Unfortunately for the people of Abuddin, it's not always the better angels of a leader's nature that win out.
Of course, Barry's angels are arguing against some pretty insistent voices on Tyrant Season 3 Episode 8. Molly may look all better to the casual observer, but it's all just a facade.
And it doesn't help that military advisor General Maloof is blood thirsty and power hungry.
What exactly was the tipping point for the interim president? His tenure started out with so much optimism, basically channeling Mandela. Was Emma's death alone what caused him to change course?
Molly's reappearance pushed him over the edge and into the abyss. His guilt isn't just over Emma, although that's certainly a huge component. But his guilt over the affair with Daliyah (and likely his abandonment of the family in Tyrant Season 2) had just as big of an impact. Maybe even more.
Killing Ihab is just as much about purging his guilt by finding someone else to blame as it is about avenging Emma. Barry reluctance to act is also a sign of his unwillingness to take responsibility.
Molly didn't goad him into it so much as she gave him permission.
I have blood on my hands that I can never wash off. No amount of feeling guilty can change that. I'm of this place now, Barry. I'm stained by the ugliness of this place.Molly
In contrast to Molly's "in for a penny, in for a pound" attitude, Daliyah represents what Barry preaches, but doesn't actually practice. Her dedication to his policy of forgiveness and new starts shows that she really was the best pick to head up the TDC.
Her one lapse in judgment is her relationship with the President.
That relationship is vital to Barry's development. You can't have a character fall from grace without offering them a chance at redemption. Her role (and Fauzi's, and to an extent Saddiq's) highlights that Barry's actions re his choice, not simply a manipulation.
Barry's leaving her also highlights the pattern of women in his life – he says he loves them, but cannot manage to fight for them, to stand up to others (or even himself) to prove his love.
He left Leila to Jamal so that he could escape his family, he left Molly and the kids to escape himself, and he left Daliyah to satisfy a bloodlust. Words are pretty, but actions speak louder.
Barry: You have to stop speaking out against me. Daliyah.
Daliyah: You have no right to ask me that.
Barry: Daliyah. Daliyah, this is me.
Daliyah: What's that supposed to mean? Do I owe you something? Because I slept with you? Because I love you?
What's really intriguing is that Barry's ascent to tyranny is going to be the thing that finally brings the people of Abuddin together. Not bringing in the American military, not his secularism, or his vision of forgiveness and Kumbaya.
The candidates and the people will rally around defeating him.
Unfortunately he's surrounded himself with yes-men, with his new general Maloof eager to fight. Maloof certainly has something up his sleeve. If we look at what happened during the Arab Spring in Egypt, I'd say that Cogswell is spot on about the man's aspirations.
Which leaves me wondering: is Maloof dumb enough to think that he's speaking the truth to Barry, or is his bad advice is deliberately given?
Maloof: I'm not concerned. The people of Abuddin are used to the government telling them what to do. The anger will pass. Pretty soon, it'll feel like the same old normal.
Molly: Once the war is over -- in six months or a year -- once you've declared elections again, this will all be remembered as nothing more than a blip.
"Ask for the Earth" once again highlight what a badass actress Jennifer Finnegan is. Her character isn't the always the most stable character (and I'm not just taking about her pill-popping, balcony climbing adventures), but she finds a way to balance Molly's guilt, anger, and madness.
Adam Raynor's Barry is sometimes frustratingly cool and collected, but Finnegan manages to bring enough energy to their shared scenes for both of them.
I'm done with forgiveness.Molly
Molly is (apparently) going to find her faith again on Tyrant Season 3 Episode 9 ("How to Live," airing August 31st), but I'm a little worried she might have hit her head at some point, since she seems to have forgotten that she's the one that pushed Barry down this path of moral compromises.
But does Barry really have what it takes to be a true tyrant? Or will he leave the dirty work to trigger man Maloof? Just how far are the Al Fayeeds willing to go in their quest for revenge?
With only two more episodes, there's still time to catch up by watching Tyrant online if you've missed an installment. You'll want to be in the know as the struggle for Abuddin reaches a boiling point!
Join us with your thoughts and predictions in the comments section!
Elizabeth Harlow was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in October 2018.