Thursday, October 15, 2015

Empire 2x04 "Poor Yorick" (Spinning Wheels) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]

"Poor Yorick"
Original Airdate: Oct. 14, 2015

Much like the Feds, the Lyon clan spent a lot of time digging around and coming up with nothing in this episode. Andre and Rhonda were digging for Vernon’s body, Anika was trying to find her way back to Dynasty, and Cookie was searching for a story she could tell the DA. Somehow, even with dead bodies, arrests, and a stabbing (of a painting), this episode felt more like treading water than going anywhere.


Hakeem and Jamal have agreed to come together for a mutually beneficial music video — Jamal needs Hakeem’s verse and Hakeem needs to get heard while his dad keeps him off the radio. Cookie comes to Lucious to make the deal, and Lucious agrees to the video and to stop poaching clients, but not to allow Hakeem back on the air.

By the end of the shoot, the Lyon brothers are more explosive than the literal fires on the set. Hakeem sees Jamal get everything that Hakeem walked away from — their father’s support, Empire’s resources, a Rolling Stone interview — and Hakeem gets fed up with it. While everyone is admiring a new painting of Jamal, Hakeem stabs the painting with scissors. (I gasped so loud at this my boyfriend thought someone on the show had died.)

Jamal and Hakeem have gotten into fights before, but I much prefer them working together. They’ve always had a special relationship, and they used to try to keep Lucious from tearing them apart. Lucious doesn’t have to do too much to rip them apart right now, though; Hakeem is doing that all on his own.

Hakeem isn’t the only one who is unhappy with the attention Jamal is getting. Jamal’s boyfriend Michael has nothing to do except look sad and dejected in the background while the artist doing Jamal’s portrait creeps on Jamal continuously. I wish Michael had more to do because I don’t think their relationship is interesting enough right now to raise the stakes for either of them. If Michael left or if Jamal cheated, I’d be way more interested in Jamal with someone new than in what happens to Michael. Sorry, Michael, I’m just not that into you.


Andre decides that the only way back into Empire is to make the case against his father go away, and that the only way to do that is to make sure the DA knows its key witness is dead and won’t be available to testify. So he and Rhonda (who is ride or die, baby) do their best impression of criminals and wear all black to go dig up the body of the guy they killed. But they forget exactly which tree they buried him under. You’d think they would have checked at the time for any other distinctive markers and realized that every tree in that clearing has the exact same hole in it, but I guess it was a stressful time.

Lucious is suspicious of Andre’s behavior (and, really, everyone should be at this point), so he has Thirsty put a tracker on his car. Andre and Rhonda think they’ve been caught when Lucious and Thirsty pull up, but really Lucious and Thirsty are there to provide a basic corpse-detection system. After Andre and Rhonda spend all night finding nothing, Thirsty’s device (what is it, exactly?), helps them find what they are looking for. It is also Thirsty’s expertise, I assume, that helps them get Vernon’s corpse into the DA’s car.

Rhonda and Andre are expert manipulators, but they seem to be pretty sub-par murderers. Lucious — father of the year that he is — tells Andre that he’s proud of him, and that Andre saved his life by killing his uncle. All of this criminal activity has Andre turning closer to god, and it looks like next week will focus on his baptism. It also has him turning closer Lucious, who may be the devil himself.

Anika is also spinning her wheels and waiting for someone to let her back in. I want so badly for her to team up with Cookie, but Cookie still doesn’t trust her. After sending Anika on an errand for Dynasty, Cookie tells her that it won’t be enough to get her back on board. I’m not sure what Anika’s next move will be, but I hope it’s not back to Empire. If it is though, at least it would get her more in the game.

The DA Roxanne Ford is looking for dropped bodies, but she’s looking with search warrants instead of shovels. She is turning over everything she can to try to find something on the Lyon family, and that includes threatening Cookie with physically harming her sons. That’s cold. She cooks up a scheme to arrest Cookie to try to pressure her into snitching on Lucious, but Cookie comes up with a plan instead that will kill Lucious’ radio deal and let Cookie off the hook.

Roxanne must really be desperate to believe Cookie and get the FCC involved without checking up on anything. I don’t see how this will make Cookie look like less of a snitch, unless they prove later that Cookie lied to the DA, which would get Cookie in more trouble, I assume. But I probably shouldn’t waste my time with logic on Empire, which is much more about grand gestures than details. After searching Empire, Dynasty, the Lyon’s home and Cookie’s brain, the only thing that Roxanne finds is Vernon’s body, thoughtfully left for her in the front seat of her car.

Cookie Crumbs:
  • The title of the episode is “Poor Yorick,” which is a reference to Hamlet. A gravedigger in Hamlet finds the skull of the old court jester, Yorick. Empire’s themes of guilt, family, and what it takes to be successful are very Shakespearean — plus, you know, they literally dug up a body. 
  • The scene of Cookie sitting in custody all alone and framed by the window as if she were in a jail cell was stunning.
  • This episode gave up all pretenses and actually worked making a music video into the plot.
  • Cookie’s best line: “You need to kill yourself and that wack weave you got up top your head.”


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