"Tyrant" Season Two Quick Thoughts: Ahmed's Sad Song Playlist + Burkina Faso Enters the Fray

First, apologies for not being on COLOR for two days straight. Real life started knocking last Saturday, and it’s been presenting issues ever since, so I had to take care of life. Life is currently giving me a break to write this post.

Second, I had a cool interview with Rami himself, Keon Alexander! You can read the full post at the Entertainment Weekly Community, but here’s a snippet of our conversation:

Rami is of two ethnicities, two cultures. As we saw in “A House Built on Sand,” he was being asked to choose one or the other. How did you get into Rami’s headspace?

It’s essentially not too far off [from me]; I’m pretty mixed myself, and I feel the weight of the two sides of my family on either shoulder, literally. That’s something I could relate to instantly with Rami because I felt responsible to my ancestors on both sides and felt that I was a representative of both of them, and that’s kind of the way I was raised.

From a young age, Rami was raised by his mother alone, but with oversight and guidance from his grandmother, Amira. [Rami] had a tutor from the UK, then moved to the UK for [his] military training. Not only [is Rami] partly a Said, partly an Al-Fayeed, but [Rami is] also partly a Brit, since that’s where [Rami had] his education and training. So it’s really three cultures going on there.

There’s a part of Rami that is of the people. [He’s] not a spoiled brat, by any means. Still, I [as Rami] feel as though I have royal blood. And on the other hand, living in the UK and seeing it all from the outside, I can see how other people perceive Abuddin and the stereotypes and racial and cultural judgements from the outside.

It’s interesting, because Rami is both lower class and upper class, both from the Said side and the Al-Fayeed side. He’s also a citizen of the world because he’s lived abroad and knows the different perspectives. He’s pretty complex, I’d say. He’s also a young person of modern times. So I think he’s an interesting addition to the cast of Tyrant because I think a lot of people can relate to him.

Also, since I’m in a shout-out mode this early in the post, I’ll go ahead and re-shoutout Cameron Gharaee, Sybilla Deen and Alexander, who are not only always supporting my (hopefully entertaining) Tyrant livetweets every week, but also support my writing as well. Hearing from the stars themselves that my writing is actually good is great.

A new name to add to the list of Tyrant Twitter interactions is Melia Kreiling, the woman who plays Daliyah, Ahmos’ second wife. All of this spawned a series of tweets from me about how genuinely grateful I am that so many of the cast members have found me on Twitter. Twitter is largely impersonal, so I’m always surprised when I’ve found an audience, especially if that audience is comprised of the folks I actually watch on TV. I don’t know if anyone read my series of tweets about how it’s nice to be able to happily communicate with people on a show I critique week-in-and-out, but 1) I don’t know if my tweets looked like drunk-tweets; they weren’t, since I don’t drink and 2) I really mean it; having the audience of the actual actors means a lot.

All right. Since I’m always afraid of showing too much emotion and scaring people away, I’ll end this particular internal cryfest now and get on with discussing a new type of cryfestthe cryfest Ahmed’s about to have when he realizes Nusrat has eyes for Rami.

Let me make one thing absolutely clear: I love Ahmed. I want the best for him, and I think, if he wasn’t an Al-Fayeed and was just a dude who wanted to own a series of boutique London hotels, he’d be a great catch for a woman. Apart from him savagely butchering his father’s would-be assassin after he was dead, Ahmed seems like a good guy; he’s just in bad circumstances.

HOWEVER. Let’s not pretend that Ahmed’s not about to climb up a steep hill when it comes to winning Nusrat back. She hasn’t even left yet, and Rami hasn’t even made his move yet (if he will), but Ahmed’s already at a disadvantage. I have suffered a lot of relationship/self-esteem damage from high school. Thankfully, I’m finally over it, but I can safely say that if I were to put Ahmed’s situation in terms of my (lack of a) love life, Ahmed would be a version of me, someone who will eventually come up against that evil question of “What does someone else have that I don’t have?”

I call that question “evil” because that kind of a question can cause someone’s esteem to plummet to the very bottom. Sometimes, someone needs to ask themselves that question because they need to get a swift kick in the pants about how they are not living up to their full potential. But a lot of the time, that question comes up inside of folks who are, in actuality, not so bad off. But, as I can attest, it’s a question that can eat at you for years, and Ahmed seems like he’s about to be on that horrible journey.

As I wrote in my recap:

I don’t condone adultery, but poor Nusrat needs some happiness in her life, right? Why not go against marriage vows? When you’re in a family that kills its own, why not bend a couple more sacred rules to meet your own ends? Ahmed is a nice guy and all, but Rami—well, just look at him. Not only does he cut a fine figure, but he’s accomplished—much more accomplished than Ahmed, who was just born into power and money. Of course Nusrat’s going to go for someone who’s like Rami.

But at the same time, I’m feeling for the angst Ahmed’s about to have. His ignorance to the glances between his wife and his stepbrother is his final moment of bliss as an Al-Fayeed. Rami threatening his place in the dynasty is one thing, but Rami threatening his manhood just by being a part of the family? Yikes. Nusrat clearly thinks Rami is more of a man than her husband, and with that sentiment, she and Jamal would actually find one thing they agree on. Ahmed’s impending hellscape that will become his martial life will consist of him realizing that without the Al-Fayeed title and power, he’d be just a dude trying to make it like every other dude (and dudette) who’s been passed over (or about to be passed over) for that shinier, prettier object.

It’ll be doubly hard for Ahmed since he’s never had to compete in life before. He’s been handed everything, including his wife. He’s never had to be like us in the real world, trying to navigate the perils of the human condition when it comes to finding a mate. All he had to do was come of age and have his parents select a woman of good standing who had been groomed to be the wife of a leader’s son. Before he got married, I’m sure he had women throwing themselves at him just because he’s an Al-Fayeed and they could experience some of what it’s like to be with a powerful person. Ahmed has no perception of real world relationship woes, so it’s completely believable that he didn’t catch on Nusrat and Rami making eyes at each other. He simply doesn’t know what it’s like to be the odd man out.

I’m sure Rami, with his real world upbringing, knows how it feels, though. If Rami was going to make a move on Nusrat, he could use Ahmed’s lack of awareness to his advantage. Of course, I don’t condone adultery, but, you know…if Rami and Nusrat are going to do it, at least be smart about it.

In anticipation of Ahmed’s sadness and anger over losing his wife, I have a mini playlist of songs that might help him get through the pain. I don’t know if he listens to R&B; I do, though, so these some of the sad songs I know. If Labelle’s wailing doesn’t signify soulful pain, then I don’t know what does.

Have at this playlist, Ahmed, and mope to your heart’s content. Of course, you might just opt for the killing option, like Jamal would. We’ll see which road you take.

One thing I forgot to mention in my EW Community recap was that Rami’s leadership is already proving itself to be an asset to the Al-Fayeed clan, since he got the weapons holders of Burkina Faso (I believe) to offer their help when it comes to securing Abuddin’s borders. I’m excited to see some black faces on Tyrant, but since the show is going far in exhibiting a difference between extremist “Islam” and standard moderate Islam with the characters, I’m expecting we’ll see some variance in how the African characters are portrayed. We had better.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below.

TYRANT — “The Other Brother” — Episode 206 (Airs Tuesday, July 21, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Cameron Gharaee as Ahmed. CR: Kata Vermes/FX.