“Warning: Spoiler Alert“
The country of Abbudin was rife with talk of revolution on the fourth episode of the FX Original Series “The Tyrant,” as it was the twentieth anniversary of the chemical-attack of the nation’s former President on his own people leaving 20,000 dead and took away any remaining respect for the name Al Fayeed. Barry Al Fayeed back in his homeland remembers what it was like for him in private-school in the USA, while he takes his morning jog through the streets of the capital. A flashback reveals a young Barry (personal pet peeve: how tough is it to keep eye color consistent in earlier incarnations of characters?) walking to his dorm room with Tears For Fears “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” blaring, then enters his room and sees his classmates covered his walls and cabinets with graffiti and pictures of his dead countrymen, condemning his father as among other things a murderer.
He enters his room in the palace and his wife Molly’s surprised to see her husband up so early and he tells her he couldn’t sleep and they discuss the slaughter that took place 20-years earlier. Their teenage children Sammy and Emma come to the kitchen for breakfast and the talk revolves around the anniversary. Emma’s appalled by what took place, while Sammy shows little concern, Emma then asks Molly’s maid about the citizen’s thoughts on the massacre, but the woman is reluctant to talk about it.
We leave the palace and enter the home of a poor man, his wife and his son and daughter. The man pulls out a prayer rug, which seems to have gone unused for some time and begins praying, his wife sees him and looks somewhat confused. As he enters the kitchen with his children at the table eating breakfast, she mentions that she saw him praying earlier and he asks her if she has any objections? She replies if he’s begging for a job she’s pleased. Their son then complains that all they have to eat is bread and the mother basically tells him to eat and stop complaining. The husband tells her he’s going to see a man about a job, then hugs his children and tells them soon they will have plenty of good food to eat. He tries to kiss his wife good-bye but she refuses, saying he’ll get kisses if he returns with a job.
We follow the man into the city square and he starts shouting about the massacre, urging his fellow citizens to rebel, resist and to let the Al Fayeeds know how deep their anger lies. He then rolls out an Abbudin flag, pours gasoline on it wraps it around him and lights it on fire as he burns to death to the horror of all watching. Back at the man’s house his widow is in tears while her guest Government opponent Ihab Rashid, praises her husband and his sacrifice for the cause. The widow shows her anger and tells Rashid not to pretend he knew her husband. He replies that while not knowing him well, his sacrifice will mark the beginning of the fall of the Al Fayeed regime.
Barry’s older brother President Jamal Al Fayeed’s opinions and decisions are volatile, as he seeks to make peace with the conflicting demons within him. Since he’s assumed the Presidency, those emotions have taken human form at his morning staff meeting. Taking the hard-line the brother’s uncle General Tariq Al Fayeed, who wants Jamal to rule with an iron fist and show no weakness as his father did. Pushing the diplomatic approach is Barry, or as he’s known in his country Bassam. He avoided Ihab Rashid attaining martyr status among their people for being hung on a crime he didn’t commit.
The Government was monitoring the man’s house with a satellite truck and the Government officials hear the conversation between Rashid and the widow. Jamal says that his foe’s behind the man’s horrific public death and Tariq complains that he had him in custody, but Barry counters that it was under a false premise. The General prefers to overlook details like facts to achieve his goals. When Jamal asks Barry what his advice is, he tells his brother to head to the burgeoning protest in the square and apologize for the massacre and promising nothing like that will take place in his regime. Tariq laughs the suggestion off, but the laughter is short-lived as Jamal announces he will follow Barry’s advice.
Jamal’s son Ahmed and his personal trainer a female former Olympic Gymnast brought in from the former East Germany, greets his cousin Sammy and then tells the trainer he’ll meet her in the gym. He then asks Sammy and Emma to join he and his wife that night at a local night-spot, but Sammy begs off. He then asks Ahmed about his friend Abdul and his cousin says he would be at the club as well, so Sammy agrees to go.
In the square protesters are quickly gathering as news of the public suicide becomes widespread. Handing out leaflets is government blogger Fauzi Nadal. As she hands out the leaflets criticizing the regime, Nadal finds her and asks what she’s doing there and she responds she’s trying to help her people. He begs his daughter to come home with him for her safety, but she counters by asking him to stay to show he’s opposed to the Al Fayeeds.
Ihab Rashid attracts a throng with his criticism of the President and his family. He talks of the murder of their people by chemical weapons from their former trusted leader and infers that Jamal will rule the same way his father had. He speaks of the Al Fayeeds wealth, stature and power and then says that he has none of that going for him, that all he has is his beliefs and principles. He whips the crowd into a frenzy shouting Not One More Day in regards to putting up with the regime’s indifference to their suffering.
The shouting is at its peak as the Government limo pulls into the square with Jamal, his wife Leila and Barry inside. The crowd engulfs the car and starts rocking it before the driver reacts and drives away. Jamal’s anger rages out of control as he rips up the conciliatory speech he was about to present and Barry’s visibly shaken.
The Government officials reconvene in their conference room and this time Tariq’s calling all the shots. His soldiers will clear the square at dawn the following day, starting with tear gas, rubber bullets and mortar cannons. If that’s insufficient they’ll switch to live ammunition and cause what Jamal refers to as a “blood bath.”
The younger members of the Al Fayeed family are at the night club and it becomes apparent very quickly, that Ahmed who we’ve seen little of throughout the series is a pretty rotten dude. He’s soft, spoiled, used to getting his own way and rude when he doesn’t. He abuses his friend Abdul who Ahmed considers little more than a lackey. What Ahmed doesn’t realize is Sammy’s upset because he and Abdul consummated their relationship previously. Sammy’s also confused why Abdul has rebuffed all his phone calls.
Ahmed starts bragging about his two expensive extravagant sports cars when Emma asks him why he has two? He responds because he can and asks his cousin if she has a problem with that. She responds that maybe the poor citizens of his nation wouldn’t resent their family as much if he showed off less often. Ahmed starts to get indignant when his wife tells him that she and Emma are going outside to smoke. With just he and Abdul in the booth he tells his pal to get him another bottle and Abdul asks him if he had already reached his limit, but Jamal’s son angrily tells him to get the bottle.
Barry’s at the palace and calls Fauzi Nadal who is part of the protest in the square and Barry tells his friend he needs to talk to him in person and they make plans to meet at a café near the square. When Barry arrives he tells Nadal that soldiers will clear the square at dawn and tells him to take Samira and head back home to safety. Fauzi tells him what he can do with his advice and tells Barry that he and his daughter will face the danger together. Frustrated Barry asks Nadal what he wants him to do and Fauzi responds to stand up to his brother and uncle.
Sammy and Emma are back at the palace when he gets a text from Abdul and tells Emma that he’s getting something to eat. As she goes upstairs to her bedroom, Abdul arrives and Sammy asks what’s going on. Abdul responds that he’s a commoner that’s accepted by Ahmed and his friends by his appearance, the way he dresses and how he caters to them. Without them he goes back to living a commoners life which he refuses to do. He tells Sammy that because of his family, he can do as he pleases, but Abdul plays by a different set of rules and the only reason Abdul approached him was he thought Sammy would be back home by now.
Jamal’s on the phone with Tariq as the General prepares his soldiers and receives a video from Barry on his tablet. He tells his uncle he’ll call him back as Barry enters the room. The President angrily asks his brother why he sent him video from the protests that changed the government in Libya and Barry responds that if Jamal goes through with clearing the square they will suffer the same fate as Khadafi. He tells Jamal that Nadal has set up a meeting for Barry to talk one-on-one with Ihab Rashid to discuss what the radical wants. He tells is brother that the family’s fate rests with this decision, will they be deposed like other governments in the region, or will Jamal become the leader of a new, more just Abbudin?
The story will pick up again next Tuesday on FX.