Warning: Spoiler Alert
The summit meeting that nobody ever expected took place in the sixth episode of the FX Network Original Series Tyrant, as Abbudin President Jamal Al Fayeed sat down and negotiated with rebel forces leader Sheik Rashid. The opposition leader had been in exile for 20-years until the President’s brother Barry/Bassam Al Fayeed talked him into returning in the previous episode. The President wants to clear the square in the capital in a peaceful manner and willing to grant concessions to the Sheik, to achieve his goal. Jamal has doubts about whether the meeting should take place, but his brother convinces him that’s their best move.
The Sheik and his son Ihab, head to the palace in a limousine, part of a large motorcade including security. The father tells his son, that he’s counting on him to act like a statesman during the meeting and that they must stay on the higher road despite what the President’s staff states. Barry’s giving the same speech to his brother, telling him that if the Sheik offers any new proposals, he should respond by saying he’ll take that under advisement.
The Sheik arrives at the palace and has his picture taken with his two sons and his brother Walid Rashid. As the photographers finish, the Sheik tells his brother to head home and Walid’s confused and disappointed telling the Sheik that he came to help in negotiations, as he has dealt with the regime for the last decade. The Sheik tells his brother that he made friends with the people who betrayed them and once again tells him to go home.
After going through a procession line, Jamal, Barry and their father’s closest adviser Yussef, meet behind closed doors with the Sheik and his two sons. After some tense but amenable small talk, the President offers the same concessions that he earlier proposed to Ihab Rashid. The Sheik, thanks his opponent for his kindness, but then tells the President that he’s looking for a promise of open and free elections, monitored by the United Nations. The inner battle between what the Abbudin leader wants to say and knows he should say, register on his face for about 30-seconds, until he says he’ll take it under advisement. When Barry asks the Sheik if he will order his supporters to clear the square, Rashid responds by repeating the President’s last statement.
Jamal walks out of the meeting, fuming and berating Barry for setting up the situation they find themselves in and the brothers head into the meeting room of the President’s top advisers. The President asks the brother’s uncle General Tariq Al Fayeed, what damage would be incurred by the occupants if the military clears the square and Tariq responds most likely about two thousand injured and 200 deaths. Jamal, replies that there would be 200 dead the next day and then his regime would be at war with the citizens and the General reminds the President, that his military’s quite adept at winning wars. The President asks his advisers if anyone has a better alternative and the room remains silent, he then tells the group, he needs an hour to collect his thoughts and exits.
As Jamal sits in his office he receives a text from Barry, saying that he has another option and he’s behind him. The President turns around in his chair and sees his brother in the courtyard behind him and lets him into the office. Barry’s alternative, strikes his brother as insane at first blush, but as he gives his reasons, leader of Abbudin becomes intrigued. The younger Al Fayeed tells his brother, to agree to free-elections and then explains how any elections are at best a year to 18-months away. Worst case scenario; Jamal gathers his funds and invests them in Swiss banks, by an island and live out his days in the lap of luxury, with nobody asking for his head.
However Barry tells his brother he believes that he can win an open election and use the office to his advantage, by building hospitals and schools for the people, to help win them over. He tells Jamal, that his citizens don’t know him, but he’ll have plenty of time to win their love and respect before the elections are held and win easily. If he does win, his regime’s stronger than ever and he wins respect on the world stage, for himself, the Al Fayeed family and Abbudin. The President asks his brother for some time to think it over, but it’s pretty apparent Jamal’s leaning towards his brother’s suggestions.
The graphic on the screen tells us that three weeks have passed and Jamal wakes up feeling amorous and wants to make love to his wife Leila, but she rebuffs his advances, as she’s angry at her husband for agreeing to free-elections. Jamal asks her if she’s watched TV, that commentators are referring to him as a “beacon of hope” in the Middle East. Leila responds with a snide comeback, leaves the bed and the room, while her husband lies there frustrated. Seconds later, Yussef calls the President on his cellphone with the news that “60 Minutes,” has requested an interview with him.
Jamal enters his morning meeting with his advisers, asking about the funding for the new schools and hospitals he wants built and his finance minister responds, they have yet to get the money to start the project. When Jamal questions what the hang-up is, the minister replies that normally they would fund such a project with war bonds, but with free elections on the horizon, questions about the military’s stability have arisen. Tariq’s second in command, tells the President that the amount of young men not reporting when they receive their induction to the draft has risen dramatically, as well as the incidents of enlisted men attacking officers. Tariq, then follows up asking his nephew, to call off the elections and let he and the military handle the citizens.
The President asks the General if he’s heard that he’s been approached by the world-renowned TV show for an interview, then asks his uncle and the finance minister if either of them had ever been contacted by the show, to which they both sheepishly respond they haven’t. He then tells his advisers he’s on his way to an emergency meeting with the Norwegian attaché and when he returns he wants to hear nothing but positives from the group.
The meeting’s neither with a diplomat or a Norwegian, as Jamal’s come to visit an attractive American young woman with blonde hair, who maybe the President’s former mistress. After getting attention from the woman that Leila denied him, he asks her if she thinks the people of Abbudin love him and she responds like Barry did, that they have yet to know him, but once they did he assured him they would love him.
Barry enters Leila’s quarters and her crew of makeup people and hairdressers, leave the two alone in the room. The younger brother comes off as patronizing his sister-in-law, as he tries to tell her what to say in the TV interview and she cuts him off at the knees, telling him she’s been dealing with the press since turning 18. She then starts smirking at Barry and asking him if he truly feels important and the man pulling the strings? She says he comes across as self-satisfied and Barry excuses himself for the intrusion and leaves the room.
We watch the interview unfold, with segments from Jamal’s mother, Leila and the General, all speaking of the President in glowing terms. The President’s handling the questions posed to him in a stately and dignified fashion and the session looks like a home-run for the Al Fayeed regime. Then the interviewer plays a clip of the Sheik talking about his opponent, calling him a lion and he’s afraid sometimes that he’ll walk away headless when they meet. However, he then tells the reporter, that the real difference maker, maybe younger brother Bassam, an American, who he calls the lion-tamer, ticking Jamal off.
Barry arrives at the Sheik’s house and the elder Rashid, apologizes for not getting up to greet his guest, but his health has him restricted to sitting. We saw evidence of his ill-health earlier in the episode as he had to head to the bathroom during their first meeting at the palace, due to a coughing jag. Barry asks why the Sheik made the remarks about the brothers relationship and Rashid admits that he did it to cause friction between the two Al Fayeeds. He then tells his guest, that he reminds him very much of Barry’s father and calls him one of the most brilliant statesman in history and that Barry’s his father’s son. That statement, would have angered Al Fayeed six weeks earlier, but he accepts it as a compliment. He then tells the Sheik that the true intention of his visit’s to extend an invitation to attend the ceremony, which will change the constitution and allow for free-elections.
Jamal’s back with the woman and he tells her he believes he’s unlovable, his father liked him sometimes, other times not. His mother loves all her children no matter what and his brother pities him and thinks that’s love. She asks about his wife and his expression tells her to quickly change topics and she tells him that she loves him.
The ceremony’s about to take place at the palace and the Sheik arrives, accompanied by both his sons and works the room like a Vegas entertainer, which the President takes notice of. Right then the American Ambassador to Abbudin John Tucker, greets the President and remarks that Rashid’s a force of nature. Visibly disturbed, Al Fayeed excuses himself and heads to the visitors rest-room. Seconds later the door opens again and Yussef guides the Sheik into the facility. The Sheik starts to refresh himself at the sink and the President remarks that great minds think alike.
Jamal standing across the room says to Rashid, that the people truly love him and the Sheik responds he’s a benign old man, which creates the love, however he loves them right back. The President then asks his opponent, if he’s got love for Barry and the Sheik responds that he admires the younger brother very much. He then tells Jamal, that he wakes up joyous every morning realizing that Barry’s not his opponent in the upcoming election, then collapses into another coughing jag.
The President seems concerned initially, patting the Sheik on the back and telling him to cough it up, but the anger soon surfaces and he shouts, “Old man, cough up a lung,” then hits the Sheik hard between his shoulder blades, causing Rashid to fall to his knees in a stall.
Jamal, loses control knocking the old man’s head against the toilet and Rashid blacks out. The President feels the Sheik’s neck for a pulse, but we can’t tell by his expression if Rashid’s dead or alive. He leaves the rest-room as the episode draws to a close.
The story will pick up again next Tuesday on FX.