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Tyrant - Ask for the Earth - Review: "Molly's back! Yay?"



So, I think the title of this review sums up my feelings towards this episode, and in particular Molly's glorious return to the narrative. Now, I don't know about everyone else's opinions towards the character of Molly, but I think I've made my own feelings towards her clear over the course of these reviews. To my mind, she has always been an inconsistent, unformed character that unfortunately has always held some importance to the narrative. She did become slightly more interesting, though even more unlikeable, earlier in the season after Emma's death, but her absence over the last few episodes has done wonders for the narrative.

But now she's back, and in a big way (insert heavy sigh). And if you thought you hated her before, you'll really hate her now. And if you liked her before (I can't imagine how, but still), this episode should put an end to that. Because Molly's back not to reconnect with her husband or her son, and not to make amends for her part in the deaths of all those children. Instead, she's back to destroy democracy in Abuddin, all in the name of revenge. And for some reason, Barry listens to her crazed ravings, and, well, destroys democracy.

This was not a terrible episode of television, and I didn't entirely hate it. It had some notable redeeming qualities, and a subplot that was among the best things the show has done this season, but I'll get to that a little bit later in the review. Right now, I want to lay out my criticisms, and explain why this episode didn't work as well as the writers clearly thought it would.

I can point to specific scenes and sequences scattered throughout the episode that I found effective, but, on the whole, this episode didn't come together for one reason: almost everything in it happened because of the show's main character acting completely irrationally. Really good shows can get away with this because they establish and develop a character's motives for acting irrationally, or at least establish a pattern of such behaviour. Barry's reasoning for declaring war and postponing the upcoming Presidential elections make sense, He's doing so out of grief for his daughter. But his daughter died several episodes ago, and its only in the last two that Barry has begun acting this way. Also, it's inconsistent with Barry as a character. Yes, grief can cloud people's judgment, but I don't think the show put in the work in previous episodes to suggest grief has altered Barry's judgment so extremely.

Throughout the entire episode, Barry comes across as impulsive and naive. Throughout the series he has been portrayed as intelligent and level-headed, yet he believes the war he just declared can be won within six months to a year (Barry's going to solve sectarian conflict in the Middle East in the space of a year!), or that it can be won at all (as if similar tactics in the Middle East have worked so well before). But what's even more unbelievable is that he thinks postponing elections, thereby basically making himself a dictator, isn't a big deal, and that people's outrage over it will blow over. And why does he think these things: because Molly (and that general guy) say so.

But yeah, there was stuff I liked. For one, I really liked most of the remaining characters calling Barry out for his stupidity, because it was becoming really frustrating. But the standout portion of the episode was Mahdiyah's suicide mission. When watching the episode, I didn't have high hopes for it, and so I was pleasantly surprised by how effective it was, especially given the lack of screentime it was given and the lack of development Mahdiya received. The climactic scene in the hotel was incredibly tense and tragic. The detonator malfunctioning gave us the chance to see in Mahdiya what many, if not all, suicide bombers feel as they detonate: fear. For most, that fear only lasts an instant before they die, but Mahdiya had to sit with it, and then come to doubt her mission. When she starts smiling at her seemingly good fortune, we can see it coming, and the wait for the bomb to go off is agonizing. An effective sequence, no doubt.

And so I close this review on a positive note. Did I like the episode? Not at all. But I did love that sequence. This third season of Tyrant set up its end game by making its main character act out of character, and I hope that in the final stretch of the season, Barry will come to his senses.

F*ck Molly, though.


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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