Friday, April 8, 2016

Empire 2x12 Review: “A Rose by Any Other Name” (Lyon Lies) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]

“A Rose by Any Other Name”
Original Airdate: April 6, 2016

Hakeem has begun his reign at Empire, and so far only two people have died, so he’s already doing better than his dad. Both Hakeem and Lucious first appeared in the episode while sitting on chairs that look like thrones — remember what we said about Empire and subtlety — but I’m not convinced either will stick it out long enough to be king of Empire.


Hakeem opens the episode holding court with a bunch of suspiciously attractive reporters as he lays out his plans for Empire as the new CEO. In Hakeem’s favor, he has the ability to sign papers, order people around, and create logos with his face on it. (How did he know who to even ask to create a logo that quickly? Unclear.) But the CEO has to do real work right? Hakeem has a lot of people working around him, but the only business he took care of so far was getting busy with Camilla.

To get Empire out from under Camilla and Mimi’s control, the Lyon clan wants Hakeem to set up Mimi to be recorded saying she did illegal things to gain control of the company. Hakeem knows Mimi is too smart to get caught that way, so he instead sets up Camilla. After taping them having sex, he anonymously sends the tape to Mimi, Camilla’s wife. Mimi responds by selling all her shares in Empire, which Andre quickly picks up by using the money in a trust he created for his son. Camilla responds by murdering Mimi and setting it up to look like a suicide. And on top of all that, Lucious arrives at Camilla’s place just in time to see her scrubbing away her fingerprints next to Mimi’s body. He then, of course, tries to convince Camilla to then kill herself to avoid going to jail for killing Mimi.

But, sure, I guess Hakeem is CEO material.

Actually, murder is par for the course for an Empire CEO, though you think they’d have learned from the last time they lost their CEO to prison. It’s true that Hakeem didn’t technically kill Camilla or Mimi, and Lucious certainly had a bigger hand in convincing Camilla to kill herself than Hakeem did, but you also can’t disentangle Hakeem from these events, either. Lucious is poison, and using his tactics infects you with his deadly disease. (Here’s where I admit I’m not 100% convinced that Camilla is dead. Did she actually drink poison or just make it look like she did?)

No matter the destruction, Hakeem’s family sure was impressed at his CEO antics. Jamal said that Hakeem was a natural, and even Cookie praised his blackmailing skills. And, after all, it did get them what they wanted: Mimi’s shares of the company and Camilla out of the way. Laura, I’m sure, will be much less impressed when she finds out Hakeem was sleeping with Camilla. It was also poor form for Hakeem to want to keep Laura from going on a tour that would be huge for her because he wants to keep her close to him. Hakeem’s relationship issues have never seemed ickier.


Okay, seriously who thought Lucious Lyon was his real name? Probably the same people who voted for Hakeem to be CEO after all he did was walk on top of a table. Logic has never been Empire’s strong suit, and usually you just have to accept things and move on, but I feel like this episode asked us to accept a lot of things. There was never a stagier stage name than Lucious Lyon.

To get back at his dad for spreading the rumor he hooked up with Skye, Jamal writes a song exposing Lucious as inauthentic. For some reason, everyone is acting like being inauthentic and using a name different than the one you were born with is a bigger crime than shooting and killing your best friend. Lucious says he won’t retaliate, but he also threatened to kill his youngest son, so excuse me if I don’t take his word for it.

Andre and Rhonda are still recovering from losing their baby and went to marriage counseling. Only this counseling session was more like an ambush from the paranoid Andre. Andre is showing signs of his bipolar disorder again, but he’s turning to his pastor instead of his doctor.

Cookie spent most of the episode saying empty threats to Hakeem and being way too involved in his sex life. Empire's biggest issue is that when you threaten big events and don’t follow through, those events start to lose their emotional weight. Last week worked because losing Andre’s baby and Lucious’ threats against Hakeem were real and imposing. And when Cookie rebuffed Hakeem last week, it seemed cold, especially on the heels of her and Hakeem getting closer as they worked together at Lyon Dynasty. But this week, when Cookie keeps making threats against Hakeem, it’s clear she will never follow through. Hakeem doesn’t seem mad at her like he was mad at Lucious, he seems like he is working with her to try to get Empire back. So there weren’t any repercussions of her kicking Hakeem out of the family at the hospital.

The same thing can be said for Lucious’ threat against Hakeem’s life. Lucious is clearly vicious and unstable enough to seriously injure Hakeem, or even attempt to kill him. But this week, all the members of his family kept making references to “Lucious’ twitchy trigger finger” and no one actually seemed alarmed or like they were worried about protecting Hakeem, or staying away from Lucious. So now the weight of last week’s events is diminished.

But even with those issues, this was a dramatic episode with a lot of moving parts. Hopefully some of that emotional weight comes back next week.

Cookie crumbs:
  • My boyfriend’s brother was an extra on this episode — I’ve been waiting for MONTHS to tell you all this. Remember when Rhonda was talking to two guys about a photo shoot, and about holding up a woman for 10 minutes? He was the guy who got picked up
  • Great, I’m going to have “Flippy Flop” stuck in my head all week. 
  • Did anyone else think it was hilarious every time someone said “boom boom boom boom boom”? 
  • In between all this evil plotting, I don’t see how anyone has time to write new songs.


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