Empire- Episode 4 Recap “False Imposition”

“What I want is for you to put Donkey Kong in a barrel and
get the hell out of my office.” Courtesy of Lucious addressing Cookie about
Portia, thus begins the 4th installment of Empire…at least for me.

While that line was special and Portia’s facial expressions
are priceless, tonight’s episode felt more like a shifting of sands rather than
any compelling forward motion. All the
characters were busy making their various chess moves that seemed to land us at
an impasse. But the drama is at a steady perk.

 A quick rundown:

·     
Hakeem is busy in his role as petulant child,
telling his Daddy he’ll start workin’ them records straightaway but he’s just
got this one thing he’s gotta do first, see Titan perform.

·     
‘Word?!’ is essentially what Daddy says when his
child, per usual, misses the point. You sweatin this dude Titan because he’s
good, but you’re not willing to put in the work to be on his level. Lucious,
always on some ‘each one teach one’ trip passes the Titan tickets to his
assistant, Becky (Gabourey Sidibe). She ends up witnessing Titan shoot some
dude we later find out burned down a community center close to Titan’s heart.

·     
Freshly jailed Titan turns out be a wayward
Nation of Islam member, which we find out courtesy of Cookie—donning thigh-high
leather boots and a demure black scarf/head cover—visiting Titan’s mama.

·     
I didn’t realize Titan being part of the Nation
even mattered until Cookie drops this bomb, “The Nation killed your [Lucious]
father.” What? Wait, how long do we have to wait for those blanks to be filled?

·     
Oh yeah, let’s not forget Tiana’s power move,
going to see Cookie. This young ‘un is feeling her and serves Lucious a teacup
of sass when he questions her choice to have Cookie as her manager, “She helped
your career didn’t she?”

·     
Judd Nelson’s character Bill Barretti, exec of
Safe House Records and also ‘owner’ of Titan appears at the club to tell
Lucious not to take Empire public or else he’ll dig up the dirt of his past. We
find out Barretti also took credit for writing Lucious’ songs back in his early
rapper days. No bueno.

Random Thoughts:

·     Surprise Surprise, BooBoo Kitty has a heart! The
first real glimpse into Lucious and Annika/Miss Calhoun’s relationship shows a
softer side of homegirl, a nice change from her usual frosty demeanor. I
assumed she’d be unsympathetic to Lucious’ condition; I was happy to be wrong.

·     
Detective pays Lucious Lyon a visit about good
ol’ six feet under Bunky and then this week’s flashbacks begin of Andre covering
up for Lucious both as a kid and an adult. I wasn’t moved, Andre just irritates
me; too much shucking and jiving.

·     
“Twist (ing)in the wind” was used too many times
tonight: Cookie to Lucious, referencing
Lucious’ treatment of her while she was in jail and Lucious to Baretti,
referencing Baretti’s taking credit for Lucious’ work.

·     
Hakeem and Tiana’s performance at the Teen
Choice Awards was cute. Once again we see Hakeem shines as a sidekick, both
with Tiana and with his brother Jamal, but his solo work needs work. Betta
listen to ya Pops and get in that studio boy!

·     
Camille (Naomi Campbell) and Hakeem; why do we
care beyond seeing Naomi Campbell. We need to know why she’s important soon.

What was your favorite
scene/line/moment in this episode?

Empire-“The Devil Quotes Scripture”

Like Power this summer Empire is the winter’s answer to that missing link. Maybe fall and the holidays erased Power from recent memory but Empire certainly raises the stakes in the meantime. Casting film actors Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard makes this show that more delightful.

Let’s get right to it. Why does this show work? Because it’s campy fun, beginning with Cookie, her outfits and her classic one liners. The drama is ridiculous, the sets are well appointed, the outfits are vibrantly hued and luxurious and Cookie and BooBoo Kitty’s makeup is flawless. Fold in a story where mama gets sprung from jail after 17 years (I think) and rolls right into the thick of things pitting her gay son Jamal against his homophobic Pappy while clowning the less-talented groomed for the throne disrespectful son Hakeem. Oh yeah and don’t forget the oldest ass-kissing bi-polar son Andre who likes to go off his meds. While watching this menagerie we even get treated to some music, good music too when Jamal’s on screen. Then in tonight’s episode we get guest appearances from Naomi Campbell and Cuba Gooding Jr. I can’t wait to see how they utilize Mama, I mean Camille (Naomi) in upcoming episodes.

Episode 3 revolved around Bunky’s funeral and the fallout from his murder, Cookie’s FBI connects, and Lucious’ inability to connect with Jamal. The funeral scenes were lackluster except for the Gladys Knight sighting and the gall of Lucious to wear a white suit to a funeral of his former friend and Cookie’s cousin that he KILLED. A least keep it understated dude. There was a little flashback action as Lucious was eulogizing; as tears fell and he told his version of the story we got to see just how gangsta he could be when it comes to his “empire.”

Next up was Cookie’s shenanigans almost revealed by BooBoo Kitty’s hiring a P.I. No luck there since wiley coyote Cookie hatched a plan with the FBI chick turned parole officer to save the case against Frank Gatas (did I hear that right?). 

 In the meantime we catch a sighting of big bro Andre bending Deputy Mayor Alvarez over a desk for what reason I wasn’t able to gather. He reminds me of the Dad of the interracial couple across the street from Huey and ‘nem in The Boondocks. He better watch himself, his blonde wifey is far more gangster than he. I was a bit concerned that he actually re-enacted his whole Dep. Mayor scene with her when he got home…and I think she put him up to it. Clutch my pearls!

We finally get to the dinner that was supposed to be for Hakeem and his new boo, that curly haired chick. Not the Mama! Anyway, I was excited for the drama I expected at dinner and minus a few insults courtesy of Cookie delivered to BooBoo Kitty the dinner was brief and uneventful, a choice I’m surprised the writers made. Seriously there was a lot of real estate at that table; I was expecting some contemporary urban Downton Abbey fireworks… drama always pops off at the Crawley dinner table.

There were a few sparklers lit after dinner when Jamal showcased Puma’s song. For just a moment, when we were getting the old school Cookie and Lucious scenes with the new school Jamal and Lucious scenes I thought perhaps Lucious would begin to recognize the error of his homophobic asshole ways but I was wrong. Hope rose like a feeble dog when Lucious visited Jamal but even his ALS tremors didn’t give his pride pause. Pappy couldn’t just admit Jamal is his talented son and that he has been a despicable father.

 I can’t wait to see how Cookie stirs the pot next week but in the meantime here are a few random observations and lines that tickled my fancy:

  • “I want to know who the hairy dingle berry had dinner with last night.” Lucious referencing the rapper who jumped ship (or did he get fired?)
  • Cookie telling Jamal to bring his pin-up girl Michelle to the dinner party.
  • Old Salty couldn’t put those lips together the first time the detectives holla’ed at him and then later rambles some mess about the lion and the detective puts two and two together in seconds; apparently the drama is speeding along like an Acela train or the retired Concorde.
  • “My obedience is no longer for sale” Jamal-here’s to hoping he hasn’t cut off his nose to spite his face, after all he’s the character we want to win.

 

 

 

On TV…as addiction

I watch tons of TV. So much so I decided to downsize and switch to Comcast’s Internet Plus plan (high speed internet, antennae channels and HBO for 69.99). Look I’m addicted to well-written scripted comedies and dramas but I have this thing for reality shows. I love them-specifically those of the Bravo and VHI variety. Which is why I had to do something drastic; enter Internet Plus. I knew I needed my Comcast bill to drop after it reached a record $200 high. I couldn’t justify throwing that kind of money away just to be entertained by TV, the thing that prevents me from cultivating relationships and writing more routinely.

When I presented this information to my b.f. I was all like, “We should cut the cost of our cable bill.” He was cool with it. What I didn’t tell him right away is that while cutting costs was a bonus, I was trying to quite reality TV cold turkey. I was hopelessly addicted to Real Housewives (minus Miami-ick!), all Basketball Wives (especially LA, that Jackie Christy is must-see) and each rendition of Love and Hip Hop (shout-out to NY although last season I preferred ATL). But I wasn’t just going to lose my beloved trash television; I was also going to lose access to AMC (I’ve been faithful to Mad Men since the beginning), FX (Always Sunny, my fave episode “The Gang Gets Invincible” aka Philadelphia Eagles tryouts in season 3), and TV One (no more Unsung…). What was going to become of me?

I’m a couple of months in to only having ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS (I still have Downton Abbey!). I’m surprised to find I don’t miss any of my reality shows. I still miss Unsung and am trying to figure out a way to watch the final micro-season of Mad Men, but I’m good. Let’s be clear, I’m not remotely above watching any of the aforementioned reality shows should an opportunity present itself and I still watch my fair share of TV but I’m not pining for Real Housewives the way I thought I would. Now when I watch TV I claim I’m doing research for my writing and in a way I am.

Over the holidays I indulged in a days-long marathon of The Wire. I fell in love all over again with the stellar dialogue and storytelling. It was different watching McNulty and Bunk, Avon and Stringer, Bubbs and Kema, Chris and Snoop and Michael and Dukie again. This time I paid attention to the dialogue and how each conversation propelled the story forward and I felt proud to know that graduate school has taught me plenty.

I attribute my renewed fascination with The Wire to my fiction class I completed this past fall. Had you asked me last January if I was a fan of writing fiction I would have said “Hell no, I write non-fiction but love to read fiction.” Well this class not only helped my non-fiction writing, but it also made me a more critical viewer of television. I can’t wait to apply this theory to Game of Thrones. I’ll be all set if I can turn this love of TV into a paying gig…or would that ruin the love?

In the meantime, I have a new TV show I’m all about, Empire! Taraji P. Henson gets the best lines. Check it out in all its campy rugged glory, Wednesday nights at 9 on Fox.

What’s your favorite show/TV addiction?