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Tyrant - The Dead and the Living - Review

So, em, a lot happened in this episode, didn't it?

"The Dead and the Living" saw the deaths of two major characters, and I have things to say on both. Emma's death at the end of the episode was, given how the episode had played out, not particularly surprising. Her scenes with Ihab Rashid had a doomed feeling to them, as did the entire episode, with the exception of what was going on with Daliyah and Fauzi. I want to particularly point out the score in the episode, or more accurately the lack of it for many scenes. There are several scenes in this episode with just two characters talking, the only sound in these scenes being the voices of the actors. Director Gwyneth Horder-Payton (a regular director on the show) suffuses the episode with a feeling of dread very subtly. It's never obvious, but we as regular tv watchers have been unknowingly trained to pick up on these things so that by the time we reach the rescue sequence, we know what's going to happen. It feels inevitable.

There is a point in the episode where Emma's imminent death is foreshadowed a bit too heavily, and that's when she and Ihab Rashid talk about God, and what happens after we die. One of the great mysteries of life is why we, as humans, are given the questionable gift of knowing we're going to die, but not why. This question is why religion exists in the first place, and has therefore caused almost every war in human history. It has resulted in countless deaths and immeasurable destruction over the centuries, but we keep fighting each other anyway. Emma, like an ever increasing amount of people, did not believe in God or an afterlife, which infuriated Ihab Rashid, who has dedicated his life to fighting in God's name. Emma's comment about how "you just stop" after you die is a haunting image, and is something we all inherently fear, whether we believe or not, but it felt like the writers were trying too hard to hint at what was coming.

It didn't lessen the impact of the episode's conclusion, however, which was made even more effective by the performances. Finnigan's manic performance as Molly felt startlingly real, while Rayner's quieter, more subtle performance gave great insight into Barry as a character. Molly, up until the end, still clung to a modicum of hope, while for Barry all hope was long gone, and he was already grieving the loss of his daughter. Phenomenal stuff.

But what does Emma's death mean for the show going forward, other than to further the gaping chasm that exists between Barry and Molly? Barry will now likely take a harder position against the Caliphate, but where do both Molly and Ihab Rashid now go as characters? Once again, the former's position on the show is undefined, and it seems the latter will continue to seek vengeance against the Al-Fayeeds, which won't lead to much character development. Both of these characters seem like they have nearly completed their respective roles in the narrative, but I would like to be proven wrong.

But Emma's death was not the only death in the episode, as Jamal finally saw his end. Jamal has always been a far more significant character than Emma, and so it's strange that his death feels like an afterthought. Really, his death here makes me question why the writers chose to bring him back this season in the first place, as him dying at the end of last season would've been much more fitting. Before this episode, I was curious to see what role Jamal would play in the show going forward, while also struggling to come up with viable option. His actual death here was even for the same reason as his "death" last season: the consequences of his rape of Nusrat in the show's pilot. So I don't understand why Jamal was brought back for three episodes only to be killed for the same reason he was shot in the first place. You could argue that it was for the sake of Ahmed's character, but he could simply have learned of Nusrat's rape after Jamal's death. Well, maybe Ahmed killing his father will lead to a shift in his character, but for now Jamal's temporary survival feels like a waste of screentime.

So what else happened in this episode? Daliyah and Fauzi had a nice dinner with slight sexual undertones (more love triangles? Yay!), Halima got some mud thrown at her, Annet Mahendru continued to be underused, and Leila looked back on her brief teenage romance with Barry, which may lead to the return of the preexisting love triangle between Barry, Molly and Leila (Please don't, show). So, not all that much, really. Overall this was an action-packed, eventful and mostly solid outing for the show. The long-term impact of Emma's death is unclear, but it was undoubtedly well-executed, while the show said goodbye to its best actor in Ashraf Barhom in rather underwhelming fashion. But I think Tyrant, which used to be so reliant on Jamal, has now gotten to the point where not only do they not need him, but he was weighing the show down. So where Tyrant goes from here will be interesting.

About the Author - candon_sean
Sean is a student living in Ireland. He has a keen interest in dramatic television (as well as some comedies). Some of his favourite shows right now include The Leftovers, The Americans, Game of Thrones, Black Sails and Mr Robot. Some of his favourite shows of all time include The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Person of Interest, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Lost. He is also an "A Song of Ice and Fire" obsessive. You can visit his blog at www.discussingtelevision.wordpress.com.
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