'Tyrant' season 3 premiere recap: 'Spring'
Welcome to the big bad world of Tyrant, where the stakes are high, sand dunes are aplenty and style is never lacking. With plenty of burning questions carrying over from the season 3 finale — did Jamal really die? Will Bassam act on his attraction to Daliyah? Might Ahmed step up to fill his father’s empty seat of power? — there’s the overarching plot point of whether Bassam will leave Abuddin or stay behind to successfully usher in a democracy should he assume the responsibilities of interim president. So much drama, amiright? And as much as we love the drama, we love the fashion more, so this season, EW recaps will focus on plot as seen through a style-focused lens: Think luxe caftans, jewels, head wraps, and yes, Western gear galore. Let’s jump in, shall we?
Bassam is back in western-style clothing — a crisp shirt and tailored pants — when he’s called “Mr. President” by a member of his household staff. “Mr. President. Still sounds so strange,” he says with a deep breath. After all, it’s been a crazy two weeks since his brother was nearly killed by his daughter-in-law. (You read that right: Jamal isn’t dead! He’s just on the brink.) But, onto the real question guiding the hour: Can Bassam create and carry out a democracy, as per his late mother’s wishes for him? It’ll be tough — especially with the looming fear of violence against his family — but it’s worth noting that Bassam definitely acts increasingly imperious as the episode goes on. Maybe this “in command” thing will be easier than he thought?
Leila is clad in a curve-clinging cream dress — worn, ironically as she cleans up her husband’s mess — with a draped neckline that proves low-cut isn’t always sexiest. Also, that tied-back bun? It hints at the severe, just like her delivery when she tells her son Ahmed what’s what when it comes to dealing with his wife. Of course, she doesn’t succeed in her mission of tidying up her husband’s papers and records before the police come in, but does that really matter when you get to stomp off screen looking like a young Sofia Loren? Um, no. “I risked my life to bring my husband to justice,” Leila says. Anyone else think that a little house arrest won’t do anything to tame her growing restlessness about the uneasy political situation at hand?
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Welp, this is the face of a woman who can’t face her potential future, much less eat her favorite cookies (as so lovingly served by her butler Aziz) or — shocker! — even dip into her La Mer eye cream.
NEXT: Reason No. 34,284,387,627 why pashminas are a wardrobe essential
Ladies, you never know when a pashmina might come in handy. You can wrap it around yourself during a flight, use it as a wrap should you get caught in the rain, or like Daliyah, you can fling it on when your pal in democracy — and potential love interest — comes over unexpectedly in the middle of the night. You see, it keeps you warm — thus saving you the chance of running into his arms under the excuse that you’re freezing cold. But, enough style advice: In this scene, Bassam proposes forming a “truth and dignity commission.” As he explains it, the commission will allow victims and victimizers to give testimony about wrongs and wrongdoings, noting “We go on record to forgive and to heal.” This is the stuff he should really be telling his wife, but Bassam wants to name Daliyah as head of the panel. “I trust you. I don’t trust anyone else the way I trust you,” he tells her. Mmmk.
Here, the mother of the revolution is outfitted in an ornate bib necklace, beautiful metal belt, and rich, exotic fabrics. Now, this is how you make modesty — that is, covered from wrist to ankle — look drop-dead chic. So why the glam? Daliyah is at an official gathering at the palace, where she’s named as the head of the new truth and dignity commission. It’s here that Molly gets her first real look at the gorgeous Bedouin who saved her husband’s life. (“She’s not how I pictured her,” she tells Bassam. “Not desert worn.”) Daliyah is passionate, beautiful and yup, a possible rival for Bassam’s affection. In contrast, at the moment she’s giving her speech, Nusrat is being murdered by prison guards; retribution by those loyal to Jamal for her crime. Womp womp.
Golden girl! Leila wears a couture-level yellow sheath that conveys “I’m here to slay,” as she lays down the law for Bassam. He WILL need her cooperation, she warns him, or his “experiment” won’t work. Her conditions? She wants a position in his cabinet, and a guarantee of safety and power for Ahmed. “I lived on the sidelines for 20 years, Bassam, watching and nodding while other people made mistakes,” she tells him. “I want to be foreign secretary. The first woman foreign secretary of an Arab nation.” Also noteworthy? She’s wearing this buttery confection when her butler informs her he went ahead and axed her daughter-in-law. She takes the news fairly calmly at first, and then bursts in tears — surprised, much?
The episode ends with the news that Bassam doesn’t intend on actually running for president: He wants to create the country’s democratic infrastructure. “It needs a real election,” he says. “And that cannot happen if I run.” Then the real question, which he asks of the ambassador: Does America only support him, or does it support democracy at large? Cue Leila and Ahmed quarreling about the timing of his political future and her own aspirations. “There is no difference between what I do for myself and do for you,” Leila tells her son. “I am tired of apologizing and sometimes thinking I might be more than a wife and a mother.” But will she ever accomplish her goals of being more than a subservient secondary? Though she doesn’t know it yet, her husband is alive, though barely. Is there a chance that Jamal could recover? What kind of consequences would that have on the growing divide between the rebels, the people of Abbudin and those in Caliphate territory?
Oh, one last thing! Did I mention we’re introduced to Chris Noth’s character this episode? He’s an American violin-playing general who seems as though he’ll have quite a part in setting up Abbudin’s new democracy — as it serves American interest, that is. As for reports that Noth’s General William Cogswell has romantic ties to Leila, well, all I have to say is this: Who can resist a man in uniform?!