EMPIRE Season 1, Episode 3 Review – “The Devil Quotes Scripture”
Well, it seems as though I’m not the only one who loves Empire. After only two episodes, FOX has renewed the freshman drama for a second season. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about this. Tonight the drama got turned up some more, with extra special guest stars, and some more delightful ridiculousness from our favorite family, The Lyons.
While Lucious and Cookie kept their sniping up, Jamal stole the episode. In an effort to find Jamal a smash hit single, Cookie tracks down an old friend, Puma (special guest star Cuba Gooding, Jr). He’s retired as a songwriter, but sends her a track that he’d written about her twenty years before, a track that Lucious couldn’t make work when it was first written. Jamal arranges it beautifully, and at a dinner party at Lucious’ house, plays the song for his father. Lucious is truly bothered by it, and immediately shuts Jamal down by revealing that he owns the rights to that song already. One might question why Puma would send Cookie the track if Lucious owned it, but I’m suspending my disbelief and choosing to believe that Puma didn’t know.
For the first time, Jamal really stands up for himself, telling his father off: “How does it feel that your little girl could do something that you couldn’t?” He leaves shortly thereafter, telling his father, “I’m you – but on steroids.” SNAP! The next day, Lucious shows up at the apartment that Jamal shares with his boyfriend, Michael (Rafael de la Fuente) to talk, but Jamal tells him right off. Lucious reminds him that he pays for everything Jamal has. Jamal responds by throwing the keys at Lucious’ feet and just like that, Jamal and Michael are homeless. But when Michael questions what they’re going to do next, Jamal looks straight into the camera to declare his intention to take over Empire Records.
Yes! This is the Jamal I’ve been waiting for. He’s extremely talented, that’s been established. But he hasn’t been hungry. And now he’s fed up with his father’s homophobia and is ready to get in the game.
Of course, he’ll have his brothers to contend with. Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) still thinks that his shit don’t stink, claiming that he’s a star without anything other than his breakout performance at Leviticus to back it up. He and Tiana (Serayah) are a hot item, the darlings of the tabloids, and Lucious loves the potential PR of his son and one of his new hit artists getting together. It’s like seeing Chris Brown and Rihanna when they first started. But there’s a problem. For a year, Hakeem has been getting down and dirty with an older woman: Camilla (special guest star Naomi Campbell). We don’t know the whole story yet, but when she asks who she is to him, he calls her “Mama” before kissing her. There’s something seriously fucked up there, and I can’t wait to learn more.
Speaking of f**ked up, there’s Andre (Trai Byers) and his relationship with his wife Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday). We already knew that she was running things, grabbing his balls to get him to get his meds fixed, and putting on a bib before going down on him, but tonight’s episode gave us new insight into their twisted relationship. When a potential witness comes forward with information about Bunkie’s (Antoine McKay) murder, Lucious asks Andre to look into it, since he has a connection at city hall. Turns out the connection is a hot young deputy mayor who likes it from behind. When Rhonda asks Andre how he got his information, he turns her around and they look at themselves in the bathroom mirror as he takes her the same way, with her demanding to be called by the deputy mayor’s name.
This is potentially the relationship that could take Empire from entertaining and ridiculous to over-the-top and unbelievable. Every week so far, Andre and Rhonda get more and more insane, from blowjob bibs to extramarital roleplays, from scheming to bipolar episodes. If they add anything else to these characters, I wonder how much the audience, myself included, will be able to take.
While the brothers scheme and plot, Lucious’ ALS is started to give him physical symptoms, and Cookie is starting to sense that something is up. We also learn that a detective is starting to put it together that Lucious may have been involved in Bunkie’s murder.
The music took a bit of a backseat this week, but it was still great stuff. And while Taraji wasn’t as brash as she has been in previous episodes, she is still the focal point of every scene she’s in. And kudos this week to Ta’Rhonda Jones as Porsha, who may not be a great assistant, but is a hilarious character to watch and a great foil to undercut a dramatic moment with some comedy.
Which brother do you think will come out on top?