Tyrant Season 1 Review “State of Emergency”

Tyrant Episode 2 State of Emergency (3)

The making of a pilot can often have little correlation to the episodes that come after it. Sure, the story will continue, but as writers start to break story when the series is ordered, things can start to change. Characters can either be tweaked to fit the needs of the advancing story. Characters can watch their roles diminish or enhance depending on how they pop onscreen. In most cases, pilots are nothing more than test balloons. You send it up and see if it stays afloat.

The second episode of Tyrant is an example of a series with tweaks made. With the utter madness of the first episode out of the way, the second episode showcased a little bit of what the show is going to be like going forward. It wasn’t the greatest effort, but it was a significant improvement from episode one. With the American Al Fayeeds settling in to Bassam’s (or should we call him Barry) home country of Abbudin, it allowed the show to avoid some of the biggest problems from the first episode. Jennifer Finnigan’s Molly comes off a lot less tone deaf in this episode than she did in the pilot. Granted, we’ve forgotten all about the deep questions about the Al Fayeed marriage we had during a national emergency at the end of the pilot, but I guess you tend to fall in line when you’re a woman in a fundamentalist country. Neither one of the children got a whole lot to do (in particular Emma), but both of them seemed like more toned down versions of their ridiculous selves. If Sammy can keep his petulant teenager act under control, his story could become rather interesting.

Some of the changes to the show are kind of confusing. The show spent the entire first episode utilizing flashbacks to give us one version of why Bassam left Abbudin. Though Bassam doesn’t say it himself, everything implies he left to get away from his father and the brutality Abbudin provided. However, last night’s episode spun a different tale. Suddenly, much of Bassam’s past seems wrapped up in Leila. So much so that he and Jamal apparently can’t even discuss it. If his father was the reason for leaving, it sure seems like Leila may be the reason for staying away. There’s obviously the tease of something more happening between those two, but hopefully it’s not something the show considers in the immediate future.

As for the immediate future, it seems we’re going to focus on the relationship between Bassam and his psychotic brother, Jamal. The show was trying to do some rehabilitation work with Jamal in this episode, but we’re only one episode removed from him pulling off a trifecta of rapes. Word has it the show is going to continue to work to make us empathize with Jamal. I don’t mind a show trying to rehabilitate a character (see Lannister, Jaime), but they made Jamal such a maniac in the first episode that’s hard to imagine a scenario where the audience feels sympathy for him. I guess they have another 8 episodes to prove me wrong.