Back for a second season starting tonight at 10 PM on FX, Tyrant has shed a lot of its old skin and successfully streamlined itself into a compelling soap that also steps onto some of the deadliest geopolitical territory of our times. To that end, as my video review above says, the series created by Gideon Raff and co-developed and produced by Howard Gordon, now pumps with blood. It also seethes with a high-stakes threat as the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Abbudin finds itself under attack from the outside and within.

As tonight’s “Mark Of Cain” episode reveals, a lot of that has to do with the creative team FX logorealizing that the real star of Tyrant was the hotheaded, perhaps dimwitted and murderous tyrant himself. As the newly installed President of Abbudin, Jamal Al-Fayeed (Ashraf Barhom) was by far the most interesting thing about the first season, even as the focus seemed to be on his estranged, Americanized and now-returned brother Bassam aka Barry (Adam Rayner). Well now, with Barry’s coup plans having failed, Jamal has sought new powers and new allies, which has put pedal the dictatorship metal – all of which makes for a better show.

As important in many ways is how Gordon and crew have linked Tyrant to the real-life drama and trauma gripping the region with the rise of ISIS. As the real rampaging, beheading and barbaric fundamentalist army has seized parts of Iraq and Syria and caused havoc elsewhere, the series now opens up that viper pit for Abbudin – offering a perspective on those caught in the religious and real crossfire.

So with all that, watch my review of Tyrant 2.0 and tell us what you think of the series from Fox 21 and FX Productions.