Tyrant Review: “My Brother’s Keeper” (Season 1, Episode 3)


A transition between regimes is never without its fair share of bumps and bruises, and whereas Tyrant may be sugarcoating some of those realities, they are definitely not shying away from them altogether. Having now constructed a legitimate, albeit predictable, reason for Barry/Bassam (Adam Rayner) to stay in Abbudin – helping his brother deal with this life-changing transition with some semblance of grace – the show moves forward with establishing his new role within the political hierarchy.

Essentially, the writers had to start from scratch, since despite being part of the ruling family, his absence from the country and their happenings over the last twenty years has very obviously branded him as an outsider. As opposed to simply being ‘the president’s brother,’ Jamal (Ashraf Barhom), in a premeditated show of appreciation (and with great enthusiasm), gave Bassam the title of ‘special council to the president.’ Once again Jamal shows that he can be more than the person that viewers perceived him to be in the series premiere. As the show continues to develop, it is clear that Jamal is a character in need of saving, if only he can prove that he is worthy of it.

Bassam, as the protagonist, will presumably be doing that saving. But, he’s also going to save himself in the process, or at least that appears to be the plan. Staying in his home country is obviously in the best interest of his arrogant, but already undermined, brother as he struggles to establish himself as the leader of a new regime, but it also presents him with the opportunity to regain his former sense of self, something that he lost when he tucked and ran all those years ago. His family may be in the business of oppression, but there has never been a more opportune time for him to be influential in the transition away from this extreme.

Jamal seems fairly open to acquiescing to Bassam’s strategic requests, exemplified by his agreeing to release all of the prisoners and pay for the care of his would-be assassin’s children, but there is still the issue of General Tariq (Raad Rawi). Scenes where Tariq is able to show his contempt for Jamal, and more so for his estranged nephew, Bassam, are limited in this episode, but they are clearly evident during the initial advisory meeting.  Declaring Marshal’s Law turns out to be a short term arrangement, much to Tariq’s chagrin, but has already marred Jamal’s reputation. Taking away personal liberties is never a crowd pleaser.