TYRANT Review: “The Dead and the Living”

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As the third episode of the third season of opens, flies are buzzing about, foreshadowing the amount of deaths that will take place —although the viewer doesn’t know it yet.

Emma is behind bars in the Caliphate prison, refusing to eat food that would attract flies. Instead she has a conversation with Ihab Rashid about his vendetta against her,  in which he reveals that Emma’s perfect father is the man that murdered Rashid’s wife. Emma refuses to believe that her father could be a murderer, despite knowing that he spent time in a war zone last season, highlighting Emma’s ignorance of the show’s overall plot and making the audience respect her even less.

Meanwhile, her father, President Bassam, is plotting her rescue. In the first war room scene, Bassam discusses ways to use the military to rescue his daughter as General Cogswell sets the distraught father straight about why Rashid is targeting his family.

In other news, Jamal, the bad guy we all love to hate, is managing to cause drama from a hospital bed. He needs a kidney and son Ahmed is his best bet for a match. Ahmed feels conflicted about the donation. He decides to move ahead with tests despite his mother’s advice to do otherwise.

Elsewhere, Bassam’s truth council is also moving ahead, with Fauzi introducing himself to Daliyah, who already knows who he is and his back story. Later in the episode, we’ll find out that the pair has a lot in common as surviving spouses with kids and conflicting emotions about their relationship with Bassam. They even discuss finding new partners and the audience gets the feeling that Daliyah has a new suitor—one that is untethered, unlike Bassam. Not that she wants another suitor.

A scene between Molly and a doctor indicates that she may have health concerns beyond sudden bursts of stereotypical hysteria as the medical man advises Molly to have an MRI. Molly probably won’t die in her plot to exchange her life for Emma’s, because if she is dead later in the episode, then what would her future health matter? Rashid has contacted Molly and given his instructions for exchanging her life for her daughter’s. Because nothing is sacred in palace life, Molly’s call with Rashid was recorded and played back for Bassam. Bassam is immediately incensed before calming down when the military gurus describe their plan to use Molly’s actions for their own rescue attempt.

As Ahmed continues to decide whether or not to give his murderous, rapist, generally evil father a kidney, he talks with his mother about his father and we find out how she came to marry Jamal—through bad luck and an arranged marriage. Ahmed goes on to search for reasons to help his father and eventually comes across Nusrat’s journal.

This soul-searching moment then segues to Emma’s cage, through which she watches Rashid and the rest of the male members of the Caliphate pray. Rashid catches her eye and they then get into a discussion on religion and Rashid’s real motivation for disliking her family. Emma’s glossy lips glisten throughout the scene as she makes some points that still aren’t enough for the audience to finally care whether she gets rescued or not.

The real action unfolds towards the end of the episode, with numerous deaths for the audience to process as quickly as they occur. First up is Ahmed’s confrontation with Jamal over the contents of Nusrat’s diary. He describes his search for wanting a connection with Jamal, like the one he assumes he felt as a child. Jamal’s violation of Nusrat at her wedding is finally unveiled as Ahmed understands his dead wife’s actions of the first two seasons for the first time after reading the journal she left behind. Although Ahmed likely could have let Jamal die a slow death from kidney failure, he instead smothers his father old-school dramatic style with a pillow. And then Jamal is gone with a flatline beeping and the viewer is left wondering who is left to care about. And whether or not Ahmed will still have political aspirations to follow in his father’s footsteps, now that the truth of his character has been revealed.

Molly’s collaboration with the army is underway as video drones track Emma and Rashid through the desert to a small town. Anticipation builds as the military surrounds the jeep that the kidnapped and kidnapper are traveling in while the parents watch the remote video feed as anxiously as the viewer. In epic fashion, just as the military nearly have Emma in their grasp, the citizens that have been cowering out of the line of fire rise up to overtake the military. After the attack, Rashid faces the camera drone as he calls Molly and narrates his onscreen stabbing of Emma.

The scene is actually rather poignant, not because of Emma and Rashid’s uncanny ability to react directly to the camera, or Emma’s death itself, but because the general sympathy you feel for parents losing a child—and watching it happen no less, helpless to stop.

Bassam’s face of shock and Molly’s annoying wails aside, Emma bleeding out with a knife lodged in her gut mimics the horrors of war. However, the audience never really got to know Emma enough to care about her pain or shock, as she lies dying in the street. And given the little screen time she has had in the past, we are unlikely to miss her in the future.

Although Jamal died and so did Emma, the episode still doesn’t seem to hold a lot of weight or importance in the overall scheme of this season’s plot line. All we can tell from the preview is that more deaths are on the way; so hope remains that Emma may be more integral in terms of the plot for the third season in death than she was in life.

TB-TV-Grade-B+
Season 3, Episode 3 (S03E03)
Tyrant airs Wednesdays at 10PM on FX

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Twitter: @CarlyZzee / carlyzinderman.contently.com

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