This Empire review contains spoilers.
Empire Season 2 Episode 6
I could write an Empire review and use nothing but adjectives and it would probably be just as effective as writing a thousand words explaining my thoughts on the show; amazing, ridiculous, terrible, incredible, stupid, fascinating, unbearable, stupefying, satisfying, disappointing, irritating, and passable. They’re all accurate, to a degree and at different points. Empire is never boring, consistent, or particularly interested in being nitpicked on the grounds of character or story; you’re either along for the ride or your not, and at this point, I think fastened in my seat.
I can’t deny the show’s most base-level charms. How can you not be charmed and entertained by Cookie Lyon? The minute she throws some shade with those expressive eyes, I start grinning ear to ear. I could watch Cookie blow-up a million of Lucious’ meetings or recording sessions. In fact, can we just make tonight’s scene of Cookie bursting into the room with Lucious screaming, “I’m working!” a running gag and do it every week? I don’t think I’d ever get tired of it.
The ads leading up to this episode made it seem like Cookie and Lucious would be running around the city, bickering, trying to rescue Hakeem, who would be tortured and held hostage by a gang of thugs. In reality, all of those ads were created using footage from the first two minutes of the episode, and Hakeem was back safe before we even went to credits. At this point, that’s not even surprising, that’s just moving at the regular Empire pace.
Instead of Hakeem vs the kidnapers, we get Hakeem vs himself. Empire doesn’t seem like they’d excel trying to tell a story about Hakeem’s post-traumatic stress, even typing the sentence makes me want to scoff, but its surprising executed well. The director uses chaotic editing to show Hakeem’s disorientation and cleverly utilizes sound to show that Hakeem is being haunted by the persona his created and his own faux-gangster lyrical content. For once, it actually feels like a hip-hop story, and it’s a nice change of pace for the show.
I love the introduction of William Fitchner, television journeyman, playing against type as a savy, gay, former music industry heavyweight who comes to steer Jamal’s image. Of course they cast him as an old advisory of Lucious, because watching Terrence Howard surrounded by more people that don’t bend to his will is always fun.
What isn’t fun, but definitely has comedic value, is continuing to watch Terrence Howard convince us that Lucious is a musical genius. I really hope the same person that writes Jussie Smollet’s songs isn’t responsible for “Boom Boom Boom Boom Bang Bang Bang Bang.” Not only is the beat dated and a little lame, but also we get to watch Terrene Howard act like its creation was like the writing of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It’s so awful, but so entertaining. We also have Andre convincing rapper J Poppa to spit Christian lyrics, so at this point, Jamal is solely carrying the musical aspect of the show on his back, and that’s completely ok, because he’s talented enough to do it.
The two storylines in the episode that will likely continue to build this season are Cookie and Lucious’ new infatuations, Cookie with crooked promoter (who didn’t see that coming?) Laz Delgado and Lucious with his spirit animal, gangster prodigy Freda Gatz. Both will likely drive a wedge between parent and Lyon children, and knowing Empire, both may be gone in two weeks never to be heard from again. You can never be sure, and I guess that’s what I love!
Whether I’m laughing with or at Empire, I can’t look away. Must be doing something I right, I guess.