Empire Episode 8 Recap

“The Lyons Roar”

Photo Courtesy of Chuck Hodes/FOX via www.billboard.com

Episode 8 is the antithesis to episode 7’s family theme; in fact “The Lyons Roar” shatters the whole feel-good family vibe we saw last week.  Episode 8 opens with a flashback to Cookie discovering her guilty verdict and being carted off to jail in front of her babies. Focusing on Hakeem as a babe in Lucious’ arms is a clue into the young man he is today, later this scene ties back to why Hakeem and Cookie struggle with their relationship. Lucious serenades Cookie off to jail, “You’re so beautiful…” This song is the hinge to the entire episode and represents the Cookie’s hopes for her and her family, both past and present.

So let’s get down to it! As usual Taraji P. Henson as Cookie gets all the best lines:  

·      “Get rid of fake ass Halle Barry, as long as she’s around I’m closed for business!”

·      “You want Cookie’s nookie, ditch the bitch!”

While those lines are funny, Cookie is serious and I can appreciate the fact, that yeah, she did her thing but she still has standards for self. Cookie’s multi-dimensional and we love her for it.  In spite of, or perhaps because of, her and Lucious’ roll in the hay, Cookie pitches a way to make Lucious “immortal.” The idea is a Lucious Lyon Legacy project: concert, documentary and remix of “You’re so Beautiful” with Lucious, Jamal and Hakeem. Building off the positive family energy of last week, her idea further solidifies the family vibe that Lucious claims he wants for Empire.

Family time continues in the studio with brothers Hakeem and Jamal recording. Everything looks picture perfect as both Cookie and Lucious join their sons in the booth. Not noticeably absent, is Dre. I said that on purpose. He’s been so marginalized week after week, it’s no surprise I didn’t even think about him until we get the ‘in-booth’ view of Dre standing under a shaft of light in the back of the studio. He looks like a permanent rain cloud is hanging just above his head. Here you see how much he feels like an afterthought.

For weeks I’ve been commenting on how I want to know more about Dre and Rhonda and we get some of that this week when they play one of their ‘games’ in an effort to win a board vote for interim-CEO. It’s a disaster and ends with Rhonda telling Dre to “…be a man for once…don’t turn your wife into a geriatric whore…” Even she’s tired of him.  

It just occurred to me that maybe not knowing much about Dre’s past is a purposeful choice by the show’s writers and creators. By sidelining Dre’s story, I am not checking for him each week, just like his family isn’t checking for him. He’s benign enough on the surface but there’s a dark undercurrent, which is probably attributed to this bi-polar disease. After Lucious votes against him being interim-CEO and then follows that up revealing he hasn’t trusted Dre since he “…married that white woman,” Dre’s carefully crafted ‘it’s all good’ façade begins to slip. Once again Lucious reveals his bigotry and doesn’t care who knows it. Looks like Dre will be off the meds helping Lucious to his grave.

In the meantime, Anika has approached Lucious about his fling(s) with Cookie but she chose an interesting manipulative opening by first asking him why he has her father wrangled up in that pesky little medical ethics issue from the past couple of weeks. Then she slides around to the ‘oh yeah, I saw you and Cookie,’ bit which elicits a slight shadow of ‘oh shit’ from Lucious (Terrence Howard knows how to work subtle emotion through his eyes and we see it in this scene). Of course he’s all apologetic but Anika lands the final blow, “…Prove it. Marry me tomorrow.” He manages to push that timeline by a week but oooowwweee have the familial tables turned.

The white party is where some pivotal plot points take place:

·      Cookie reveals to a stunned Anika, that her and Lucious had another ‘reunion’ besides the one Anika already knows about.

·      Hakeem brings Camille to the party. Cookie calls her Yoko and Auntie Camille. Camille calls Cookie ‘bitch.’ Clearly no love lost between these two.

·      Dre defiantly drinks champagne knowing it will render his meds impotent.

·      Jamal comes out (to the delight of videographer/future boyfriend? Ryan Morgan) via Lucious’ “You’re so Beautiful” song. Remember that dark cloud hanging over Dre? Imagine that intensified into a tornado cloud above Lucious who looked like he needed an antacid.

The remainder of the episode is mostly inconsequential. Lucious yells at Dre about lack of trust. Cookie reminds Lucious that nothing changed because Jamal came out. What is interesting is Anika’s visit to Billy Baretti. Yes, yes we haven’t heard his name in weeks. In fact the last 3 episodes have felt very insular and family-oriented but swirling outside of Empire are some dangerous loose-ends: Lucious’ bad blood with former mentor Billy Baretti, Cookie’s hit on Teddy McNally, Frank Gavis’ (her former boss of red rose fame) muscle and Vernon’s (Malik Yoba) knowledge and clean-up of the Bunky murder.  There are only 3 episodes left to bring this epic freshman series to a thunderous cliff-hanging close.

Random Thoughts:

·      Hakeem accepting Cookie’s apology so quick after being so hard for so long didn’t ring true but it was still nice to get over this hump.

·      The impact of Cookie’s  Lucious slap in the studio was rendered impotent by her “twisting in the wind” response. Lose.that.line. It’s been used 3 times since the show started and while it makes for quite the visual and has been applied appropriately throughout; it’s a distinct phrase that needs to be retired. I will, however, add that ‘twisting in the wind’ was the feeling Dre must have had when Lucious voted ‘nay’ to his being interim CEO…so it’s not that I hate the phrase…

·      Purple is Naomi’s color! Why was Camille wearing a musical note charm on her bracelet? So I guess Tiana is out the picture…they ushered her out with nary a backwards glance.

·      Camille turning Hakeem into the man his mama’s glad to see (i.e. the suit), a bit ironic. If only Hakeem wasn’t dating Camille, her and Cookie might actually be friends.

·      Jamal needs to get a dayum DNA test. I’m not invested in this part of the story.

·      Dre’s not even successful at committing suicide!

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