Empire Episode 8 Recap: This Plot Twist Could Ruin the Rest of The Sea

19 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Empire’ Recap: Fortunate Son.

L-R: Guest star Bre-Z and Bryshere Gray in the “My Bad Parts” episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 18 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (c)2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. (Chuck Hodes/FOX) CLEVELAND, Ohio — In tonight’s episode of ‘Empire,’ entitled ‘ My Bad Parts,’ Lucious becomes even hungrier for power, Jamal makes major strides in his career, and Hakeem and Bre-Z battle it out on the mic.”From here on out, I go by Hakeem,” he announces, right after smashing the lights out on part of a “Hakeem Lyon” sign during his freestyle with nemesis Freda Gatz. Sure, Jamal Lyon landed the soft-drink spokesman slot (and took the show’s product placement game to the next level) by combining his parents’ musical instincts into the hybrid song that won the company over.

You’re reading because you just watched the latest over-the-top episode and you thought, “What the hell was that?!?” as a billion GIFs exploded in your brain. So every week, instead of a traditional recap, we’ll give you the latest edition of Empire: How Crazy/Awesome Was It?, in which we rate this week’s episode in terms of relative genius/insanity. Hakeem gives Laura (Jamila Velazquez) a custom-made sparkly bracelet and when things are about to get heated on a pool table she informs him that she’s a virgin. And we’re not even talking about the big Funkmaster Flex–hosted rap battle where he vanquished his father Lucious’s protégé, Freda Gatz, with superior showmanship if not lyrical skill. (Seriously, that shit barely rhymed!) We’ve said it before, but one of this show’s secret selling points is just how much the performers play the members of the Lyon family like real blood relatives. Andre and Mimi brokering the deal to merge Empire Entertainment and Slipstream, the fictional music streaming service that will bring the Empire roster into the present day.

As Hakeem, Gray brings a relaxed, naturalistic charm to scenes, whether he’s eating junk food with Jamal or getting pissed off with his mother Cookie’s new double-agent boyfriend Delgado. Jamal is also trying to prove himself, campaigning to be the next face of Pepsi, and the only way he’ll get it is by writing the perfect song for the soft drink company. He sounded so convincingly exasperated with the guy — “I swear to God, man, say something else, dawg!” — it’s enough to give you anticipatory PTSD about fights with your family’s significant others at Thanksgiving next week. At the start of the episode, Jamal was still sneaking around with Cookie so that Lucious wouldn’t find out his mother was assisting him with the song he planned to submit for consideration.

Crazy enough to treat their own family members as something you can buy and sell, just like…a particular soft drink that I’m suddenly craving right now Look, it’s not surprising that Empire took product placement to a whole new level this week. Being the chivalrous gentleman that he has proved himself to be over the course of the series, Hakeem offers Laura the equivalent of a promise ring in the form of a Value City bracelet (C’mon son, what’s 24 karats to you?). He was similarly strong in his scene with Anika, whose downward spiral of depression seems to have her on the brink of psychosis at this point. “We still homies, right?” he asks her after shrugging off her advances to tell her he’s in love with his virginal girlfriend Laura. “I still think you dope!” His youthful naïveté in believing this would fly is somehow more endearing than annoying, even given the big secret that his (and his father’s!) ex is pregnant with his child.

She’s mad at her cub for challenging Freda to a rap battle. “She’s an animal!” Laz throws in his thoughts, which causes Hakeem to call him a “punk ass promoter.” When the fists fly, Cookie comes to her son’s defense. To be honest, Hakeem’s defeat of Freda felt like something of a mercy killing, since the young MC’s storyline was a rare case of a plot element on Empire that never quite worked.

We already know that Lincoln Motor Co. is an official sponsor of Empire, which might explain why every other episode features someone slowly rolling down the window of a fancy black car to have a conversation with someone who’s walking down the street. (Can’t these people just text each other? He’s adamant, in fact. “Have Jago liquidate his assets,” he barks at Mimi and Andre. “Better yet, why don’t we liquidate his brain stem?” In the end, Lucious ends up moving forward with the deal, but we imagine with a snake oil salesman like Thirsty on his side that they’ve found some sort of contractual loophole.

Granted, the character was supposed to seem ill at ease in the Lyons’ high-powered world, but that out-of-place vibe affected how it felt to watch her as well. It would save a lot of gas.) So why did it suddenly feel a little heavy-handed for Empire to devote most of the hour to Jamal writing a song for Pepsi, while Pepsi’s Twitter account quoted Cookie’s best lines and Pepsi’s new sweetheart Tori Kelly performed what looked like a scene from Empire during the commercial breaks? Compared to her convincingly sullen demeanor and angry outbursts, the idea that she had a take-on-the-world hunger to rival that of Lucious and his family never came across on screen. What the episode does establish is something we’ve known about Cookie and Lucious all along: They’re business partners, not parents, just like Hakeem says. Anika runs into Andre’s wife Rhonda (Kaitlyn Doubleday) at the gym and when the topic of pregnancy comes up, she tells her that Lucious “likes” pregnancy and has treated her like gold since finding out she and Dre were expecting.

Cookie’s sound proves to be more ’97 Usher while Lucious is more Dance Dance Revolution (or 2010 Usher), but Jamal still manages to marry the two. His involvement with her career stems from his prison rivalry with her father, Frank Gathers, but the promise he made to make her a star just before killing the guy has already been kept. (He also swore he’d have sex with her, but that part of the deal seems forgotten, at least for now.) As for his claim that he relates to her and her hard-knock life story more than he does to his silver-spoon sons, surely that’s been true of any number of artists on his roster before now. They’re even prepared to barter Jamal and Hakeem’s talents for the sake of their labels. (More on that later.) Love and money are all tangled up in this family.

Meanwhile, Andre, Mimi Whiteman and Lucious are trying to seal the deal on Swift Stream, even though Jago Locke (Patrick Mulvey) is being a greedy pain. But Cookie has the last word (always). “Don’t be a snitch b—h.” Jamal books studio time (on his own dime) to record his Pepsi song and invites both his parents. Andre’s a perpetual disappointment, Hakeem’s an ingrate who sided with his mom in the big family feud, and Jamal is his own man with little of the business bloodlust that marks his father. Cut to Jamal leading a full orchestra, melding Cookie’s melody with Lucious’s beat, and speaking those four little words you never thought you’d hear on Empire: “Your flutes are beautiful!” Once his creation is finished, he sings “Ready to Go” for all the execs with extra flair, flipping his silk trenchcoat, and hopping around stage in an adorably spazzy little dance. When the rap battle finally happened, Hakeem got off to a shaky start, but found his groove when the DJ — none other than Funkmaster Flex — played a beat that hit the airwaves when Hakeem was an infant.

Mimi, Andre and Lucious meet to discuss the streaming music merger, and Lucious is on a serious power trip, not wanting to hear anything anyone has to say. Cute in a sexy kind of cute.” Jamal scores the deal with Pepsi, which is also a boon for the show, considering that Pepsi’s own Alicia Keys will make a cameo soon.

I’d complain about the blatant synergy of advertising and plot, but I can’t talk with all of this sweet, deliciously carbonated beverage in my mouth. Thankfully, she doesn’t wound herself and instead uses the knife to open up the box (because apparently, she just couldn’t do it with press-ons?). It’s a fair concern – the last thing you want, as Cookie notes, is for their marquee artist to be bragging on social media about his skills, only to be shut down. Unable to outmaneuver the streaming-music company’s CEO, not even with the help of his cheerily crooked lawyer Thirsty Rawlings, Lucious instead has to turn to another infusion of cash from his backer Mimi Whiteman.

Anika later shows up to Hakeem’s lair and pours herself some Henny — which she self-consciously hands to Hakeem when she remembers there’s a human growing inside of her. She then tries to seduce the lovestruck, barely-legal boy, only to receive the ultimate curve: “Can we, like, talk, no touching?” followed by “Look, here’s the thing. As the savvy head of a start-up label, she should know that any conflict between her son and an established label’s talent could only make for good press. Fox!) signals that the chickens may have come home to roost for Carol, the sibling she turns to when the shit hits the fan — or when severed human heads get sent to her through the mail. If Laz had no previous idea how much Cookie cares for and protects her Lyon cubAt Jamal’s apartment, Cookie is making a sandwich and trying to figure out whether Jamal will jump ship with Empire and come over to Lyon Dynasty.

While Cookie and Laz are strategizing for the summer jam, Hakeem busts in, railing to Cookie about the battle (he does this again later in the episode when Cookie is Skyping with Jamal). She doesn’t take too kindly to being left behind, and jars viewers in the very last scene, when Laura is picked up by a car service and the driver is … Cookie seizes that moment to chide Hakeem, insisting that the proposition was ill-conceived because Lyon Dynasty stands to lose all credibility if Freda wins.

Even before this week’s episode — “Always Accountable” — hits the opening credits, the easy rider and his herding cohorts, Sasha and Abraham, get knocked off their route by passing, unknown assailants. But for some reason, his spirit is moved to step to Hakeem, who immediately reminds him of his place: “You a punk-(bleep) promoter, so go hand out some flyers.” Except when Laz attempts to leave — presumably, to hand out flyers — Hakeem stands in his way. Andre is mostly wrapped up in contract negotiations between Empire and the label’s preferred streaming service, which leaves Rhonda to bond over “soul-cleansing” smoothies with Anika.

Rhonda reminds Anika how Lucious is a sucker for babies, and how her always-rocky relationship with Lucious took a 180-degree turn when he found out she’s pregnant. There is no way the man that called his opponent “sweeter than a honey bun” should have won over the woman who gave us the classic “Tell Cookie get the milk ‘cause her baby keep on crying.” We really have a conspiracy theory that Hakeem paid the crowd off because there is also no way that they could have known the words to his Flava in Ya Ear “freestyle” and there is no reason that his hypeman antics should have overshadowed Freda’s fire. First, we watch Daryl explore a scorched wilderness, where he gets captured by three jittery survivors who believe he’s an assassin sent from the place they’ve just fled.

Then we go back to Abraham and Sasha, who’ve found a secure office and have decided, rightly, that they’re better off holing up and waiting for their biker friend to find them. All we know is that the episode ends with Crazy Anika in a blond wig, driving innocent Laura off somewhere that’s bound to be dangerous, and Cookie’s sister Candace (Vivica A. He delivers a killer last verse, topping it off by smashing a sign that reads “Hakeem Lyon.” Well, he actually only smashes the “Lyon” part, announcing his new title. Most GIF-worthy moment: Anika holding a pregnancy test in one hand and a hunting knife in the other. (Don’t worry, that knife is just there to cut the gender-reveal cake at her baby shower…right?)

Then the people that the deserters feared in the first place show up, and with new acquaintances in tow, Daryl listens carefully as the hunters make oblique references to the dictatorship they abandoned. After an encounter with walkers that leaves one of their traveling party dead, our hero eventually finds his way back to his motorcycle — only to have the remaining two hijack the vehicle and steal his weapon. Meanwhile, a few miles away, Abraham crawls out onto a collapsing section of fence on a highway overpass, in order to retrieve a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher strapped to an undead soldier.

Not only is the scene gripping, it’s also loaded with metaphorical import, since it comes not long after Sasha says that her partner craves crisis because it eliminates the need for him to make any choices or long-range plans. Jago, owner of Swiftstream, and his lawyers, along with Lucious, Andre and Thirsty, have been waiting patiently for Mimi to arrive to sign the papers for the merger. The conversations between these two are nice — especially since the latter seems to be taking elocution lessons from his pal Eugene — as well as advancing a long-teased romantic subplot. There’s also some nice staging and tense near-misses in the Daryl scenes, although given the recent death (maybe? possibly? perhaps?) of Glenn, there’s never much real worry that Mr. So is there any real point to “Always Accountable,” given that it ends with the characters just a little bit further down the road, and not much worse for wear, minus the loss of one motorcycle and one crossbow?

The thief keeps trying to lecture our guy about the core values of independence and honor. (Cue hilarious irony.) Daryl counters by asking for a tally of how many zombies Dwight has killed, and how many humans. Thank god Abraham scored some rockets. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

Dolly Parton and NBC have released the first extended look at the upcoming TV-movie based on the Country Music Hall of Famer’s autobiographical hit “Coat of Many Colors.” Introduced by Parton herself, the clip showcases Jennifer Nettles in the role of Parton’s mother Avie. The true story of the brightly colored patchwork coat Parton’s mother sewed for her from discarded rags symbolized not only the impoverished upbringing Dolly and her siblings endured, but also mirrored the Old Testament story of a coat worn by Joseph, who was the 11th of his father’s 12 sons. Taking place in 1955, when the singer was nine years old, the film fictionalizes some of the events in Parton’s life, and carries an anti-bullying message that remains relevant six decades later.

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