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Does 'Tyrant's' Bassam have a messiah complex?

If you’re no stranger to my Tyrant recaps, then you’re probably aware that I have some issues with Bassam. Bassam is an interesting character, in that he’s as much a villain as he is a hero. I suppose most heroes, like Batman and Superman, can be viewed like this, because like Bassam, many comic-book heroes have messiah complexes. Bassam exhibits his on a routine basis, and it’s his messiah complex that will be examined in this post.

The show’s original setup is that Bassam, like The Godfather‘s Michael Corleone, wanted out of “the family business,” but when faced with his father’s death, fell back into the family business in an attempt to make it honest. However, once you enter the business, you quickly learn that staying aboveboard doesn’t cut it, and you shift back into a life of crime.

This presents the audience with the question of whether a person’s life is affected by free will or by their ties to their family. Does what runs in your blood determine your fate, or do your actions? I’m on board with the premise. As a character, Bassam is following the Michael Corleone path: He wants to turn his family to the straight and narrow (or so he says).

But there is a place where the two characters diverge. Both characters want to reclaim honor and power, but while Michael is still working from the perspective of keeping the Corleone family the most powerful crime family in America, Bassam wants to completely annihilate his family (proverbially speaking) and put himself in place as the most powerful person in the Middle East, if not the world.

A messiah complex is a condition in which a person feels like they’re “the chosen one” to save a group of people, an ideal, etc. It seems like Bassam’s messiah complex was awakened (or reawakened, perhaps) when he was at his father’s deathbed. His father wanted Bassam to rule the whole time. “It should have been you,” he tells Bassam. “Without you, they will kill us all.” This, combined with realizing Jamal’s ineptitude at running a country, fuel something Bassam to stay. He states it’s to help Jamal run the country, but the real reason is that Bassam knows he could run it like a true tyrant (or, to use Bassam’s way of thinking, savior).

What is interesting about Bassam is that he has lived a life trying to keep his complex under wraps. His move to America was less about what his family has done and more about what he realized he was capable of. To quote my “State of Emergency” recap:

It’s while lying awake at night that he finally tells his wife why he ran away. Except he doesn’t say the real reason. He gives some kind of answer that still boils down to what we already know: He’s running away from his family because of what they do. Well, he’s running away from the little he knows about what they’ve done, because it’s clear he doesn’t know as much about his own family as he thinks. But the real reason he’s running away, the reason he will never tell his wife until the very last minute, is because he knows he can become his father. He already mercilessly killed a man as a child. He knows exactly what he’s capable of. He knows he could be worse than Jamal.

But now that he’s back in Abuddin, he has let his idea of saving the country from a despot take over to the point of driving a wedge between him and his family, who thought they were only in Abuddin for a wedding. He’s also let his dreams to take over fuel his other psychological issue: the need to feel at peace with himself and the actions he’s taken over the course of his life.

The second season of Tyrant has done a lot to flesh out many of the characters, including Bassam. He’s slowly learning that he can’t just free a country without getting the valuable blood of the people he’s loved on his hands. He’s killed the daughter of his best friend, and more than likely, he’s going to have to kill other people he holds dearly. But, as evidenced with “Fathers and Sons,” Bassam still has a god complex. It’s shown in how he spoke to Sammy, saying he couldn’t possibly find a way to let his family know he was all right because they could have been put in danger. That might be so, but the way Bassam says this (along with many other things he’s done and said in the past) paints him as the victim, not his long-suffering family. Sammy is right: The least Bassam could have done was covertly slip a message to them. He’s figured out a way to do everything else in a covert manner.

Bassam’s end goal is to be the ruler of Abuddin and free them from tyranny, but what would Bassam become if not a tyrant himself? In season one, he wanted to install democracy, but would he really give up his title of president for another person to take his place, the place he’s worked so hard to occupy? I doubt it. Would Bassam consider himself filling the impossible role of philosopher king? As Encyclopædia Britannica states:

…the notion of the philosopher ruler has come to signify a general claim to domination by an unaccountable, if putatively beneficient, elite, as in certain forms of Marxism and other revolutionary political movements.

In short: Bassam’s assertions that he wouldn’t become a tyrant while saving his people is false. He might have started out like Michael Corleone, but now it’s clear that he’s just in the game for himself.

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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