In the summer of 2014, FX premiered Tyrant, an ambitious new drama from producer Howard Gordon and writer Gideon Raff – two of the creative minds behind Showtime's award-winning Homeland – which sought to take viewers into the fictional Middle Eastern country of Abbudin, and to see a Mario Puzzo-esque drama unfold as two brothers find themselves in an idealistic struggle for the future of their country and of their family name. The series was initially impressive enough to attract Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee to helm the pilot, which, in turn, helped generate considerable buzz prior to the show's June 24, 2014 premiere.
As is the case every so often, the plans for Tyrant didn't unfold as intended. Lee eventually dropped out, and the production turned to Harry Potter director David Yates to direct its first episode. The series promptly courted controversy with the casting of British actor Adam Rayner as the series lead, Barry Al-Fayeed. The show's production also had to pull up stakes from its filming location in Israel after violence in the region led to concerns over safety. Needless to say, the ambitious-sounding familial drama faced down a troubled production long before it was hit with middling reviews upon its premiere.
Despite the obstacles it faced in making its way to television, Tyrant persevered and was renewed for two more seasons, the third premiered earlier this summer, promising to bring the story of Barry and Jamal Al-Fayeed, and the people of Abbudin full circle. As it turns out, that is officially where the story will end, as FX has announced that the season 3 finale, 'Two Graves,' will serve as the series finale.
In their announcement, FX said the following and even offered up a quick synopsis for the final episode:
"FX announced today that Tyrant’s season 3 finale airing tonight will mark the conclusion of the series. For three thrilling seasons, Tyrant followed the intrigue and exploits of an American family drawn into the inner workings of a turbulent Middle East nation.
“It’s very difficult to find common ground with other people whose stories we do not know or understand,” said John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions. “The creators of Tyrant have done their utmost over three seasons to tell American audiences a tiny fraction of the many gripping, human stories coursing through the Middle East today. We want to thank Howard Gordon, Chris Keyser and their talented team of collaborators, including all the writers, directors, cast and crew, as well as our studio partners at Fox 21 Television Studios, for taking on Tyrant’s tremendously ambitious story with such profound dedication and respect.”
“Tyrant is a beloved show to all of us at Fox 21 Television Studios, and we are indebted to Howard and Chris for their incredible work, and to John Landgraf and everyone at FX who have been fantastic partners,” said Fox 21 Television Studios President Bert Salke. “We feel the show is a gem and we’d love to find a way to keep it in production. That said, we want to be realistic about its prospects. So for its loyal audience, tonight’s episode will be a satisfying end should the series not find another home, but also provides interesting possibilities should we be able to continue on some other platform.”
The series finale of Tyrant airs at 10 PM tonight, September 7, on FX: Episode 10 – “Two Graves” – Barry and Molly are on the brink of waging war on the Caliphate. Leila makes a bold political move and braves the possibility of a close betrayal. Barry and Daliyah face a final reckoning in their relationship. The conflict in Abuddin threatens to turn into a bloody civil war. Written by Christopher Keyser & Howard Gordon; directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton."
With the seemingly last-minute announcement, Tyrant becomes another in a growing trend in television where series announce their end shortly before or just after the last episode airs. Earlier this year, Showtime's gothic monster-fest Penny Dreadful was ended its three-season run in surprise fashion, with the series creator John Logan announcing the official end not long after the then-season finale aired. More recently, IFC ended Maron after its fourth season finale, letting viewers in on the news shortly before the episode hit.
As with any series reaching its finale, all anyone can do now is hope that Tyrant will shore up all its loose ends and present a satisfying conclusion to the Al-Fayeed story. There's no word yet on just how much advance notice the writers, cast, and producers had that 'Two Graves' would serve as the endpoint to the series, so it will be interesting to see how conclusive it all feels.
Tyrant will conclude with 'Two Graves' on September 7, 2016 @10pm on FX.