Tyrant 1.02 Review: “State of Emergency”

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In week two of any freshman series, it has to prove that there is more to it than the pilot suggests. With a pilot so full of exposition, Tyrant had arguably even more of a challenge. The stakes have been raised, and there’s still plenty of exposition to develop.

In the last episode, Barry Al-Fayeed returned to his home country (with his American family) for his nephew’s wedding, only to be there for his father’s death and brother’s incapacitation soon following. In this week’s episode, Barry and his family deal with the aftermath as the country of Abuddin moves into a state of emergency, and terrorists begin to attack, using the opportunity provided them by Jamal’s accident. Barry, in the middle of everything, is conflicted by his position in the family versus his desire to keep his own family safe.

The stakes are sufficiently higher in episode two. The more I found out about Barry, the more interested I become in him. I’m only slightly distracted by his very blue eyes, but his history (and obvious remnants of chemistry) with his brother’s wife Leila, and the way he stepped into the hostage situation to save his nephew’s wife proved extremely compelling. The flashbacks (I think) are the most interesting part of the show, because they’re so short but provide so much insight into Barry’s past. The use of the flashbacks is well-timed and works well with the flow of the episodes.

Predictably, Barry steps in to the leadership of his country with his brother out, but it’s the reasons he did it that made me interested in the story. He remained reluctant, but between his mother’s guilt trips (we’ve all had those) and his uncle’s sheer military force with little conscience, he had to take action. Barry was obviously worried (rightly so) that his nephew’s new wife would not make it out of the hostage situation with his uncle in charge, so he steps in. Now I’m unsure (as of yet) whether it’s his sense of duty to his nephew, brother, and family that made him do it, or if it was his lingering feelings for Leila. Only more episodes will tell, of course.

This episode also had quite a bit more dramatic action than in the first. The hostage situation was particularly exciting, and it didn’t end quite like I expected it to. Not only has the show increased my interest in the characters (okay, just Barry for now) but it was much more exciting than it’s predecessor. This was an exciting episode, and hopefully the series continues its trajectory.

I’m encouraged after this episode, and if Tyrant continues on its current path, it will be an exciting ride. Adam Rayner is proving that he can handle the leading man, and I will be interested to see not only how Barry develops, but how his family’s characters develop around him, especially his (obviously gay but maybe not out of the closet yet) son.

I’m sticking with  Tyrant  for awhile now. What about you? Did you think it improved this week? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

[Photo via FX]

Nick Hogan is a TV and movie fanatic. He loves writing reviews, TV discussion, and is always looking for new things to watch. Follow him on Twitter @nickyahogan
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