Last Night’s Episode of Empire, are things cooling off for the show?

Empire Gossip, framed

by,

Suzanne Coleman

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Hey, are you looking to read about the Empire FINALE?!  Go here:

https://sliceiconic.com/2015/03/19/empires-finale-fist-fights-manslaughter-and-crazy-crazy-crazy/

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It seems that a lot of you want to read about last night’s episode of “Empire.”  I wasn’t going to write about it because honestly, I wasn’t as impressed as I usually am, but I’ll give it a go.

Straight-up, the music on this episode wasn’t very good.  I am not sure what is happening in that department.  They have had some good stuff over the series, mostly “You are Beautiful” and “Drip Drop,” though it’s pretty gross, lyrically.  Some others were also enjoyable.  But last night it just wasn’t there.  When Jamal was singing in the bedroom to Lola with Hakeem, the idea was so sweet, but Jamal just sounded terrible except for about 3 seconds near the end.  I don’t know why they put that into print.  And, Hakeem has a great voice, but we haven’t heard it showcased in a long time now, I’d like to hear him again in a song where his rich, low voice and slow vibrato is highlighted, not just talk-rapping.  And Tiana was missing, again.  That’s ok, it’s just my personal opinion that there is a lot of talent there that is not being utilized optimally.

The show is continuing to fast-forward certain plot lines, leaving us wondering how we got to where we are; they’re leaving out important steps of the stories.  And for others, they are dragging along when they could be simplified.  This is an amazing show with lots of complexities and interesting relationships, and I feel like we are losing out on the potential richness of the experience when they do that.

The show really spent too much time on the Lola story (Jamal’s daughter) this episode.  And it was wasted time.  We didn’t see or hear much of her 2 episodes ago, then she was back on the last episode and there were nice scenes of her with her father, that episode was a good balance and percentage of time allotted to their relationship.  But then on this show, they spend a lot of time discussing how she is becoming an integral part of the family, in both Lucious’ and Jamal’s personal circle.  They talk about how both of them want her to stay with them as their daughter.  We think that she is being added to the regulars on the show and that they are building her story.  But, no.  They suddenly shift gears and she’s off the show, atleast so it seems.  I feel like I’m getting jerked around in this sense.

I did think that Raven-Symoné’s (Lola’s mom) being named Olivia on the show was funny, since that was her name when she played a little girl on the “Cosby” show decades ago.  She wasn’t the best actress but it was good to see her.

The story line with the abusive boyfriend was very good.  His acting was of good quality during the gun scene, but up to that, a bit flat and restricted and I didn’t feel that he really engaged with the audience.  The whole Lucious trying to draw the gunmans’ attention to him by saying all of those things to his family was really odd.  It was good that he tried to save them, but then he didn’t really explain it well to them and they were apparently all too stupid to understand that a dying man did it to save them from getting killed.  Plus, was it all true?  I don’t know, and neither did they, but no one asked, they just assumed he was telling the truth.  Especially with him, that is just crazy…  And they suggested that he was Lola’s father, but no one got a paternity test, no one asked for or offered financial support to the single mother, too many loose ends and unanswered questions here.

I liked where they were going discussing bipolar disorder, how they showed some common reactions to the diagnosis.   Cookie being unaware of the illness, she decided to educate herself.  That was en excellent idea, and a great model for others to follow.  And they also showed Lucious, rejecting the “label” of “mentally ill;” shocking for him, I know.  But this represents how many people might react (though not usually so strongly), and by showing it they can open up the discussion of why there is such a stigma around this and other mental health disorders.  They are medical problems, and people who have them need medical help.  I would have liked to have seen them spend more time going into more depth in these areas on this episode; it would have been very valuable and good entertainment.  But they cut it into short bits and pieces and then it was done with, seemingly.

Another thing about the choppy and erratic plot issues, last episode there was major drama over the conflict between Lucious and his music business rival Billy Beretti, but  on this episode, I didn’t notice any mention of it.  Why not keep a steady course to the plot?  Maybe they could add in a lead writer or plot analyst to ensure that story lines are well-interwoven and characters are consistent with past behavior?  They could have (and probably should have) discussed the rivalry and business concerns at several points during the show.  Especially with the IPO happening, business is business.  They were all concerned about the conflict last episode and how it would impact Empire, then, silence… (hear the crickets chirping?).

The whole IPO thing was choppy and confusing.  They missed a huge opportunity for drama, too, though it probably would have made the show take a turn they didn’t really want.  When Lucious was signing the contracts with his colleague Vernon, his business partner who worked with Andre behind his back to try and get the power from him, Lucious didn’t appear to read the contracts.  They have been portraying Vernon as having a serious grudge against Lucious ever since Lucious murdered their childhood associate.  They have made it seem as if Vernon is only waiting for the opportunity to take power over Empire away from Lucious.  Those contracts were his chance.  He could have given Lucious contracts to sign that he had altered so that they actually gave him power over the company instead of Lucious.  I was really expecting that to happen, but it didn’t.

I thought that Cookie’s character wasn’t as sharp and biting on this episode as she was in the beginning of the series, though she still had some good moments.  The interaction between her and the security expert Malcolm was very hot, so that was well-done.  I like that she is not being pulled into a relationship with Lucious, because we know he’s not good for her.  But they originally had portrayed her as in love with him, and willing to do anything to be with him.  But then in one moment, she is over him?  Unrealistic guys.  That’s not how love works, it lingers on and on, and that was portrayed very well in earlier episodes.  The truth is, the relationship between Cookie and Lucious would be way more interesting and sexy than the one with her and Malcolm.  It would be complex, and real.  At least it felt very real, the way that these two actors were portraying it, up until now.

The scene with Lucious and Camilla, this is interesting.  Apparently she knows that Lucious is sick, but as intelligent as he is, he decides to treat her with no respect and send her off.  What is to stop her from telling the world that he is sick and ruining his dream, his IPO?  Nothing.  Yet, it isn’t mentioned or even hinted at.  Another lost opportunity to build some major drama and anticipation.  They could have written it like he didn’t think she knew he was sick.  When he tries to pay her off, she mentions it, coldly, causally, he pauses, frozen, and afraid, cold sweat breaking out on his brow.  His illness is worsening and the side-effects from his medication are clouding his ability to think clearly and to strategize like he used to.  Suddenly he realizes his mistake, but, is it too late to fix it?

She gets up threateningly, he steps back and stumbles.  Quickly Vernon (who was standing in the room next to Lucious, in the darkness) steps forward and takes control of the situation.  Thinking fast, he asks her what she wants.  She spells out her terms (details to be added later) and they negotiate a truce between them that holds, for now.  Vernon escorts her out, and the scene cuts to Lucious, slumping into his chair, looking like a broken man.  It just takes one mis-step to destroy an empire.

Well that was fun!  🙂

But back to what ACTUALLY happened…  so why did Camilla leave?  She seemed to love Hakeem for real, but then she just left.  Was she afraid that Lucious would hurt her?  It didn’t make any sense to me.  She is a strong, intelligent woman, but in the scene they portrayed her as helpless and a victim, unable to stand up to Lucious by staying in the country.  I can’t picture her like that.  I think she would stay, shove his money in his face and then threaten him that if he messes with her or their relationship again that she will leak his illness to the press or to his competitor Billy Beretti.

The fashion on the show continues to provide a good amount of interest.  Cookie’s well-fitting dress in her scene with Malcolm the security guard was very nice.  Camilla’s outfit was also a stunner.  Hakeem’s white shirt with black designs on the collar was unique and I like unique.  I do think they could pump up the fashion though, I think that too is falling a bit to the wayside lately.  We like our fashion!

I really appreciate that the show addresses important social issues, I’m all for doing that as much as possible.  Having the platform to create change is amazing and that they choose to use it for good, I applaud them.

What do you think, is Empire losing its spark?  Or is it just as charged as ever?  Let me know in the comments!

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