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Tyrant Premiere Review: Broken Promise

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Bassam "Barry" Al-Fayeed left his royal family, dictator father and country of Abbudin when he was 16 years old, never looking back.

After 20 years, he returned at his wife's insistence for his nephew's wedding on Tyrant Season 1 Episode 1.

It was immediately obvious that Barry had unresolved issues with his father. He probably could have held strong and refused to go, but he didn't. He needed to go back and tried to make it on his own terms. He sat in the plane seat he paid for, he stayed a hotel, and when the time came, he tried to escape.

For good or bad, he didn't make it out in time. Will he end up regretting his return home? Or is he there to fulfill his destiny?

Tyrant Cast Photo
The cast of Tyrant poses here for an FX promotional photo. The drama premieres in the summer of 2014.

From the beginning to the end of the Tyrant premiere, there wasn't a moment of joy, not even at  the wedding events. Despite the overall darkness and gloom of the episode, I'm intrigued by where these characters go next. 

While Barry didn't want to return home, he needed to face his past and try to come to terms with what he did as a young boy and who he potentially could be. He escaped this privileged and troubled life by going to America, becoming a pediatrician and building a new and loving family. Throughout all that, he kept an important part of himself locked away and that caused a wall to form between Barry and his wife, Molly.

As the flashback scene played out throughout the episode, the young Bassam was fierce and determined, whereas his brother was not. Their father was a complex man. He believed he was doing what was best for his country, but it's counter to general international beliefs that freedom and independence are paramount. 

He's a dictator who tried to protect his people and provide for them. As a father, his methods were brutal and deeply affected both Bassam and Jamal. Bassam ran away to save himself, while Jamal became a brutal and psychologically damaged man.  It was surprising to hear John Tucker, a US diplomat, praise the advances made in Abbudin, while it's ruled by the elder Al-Fayeed.

As much as Barry tried to restrain himself from falling into his family's ways, he did just that. He came up with a peaceful solution to the terrorist threat on the wedding, then he refused the gun at the wedding, he kept silent as Jamal hit his wife, and then he hit his own son when he refused to leave. It was gradual, but he slowly fell into his family ways.

When Khaled was on his deathbed, he said to Barry, "It should have been you." The life that Barry attempted to escape all those years before were thrown back into his face. Did he want his father's praise? Or was that the last thing he wanted to hear?

Upon hearing of his father's death, Barry immediately knew turmoil that was coming and attempted to leave with his family immediately. Just as he thought he was in the clear, the plane was grounded. In that moment, his life and that of his family's was forever altered.

Barry didn't want to visit and his wife laughed off his request that she promise they would return home. Molly insisted and now she will have to suffer the consequence of that decision. He won't let her forget it, "I told you we shouldn't have come.

Overall, I did have some issues with the details of the story, but I was engrossed in the story from start to finish. It was dark and depressing, but with Khaled's death, Barry will be faced with difficult decisions to make for his family and the country. Will he follow in his father's footsteps? Or will he take a new approach to leading like he did with the tribal leader and terrorist threat? I want to see what his journey will be. 

Barry's a tortured soul and will be looking his demons right in the face. Will he defeat them? That's a journey I'm ready to take.

Odds and Ends

  • Molly's apparent ignorance of the political situation in Abbudin felt false. It's wasn't a secret where they were going. Why didn't she have a better understanding of the family history at least. It made the international papers. Google search?
  • The disparity between Emma and Sammy's views of the palace and country was a little too extreme, especially on the brother's part. 
  • I'm not going to go into detail about Jamal's abuses, but he has a sick obsession with validating his ego and proving he's powerful. His abuse of women was distressing to watch and even worse when that was just about the only thing he did. 
  • I hope we see more of Barry and Zachary. If Barry is going to take a leadership role in the country and be a different leader than his father, Zachary would be a good confidant to have.
  • Sammy flirting with Abdul will be something to watch. That relationship isn't one that will be easily accepted at the palace.

Grade the Tyrant  premiere!

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
  • 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (21 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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Eludium-q36

Very adult, I like the start of this series. I like the premise, that the estranged "prince" trying to lead an American life is forced by circumstance back into his native family, and consequently forced to face a life, a destiny he ran from 20 yrs ago. Very intriguing, but I'm sure this will get quite political, with alliances and hostile factions setting up and that's when I tune out -- seen it all before in countless other politi-shows, but until (and if) they hit that point I'll continue to watch.