tv review – FX’s Tyrant, episode 1.8

‘Meet The New Boss’ was a return to form for Tyrant after last week’s sub-par outing ‘Preventative Medicine’. While there were still some soap opera moments here, the attention firmly shifted back to the political intrigue, which certainly is one of the things the show does best. This shift wasn’t a surprise given the fact that Barry was in the midst of staging a full-on coupe, but it was definitely thrilling to watch. Following the previous entry’s events, Barry met with John Tucker and discusses his intentions to overthrow his brother Jamal to then replace him until the elections. Tucker, while hesitant at first, organized a meeting and their plan developed from there.

Tucker brought in Leslie Hope’s Lea Exley, a intelligent and confident government type (CIA?), and she and Tucker talked Barry and Yussef through the “M&M’s”; military, money, media. These four people knew they had to get Nusrat’s father involved, given the fact he’s Abbudin’s media tycoon and, despite the fact Nusrat’s dad isn’t the most brave of individuals, his experiences with Jamal and a meeting with a very confident and persuasive Barry eventually got him to cooperate. One of the palace’s high-ranking guards also agreed to help; he had seen Jamal and Tariq cause too much misery and cruelty, which is why this man wanted to help bring about change. All of these scenes were done well: the pace was excellent, the dialogue snappy and the covertness of it all made ‘Meet The New Boss’ quite a tension-filled episode.

But whenever the show got to the drama, it faltered. While Ashraf Barhom sells all the lines he’s been handed and his chemistry with Adam Rayner’s Barry is still what makes the show’s brotherly bond a convincing one, the words themselves are clunky and the writers often spell everything out for the audience. Some of the actors also have difficulty making these pieces of dialogue sound natural and coupled with the incoherent and shoddy writing regarding the characters’ personalities and actions, especially for the female characters, much of the drama is either dull, frustrating or hammy.

This week’s big offender was the scene between Jamal and Nusrat. This follow-up to his cruel act from the first episode and her resulting trauma, was hard to watch: Nusrat offered herself to him, quite the opposite behavior of what you’d expect a person in her position to act like. Her course of action had one purpose: it purely functioned to show us that Jamal was turning over a new leaf because he chose to reject her. It was a scene that displayed some troubling ideas regarding rape and, once again, illustrated the show’s often skewed gender views.

With ‘Meet The New Boss’ Tyrant delivered a solid episode, but many of the show’s problems still ran rampant. 7/10

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