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Bassam isn't the 'Tyrant' he thought he'd be

Season 1 | Episode 10| “Gone Fishing” | Aired Aug 26, 2014

I’m actually happy with this episode. Everything in it was written to expose Bassam as the delusional, power-hungry man he really is. The refrain from three of the biggest players in his life—Molly, Jamal and Leila—all referred back to the 20 years he spent in America running away from his problems.

The final episodes, especially this one, beg the question: Was this series supposed to be a satire? They set Bassam up to be the pure savior of the show, but now it seems like his character has been retconned into the embodiment of dangerous Western colonization ideology.

TYRANT_109_IMG_0106-1_previewThe episode begins with Jamal giddy about his and Bassam’s upcoming fishing trip. They get into a brotherly spat over who caught the biggest yellowtail when they were kids, but there’s some tension laced into this trivial argument. Bassam remembers it as him catching the fish, but Jamal says he caught it. It’s a little bit like the tug of war they have over who’s actually running the country, isn’t it?

Tariq is still tortured under Jamal’s orders. Ziad is happily carrying them out, even while Tariq is ordering Ziad to tell him the true plan. Tariq says he’ll make up names of traitors if Ziad will tell him why he’s doing this. “Think of this as my first act of penance for all the unspeakable acts I’ve done on your behalf,” Ziad says.

The coup seems to be coming along nicely—Hakim is supposed to control the airwaves while the coup is underway and a new head of palace security, Aziz, has been put in place. Aziz even goes so far as to call Bassam “Mr. President.” But how will Bassam take care of Jamal? He has the ridiculous notion of talking Jamal into giving up the presidency. This is a coup, Bassam. You’re not talking him into giving up an old muscle car for a practical SUV.

TYRANT_109_IMG_0607_previewTucker seems to think Bassam’s idea is hilarious, too. “Do you think his ego will allow that?” Tucker asks. “I think his ego will demand it,” Bassam says, making no sense. How will Jamal not want to concede to his younger brother but also will want to concede? Sigh. Tucker is right when he says he wouldn’t count on Jamal just calmly giving up the title.

Bassam’s last piece to put into place is to get a “speech writer,” or as Fauzi states when Bassam approaches him, “a propagandist.” Bassam wants Fauzi to write his first speech as president, but Fauzi doesn’t want to. He reintroduces the fact that the Al-Fayeeds imprisoned him and now the idea of working for them doesn’t sit well with them. In true Bassam form, Bassam guilt trips him. “I’m giving you a chance to do something, not just write about it,” he says.

However, a glitch raises its head. Lea and Tucker inform Bassam that the State Department doesn’t want a coup anymore. Jamal took out most of the army and imprisoned Tariq, something the department expected the coup to do. Now, they figure Bassam can take care of his brother. Bassam is outraged at the double-cross and angrily says that he’ll take care of the coup himself. Lea then reminds him that he can’t do anything without her help and influence, which includes making sure America takes care of Bassam’s family.

Bassam’s clearly angered that someone has bested him at one-upping. “You are so smug, aren’t you?” he says. Lea comes back at him with truth. “Smug is thinking you can turn Abbudin into a democracy overnight,” she says. Tucker, who always seems to revel in Bassam’s failed plans, says half-heartedly that he tried to stop Lea and the State Department from pulling the plug. “Not hard enough,” retorts Bassam, possibly as an admission of their mutual dislike.

Meanwhile, Jamal, Leila, Hakim and his wife are having dinner as a family. Or so it would seem. You can tell that when Jamal asks for Hakim’s wine glass to be refilled, something’s going down. Before this scene, Jenna and Emma are having a spa night. Jenna, wants to visit  a ritzy shopping area seemingly out of town before they have to leave for America. Emma eventually agrees to the trip, but again, you can tell something’s going to go down.

TYRANT_109_IMG_0216_previewFauzi has thought about Bassam’s statement and eventually comes back to Bassam with the first draft of a speech. As Fauzi leaves, Bassam reads the letter. We don’t get to read the letter, but apparently it was super inspiring. Bassam immediately calls Tucker and to say that he’s continuing with the coup regardless of the State Department. Tucker is about to let him have it until Bassam does what he does best—guilt trip and blackmail. Tucker quickly tries to save his job and ask if Bassam can meet him somewhere to talk, but Bassam isn’t having it. He hangs up and waits for a response.

Luckily, that response comes right when he’s trying to reassure Molly about his plan. He tells her everything will be fine, but she responds with how she never knew him for their 20-year relationship and that he just says whatever he needs to say to a person if it’ll placate them. At that point, Tucker sends Bassam a text saying that Bassam has the go-ahead with the coup. This time, Bassam feels he can say with confidence that things will be OK.

TYRANT_109_IMG_0873_previewThe day of the coup—and Bassam and Jamal’s fishing trip—arrives. As to why Emma and Jenna would leave for a shopping trip several minutes to an hour before they have to board a plane is not wise, but Jenna has already been set up as an irresponsible person, so there’s that. During their cafe moment, they get pick-pocketed, leaving Emma with no form of communication and Jenna with no money. For some reason, the pick-pocketers and cafe owner don’t know Emma is an Al-Fayeed, even though it should have been all over the news. Emma, who is about to be arrested along with Jenna, tells the cop just needs to look up her name on the internet, so it has been established that today’s modern communication advancements exist in this universe. But it’s all for convenience so that the cafe owner can look stupefied and so Emma can finally “embrace” her royal power.

Meanwhile, Bassam and Jamal are out catching fish. Jamal is constantly talking about the past and, interestingly enough, gives some deep insight on people in the form of an allegory about the sea on a clear day. “You feel like you should be able to see right down o the bottom when actually, you have no idea what is happening even just below the surface,” he says. He also comments on the pain and frustration he feels as the son of Khaled Al-Fayeed. This pain is something that was only touched on in the pilot, so it was great to see that character development picked back up. The fact that he even calls his lineage a “tragedy” is really interesting. “Nothing is worse than being the son of a king,” he says, discussing how neither he nor Bassam can run away from their titles and power.

Jamal talks about how if he wasn’t the son of a dictator, he’d be a furniture maker, and he and Doctor Bassam could live near each other, work together and have their wives be best friends. “We could have been the closest of brothers if things had been different,” Jamal says wistfully.

Once more, Jamal brings up the idea that he would give up his title and live as a fisherman along with Bassam for the rest of his days. But Bassam is trying to talk him out of it. Why? This would have been the easiest time to take the throne from him!

Instead of doing the deed at the boat, Bassam waits until they’re back at the palace. As the guards come around the corner, Bassam begins his spiel of “I’m doing this for your own good.” But surprise! Tariq is around the corner! Jamal knew the whole time! He’d gotten the goods from Hakim when he got him drunk that night. Bassam took Jamal for granted at every turn and now he’s imprisoned. Bassam didn’t count on losing, but he also didn’t count on actually hurting Jamal’s feelings.

“I gave you a second chance to love me,” Jamal said. When Bassam lamely says that he does love him, Jamal responds, “You do not get to use that word.”

“If you had said you wanted this, my presidency,” Jamal says, “I would have given it to you. I would have given you anything. You thought you could come after all years…” Jamal trails off, but we know the rest. Bassam has been out of line the whole season and now his hubris has come back to bite him in the butt.

TYRANT_109_IMG_0518_96__previewLeila visits Bassam in jail and after Bassam tries to con her with more lies, she spits on him. “Between the two of you, you are the monster,” she says, also mentioning that he’s the only one kidding himself to think he could take over the country after being gone for 20 years, not to mention how his running away led to her having to marry Jamal.

The episode ends with Jamal and Leila ordering the murders of the traitors  (including Ziad and Hakim), the seizure of Nusrat by the guards, and Jamal seeking guidance from his dead father about his brother. Amira pleads with her son to spare Bassam and exile him and his family to America, but Jamal tells her what the score really is. “Is that what he would have done for me, or would he have murdered me?” he asks her, revealing that Bassam was ready to arrest his family, including Amira, until he had control of the country. Leila and Tariq, however, are for Bassam’s death. Leila is still upset by this—Bassam was her first love—but she and Tariq state that Bassam’s death will prove that no one, not even family, can best the president.

TYRANT_109_IMG_0599_previewWhat will happen to Bassam? Will there be a second season? And most importantly, what happened to Aziz and Yussef? We didn’t see them get killed, but were they? Perhaps we’ll all meet up in Abbudin again soon.

 

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