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'Tyrant' fan recap: The Man from A.B.U.D.D.I.N.

Season 2 | Episode 5 | “A Viper in the Palace” | Aired July 14, 2015

So, tonight’s Tyrant was a Bassam-centric episode that was actually very quickly paced. Thanks for keeping it moving, Tyrant writers! Thanks also for having some characters remind Bassam of who he is and what his flaws are, because we actually got to see some positive character growth.

Let’s get into what happened. Bassam and his adopted Bedouin family find themselves looking at the second wife of the Bedouin man, Ahmos, on a makeshift stage along with the German solar energy woman and some other guy. They are now the captives of the Army of the Caliphate, the official name for Ihab and his university friend’s new group. The group plans on restoring the sanctity of Ma’an by defeating Abuddin and creating a unified place for devout Muslims, so of course, that means killing Westerners and anyone who goes against their specific, narrow views of Islam. Does this sound like any particular group? If you thought, “ISIS,” then you’re correct.

I don’t mind that the Army of the Caliphate is the Tyrant universe’s ISIS. But I’d like someone to explain to me how a backward view of Islam plays into defeating the Al-Fayeeds. I thought Ihab just wanted to put a democracy (or, if he believes he should be the only one in charge, an autocracy) in place. I didn’t think he cared that much about religion (until people blamed him for hundreds of Ma’an deaths, that is). We did see him praying profusely two weeks ago because of those deaths; does he think he needs to become more devout, and therefore thinks a part of his rebellion should include him installing an extremely militant view of Islam? Who knows. If this theory is true, though, I wish it was in the show.

Anyway, the poor German woman and Random Dude (a leader, I believe, who was accused of turning his weaponry on his people) get killed as a way to show that the Army of the Caliphate (the AoC from here on out) means business. Thankfully, the young boy’s mother gets released, thanks to the AoC’s “mercy.” They offer her the chance to repent for trying to bring back Western technology to the tribe, even though it was the tribe (her husband included) who wanted her to go.

Side bar: If the Bedouins, like everyone else, know about solar panels and iPhones, why does Bassam feel it’s necessary to show the little boy what time his mom should have been in Germany on a sundial? Sure, Bassam’s phone might have died in the desert, but someone’s got a phone (or even a standard clock) so the boy can have time differences explained to him! Doesn’t Munir or Kasim, the boy’s brothers, have a phone? One of them called the military friend a couple of episodes ago. Was that not a cell phone? In any case, the little boy himself said he wants an iPhone! Bassam, stop acting like these people are stuck in the Middle Ages and need guidance for 2015 living. I’ll give Bassam the benefit of the doubt and think that he just showed the sundial to have a bonding moment with the boy over ancient forms of tech, like how a man might take his son camping and roast marshmallows over a fire, even though there’s a microwave back at home. Rant done.

The Army might have freed the mother, but they haven’t finished their reign of terror. They draft all able-bodied men into their army, meaning the little boy’s brothers have join. But before they leave, they have to witness their father getting beaten up by that AoC brute and the smug university friend. They want to know where Bassam (aka Halil) is, because the brute’s new wife was with him.

“Wait, Bassam’s gone?” you ask. Yep. It was because Ahmos asked him to join the AoC with his sons to protect them. Bassam, understandably, doesn’t want to get Ahmos’ sons killed because of him. This was the one time I was on Bassam’s side. It did seem like Ahmos was asking too much of Bassam to enlist himself. But once Ahmos started speaking again, I came to understand his side of the request. Ahmos knows that Bassam is very capable; he’s an enemy of the state, for Pete’s sake. He could certainly watch out for his sons and stay alive. But, like Ahmos said when Bassam refused, Bassam’s first instinct is to run from trouble the moment it comes up in his life. “You’re a runner. You run from your family … and now this,” he said. We can also include in that statement that Bassam ran from protecting his first love Leila and from himself, particularly from that part of himself that remembers that as a boy, he killed a man to gain his father’s affections. That’s really what Tyrant is about: a man who’s running away from his destiny of becoming the Don Corleone of Abuddin.

Despite all of the guilt-tripping, Bassam still leaves for the Lebanese border, and still ends up killing someone in the process (this time, it’s the AoC guard watching the truck). But he gets a gun to the back of the head from a young woman, the “wife” of that AoC brute. She left her home in Chicago, lured to the group by feeling unwelcome in discriminatory America, but she has been living out a nightmare instead (which includes being raped by that AoC brute after whatever “marriage” they underwent). This story is, of course, similar to many other stories from the U.S. and around the world of men and women leaving their families in Western nations and joining ISIS. I was particularly reminded of this story. After Bassam tends to her twisted ankle, she finally lets her guard down around him.

They eventually make it to within walking distance of the border, but surprise! AoC Brute and a crony are there to stop them. Thanks to Kasim, who said he doesn’t have any loyalty to Bassam (and to save his father from getting pummeled), they were waiting on Bassam and the woman. At first they think Bassam kidnapped the woman, but she says she left because she didn’t want to stay with AoC brute any longer. He punches her to the ground and then attempts to choke her to death, but Bassam, ever resourceful when it comes to death, gets the other guy’s knife, injures him so he can take his gun, and then shoots him and the AoC brute. He gives the woman an ice pack that appears out of nowhere and tells her to go to the border. She thought she was coming with him, and he was, but now that he sees who makes up the AoC, he knows he’s got to save his country.

Meanwhile, the village is in complete shambles. The AoC have effectively taken over, Ahmos’ sons are now drafted members, and if that wasn’t enough, the smarmy university friend and his equally smarmy wife decide to kidnap the little boy’s mother because of University Friend’s interest in her. Further complications to Ma’an come from Tariq, whose latest plan to secure Abuddin’s borders fails after the AoC blow up most of the Abuddinian aircraft flying in to subdue them. Jamal is already on one thanks to Tariq, and now, after this latest presidential message he’s had to give and Tariq’s consistent reassurance that he knows what he’s doing, Jamal is realizing that Bassam was right about Tariq not being fit for the duty of general. Now Jamal’s guilt is setting in, on top of his stresses of keeping Abuddin secure to protect his people and that lucrative oil deal with China.

Also: Molly, Sammy, and Simmons are in Abuddin! First, it really seems Simmons is angling for that stepdad territory. I know he has to be there because he’s the lawyer, but still. Second, everyone gets to come EXCEPT EMMA? Is she being written out of the show? This episode has made my recent ode to Emma even more necessary. Emma needs some writerly love! Come on, show!

What did you think of this week’s episode? Give me your opinions below!

Tyrant 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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