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Bassam engages in gaslighting on 'Tyrant'

Season 1 | Episode 9 | “Gaslight”| Aired Aug 19, 2014

Once again, I can’t believe it, but I actually liked this episode. The characters seem to have come into their own—particularly Jamal, who seems to no longer rape women—and the story has gelled together. Have I been converted? I don’t think I will ever be a true fan of this show, to be honest. But I concede that the story has gotten tons more interesting.

TYRANT_108_IMG_0373_previewThe first battle for the coup is to get Tariq out of power. To do this, Team Bassam have to get Jamal to turn on Tariq. The catch is that Bassam and Co. have three days to get this done before Tariq leaves for the annual Elite Guard retreat. The beginning starts with a small (very ham-fisted) crumb dropped by Bassam after Jamal and Leila’s anniversary dinner. Bassam gives the hint that there might be some grumblings about Jamal’s ability to lead. The lie is based in truth—the battle to turn Jamal against Tariq uses the fact that Tariq spied on Jamal during his presidential existential rant with Katerina.

When Bassam says he heard that some in the military don’t believe in Jamal’s ability to lead, Jamal immediately inquires as to who said it. Bassam says it was Tucker. This leads to a late-night meeting with Tucker, whose hatred for Bassam is palpable even when they’re working together. With a heavy, irritated sigh, Tucker quickly makes up some lies that he had a few drinks and let it slip to Bassam that Tariq was talking amongst his men about Jamal.

As Tucker leaves (once again making annoyed eyes at Bassam), Jamal becomes something he’s never been (according to Leila): paranoid. As Jamal begins to put the pieces together, Bassam once again ham-fistedly asks, “But planning a military coup?” He asks this as if the words are underlined and in italics. So awkward.

The seed has now been sown in Jamal’s mind and nothing will make him see differently, especially since it’s Bassam, his trusted brother, telling him this.

Quick aside: I never thought I’d feel bad for a rapist-murderer, but the absolute loyalty Jamal has for his brother makes Bassam look even more evil than he did before. Lately, Jamal has been excited for his brother to be by his side, like the good ‘ol days. He’s been walking down memory lane about when they went fishing and when Bassam announced his marriage. As Jamal tells him later in the episode, “You are the only one I can trust.” For Bassam to double-cross him in such a big way is pretty astonishing.

Yussef plays his part in the coup; he asks in such an unassuming way if Jamal still wants him over the tribal portfolio. According to Yussef, he was told that Tariq was meeting the tribal leaders himself. Of course, the real reason Tariq has been meeting the leaders is to buy their vote in the election. But Yussef’s lie sticks in Jamal’s brain. Now Jamal is convinced that Tariq is out for his seat.

Bassam drives Jamal out to the middle of nowhere to meet Ziad. Jamal doesn’t trust Ziad at all, so he has brought his gun with him. Thankfully, Ziad keeps his cool and calmly tells Jamal that what Yussef, Bassam and Tucker have told him is the truth. When Jamal asks Ziad why he should be trusted, Ziad says that the blown-out building they’re standing in front of is Tariq’s way of running things, while Jamal’s is “the future,” the kind of Abbudin he wants his kids to grow up in. This praise makes Jamal see Ziad as one of his own. He promotes Ziad to head of military. At this point, it’s all going according to plan for Bassam.

TYRANT_108_IMG_0858_previewBut what Bassam doesn’t realize is that when Tucker said to tell no one, it means tell no one, because you can’t trust anyone in this game and you can’t predict how someone will react. Jamal has been checking the palace and their phones for bugs, telling her that they have enemies inside the palace. She demands from Bassam what Jamal has been keeping from her. Unfortunately, Leila is one of the few people who can read when Bassam is lying to them. She presses him until he tells her the “truth” of Tariq’s coup. The real part of that lie is the bit about Tariq spying on Jamal with Katerina. Leila breaks down in tears, believing her dismissal of Jamal wanting to go to the Maldives led to the spying and the coup. Bassam seems to realize that he’s playing with people’s emotions throughout this whole ordeal, but, as he does with Leila, he looks as if he’s filing his conscience away.

Phase 1 is nearing the end. Before Molly, Jenna and the kids go back to America, Bassam wants to spend some time with the kids in the bedouin village outside of town. Bassam tells Molly that he wants them to know they are at home here, that they’re not visitors. He tells her that he wants them to be proud of what he is doing. But the underlying reason is that he also wants them to be acquainted with the place for when he will supposedly take power. He wants to drill it into their heads that they have a rightful spot to the Al-Fayeed title.

TYRANT_108_IMG_0348_previewAs the kids come back, filled with tales of their grandfather (who has been retconned into this kindly-yet-stern-yet-not person who laughed with the bedouins), Emma reads a headline from her phone.  A plane carrying dozens of members of the guard blew up, the work of supposed terrorists. Of course, Bassam knows that’s not the case. What really happened was Ziad carrying out Jamal’s orders to blow up the plane as it ascended. Tariq, who had been pulled off the plane before takeoff, demands to know what Jamal needed that was so important. It’s at that moment that Tariq is arrested for treason and becomes a prisoner of the state.

When Bassam learns the details of the event from Tucker, Bassam states that this wasn’t supposed to happen. Tucker, once again annoyed with Bassam, turns to him as Jamal is giving his presidential speech addressing the accident. “It’s not surgery, Barry,” Tucker says. “It’s a coup. Shit happens.”

This is the thing I don’t get about Bassam: He thinks he can control everything, yet he can’t control everyone at all times. Tucker tells Bassam that Leila whispered to Jamal about Tariq, showing his irritation at Bassam’s penchant for getting into trouble. If Bassam had kept his mouth shut or fed her some other lie about something else, none of this would have happened. Or, better yet, if he weren’t bent on securing power for himself, there wouldn’t be this big coup, and he would be back at home in California.

Bassam in California is something Molly desperately wants. She’s angry at him for the plane crash and, to be honest, for everything. Bassam says he had nothing to do with the plane crash, but she says otherwise: “I believe you didn’t pull the trigger, but don’t lie to yourself; you started this.”

TYRANT_108_IMG_0446_285__previewThroughout the show, Molly’s been angry about lying to Jamal, Leila, her kids and Jenna. She’s angry that she has to she has to go back home without Bassam. She’s particularly angry that this coup has now put her and her kids in danger: When they get back to America, they’ll have to live in a safe house for what could be the rest of their lives. Bassam has placed this heavy burden on them all without their consent, and he still expects them to come back to Abbudin in two weeks, when he assumes he’ll have secured power.

Molly lashes out at him again, only to pull him into her arms and plead with him to come back home to America and forget any of this ever happened. Her pleading goes unanswered, so she says in a cold but defeated tone, “Don’t expect us to come back.”

Molly isn’t the only enemy Bassam has. Tariq, who knows Bassam wanted him out since the beginning, tries to reason with Jamal, who—through the work of soldiers “loyal” to him—have roughed Tariq up good. Tariq tells Jamal what’s really true: that Bassam is setting up Jamal, that he has played him “like a child.” The comparison doesn’t fly well with Jamal. After a brief period of what looks like waffling (or mental pain at being “deceived” by his trusted uncle), Jamal proves he’s not a child by beating up Tariq. The next time Tariq sullies Bassam, he will be killed, regardless of family ties, states Jamal.

Jamal leaves, but Bassam stays. Tariq tells Bassam that he knows exactly who Bassam is. “Well played, though I’m not surprised,” says Tariq. “You were a killer when you were nine years old, and you still are.” Bassam says that some of this coup is to get back at Tariq for betraying Khaled. But Tariq is not scared: “I know your soul, Bassam. Killer! I know who you are!”

So, what did you think? Write your comments below, and make sure to log into Twitter next week during the season finale of Tyrant! I’ll be live-tweeting the episode! I know opinions about this show are high, so I hope you join me next week so we can share our opinions together.

Tyrant, rated TV-MA, airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on FX.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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