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.