Empire: The Lyon's Roar
February 25, 2015 11:05 PM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Lucious juggles two women and lies and promises a bunch of shit and reneges. The family minus Andre get together to supposedly do Lucious's hit song "You're So Beautiful," the usual squabbling erupts. Andre tries to pimp out his wife and gets totally rejected by Dad and then reacts...poorly. Jamal sings his way out of that closet. Hakeem actually mans up and most of the time actually acts like a non-ass this week!

Fun episode!

Team Lucious: Cookie wants Lucious to break up with Boo Boo Kitty, Lucious swears he will. Anika tells him she found out and wants him to elope with her immediately, he manages to put it off for a week. The dude bounces back and forth between ladies and pisses everyone off. (Jamal's reaction to finding this out cracked me up.)

Team Anika: Lucious eventually chooses Anika officially, or at least won't break up with her since he got her dad to fudge that medical report. (And she will fuck him up. if that goes bad.) But after Cookie brags that she shagged Lucious again after the time she saw, Anika stomps off to go find Lucious's rival Billy. (Um, I think that's who that is....?)

Team Cookie: Cookie and Lucious are adorable and affectionate at the start--she decides she wants to do a legacy album of Lucious's work and have him and the boys sing "You're So Beautiful" on it. (And later, her too, I think.) It's a song close to her heart ever since she went to prison and a way to give Lucious some musical immortality. But of course shit gets buzzkilled when Anika still remains engaged, and Cookie needs to juggle squabbling boys again a bit. Though on the good news side, she and Hakeem are getting along a LOT better and hash out their issues about how he thinks he's not a favorite compared to Jamal. Cookie eventually comes to the conclusion that "nothing good can come from loving you" and gets over this Lucious hookup idea, gloating about Jamal instead.

Team Hakeem: I am impressed with Hakeem this week. He only acted like a dumbass about a fourth of the time in the episode and otherwise manned up beautifully: prayed for his dad, made up with Jamal and said he could do his verse in the song last, got along with Cookie nicely, took Camille out in public and got her to stop pretending to be his mama. (Uck.) On the other hand, he listened to Camille and then reneged on letting Jamal do last verse, and he made the mistake of introducing his girlfriend to his mama, who does not approve of predatory cougars on her baby. And makes a stunning comment about what a good bitch Camilla would have made to her in prison, with that tongue and all. (Lucious may have been the only man Cookie's slept with, but what about the ladies?) By the end of the episode, Hakeem apologizes, will share the last verse with Jamal, and tells him he's proud of him. Why, do you ask?

Team Jamal: Jamal plays with his kid and sings her "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and meets a hot Aussie gay guy, Ryan, who's there to film things for the legacy album. They agree to go out and chat a bit about the joys of being black and gay. Jamal is debating waiting to come out until his dad dies, but later has an interesting chat with his dad about how he should be doing it "for the music, man" rather than for any specific family members. Eventually during Empire's latest party--the White Party, in which everyone has white outfits and is supposed to debut their group song--Jamal hops up in the center and starts changing the lyrics of YSB to "when a man loves a man." Dude just came out in a song. This also gives the "up, down" chorus a whooooole new meaning. EVERYONE IN THE ROOM EXCEPT FOR LUCIOUS LOVES IT and is cheering. Everyone, even the brothers, Vernon, everyone. It's all over the media and everyone except Lucious has no issue with it. Lucious, on the other hand, bails on that legacy album.

Team Andre: It's a terrible week for Andre, and not just because he's left out of the group sing. He and Vernon are scheming to get him in as CEO-in-reserve, which requires him to get four board members on his side.... and he's fully prepared to pimp Rhonda out for this. Normally that's the fun sexy time they both like to have, except the target board member turns out to be an old man in a wheelchair (something Rhonda was NOT aware of and Andre was, I presume) and horny, baby, and Rhonda literally throws up at the table. And she's tired of being pimped, please. There's also an incredibly awkward conversation in which we find out that Rhonda seems to think that Stephen Hawking is mentally challenged(?!) and neither of them knew he had ALS and sometimes people can live for a long. ass. time with their faculties intact with it. Where have they been? Awkward exposition!!!
Things only get worse from there: Lucious votes NO on Andre as reserve CEO and says he doesn't trust Andre ever since he brought home a white woman and doesn't think Andre cares about family, and Andre realizes he's never getting accepted as he is. Then he goes home, puts on "The Great Pretender" and plays Russian roulette. OH DAMN I started screaming when that happened. Shit, dude.
posted by jenfullmoon (9 comments total)
More later probably but we screamed too. Cat-scaringly loudly. It says a lot about the way the show blows through plot successfully that even a little part of me thought somebody was graphically going to blow his brains out on a network television program.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:45 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here too - completely convinced that Andre was really going to shoot himself. And I still felt sorry for him, even after that horrible dinner.
posted by gladly at 10:04 AM on February 26, 2015

Interesting article on Andre, being "Black Gatsby," marrying white women, etc.

"The most perplexing element of the pilot episode of Empire was why the hell Lucious didn’t just make Andre the heir apparent to Empire Entertainment and be done with it. It seemed like a maddening plot contrivance that, if not dealt with swiftly, would swallow the show like Porsha eating snacks at the craft services table for the “Drip Drop” music video. Last night’s episode was a forceful answer to that nagging question. Lucious doesn’t promote Andre for one major reason: because Lucious is prejudiced. Sure, he’s totally right that his son is a schemer who cannot be trusted, but he couldn’t help but get a dig in against white folks. “They will accept your money, Dre, but they will never accept your black ass,” he barks at his son. “I don’t give a damn how many white women you marry. They will never accept you.”
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:31 PM on February 26, 2015

Lots of points for Team Jamal this episode! I was so worried that he'd be outed in some soapy, hurtful way, like Hakeem going on a rant that goes viral or Michael spitefully selling his story to a tabloid. Instead he got to tell his truth through his music surrounded by joy and positive energy from almost everyone in that room. (Almost. Lucious, get over yourself already.) I like the attitude of that cameraman fellow, as far as I'm concerned he can stick around as long as he likes whether he and Jamal get together or not. And, hey, credit where credit is due: I'll throw some points to Hakeem for being so approving of his brother's coming out. There's hope for him yet.

Poor Andre, my heart just about broke for him when his own dad voted against him in front of everyone, and then with the conversation with Lucious later on and the scene in the studio... Powerful stuff. I think he may actually be my favorite brother: he's the most complex, strong-willed and dangerous of the three. (Is my allegiance wavering from Team Jamal? Uh oh.) And I respect that the actress playing his wife is not afraid to look grotesque. I laughed when they kissed with her face mask on -- if I have a clay face mask on my husband isn't even allowed to make me smile, it cracks and feels weird.

Man, the way Cookie told Lucious to go to hell, it could make an atheist like me believe that there's actually a spot reserved for him. They might have chemistry, they might have history, they might even have three sons, but she deserves so much better. Even Jamal is ready to sink that ship! I also thought it was pretty great how she took one look at Camilla and put it out there that her son has mommy issues and she wanted something healthier for him.

That White Party was gorgeous, I loved the music (Jay Jazz Plus One, Spotify tells me) and as someone who pays a lot of attention to costumes, I felt like the costumers really earned their pay this episode. (Although all the white made the captions hard to read.) Lucious and Jamal looked like royalty, and even Hakeem's little bow tie pin was kind of cute and cheeky. Then Jamal looked like he was literally glowing up there on that stage - it was perfect. Speaking of costumes, Anika's red feather shrug looked like it'd be at home in Cookie's closet, not in a debutante's closet.

I'll just leave you with this...
posted by shirobara at 9:28 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

i'm continuing to absolutely love you recaps! one small detail, because it makes the scene even more heartbreaking - andre doesn't go home, he goes to the studio...which. man. i didn't think they'd kill him so soon, but i also yelled out. i am also beginning to be more compelled by him (and rhonda), even if i still love jamal/cookie more. i didn't think it could happen, but i'm also liking hakeem more (LOVED his bowtie)! although i do miss tiana...i feel like that whole plot moved a little fast and i hope they aren't done with her or courtney love. like everyone else, i hope anika gets more interesting - along with that, i hope we get more from vernon. and can we please get some sort of detective caper episode from the two assistants?? i LOVE them and hate how little they're on screen. there's just no time!

finally - thing i learned on ontd today - the story about jamaal's child? it's ripped from the (bullshit, totally made up) headlines, involving the actual actors.
posted by nadawi at 6:39 PM on February 27, 2015

and can we please get some sort of detective caper episode from the two assistants??

To say I would watch the hell out of that is a massive, massive understatement. TV show nothing, that could be a movie!
posted by shirobara at 7:56 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's also an incredibly awkward conversation in which we find out that Rhonda seems to think that Stephen Hawking is mentally challenged(?!) and neither of them knew he had ALS and sometimes people can live for a long. ass. time with their faculties intact with it. Where have they been? Awkward exposition!!!

Awkward indeed. I can maybe understand them not knowing about Stephen Hawking but given how hard Andre and Rhonda are scheming to take over Empire, you'd think they would have completely web-searched Lucious' illness--or at least pulled up the Wiki page for ALS.

I also want to give kudos to these episode recaps. Reading them is almost like rewatching the show.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:08 AM on February 28, 2015

one small detail, because it makes the scene even more heartbreaking - andre doesn't go home, he goes to the studio...

Realized I oopsed that one when it was way too late to fix. Grr! Anyway, thanks for the mention, and thanks to everyone else who likes these :)

Love that Rhonda graphic.

I have a hard time keeping track of the Smollets--but whaa?!
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:41 PM on February 28, 2015

I'll admit I started watching this series for a project, but I've been on Team Jamal since the beginning, having done the whole coming out thing myself (though not as flashy or harmoniously).

What's kept me going, to be honest, is Jamal and Hakeem's relationship. Day one it felt nice. Hakeem is the youngest, and so it's likely he's seen a lot of openly gay public personas, and I'd imagine growing up with a single father raising them that they'd bond a lot. To me, it always felt like the healthiest relationship of the show, and my favorite moment in the last eight episodes was when Hakeem told Jamal he was proud of him and his bravery (Cookie saying "Ask about me" is a close second). I'm happy things are better with them, because holy crap, Andre did almost get them to kill each other.

I'm interested to see where Hakeem goes after this, because he is starting to grow up. Maybe a hot single with his brother?
posted by gc at 10:44 AM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

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