Tyrant: "State of Emergency"

(Episode 1.02)

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<em>Tyrant</em>: "State of Emergency"

Last week, I stated that Tyrant had to provide a compelling and believable reason for Barry to get off that plane and stay in Abbudin. Perhaps naively, I expected some big confrontation between Barry and the military guards, or Barry and his family, or, you know, any kind of tension at all about this monumental decision. But instead, the show skipped that entirely and we pick up with the family already heading back into town. I can understand Barry staying while his brother is in surgery, but why wouldn’t he send his family back to Pasadena?

And speaking of his family, I would like to take a moment to talk about Molly. Last week her bewilderment at Barry’s reluctance to return home was hard to believe, but this week, Molly is absurd. “I know you don’t want to be here,” she tells Barry. “I get that. Honey, I just want to understand why!” Google, Molly, google. Seriously, five minutes on the Internet and your whole outlook would be different.

But even if Molly is ignorant to what the Al-Fayeed family has been up to in the past, you would think learning that three children had been executed in the streets would make her want to hightail it out of the country. But no, she doesn’t seem that phased by it. “Baby it’s not your fault, you did everything you could!” she coos. How is she not more upset about this? Is she so blinded by the opulence of the palace that she doesn’t care about the atrocities occurring outside of it? Her character is so senseless, it’s going to be hard to feel any sympathy for her going forward.

Barry’s nephew’s new wife, Nusrat, is kidnapped in a storyline that had her in her bra for most of the episode (because why not exploit the female characters on the show while we’re at it). Barry negotiates her release by promising the young kidnappers, “I’ll do everything I can to make sure you’re treated fairly.” Of course, that doesn’t work out very well, and the boys are killed within minutes. We also learned that Barry had a thing with his brother’s wife, Leila, when they were younger. She’s still bitter, especially now that Barry spends his days treating “privileged children with ear infections.”

The whole episode is leading up to Barry’s epiphany that he has an obligation to stay. “Even if I run away again, isn’t it still on my head?” he asks Molly. And while I can kind of see his point, I would have to think Barry’s first responsibility is to his immediate family. By staying in Abbudin, a country he knows is in the midst of civil unrest, a country where there has just been an attack on his brother, he is putting his family in danger. I think it was supposed to be some big dramatic moment when Barry calls Jamal and says, “What would you think if I hung around for a while?” But the moment fell flat.

So much of Tyrant simply doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure how the show can dig itself out of the hole it is in.

Other thoughts on “State of Emergency:”

• I laughed out loud when Jamal barked at his doctor, “English! Speak English.” Is that really the language Jamal would demand his doctor speak?
• Barry’s two children are so annoying right now.
• I like that Leila threatened the doctor to not leak the story on Twitter since the entire show seems to operate in an information age vacuum.
• That scene with young Leila and Barry had a lot of full frontal nudity for a basic cable show.

What did you think of this week’s Tyrant? Talk about it below.

Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.