Tyrant 1.04 Review: Sins of the Father

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This week, Abuddin had (mention of) a horse, and a man on fire! Unfortunately, we are not talking about an Arabic Anchorman (although, I’d like to see that. Maybe with a Borat cameo?). We are talking about this week’s episode of the FX middle-eastern drama, Tyrant.

I’m not sure what to think of Tyrant as a whole. Each week, there have been truly great moments. The acting (especially from the main players) is exceptional, and the world they’ve created is realistic. However, the plot (to this point) has been dragging along. I’ve struggled to maintain my interest, because compelling characters can only take you so far into a story. Aside from a few moments of shock value, the show (thus far) has been largely character focused.  If the preview for next week is indicative, however, I think that things may escalate next week. Here’s hoping!

This week, Barry’s political advice backfired on president Jamal. Jamal wants desperately to be the man his brother that Barry wants him to be, but he feels political pressure from his uncle and (much more importantly) his wife. Adam Rayner’s Barry has maintained my interest throughout the series thus far, but I think Ashraf Barhom’s portrayal of Jamal has been (at least to this point) the strongest acting of the series. I can really feel the conflict and frustration in Jamal as he tries to recover from his injuries, run his father’s country, and live within a family that he truly cares for. I never thought I’d sympathize with Jamal (especially after episode 1) but he has proved much more complex than I ever thought possible. Of course, who knows how different he will be when he finally takes the power back. I can only imagine that he can become more interesting.

The “Barry’s son is gay” plotline took a more prominent seat in this week’s episode, and I really didn’t find it compelling at all. The son is a little whiny, and while they tried to add a complex layer to the “forbidden” relationship, it didn’t work for me. That being said, the rest of Barry’s family finally got some more to do, in what showed a contrast between American and Middle-Eastern cultures.

Again, the exposition and setup is getting a little stale, but if it explodes (like I think it should here soon), I can only imagine that it will become more interesting. The unrest in Abuddin is getting intense, and Jamal plans to attack the peaceful protesters, but Barry’s intervention is required more than ever. Barry is in a tough position between his family and his friends (among the people of Abuddin), and cannot seem to find any common ground. But, as we grow ever closer to the inevitable civil war in Abuddin, I”m more and more convinced that the story has some compelling elements remaining. Wartime is a very powerful dramatic tool, and if used correctly, I’m convinced that the show can still find it’s sea legs and become a great series. Right now, however, it’s  still a little scattered.

What do you think? Are you still watching Tyrant? Did you get fed up or are you hanging around to see what happens next? 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. He also co-hosts a podcast called Changing Panels (changingpanels.com/@ChangingPanels) about Comic Book TV. Follow him on Twitter @nickyahogan
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