‘How To Become A Tyrant’ All Episodes, Explained

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Docu-series How to Become A Tyrant turned out to be leaps and bounds ahead of the expectations. Peter Dinklage provided soul to a topic that has been milked enough by documentary filmmaking dictators. The creative approach is quite innovative, with the script being extensively profound with its contents. Rather than analyzing events, it tries to convey the thoughts that guided the minds of the tyrants.

Without further ado, let’s try to analyze the optimal route to establish a dictatorial dynasty.

Also Read: ‘How to Become a Tyrant’ Review – Understanding The Psyche of a Dictator!


Episode 1 “Seize Power” – Featuring Adolf Hitler

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The initial steps of becoming a dictator require a divine intervention where a person acknowledges that he is in a way unique and will lead the people towards a better tomorrow. Similarly, in Korea, the Kim dynasty created a false account of their dictator’s birth and anatomy.

Every dictator on the list has sold outrage for their own benefits, but Adolf was a pioneer in manufacturing hatred. The people’s problems and discontent are propagated as hardships unite the people against a common enemy. Then the dictators build an army of loyal to ensure the smooth execution of their sinister plans.


Episode 2 “Crush Your Rivals” – Featuring Saddam Hussein

In comparison, holding on to absolute power is more complex than attaining it. Saddam Hussein puts forth the playbook’s following rule, keeping your rivals in check. Anecdotal evidence shows how brutal the ‘butcher of Baghdad’ could get. Baath party enforcer at a young age, Saddam became vice-president. On such accomplishments, he made sure all his rivals were kept in line.

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Mashadi’s confession of lies was followed by a few names who were escorted out to meet their fates. Saddam’s special forces were an essential part of his rule, similar to Papa Doc’s Boogeymen. It is a sense of omnipresence that comes hand in hand with such a force. The Al-Naif case made sure people know that there is nowhere to hide to exercise and prove this.

Kleptocratic and egotistical, Saddam even made sure his son-in-law’s death didn’t hinder his regime. No stone unturned.

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It’s poetic to analyze the next tyrant on the list, as Gandhi once said, “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it’s fear.”. Decades later, Uganda manifests the fear-infested regime of Idi Amin Dada. Idi Amin was a resolute soldier with a knack to instill fear which he amplified as he went up the ladder to gain total control of Uganda. Tribalism and communalism were on the rise, and Indians living in Uganda witnessed it first hand. Playbook refers to various tactics similar to Amin, which were used by the likes of Stalin, Gaddafi, and Hitler. The patterns of oppression can be seen in the prosecution of Jews by Hitler, Stalin’s take on Kulaks, and the infamous laws passed by Gaddafi. Amin’s fall began with a war, and he was living in exile to avoid death by its end. Well deserved.


Episode 4, “Control the truth,” – Featuring Stalin

Stalin once said, “It’s not who votes that count. It’s who counts the votes.” Living in a democratic world, we fail to conjure the atrocities of the past. Accusations are for kids. Stalin rolled in a more gangsta’ way. He preferred assertion. Stalin was a former Bolshevik member, his ability to get things done caught the eye of Lenin, and gradually, Stalin was in mainstream politics. Past defeats haunt us, and erasing the past is a meticulous job for any tyrant. Stalin did it by controlling and everything possible. From media to art and literature, everything was controlled. Economic activities were owned by the State, and everything was falling into shambles.

Famines broke the nation’s back. The international press was becoming hard to tackle; answering this came in Duranty. Next on the list was controlling religion, not out of limits for Stalin’s conscience. Marxism-Leninism came into existence, stories of patriotism and nationalism are pushed as religion, just a minor glitch. It was fake. Pavlik’s story is a myth created to instill divinity in the State. Scientific thoughts that guided Stalin were bizarre. Lysenko and his experiments that destroyed the USSR were a result of Soviet biology being nothing but propaganda. Stalin cannot be summed up in a 30 min episode as his reception by people is relatively abstract.


Episode 5 “Create a New Society” – Featuring Muammar Gaddafi: 42yrs of Absolute Power.

Muammar Gaddafi’s rule is the longest-reigning ruler on our list. 42 years, Gaddafi ruled, and his end was due to him becoming too compassionate for a Dictator. It is a tale of terror, with April 7th being the day where the leader’s enemies met their fate. The oil-rich economy of Libya allowed him to have a lavish taste. At the same time, his god-complex made sure he made “deserts bloom,” quite literally. The Great-Manmade River project made the public appreciate his gestures. Education was essential to have efficient workers.

Gaddafi’s Green book was all the education he wanted. A bus filled with school children is taken to see a trial to enhance the effects of fear. An engineer that came home after studying abroad is being hanged to death. People clamor, some with joy while some in horror. Condemned is hanged but doesn’t die. Huda comes forward and, with a tug, finishes the job. Gaddafi wouldn’t have died if it wasn’t for his conscience taking over him. He became tolerant of the press and people, which is suitable for everyone but a tyrant. Playbook traces his demise, where he lied in anguish, asking the very people who are lynching him, “Why are you doing this?”.


Episode 6 “Rule Forever” – The Kim Dynasty: Tyrant’s Utopia

The Kim Dynasty is a tyrant’s dream come true. All the aforementioned tactics in the playbook, each and everything is done by the ruler of North Korea. Stalin controlled, Hitler persecuted others simply oppressed. Segregating North Korea from the rest of the world is the most crucial aspect of ruling it. Kim Sung propagated not an idea but an ideology. Succession wars have proved to be notorious for bringing down empires. The Kim dynasty made sure such a problem won’t occur in North Korea. Kim-Jong I came into play with filmmaking and became Cultural Arts Director.

Filmmaking was quite crucial for the propagation of views that the rulers wanted the populous to have. Ensuring this, the state tool of kidnapping Japanese was followed to extremes. As mentioned, filmmaking was necessary, so they staged the abduction of South Korean actress Chun Eun-hee and her ex-husband Shin Sang-ok, a director. Shin and Choi were forced to make 17 films for DPRK. Kim Jong Il made sure that the narrative regarding his divinity is asserted. From being born on the sacred Mt Paektu, various other facts were associated with him, which are pretty illogical, to be honest. Three generations later, the dynasty still stands strong, as the nation embraced the plunder and exploitation.

The final piece of the puzzle is literally radical in nature. Nuclear weapon testing conducted by DPRK was successful, and with that came the power to eradicate millions. In contrast, the ramifications of nuclear war made the world fear them even more. And that’s it,

So what will be your play for becoming a tyrant?


How To Become A Tyrant is a 2021 Docu-Series created for Netflix.

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Shreshtha Shukla
"Thou art the suffering from which unwarranted melancholia emerges" Shreshtha Shukla is a writer, teacher, and a film enthusiast.

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