Tyrant takes on a heavy load in “State of Emergency,” and it pays off in a big way. The pilot episode ended with Barry (Adam Rayner) realizing that his trip home was going to be delayed indefinitely, before he even hears the reasons. The series obviously hinges on him staying in town, so that was no big surprise, but watching how it starts to play out will surprise viewers and leave them wanting more.
From the premiere episode, it looked like the difference in ideologies between Barry and his brother, Jamal (Ashraf Barhom), was going to cause a certain amount of strife as the story continues to unfold. In “State of Emergency” it seems like it’s more likely that Jamal’s wife, Leila (Moran Atias), will be the catalyst for their future conflicts – or at least the more immediate ones. In a short flashback, Tyrant reveals that before Barry fled to the United States, he had a tryst with his sister-in-law. Without having all the information yet, it looks like this dates back to before she was married, but even so, this kind of betrayal will eventually become a problem for everyone involved. It’s apparent at this point that Jamal was her consolation prize when Barry decided not to return. It’s plausible that Jamal may already aware of their prior relationship, but Barry’s wife doesn’t seem to be under this same impression.
One of my biggest pet peeves about the pilot was Barry’s wife, Molly (Jennifer Finnigan). Her incessant nagging played like nails on a chalkboard, and seemed not only unnecessary, but deliberately so. Although everyone else on the show perceived her in a positive manner, it just didn’t seem to fit right with the storyline. In “State of Emergency,” Molly finds her stride. She plays the doting wife in a way that is more realistic, yet still true to her character. There is still a certain amount of contempt on her side when it comes to Barry’s choice to keep her in the dark about her life before they met, but not to the extreme that she discounts all of his decisions in the present. This episode was definitely a better representation of a healthy relationship, and shapes a more realistic picture of the give and take in their marriage. There were several small scenes where they were communicating just among themselves that added to this feeling of authenticity.
That being said, Molly may not be so forgiving when she finds out that her sister-in-law and her husband were teenage sweethearts. These two woman are very much contrasting characters, and it seems intentional as such. Molly is the all-American girl next door type, while Leila exudes a very exotic sexual confidence with her smouldering eye make-up and fitted wardrobe. There’s also the consideration that these women represent different things to Barry – Leila is tied to his past, whereas Molly makes up his future. By choosing to stay in his home country for the time being, the writers would be foolish to not explore this concept further.