SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED
Always an off-the-wall take on hip-hop "mogulism," last night's Empire took a route that's straight out of The Young and the Restless versus being Straight Outta Compton. Actually, no. Considering the things that Suge Knight has been accused of doing, he'd probably fit right in with Lucious Lyon. But, I digress.
Last night's episode got really close to jumping the sh--I mean, nuking the fr--oh, screw it. It was insanity that, even within the realm of Empire, where a music mogul can help his bipolar son dig up the body of said son's uncle (who was killed by his pregnant wife), place said body into the car of a prosecutor who's investigating the mogul, and get away with it (and have the prosecutor back off completely), it seemed a bit much. But, then again, it's Empire. It's all about going for the jugular in eye-raising, edge-of-your-seat moments.
Lucious Lyon has, in the season-plus since Empire began, has been known to be a sneaky, conniving SOB who does what he needs to get what he wants. That's great. However, he also had a soft spot: family. Once that family dynamic was thrown in the crapper (read: Lyon Dynasty), all bets were off and the street came out of the man who was taken out of the street (sort of). And that's even while he's coaching his former rival's daughter in her rap career. But, in this episode of forgiveness, Lucious wasn't the worst offender of "WTF" moments (even though he had goons almost rob Cookie and company of masters).
No, the worst offenders of "WTF" were the Brothers Lyon. At the end of the episode, Hakeem, after showing signs of not being a womanizer with his girl-group lead singer Laura (thus somewhat redeeming himself for screwing around with...well, a lot of people), gets kidnapped. Why? Because
|I guess the "tap water" does do miracles, eh Lucious?|
Ok, is it just me, or is the "oh crap, let's rob/kidnap/murderize someone who we don't agree with to set the pawns in motion" plot device being overused in the show?
Anyhow, Jamal got a few blows (pun intended). Chase One, that weird-ass photographer/painter guy rationalized random BJs as artistic expression--only to give one to Jamal's (ex?) boyfriend. Jamal can't get his Ne-Yo-penned song right. And, well, he's got to deal with his bipolar older brother admitting that he set Jamal up to get robbed and shot at--along with a little brother who looks like he's about to take the Jack Bauer Express.
Surprisingly, the most sane/grounded character in all this mess is Cookie.
She's gone from a borderline insult-spewing stereotype to a pretty complex character. It's obvious that she still cares about Lucious, even though he's a POS, and her sons (even though they piss her off to high heaven at times). She also has, it seems, an almost pathological need to be wanted and to succeed. That's great in the streets and in the business world (the need to succeed, I mean). But, she seems to fall for her bodyguards pretty quickly, adding a level of complexity to an already strong character. She just wants love. Who doesn't? Additionally, she's acted more like a mom and less like a momager this episode, giving Andre a "chin up, little soldier. I love you" speech and mentoring her trio of children.
So, what did I think of last night's episode? It's Empire at its best and worst. But, that's what makes it a compelling show--even with its outlandish nature and flaws. It even got a bit of commentary in without beating us over the head with it, just like its obvious influence Shakespeare tended to do.
Empire returns after the 2015 World Series, which, sadly, has proven the BTTF 2 prediction to be dead-ass wrong.