Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tyrant 1.2: The Brother's Speech and His Wife

A strong second episode of Tyrant on FX last night, featuring a superbly constructed and delivered speech to the people by, of all people, Jamal, who is sufficiently recovered to assume the leadership and give the speech.

But his speech tells us something very important about Jamal having nothing to do with his near death.   He is far more intelligent and erudite than we realized last week.  This should be no big surprise, given the keen intelligence and eloquence of the family, but it changes the picture significantly for Barry and our whole narrative.

Barry may be both stronger and more reflective than Jamal,  who welcomes Barry's advice and offer to stay in the country, but Jamal is much more Barry's equal than we previously supposed.  Barry's role as a second-in-command or whatever should be interesting indeed.

Meanwhile, we also found out a crucial piece of background in last night's episode, to wit, that Barry and Jamal's wife Leila have a romantic history, going back to when they were teenagers, apparently shortly before Barry left to America.   Sex was already sparse and troubled between Jamal and Leila before Barry arrived.   With a possible rekindling of Barry and Leila now, there's a huge minefield underneath whatever political arrangements Jamal and Barry may now make.

Leila, by the way, is a sharp cookie and a piece of tough work in her own right, threatening the presumably Israeli "Dr. Cohen" that she'll have her son Ari killed if any word of Jamal's condition shows up on "Twitter".   We saw last week that the rulers of Abbudin were social media savvy, and now we also learn that they're enlightened enough to retain an Israeli MD.   (Coincidentally, my own book, New New Media, is being prepared for Arabic translation and publication by Dar Al-Fajr Publishing out of Cairo even as we speak.   With any luck, maybe Leila will get a copy.)

But not all of the power structure of Abbudin is enlightened, as Barry's confrontation with his uncle General Tariq makes clear.   With Barry the voice of reason on one side, and Tariq and the old brutal guard on the other, it will be fun to see who wins the ultimate allegiance of Jamal.

Some good new series on television this summer, but, so far, Tyrant is far and away my favorite.

See also: Tyrant: Compelling Debut

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