Last week’s episode gave me hope for Empire and my hope was that good feeling would carry over into this episode because I so want to like this show. I got myself in an Empire state of mind by re-watching the previous episode then I settled in for this week’s show. At the end of it hope was still alive.
We pick up where we left off with Cookie and Laz. A trail of clothes leading to Cookie and Laz in bed where they have been for some time. Did he say she has spent three days in bed with him? Laz convinces Cookie to not go in to work, have someone bring her laptop and spend the day in bed with him. And she does. There’s a sweet montage of Cookie and Laz in bed kissing, sexing, talking, bonding, and being all coupled up. Laz’s phone is going off and Cookie asks if he has a wife he didn’t tell her about. He gives her some story about some ex THOT he can’t shake but we know better. Laz tells Cookie about a Summer Jam Concert he is planning and tells her she should let him put some Lyon Dynasty artists on the roster. Cookie is not having that but it does inspire her to her own Summer Jam—Cookie’s Cookout—with her own artist. Laz says he’s going out to get a paper but he actually goes to meet with the leader of the crew that snatched Hakeem, I think they call him Big Heavy, who asks Laz about getting paid. Laz tells him they are going to get paid ten times more because Cookie is rolling out a big show and will have to come to him to secure the venue, up the ticket sales, vendor deposit, etc and they will get paid on that first then hit her for the protection. When Laz sees Cookie exit the building he advises the guy to fall back off the kid (Hakeem) then goes to join Cookie on the street.
I must say I really enjoyed the scenes with Cookie and Laz and even though he’s looking like some type of snake who means her no good, I am hoping this is not the case. Cookie and Laz decide on a venue, Rocky Steady Park, for Cookie’s Cook Out event but wouldn’t you know, it’s Big Heavy’s turf and Cookie is opposed to working with him but of course Laz convinces her it’s a good idea. Later Cookie and Laz meet with Big Heavy to work out details for the concert and the protection. Hakeem was not invited but walks in during the meeting and totally surprises me with his reaction. He’s pissed but not his usually crazed out, angry self. He still has his edge but this a toned down version of Hakeem and I like it. Hakeem asks Laz to get out of his negotiating chair. Hakeem and Cookie work out the deal. Hakeem actually looked really cute in this scene and this is the first time I’ve actually found myself liking this character. It was also a good scene after the meeting when Hakeem warns his mother to be careful with Laz.
Heavy Is The Head That Wears the Crown
Jamal is working on a new song that he’s struggling with. He texts Cookie while she is still relaxing in Laz’s bed and ask for help with song. Cookie shares this with Laz telling him helping Jamal will be a problem for Lucius and her other sons because they are supposed to be in competition. Laz responds, “He’s your son, Cookie. That trumps everything.” Cookie listens to the track when Laz goes to get the “paper” and starts to give Jamal advice on fixing the song. Jamal and Cookie continue to work on the song. Lucius advised Jamal that the song needs to be ready and Jamal assures him he’s working on it. Later Cookie and Jamal meet in a restaurant and Jamal advises his mother that he’s been invited to play Huey Jarvis’ Living Room Session. Huey Jarvis is played by Clarence Williams III of Mod Squad fame. Now this is a big deal because this is something Lucius wants for himself and you can see the conflict on Lucius’ face when Jamal tells his father he will performing in Huey’s Living Room Session. Poor Lucius.
At the restaurant Cookie convinces Jamal to go to Lyon Dynasty to work on the song. Hakeem again shows up unexpectedly and Jamal sneaks out without being seen. Jamal continues to perfect his song with Cookie’s help and when he performs at Huey’s the song is way better than it started and you can tell by the look on Lucious’ face that something is going on behind those eyes, something deep and most likely devious. Huey really likes the song and tells Lucious it’s better than Uproar. Lucious say “Yeah, I’ve been working with him.” Huey says, “You’re really elevating his sound to another level.” I so wish Cookie could have overheard that. I loved this performance scene and the song. I loved the vibe of the song, the setting, and Jussie’s performance of the song as the character Jamal. It was great!!! It was a feel good moment for me and this song will be in my playlist. I enjoyed the scenes with Cookie and her sons with her being a mother and seeing their love and respect for her. What she did for Jamal was something only his mother could do. This was important to him and he knew she was the one who pushed him forward.
You’re Blinded By The Ass
A Hakeem fan I’ve never been. He was always a little too intense and something about him made me uncomfortable. I guess he was too hard hitting for my taste but I saw a different Hakeem this episode. Still edgy but more refined. In addition to interrupting two meetings, Hakeem was deeply involved with and, I feel. genuinely connected to his girl group, Ménage A Trois. There’s no denying he has feelings for Laura(?), his choice for lead singer of the group. Cookie thinks another girl should be the group’s leader and wants Hakeem to make the change. Hakeem seems organically interested in Laura and sets out to groom her to convince Cookie. There was cute but predictable scene where he takes her to sing in a public park or square to stop the crowd. She’s timid at first but accomplishes the mission. Hakeem seems determined to make this work and I like the way he is going about it. His efforts turn Cookie around. She’s impressed. Again, I really soften Hakeem this episode and I’m hopeful we will continue to see some growth and depth to Hakeem instead on constant rage.
Bang, Bang, Bang…Boom, Boom, Boom
Lucious. Oh Lucious. This may go fast and seem a little disjointed but it is Lucious and while Hakeem has redeemed himself with me Lucious has not. Lucious is apparently working on a track with Freda that he feels is going to be his comeback. He meets with Huey Jarvis because he wants to play one on Huey’s living room sessions. That is a big deal and artists who have performed ended up winning awards. Outside of checking with Jamal on how his song is coming along Lucious seems completely focused on this song. There is a meeting with Mimi (played by Marisa Tomei) and Andre that ends up with Empire wanting a merger with another company, Swift Stream. There’s a meeting and sparring match in boxing ring between Lucious and owner of Swift Stream, a knock out, a hospital visit, morphine being dispensed, a contract being drawn up for a merger.
There’s Lucious meeting with Huey Jarvis and playing his track that leaves Huey being impressed only with the girl and telling Lucious something is missing. He needs to go deeper. There’s a freaky scene with Mimi and Lucious and a threesome with some girl after spending time in a club. I don’t think a threesome happened but there was some kissing between Lucious and Mimi. What? Why? This whole thing rattled me and I sort of disengaged. Weird. I’m going to have to work up to this or watch it again to get what this is about it. I am not even sure if the girl was random or not. She never said a word. She just laid there changing poses even as Lucious consoled Mimi crying on the phone because of girlfriend issues. This was a lot. Lucious is a lot. During most of Lucious’ scenes he is having flashbacks to his childhood. He is shown digging up something that turns out to be bullets he buried when he was a child; we see his mother frantically searching for something and asking a young Lucious if he knows where she put her bullets; we see a young Lucious watch his mother put a gun to head. Apparently all this lead Lucious to go to a drawer, get the gun, spin the chamber and…Bang, Bang, Bang…Boom, Boom, Boom. The answer. At 4 am he calls Freda to the studio, displays the gun and tells her he figured out what was missing and she is about to become a part of his life story. They run the track, rapping with Lucious adding the sound of him spinning the gun’s chamber. Instant Hit?
We shall see but I for one have reached a place where I can say I have finally been Empired. I enjoy seeing all the talent they add to stories. The show seems less frantic and convoluted. It’s still deep and I don’t always get it without a re-watch but I am liking this season so far way better than last season. Has Empire found its rhythm?