Empire Season 3 Episode 2: Sin That Amends
Last night primarily focused on backstory and character development so it wasn’t as eventful as last week.
I’m hoping that the show is opting for a steadier rise as opposed to the frenetic, unbelievable nature of the second season.
In any event, I’m here for it. And so are you. Let’s begin.
The episode starts with Cookie awakening to Lucious’ lavish gifts being delivered to her front door. They’re opulent reminders of sweet #HoodLove like the gold plated street signs from 23rd & Dauphin in North Philly, a gold plated gun and a replica of the statue Lucious slept under when he was homeless, inspiring a new name and drive towards greatness.
And Cookie was not impressed at all.
But do you know who was impressed???
PORSHA! In her season 3 debut she pleads with Cookie to at least keep the espresso machine. But Momma Cookie got her own money and wants Lucious to respect her wish to keep things professional between the two of them.
Sticking to her busy A&R schedule Cookie, now dressed as the ‘hood’s answer to Glitter and Gold Jem, stops by Power 105 to oversee an interview with Angela Yee, Jamal and councilman Angelo Dubois (Taye Diggs), who heads an anti-violence organization called WOKE.
Ever the nosy host, Angel asks Jamal why he ran off the stage like a little bitch at the Empire XStream concert leaving Nessa (Sierra McClain) to steal the show and become the Beyonce’ of Empire Records. Mally tries to answer, but Dubois interrupts with the term ‘PTSD’ in reference to his lingering emotions after Freda almost killed him last season. He attempts to launch into a tirade about gun violence, hip hop culture and inner city youth as Cookie watches unimpressed.
Dubois asks Jamal to be a part of an upcoming anti-violence summit and while Jamal jumps at the chance to help out Cookie jumps outta her seat and says ‘Uh Uh honey!’ and high tails it out of the studio.
Empire already has enough heat with the Feds and the last thing she wants to add to that is inviting a politician into her company.
Even with her rude efforts to brush Dubois off Jamal agrees to partake in the summit.
Meanwhile Shine, Lucious and Nessa are meeting to discuss the next steps to further Nessa’s career after she slayed the XStream launch. Hakeem, who’s also in the meeting, states his desire to work with Nessa as well, to which Lucious scoffs ‘Go take care of your kid bitch.’
His paternal jabs aside, later at the studio both Keem and Nessa collaborate on some hotness. Their chemistry is building up as they bounce ideas off each other and make beautiful music together. Once they’re finished they invite Shine to the studio so he can review their work. Shine is impressed, but wants Keem to come harder with his flow, to which Nessa agrees. At that very moment, one of the engineers in the studio becomes harder while ogling Nessa’s ass.
Big mistake son.
Shine catches wind of the eye-fucking and then makes sure that the engineer catches them hands! He knocks dude clean out.
‘STOP LOOKIN’ AT MY FUCKIN’ SISTER!’
Keem, now aware of the nature of Nessa and Shine’s relationship, almost shits his pants because he knows he ain’t about that life.
Shine would murder him.
Therefore, he’s no longer interested in trying to fuck Nessa.
(Spoiler alert; He’s gonna fuck Nessa)
Downstairs, Mally gives the WOKE kids and Dubois a tour of Empire when one of them spots Lucious.
The kids dote on him, one even spits a few bars for him, and then Lucious informs Dubois that, not only will he host the summit at Leviticus, he will also pay for it.
“Make sure you tell your mom I’m doing this” he says to Jamal before slithering away. Once Cookie finds out she tracks Lucious down.
“The fuck is wrong with you??” She asks. “We got Feds try’na run up in here and now a damn politician?”
“Jamal got a problem.” He ignores her valid concerns. “He can’t sing anymore.”
This time Cookie ignores him because the only thing on her mind is not going back to her former home; prison.
She sizes Dubois up.
“I don’t appreciate you coming up in here fuckin’ with my family and my money. I know about you. Bougie, DUI hidin’, punk ass bitch!” She reads him. It’s worse than the read she gave Tariq last week because this one goes on for about a full minute, even as she’s walking out the door.
While all of this is taking place many people are probably wondering; Why doesn’t anyone care about Andre’?
He lost a baby, his wife just died and now he’s having visions of dead people like Haley Joel Osmet. Can someone please check on him?
Jamal does. He notices Dre’ acting crazy again and offers to help him re-calibrate his meds since he too is trying to ween himself off the pain pills he’s becoming addicted to.
Towards the end of the episode, the Anti-Violence Summit summit kicks off with the kids from WOKE performing a song lead by the same young brotha that dropped a few bars for Lucious in the lobby of Empire. The song is powerful and necessary, especially on a show that tackles so many relevant issues like homophobia and mental illness.
(S/N; Empire may have a lot of critics and people that say it’s a worse show than Power, but as far as social commentary and discussing what’s happening in our society right now you’d be hard pressed to find another show that consistently throws those issues in your face unapologetically. For that I will always salute Lee Daniels.)
Councilman Dubois graciously thanks Lucious for his generosity by hosting the summit and then calls him onstage.
Lucious says a few kind words and then gets off the stage.
Nah, that ain’t what happened next.
Recalling his earlier conversation with Cookie he takes this opportunity to ask Jamal to come up to the stage and sign a song. Jamal, who really is suffering from PTSD, gets antsy as the crowd chants his name. Once the camera crew closes in on him that’s about all he can take. He runs out of Leviticus to catch his breath. Cookie follows him.
“The hell is wrong with you?”
Of course, Lucious ain’t too far behind as he creeps up on them.
“I’m getting bored with this shit boy.” He says, and Jamal snaps.
“I can’t do it no more…” Mally says.”I’M SCARED! Is that what you want to hear?”
Of course that’s what he wants to hear because he’s Lucifer Lyon!
But honestly, in his own twisted way, I think Lucious is really trying to help Jamal deal with what happened to him, even if his execution leaves much to be desired.
Later on Keem, Mally and Dre’ sit around lamenting and drinking scotch.
The topic at hand; Their fucked up family.
Jamal, who just popped a pain pill with his scotch, vows to kick his habit and return to the stage.
Hakeem, still wiping the shit from his drawls after the indirect threat from Shine, vows to become a better father to baby Bella.
And Dre’ vows to get over Rhonda by returning to their old apartment and getting the last of his things.
The next day, as he exits his former home with a few boxes, he’s stopped by two bitch ass cops who question and insult him. When he attempts getting smart back, they slam him down to the ground then pull a gun out on him.
For no fuckin’ reason at all.
– Cookie and Lucious’ flashbacks reveal that the hip hop classic ‘Just a Friend’ by Biz Markie is ‘their song’. Having a cameo with Biz on last night’s episode has clearly gotten the song stuck in everyone’s heads. Especially anyone named Agnes, Agatha, Jermaine or Jack.
– Another thing their flashbacks reveal is Cookie and Lucious’ main bond started with hip hop. Lil’ Loretha ultimately dumps her clean-cut boyfriend for the more dangerous and alluring Lucious. In tonight’s episode Cookie is reminded of her old flame by Dubois, and I believe there will be a romance between the two of them brewing soon.
– Becky’s man J Poppa (Mo McRae) came back informing her of a new opportunity at a different label, reminding Becky that she needs to jump ship before Empire goes down like the Titanic.
– It was good seeing Terrence and Taye act together again. It damn near took me until the end of the episode to remember they played together in The Best Man and Best Man Holiday.
– When Anika told Gran’mom Mary ‘Keep Your Crazy Hands Off My BABY!!!’ I thought Lucious was gonna slap the shit out of her. I’ma need more of these kinds of antics from her. I hollered!
Honestly, after writing this review, last night was indeed kind of boring (as my Bean told me but I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the time).
But like I said in the beginning of this post I truly believe they’re setting the stage for bigger thrills down the line. My only concern is I hope the show doesn’t get canceled before they have an opportunity to surpass the excitement of its first season and make us all forget about the mediocrity of last year.