"Empire" recap: "The Outspoken King"

It’s been a long, arduous week with not a lot of time to get settled, so a lot of posts have been pushed to the backburner (and some might not even get published at all, honestly — I think I’ll have to start doing a link post featuring cool articles once in a while. But enough of this talk — I’ve finally gotten around to seeing all of the latest Empire episode “The Outspoken King” (since I have to watch black-ish for Entertainment Weekly on the same night) and I have a few quick things to say. 

I am assuming that since it’s now been four days since “The Outspoken King” aired that everyone knows what happened, so I’ll only cover things in bullet points.

• Jamal, WTF?! I know you don’t want to go against Hakeem and ruin your brotherly bond and your friendship, but I would have understood if you wanted to go through with Cookie’s press conference if only to show your dad you don’t need his money! I get that having your parents cover for you monetarily is amazing. But honestly, though, I thought you had a job, Jamal. I thought you were doing something that would allow you to afford your own loft apartment and accouterments without your dad’s money. But Lucious is paying for everything! Ev-ah-rythang? EV-AH-RYTHANG! Even my dad, who gets his reason for living by providing for us even when we can get stuff ourselves, isn’t paying every bill I have! Is Lucious paying for his health insurance, too?

I feel a little like I’m calling the kettle black here, but come on, Jamal. You’re worth more than your father’s money. That’s what I’m trying to say. Take some ownership of your life.

With that said, I get how Jamal has some mental issues to work through, what with his dad putting him in a trash can when he was a kid just for putting on a show in his mother’s heels. I’m also straight, with parents who wouldn’t straight up disown me if I was gay, so I don’t know what it’s like to come out to a parent who won’t accept their kid’s differing sexuality. But at 26 years of age, what I’ve just realized is that to get through to  whoever’s belittling you is to show them that 1) you’re not the type who can be railroaded and guilt-tripped and 2) that can handle your life by yourself. You might like their approval (I know I do), but you don’t need it.  I’m still working on this myself, so I hope Jamal is working on it as well within the confines of the show’s writing.

• Andre needs to get his bipolar disorder under control. I have heard in varying degrees from folks who do take medication for mental disorders that the medication can make you feel unlike yourself, and some people quit taking it because they don’t like the side-effects. I get that. But Andre’s clearly sliding off his mark without his medication, and it’s scary. I’m scared/intrigued to see how this will shake stuff up in the plotline. But, I’m also glad to see mental illness within the black community get tackled.

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• We have much bigger problems with the Obama Administration if Mr. Barack is getting worked up over what some teen punk says about him on Instagram. I know that Real Life President Barack Obama wouldn’t even think twice about what Hakeem calls him on the internet if he can also overlook the extreme right calling him a terrorist, an illegal alien, and a n*gger. If his breaking point is Hakeem calling him a sellout, then we’d have to wonder why this is the thing that would set him off enough to curse out Lucious over the phone. If this script was written this week, Lucious should have come back with the retort, “Well, while you’re angry at my son, you seem to have missed the #JeSuisCharlie rally! Don’t take out your regret on me! I’m dying from ALS and I don’t have time for this!”

• Speaking of Hakeem, what a punk. He needs to grow up and quick. What’s funny is that he acts just like a child, yet he doesn’t realize he still is very much that— a child. He’s always acting big and bad and like he owns the company already, yet when he’s faced with making his own name, he wants his brother as backup, not only because they’re friends, but because Jamal’s probably more talented than him and makes him sound much better than he would by himself.

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I’m not even knocking the setup of two brothers taking on the music world by storm, because Cookie’s right; we’d all love to see two brothers play together and succeed. If Lucious could take his anti-gay blinders off or at least just look at the business side of it, he’d see that the two of them would be big bank for Empire Records. But Hakeem clearly isn’t the man neither he or Lucious thinks he is. Hakeem’s not ready for the limelight, especially not without Jamal. Hakeem may have talent, but at the moment, the talents he work at the most is spending his father’s money, looking cool to his lame posse who’ll probably drop him if he ever hit on hard times, and chasing women.

• I’m surprised Tianna shifted gears so quickly. I thought she was going to stay the hard-to-get woman, since that’s so what Hakeem needs. The less instant gratification he gets, the more character he could build (that is, if he were a real person in the first place). But no— she’s just a young golddiger, I’m guessing. She’s got talent, but how quickly will she drop her own career in order to become/stay Mrs. Hakeem Lyon? I’m already worried about her.

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• The big reveal of Lucious as Bunkie’s killer is already in motion. I can’t wait to see how this will shake up everything and everyone’s interpersonal relationships. One thing we do know for sure: Lucious can act. Why didn’t he break into movies as well as music? The second thing we know for sure: For Lucious to cry at the drop of a hat at the news of the murder of the man he killed, he’s a little sociopathic.

• I am glad, though, that Lucious finally found a little of his heart and decided to do right by Cookie for once by sticking up for her in the form of firing that rapper. However, the road towards them being conciliatory on a full scale is going to be long and arduous. I would like, though, for Anika to butt out of Cookie and Lucious’ conversations. It’s a bad look, if I’m being kind about it.

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The last order of business is that EMPIRE IS GETTING A SECOND SEASON!!! WHOOO!!!! The press release explains why the show is getting some second season love:

Averaging a 5.3 rating in Nielsen’s Most Current measure, EMPIRE has emerged as the No. 1 new series of the season. Following its second episode, it is the only new broadcast drama this season to grow from week one to week two.

Interestingly enough, this sounds just like Sleepy Hollow, when it was an infant during S1. Let’s hope that 1)Sleepy Hollow can get its head back in the game and 2) that Empire doesn’t get rewritten into a pretzel like Sleepy Hollow‘s second season. More on this Sleepy Hollow business later.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Photo credit: Chuck Hodes/FOX