Before Empire breathes its last as a series, it would appear that every character in the show is going to get a shot at being CEO of Empire Entertainment. Let’s bring back Raven Symone for another guest appearance and give her control of the company for a few episodes! Let’s do a tie-in episode with The Walking Dead and bring Frank Gathers back from the dead for the world’s first zombie executive. Maybe they can even hold a contest to let one lucky fan become the head of a fake multimedia company for a day!
All joking aside, it’s becoming downright exhausting watching the gamesmanship, backstabbing, maneuvering, and murdering that goes on every damn week on this show. Can we put all this static behind us and concentrate on the juicy drama of Anika and Hakeem’s baby, and Andre learning that his grandmother is still alive? And what about the return of Michael? First, he’s there and then he’s gone. Let’s get some romance and actual sexiness going with these last few episodes of the second season, Empire! All we got this week was a gaggle of strippers and a little overly-heavy petting between Lucious and the reporter.
Outside of the fine music and some pretty bold commentary about how the African-American community can often stigmatize people with mental illnesses, the show has been dragging a bit as it limps towards the end of Season Two. So, we take our joy where we can get, like in these outrageous scenes from this week’s episode.
1. Lucious and the reporter try to get it on
They got so close. So close. But wouldn’t you know it—Anika had to wind up in the hospital and ruin everything. In reality, Cookie’s phone call was sweet relief for us viewers, because Lucious and Harper’s pitiful S&M action was one of the least sexy things broadcast on TV. It was like watching two grumpy cats wrestle with each other. And watching Harper yank on Lucious’s belt with her teeth was unintentionally hilarious. Again, the tryst was thankfully thwarted, before it got too much worse, but those few minutes will be burned in our minds for a little while longer.
2. Lucious + Cookie = co-CEOs
This couldn’t have been a huge surprise to anyone watching the show, and seeing how the two of them were growing together and working together to assure the board and stockholders that Empire was on steady ground. Yet, when the two board members suggested that Lucious and Cookie join forces at the head of the table, well, that gave the show a small spark towards the end that will hopefully bring out some flames next week. It’s gonna be fun to watch those two lock horns, giving Cookie plenty of room to toss out some witty rejoinders and choice put-downs.
3. Jamal at the coffee shop
This is total nitpicking because I know that the show has to continue to emphasize the greatness of Hakeem and Jamal, which is why they set the latter in the coffeehouse where he got his start, and where he was dragged on stage to perform an impromptu tune with a band. In real life, it’s hardly ever that simple, nor does it ever sound that great right out of the gate. No, this is not real life, but the show has done a pretty decent job of bringing to life the struggles and triumphs of the creative process. So watching them resort to the old trope that we see in every other musical-based entertainment story feels lazy.
4. Hakeem at the strip club
Way to be a cliché, young buck. Throwing money around and drinking Dom like it’s water. Be a little more original about it. And was the name of that club really “Chub’s” or did I read that wrong? If it was… yuck.
5. Lucious’s Trump move at the fundraiser
Right after Harper asks Lucious and Cookie about the fact that their kids aren’t there to support this fundraiser for bipolar disorder, security swoops in and drags her out. It was like every time a reporter or protestor gets forcibly thrown out of a Trump rally for raising questions, or trying to voice their opinion. In fact, Lucious is so much like the Republican frontrunner for President that it’s becoming a little eerie. He’s rich, egotistical, megalomaniacal, happy to dispense with anyone that doesn’t toe the party line, and makes sure no dissenting voices are heard around him. Since we can’t stomach the idea of Trump becoming the leader of the free world, let’s instead just use this fictional platform to watch that play out. In that case: consider this our endorsement for Lyon/Christie 2016! Let’s keep the White House black!
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. Follow him on Twitter.