Warning: Spoiler Alert
The ninth episode of the FX Original Series “Tyrant,” “Gaslight,” shared many similarities with the 1944 movie starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, with the same title. That film was about a man who married a wealthy young woman, then tried to make her believe she lost her grip on reality, so that he could control her wealth. Barry/Bassam Al Fayeed, tricked his brother Jamal into believing that their uncle General Tariq Al Fayeed, planned a coup to remove Jamal from the Presidency, in order for Barry and his associates to orchestrate the real take-over.
Our first view of Barry’s watching him prepare for an anniversary dinner that Jamal and his wife Leila are holding for Barry and his wife Molly. After getting into his suit, he realizes that Molly’s still in her robe and doesn’t look like she’s planning on dressing soon. When her husband asks her if she’s getting dressed, she attempts to beg off from the dinner as she’ll feel uncomfortable with her in-laws as Barry’s attempting to overthrow his brother. Al Fayeed, tells Molly that it’s important for their family’s safety that she join him for dinner.
A title card flashes on the screen informing us the following events took place 24-hours earlier, as we are present at a gathering of the architects of the take-over attempt; American Ambassador to Abbudin John Tucker, US operative Lea Exley, Ziad, who’s Tariq’s right-hand man, Yussef, Barry and Jamal’s daughter-in-law’s father Hakim. They inform Barry of their plan’s to implicate his uncle, by saying he’s spreading rumors to his elite guard that Jamal’s unfit to run the nation. Then Ziad plays an audio recording of the conversation between Jamal and his former mistress Katerina, about running away from Abbudin and living on the Maldives. They’ll tell the President that Tariq’s telling this story to his elite guard in an effort to undermine him. The General and his elite guard will be heading on a three-day training mission and the plan’s to get them locked-down during the exercise.
After the dinner, the two brothers head outside to smoke cigars and Barry asks Jamal if he’s planning on joining Tariq and his soldiers for their maneuvers and the President laughs the question off, as too boring to contemplate. Barry asks his brother if maybe he should go, to have eyes and ears with the soldiers and Jamal asks him what he’s talking about. The younger brother then says he heard rumors some of Tariq’s soldiers were spreading rumors about the President and when Jamal asks where he heard such rumors, Barry tells him they came from Tucker.
Jamal summons Tucker to the palace in the middle of the night and asks him what he told his brother. Tucker’s a pretty good actor and plays it off that Barry told Jamal something the Ambassador slipped out after a bit too much to drink and that the younger Al Fayeed betrayed his confidence. However he tells the President that Tariq’s saying that Jamal and some hooker were talking about running away to the Maldives during the time the Sheik was a patient in the hospital. Knowing the story about him and Katerina’s true, he grabs hold of the bait and gets ready to get reeled in. He dismisses Tucker, but then tells Barry he believes Tariq’s out to do him in.
When Barry heads back to Molly and his bedroom, his wife tells him she can’t believe with what her husband’s planning, that he could be so at ease and comfortable with Jamal and Leila. She then tells him the thing that really freaks her out’s the fact that Barry’s so good at what he’s attempting to do; it’s as if she had no idea who her husband truly was until this defining moment.
The next morning in a private meeting between the two brothers and Yussef, part-two of the plan’s put into effect, as their father’s closest adviser tells them that the head of one of the tribes contacted him, saying that Tariq has told all the tribal leaders to meet with him. Yussef, asks if that means the tribes are no longer his responsibility and Jamal quickly reassures him that he still has his duties, but Tariq’s meeting with them for a special purpose at his request and the reason for the meeting must remain secret. Yussef thanks the President, leaving the two brothers alone and the information solidifies Jamal’s belief, his uncle’s trying to overthrow him. Barry tells Jamal, he’ll try to press Tucker for his source and the older brother grabs him in a hug, telling him he’s the only person he trusts.
Part three and the clincher took place the following day, when the brothers drove a Jeep down to part of the capital in need of severe repair. Jamal’s having a hard time coming to grips that Ziad would ever defy Tariq, but Barry responds if he doesn’t trust the Colonel, then trust his own brother. The President pulls a revolver out from his jacket pocket and tells his brother, he’s putting all his trust in his weapon.
Jamal climbs out of the Jeep brandishing his weapon and tells Barry to stay back at the car. Either Jamal’s easily fooled or the crew around him should qualify as Oscar winners, as Ziad tells the President that Tariq’s meeting with the tribal leaders are to gain him support to overthrow his nephew. When the President asks him why he supports Jamal over Tariq, he points at all the burned out buildings caused by Tariq, Ziad tells him he believes that Jamal has a plan for the future. Buying it hook-line and sinker, he ordered Ziad to lock-down Tariq and his supporters and that Ziad was now head of the military.
Barry’s in his office at the palace, when he hears a knock and seconds later, Leila’s standing there wanting to talk about what’s going on the family and the regime. He reiterates the story and she tells her brother-in-law, that Jamal had asked her to runaway to the Maldives with him and laughed it off. She falls apart and tells Barry they are the only ones who can help Jamal, and keep him safe.
Molly heads over to the American consulate and if she had any remaining doubts about the magnitude of what her husband’s planning, they vanished during her meeting with Tucker and Lea Exley. Exley informs the doctor that they have secured a safe-house for her in Oregon, but Molly protests, telling the operative they own a home in Southern California. The operative responds that whether Barry succeeds or fails in his overthrow attempt, there maybe reprisals against the family and they wouldn’t be safe in their home.
Jamal and Ziad are at the airport and they meet a very surprised and angry Tariq, who questions the order to deplane from the craft he had boarded. As the plane takes off without him, he watches with horror as the jet with all his elite guard onboard, explodes seconds after takeoff, bursting into a ball of flame. Ziad handcuffs his former commander and tells him he’s under arrest for plotting against the government and the General screams to his nephew that he’s innocent as he’s dragged away.
The President, Leila and Ziad sit side-by-side at a table, as Jamal addresses the nation on television, about the plane explosion. He calls the soldiers onboard heroes, then says he’s gotten information that points to the explosion being an act of sabotage. Without naming anyone, he tells his citizens that the government has arrested subjects and vows to find out exactly what purposes the saboteurs had for blowing up the aircraft. He closes out the speech, telling his nation his regime’s strong and any enemies will suffer a similar fate.
Barry’s daughter gets the report about the plane on her cellphone, as Al Fayeed and his two children head back to the capital from the Bedouin village his father grew up in. After dropping off his teens, he rushes to the room where the President’s broadcasting from just as Jamal’s completing his address. Barry grabs Tucker and tells him he didn’t sign up for what just occurred and the US Ambassador informs him that Leila convinced Jamal to blow-up the plane. He then tells Al Fayeed that what they’re doing isn’t surgery, it’s a coup.
The President clears the room, until just he and his brother remain and Barry says that Jamal called a new play in the huddle without informing him. The older brother responds, that his way’s better as it sends a message to his enemies not to mess with him, but his sibling asks how he could kill their uncle? Jamal smiles and tells his younger brother to follow him and leads him to the cell, where a beaten and bloody Tariq’s locked up.
The President asks his uncle how it feels in the cells, that he sent thousands to over the years and the General tells him that the accusations are madness. When Jamal asks him why he setup a meeting with all the Tribal leaders, Tariq told him the truth that he was trying to buy their support to ensure Jamal won the upcoming election. He told his nephew, that Barry had poisoned his mind and was manipulating him like a child and that his younger brother wanted Tariq out since the day he arrived in Abbudin. He then asked his nephew, who stood to gain if Tariq gets taken out of the equation.
Ashraf Barhom, the actor that portrays Jamal’s an extraordinary actor, with the ability to express incredible emotion with his facial expressions and he utilized that talent magnificently in the next 30-seconds, as he silently split his gaze between his uncle and brother. Had Tariq convinced his nephew, that he told the truth, or did Jamal still have complete trust in his brother? The General however, struck a nerve when he told his nephew that Barry manipulated him like a child, the remark played on the President’s insecurities and everything else Tariq said meant nothing.
Removing his tunic, he walked into the cell spread out his hand and examined it, before asking his uncle if he had the hands of a child, then slapped him violently across the face. He then asked the same questions about his fists, before slugging the old man in the gut and in the face, then threw him to the floor of his cell. He glared at Tariq and told him if he ever slandered Barry again, those would be the last words out of his mouth and stormed away.
Barry remained behind as the old man struggled to his feet and hobbled over to the front bars of his cell, complimenting his adversary with the phrase “well-played.” He then tells Barry he was a killer at the age of nine and he remains a killer. The nephew tells Tariq that he betrayed his father and he would see him tried as a war criminal if it was the last thing he did, then turned and walks away. Tariq however gets the last word, screaming “I know your soul, Bassam. Killer! I know who you are!”
The story will pick up again next Tuesday on FX.