This week on Empire, Bunky is laid to rest, Hakeem and Andre have issues, Lucious begins to show symptoms of his illness, and Jamal takes a giant step forward towards becoming the Empire successor.
Let’s start this character by character. Andre’s plan to pit Cookie and Jamal against Lucious and Hakeem is working very well. This is mostly because his plan was pretty much handed to him on a silver platter by his equally manipulative parents. Plus, he’s proven that he’s not above using, shall we say, more intimate manipulation than his parents to get what he wants. However Andre’s already proven that when his meds are unstable, he’s easily manipulated, so I predict some major overconfidence on his part.
Hakeem’s issues are a whole other story. While seemingly dating Tiana, a plan definitely approved by his father as it will raise his heir apparent’s superstar status, Hakeem has been keeping a secret for well over a year. Enter Camilla, played by the still stunningly beautiful Naomi Campbell, though she is very clearly the cougar to Hakeem’s mommy issues. Nothing could spell that out any clearer than him telling Camilla she is his mother while his tongue is down her throat. Eeeew.
Bunky’s funeral brings the entire family (and Gladys Knight!) home to Philadelphia as the investigation into his death progresses. While the detective in charge of the case identifies Lucious as a suspect via a homeless witness, the trip to Philadelphia starts Lucious down a path of nostalgia. While he tries to cover his tracks and manage the beginning of his symptoms, Lucious sets himself a new goal: make sure Empire puts out the #1 album in the country. Whether that means pushing Hakeem and Tiana together, crushing the competition, or stepping all over Jamal, Lucious proves he’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll also reiterate what I said last week about the connection between Lucious and Cookie. The more time he spends with Cookie, the more Lucious can’t deny he still loves her (and he said it to boot). Cookie sees right through Lucious, and as much as that should be a terrifying thought, I predict it may be the salvation that Lucious needs, especially since he’ll be meeting his maker sooner than anyone realizes.
While burying her cousin, Cookie is still set on making Jamal a star. And Cookie being the firestarter that she is, she turns to an old friend for a song for Jamal to sing. That old friend is none other than Puma, played by the ever-lovable Cuba Gooding Jr, who is no longer in the music business but still carries a torch for Cookie. And, of course, the song he gives her for Jamal is one he wrote specifically for Cookie, one that Lucious once tried to make into a hit, but never could. For this, and because he treats Cookie so well, can we PLEASE get Cuba Gooding Jr. on a regular basis??!
Which brings us to the star of the episode: Jamal. So far he’s done a good job of standing his ground without rattling too many cages, but this week Lucious’s cruelty was too much to take. In between flashbacks of Cookie working with Lucious on the same song she’s now working with Jamal on, Jamal actually manages to work it into a beautiful hit. The look on Lucious’ face when he realizes Cookie made a special visit to Puma for the song, and that Jamal is genuinely, undeniably talented, was priceless. In the flashbacks when Jamal sings, you can even see the love that he was born out of. That all comes crashing down, though, when Lucious explains that he owns the rights to that song, which he will obviously never let Jamal sing. Later, when Lucious finds himself at Jamal’s place, trying and failing to have a conversation with his son, Jamal finally tells his father he’s had enough of his abuse, and he and Michael move out. Jamal then lays out his own plan to Michael, that he’s going to take Lucious’ empire for himself, and I don’t think he means inheriting it.
In trivial news, Anika sets a PI on Cookie and continues to assert her dominance. Cookie manages to sidestep Anika’s accusations of working with the feds (which are accurate, but not as far as having anything to do with Lucious) by selling some story about a probation officer. Anika talks a good game, but until I see her actually be able to take Cookie on, I’m gonna say she’s all talk.
Now usually I would end this recap with a list of Cookie’s classic one-liners, but this week Jamal was the Lyon whose words couldn’t be silenced. Let’s review:
“She my manager now too?”- to Cookie about Porsche’s puppy routine.
“How does it feel that your little girl could do something that you couldn’t?”- to Lucious, making a point that Jamal is becoming the true artist.
“My obedience is no longer for sale”- Jamal to Lucious, upon severing all financial and other ties with his father.
What did you think of Jamal’s major leap forward this week? And who else besides me would love to see Cuba Gooding Jr. back?
[Photo via FOX]