Empire: "The Lyon's Roar" Review

“Empire”

Season 1 Ep. 8

The Lyon’s Roar

If someone were to ask you, “what’s “Empire” about?” You would automatically answer “It’s about a family...”. The show is centered around the Lyons family, the record label is centered around family, and the IPO is all about family. So “Empire” is at it’s best when it hits familial themes, and this episode certainly did!

Most of the characters are motivated by love. Whether it’s love of money, or family, it’s usually one of the two. Hakeem and Jamal’s brotherly bond is really starting to become palpable. Watching them squash their beef, that stemmed from “Dangerous Bonds”, in the beginning of the episode was a nice moment. It’s the genuine, emotional moments that pull you in to the relationships of the show. So when Hakeem tells Jamal “that was the bravest thing I’ve ever seen” towards the end of the show (we’ll get to why in a second), it almost got a little dusty in my house! 

Cookie  and Hakeem had a break through in their relationship. Hakeem finally said why he was so mad at Cookie. Cookie explained that she didn’t love Jamal more than him, but she just understood Jamal better. It was nice to see them finally working at their relationship. In fact, Cookie read Camilla (Naomi Campbell) and put her in check for messing with her son! 

The Cookie/Lucious affair seemed like it would last at least a few episodes. NOPE! I guess the network said that’s for average shows! One of the things I love about “Empire” is that, while predictable at times, it knows when to go in another direction. Lucious was calculated the entire episode. His dismissal of Cookie was stone cold, especially after she gave him the idea for the legacy album and documentary to help with the dynasty hand off.  Lucious is showing his true colors as we get toward the end of the season. Jamal told Cookie not to love him because “he’s only capable of loving himself”.  

Regardless, Terrance Howard knows how to knock the emotional beats out of the park, helping us to love him and hate him from scene to scene. Lucious didn’t do a good job of juggling both Cookie and Anika. After Anika convinced him to push the date of their wedding forward, she also pushed for him to make the announcement during the all white Legacy party. Of course Cookie wasn’t going to be shown up, and she made sure that Anika knew about her and Lucious’s hook up in the studio that morning. I’m glad that rivalry will keep going!

Jamal came out in style during the legacy white party! He changed the words to “You’re so Beautiful”, which was his father’s song, to fit his personal self expression. Everybody was on board with Jamal’s admission except Lucious. We’ll see how that goes. 

Andre is about to go off the deep end. After being shut out by the board from being made CEO of Empire Records in case Lucious was incapacitated, Andre took it hard. (Lucious’s nay in the vote was a dope scene!) It’s sad enough that he is struggling with his Bi-polar disorder, but he admitted to feeling inadequate in comparison to the rest of his talented family. Those two combinations pushed him to what seemed like a suicide attempt. 

I have to geek out on the production of the episode for a moment. During the all white party, people walked in and out of frame in handheld shots with other characters in a beautiful choreography that supplemented the emotions of the environment. Like opposite ends of magnets, one person would come into the frame and someone would leave. For instance, as Cookie was talking to Jamal, Lucious approached which sparked Cookie’s exit. They also took advantage of the spacing of the room. After Cookie dug into Camilla, the camera tilted up to show Vernon and Andre coming together to talk in the balcony above. We then cut to their conversation. It’s these cinematic touches that “Empire” infuses that make the show great.

Cookie Crumbs:

  • Lucious is really proving to be a racist homophobe to the point that it’s not a good look. How marrying a white woman shows you can’t be trusted is beyond me. I hope they give his character redemption in those areas, or at least dial it back a bit before making him Walter White unloveable.
  • Although “Empire” probably could go on without Andre, he is going to have to get help or he’ll destroy himself. As in, only be back in Season 2 in flashbacks! lol
  • Cookie and Lucious are still destined to be together, and the writers are giving us more rope to be strung along with their relationship. 
  • Anika is about to be outted for her treacherous activity with drugging Elle, likely by Cookie because she wants to be with Lucious deep down and Anika messed up her hard work with that move.
  • Will they kill the whole Jamal's little girl story please!? I mean, these "smart" people don't believe in a paternity test at least? 



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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.