Season 1 of the FX series “Tyrant” was focused on some naive and ham-handed efforts to bring American-style democracy to the fictional Middle Eastern country of Abbudin, leading up to an attempted coup d’etat covertly backed by the U.S. embassy. The second season raises the stakes even higher.
As the newly installed President of Abbudin, Jamal Al-Fayeed (Ashraf Barhom) was by far the most interesting thing about the first season, even as the focus seemed to be on his estranged, Americanized and now-returned brother Bassam aka Barry (Adam Rayner). Well now, with Barry’s coup plans having failed, Jamal has sought new powers and new allies, which has put pedal the dictatorship metal – all of which makes for a better show.
Tyrant Jamal starts off this season by using chemical weapons to wipe out the local anti-government insurgency, but co-producers Gideon Raff and Howard Gordon have introduced a new threat, in the form of a certain extremist jihadist group based in… Raqqa, Syria and led by the shadowy Abu Omar. They call themselves “The Caliphate,” and their pickup trucks fly red flags, but these guys are just as bloodthirsty as ISIS.
It will be interesting to see how successful the American-supported Abbudin military will be in defending the regime. And whether the show can keep from getting bogged down in soap-opera sub-plots.