Empire: “Our Dancing Days”

TV Reviews
Empire: “Our Dancing Days”

The reigniting of the flame between Cookie and Lucious has been the core source of heat in this series, from episode one. But it took until tonight for it to finally reach forest fire levels. As you likely heard if you were following social media, the former husband and wife got it on last night in dramatic fashion, following Lucious’s big revelation to the family that he has ALS. The news brought most of the family back together—outside of Andre who had a panic attack and was last seen showering while still wearing his nice suit —and inspired the big speech Cookie gave to potential investors praising her ex. No surprise then that a little ego and fear of death led to those two knocking boots.

The implications of this newly minted affair are substantial, if only because poor Anika walked into the house and spied them in flagrante delicto. The effect is going to ripple out through the whole company and the family as well, adding a little extra fire to the next four episodes of the show.

Goodness knows, it needed it too. They’ve been picking up and dropping subplots like water balloons. Courtney Love’s appearance as Elle Dallas is quickly shoved aside after Anika drugs the poor girl prior to her big performance. Though it did offer up a rare bit of naturalistic acting with Love writhing around the bathroom, stoned out of her gourd. I’m sure Love didn’t have to dig too deeply to bring the truth to that moment. The potential love affair between Cookie and the new head of security is hinted at, but dismissed now that she and Lucious are back in “business.” The ongoing relationship between Hakeem and Camilla seems to be only thrown in for the pure lascivious pleasure of seeing Naomi Campbell in form-fitting dresses. The quack that gave experimental meds to Lucious (and by doing so, sent the man to the ER) didn’t even warrant an appearance. And poor Raven-Symone got all of one scene last week and is now never to be seen again. At least the little kid is sticking around.

What the writers of this show seem to neglect is the fact that big closing moments like Cookie and Lucious hitting the sheets tends to wipe away the memory of anything else from the previous 58 minutes of the show. Will anyone be talking about that ridiculous “Money For Nothing”-biting tune that Jamal and Hakeem performed together, flanked by scantily clad dancers wearing Michael Clark-like TV and microwave oven masks? Doubtful. Nor will we be talking about Lucious going hoarse at the big event and forcing Cookie to give the big speech to rope in investors.

Nope, all we’re going to be thinking about until next week is Cookie and Lucious rolling around in the bedroom and Anika hovering in the doorway. The rest of the show with its IPO-centric madness, delirium over Hakeem’s sexual orientation and paternity issues, and the constant maneuvering for control of Empire… all that is going to get washed aside in favor of watching Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard flirt and wink and paw at one another. Oh, and waiting for Mary J. Blige and Snoop Dogg to make their guest appearances. That may not be the recipe for repeat viewings, but it sure is going to keep us drama-hungry voyeurs heading back to our local FOX affiliate at 9pm on Wednesday.

Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.

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