daughter. “Show them what honesty looks like,” a position the audience knows will not turn out well. Eventually, we see the General on the phone as he multitasks by divorcing his wife via phone and does some classic all-American grilling.
As Fauzi deals with Bassam’s betrayal, his students encourage him to run for president over his protests that he’s not a politician. Given the real life state of politics, not being a politician doesn’t seem to be an actual qualifying reason to stay out of the ring.
Finally, the episode’s main turning point and action begin as Emma continues to make inane observations. “I can’t believe what’s happened to this place, I mean I saw it on the news,” she says as she and Molly drive through the city streets. Soon after this exchange, the car comes to a halt as the entourage is under attack, complete with explosions and selfless acts of heroics as General Said enters the fray. Emma continues to prove herself useless as a character as mother Molly conveniently trips and knocks herself out even as the brave General Ahmid gets shot and only the daughter gets kidnapped moments before Molly wakes herself up from moaning, “Emma!”
In the meantime, Sammy is busy hitting on his professor. Despite the awkwardly classic and unlikely scenario, Sammy shows little reaction when his seduction efforts are interrupted by the announcement of his sister’s capture, even as Molly’s hysteria sets strong female figures back at least a hundred years.
Finally Jamal makes a real appearance as he wakes up to the news on TV that his niece was kidnapped and immediately begins philosophizing on the similarities between parenthood & presidency—even blaming his father for his poor management of the country in a boring, yet almost darkly funny scene.
Leila, in her new position as the first female Secretary of State turns out to be a stereotypical man-hater. Because if you’re strong female figure, able to strategize and make it in the world, you can’t just get along with men, you have to loathe them.
Ihab finally sends a video message, insisting that Bassam exchanges his, “daughter for wife.” Although Molly is totally into the trade, Bassam holds back because the exchange would be unpresidential. Molly needs pills to “calm down” and sleep, although the audience knows she is a naughty child and hasn’t really taken her meds at all.
Meanwhile, we are once again getting a look at the relationship between Leila and General Cogswell as they reveal a past history and finally enjoy the kiss that has been set up from the first glimpse into their meeting at the beginning of the episode.
Delilah is once again there for Bassam to “talk it through” because Molly the wife just doesn’t understand the politics of getting their daughter back from a terrorist. Or does she? Molly takes things into her own hands and drives herself to trade her life for daughter by turning to a known Caliphate sympathizer as the episode closes.
Previews promise more action—but still no sign of Jamal’s return as the most interesting man on the show. Despite the obvious setups, blatant sexism, and stereotypes featured in the episode, the season looks to be promising and gives me something to look forward to continuing to watch.
Season 3, Episode 2 (S03E02)
Tyrant airs Wednesdays at 10PM on FX
Carly Zinderman | Contributor