Warning: Spoiler Alert
Could a California pediatrician successfully run a country in the Middle East? As the season finale of the FX Original Series “Tyrant,” opened, it appeared that we would see the beginning of the Presidency of Bassam Al Fayeed, before the episode ended. However, the seemingly fool-proof plan for the younger Al Fayeed brother to replace his brother Jamal as leader of Abbudin didn’t go as smoothly as Barry and his co-conspirators hoped. And what seemed unthinkable in the previous episode, became reality in the season finale.
We joined Barry/Bassam at the final strategy meeting before the coup attempt started the following day. American Ambassador to Abbudin John Tucker, tells Al Fayeed that upon his return from a fishing trip with Jamal, the President, his wife, their son and daughter-in-law, along with Barry’s mother, placed under house arrest for their own safety. Barry tells the group he’s hoping to convince his brother to give a public resignation speech, then he and his wife Leila can take their money and relocate. Tucker asks if Al Fayeed believes that Jamal’s ego would allow him to make that speech and Barry replies to save Jamal’s ego his brother would want to make that address to his people.
Molly’s “free-spirited” sister Jenna and Barry and Molly’s teenage daughter Emma, are having a spa-day, when Jenna suggests the two of them go to a local town known for their shopping the next day, before their flight back to California. Jenna’s convinced she’s not coming back to Abbudin, so her niece agrees, but stresses they have to get back to the palace by noon.
Jamal gets his brother to look at the fishing equipment he’s provided for their expedition the following day. He asks Barry which rod he’d like and his brother asks what’s the difference and Jamal responds one is black and the other’s red. Barry chooses the black one which pleases Jamal as he preferred the red one. The President’s visibly excited about the two of them being alone and at peace on the ocean the following day.
Barry gets a call from Tucker, asking him to come to the American Embassy immediately. When he arrives he’s told by American operative Lea Exley that the United States is leaving the Democracy-making business. When Barry asks her what that means, she tells him that the State Department’s decided that the coup’s unnecessary, as Tariq’s in prison and the plane explosion in the previous episode wiped out Tariq’s senior commanders. They feel that Barry can handle his brother and have dropped their support for the takeover.
Al Fayeed loses it at that point, telling Exley and Tucker they’ll still stage the coup despite American support. Exley, lists the reasons he shouldn’t including the United States not smoothing the diplomatic waters for the new regime, or provide protection for Molly and the kids back in the States. Exley then tells Al Fayeed, he’s either power-hungry or an idealist, with both scenarios causing more problems than they would solve. Barry leaves the meeting pretty much resigned to the fact all his work has been in vain, when he gets a call from his old friend Fauzi Nadal, asking Al Fayeed to meet him in front of the mosque.
When Barry arrives, Nadal gives him a speech to address the nation once he assumes the Presidency, when Al Fayeed tries to thank his old friend, Fauzi tells him that he should thank Barry. He quickly reads the speech and becomes inspired by Fauzi’s words, he calls Tucker and tells him he’s going through with the coup attempt and if the United States doesn’t help he’ll write a letter to the New York Times, explaining how the State Department let down an American trying to start a democratic government in Abbudin. He then hangs up despite Tucker’s pleas not to.
That evening Jamal and Leila have dinner with their daughter-in-law’s parents, Hakim and his wife. They’re eating Moroccan food, but Hakim’s appetite seems off, as he’s one of the conspirators in the coup to overthrow Jamal. Hakim’s a scared rabbit by nature and intimidated to join the coup by the younger Al Fayeed. As talk turns to their children having a baby in the future, Jamal invites Hakim to retire to another room for brandy.
Molly’s lying in bed, visibly frightened when her husband joins her. She tells him how angry she’s with him and his decisions and concerned about his well-being, he responds that he loves her and nothing can go wrong. Barry then gets a text message from Tucker, telling him he’ll have American support in his overthrow-effort. He tells Molly, he’ll see her and the kids in a week and the two make love.
Emma and Jenna get their pocketbooks and cellphones stolen by three local young men and they can’t pay for their bill at the café they’ve been eating and drinking at. The manager tells them he’ll call the police, but Emma convinces him to follow them back to their car and their driver will pay him and give him a big tip. Unfortunately Molly had seconds before called the driver and asked him to look for her sister and daughter, so they arrive to find the car’s gone. The manager then calls the local police.
Lets take a moment to discuss the Al Fayeed brothers, to compare and contrast their similarities as well as differences. We have basically seen the story unfold in this first season, through the eyes of Barry/Bassam, a man who exiled himself from his birthplace and did his best to deny his existence in Abbudin for 20-years. He came back home with his family to attend the wedding of his brother’s son and planned to return back to California within days. Complications set-in when their father died after collapsing at the wedding and Jamal nearly perished after an assassination attempt.
The younger brother had always blamed his father for killing many of his own citizens with a chemical gas attack, but found out from his mother that it was actually his uncle General Tariq Al Fayeed, who sent out the attack orders behind the President’s back. Fearing the deviousness of his brother the military commander, the President kept the truth a secret from all but his wife. Hearing this revelation, made Barry want to carry out the plans of his father to turn Abbudin into a democracy, but felt Jamal would self-combust, throwing the nation into civil-strife. He thought he was the only man to lead his country forward, which in reality’s a pretty egotistical mindset.
Jamal had power foisted upon him at birth, raised as the hand-picked successor to follow his father as President of Abbudin, unfortunately he never really wanted the power and responsibility of being in charge. He’s far less polished than Bassam and in many ways he’s a simpler man, but don’t mistake his less professional demeanor as stupidity, as Jamal’s cunning and wise, even if he wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s a man used to getting what he wants, and he always finds a way to make that occur. In reality Jamal’s like a little boy hoping that he’s loved, a feeling he never got from his father and more recently from his wife Leila. He wants Bassam as his best friend and loves his brother deeply, although he feels his brother just pities him in return.
The President was rather cryptic during the brother’s fishing expedition, however if the younger brother paid attention to what Jamal said during the trip, he would’ve realized his brother had things on his mind. Jamal said that the ocean was so clean one could swear they could see the bottom of the sea-floor, but in reality nobody’s aware what goes on just beneath the surface. He then tells his brother that he wants them both to get so drunk they tell each other everything. But Barry doesn’t pickup the signals his brother’s sending.
Jamal tells his brother that they would have been much closer had their father been a fisherman instead of the President. He then fantasizes an existence where the brothers live in a small town, with Bassam a doctor and Jamal a furniture maker and Leila and Molly were best friends. He then says his brother would be the doctor and he would make the tables for the patients to lie on. The driver of the boat tells the President they should head back to shore and Jamal asks his brother should they head for open waters and become fishermen, Bassam replies they’d never survive doing that. The older brother asks what if I told you I was serious, then they share a smile and Jamal tells the driver to head home.
Emma and Jenna are finally located, but it’s too late to make the flight so Tucker tells Molly to bring her family to the embassy. When they arrive, Tucker has yet to find out any information but he’s concerned that the TV stations were still broadcasting as Hakim should have stopped all broadcasts from the nation by then.
Tucker’s concerns are legitimate as we find out in the following scene as the brothers get off the boat and a group of soldiers march towards them. Bassam tells Jamal he’s sorry, but he did this to protect him, but stops short when he sees Tariq leading the soldiers. Jamal then chides Barry on his choice of allies, telling him Hakim confessed the plot after two-drinks. He then tells his brother that he loved him so much he would have given him the Presidency if he asked for it. He then tells Tariq to take his prisoner to the cells.
Jamal’s mother Amira comes to him to beg for sparing his brother’s life, send him back home, exile him but allow he and his family to live. Jamal then tells Amira that his brother was going to have her arrested, but she says that doesn’t matter. She begs one more time but Jamal refuses to tell her what she wants to hear.
Tucker’s found out that the coup failed, but he’s unaware if Barry’s alright. Molly breaks down in tears and Tucker holds her in an effort to comfort her, when her kids Emma and Charlie walk into the room.
In the prison’s basement, four prisoners get lined up for execution by gunfire, one of them being Hakim, who begs for his life. Jamal and Tariq show no mercy as the four are soon riddled by gunfire. Barry, directly above where the four got executed clearly hears the sound of gunfire.
Jamal meets with Leila and Tariq, who both try to convince the President to execute his brother. Al Fayeed says to his uncle that he spared his life when he thought he’d betrayed him and the General says he would have advised him against that move. Leila then says, her husband has no choice, Tariq proved you can get out of jail and Bassam proved that exile allowed him to return to Abbudin. Jamal thinks for a moment, then tells the pair he’ll inform his mother of his decision then issue the order, ending the season on a rather steep cliff-hanger.