Thursday, April 28, 2016

Empire 2x15 Review: “More Than Kin” (False Alarm) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]

“More Than Kin”
Original Airdate: April 27, 2016

A lot of things happened in this episode of Empire, but logic was not one of them. Starting with the opening — which made it look like Hakeem was making a music video, but it was actually his real life and he was just tearing it up at a strip club — the fake-outs got a bit out of hand.


The episode started with Hakeem at a strip club, popping $1,000 bottles of champagne, with his people throwing dollar bills everywhere. (Rude much? Why are you making people pick up money off of the floor?) He was also singing his own song and working a fairly-coordinated dance routine, so it looked a lot like a flashy music video. Except it wasn’t a video; it was his real life, and his new fiancée was blowing up his phone while he partied. Because of an app that Hakeem left on that tells his location, and because he was all over Instagram, Laura knew where he was and showed up at the club.

Weirdly, Empire saved its logical explanations for how Laura could find Hakeem at a strip club. I would have bought that she just knew what club he frequented and checked there when she couldn’t get in touch with him, so the multiapp detective job seems a little more complicated than necessary. Also, if she could find him from an app he left on that tells people where his pop up shows were, wouldn’t a bunch of his fans have shown up to the club, too?

This is what happens when you look too closely at Empire’s plot: it starts to look like Swiss cheese. If the episode has enough of an emotional story, the plot logistics matter less and I’m willing to look past any holes that might be there. But when the emotional storyline is less powerful, the holes get so big I am afraid I will fall in.

For example, everyone keeps telling Cookie that she’s still in love with Lucious, but I don’t see the emotion between them. It would be convenient for Cookie to still be in love with Lucious, because why else would she let him get away with so much? But when she and Lucious are together, there is no romantic chemistry. There used to be! But I don’t see it anymore. As her sons’ complaints about her feelings for Lucious have increased, Cookie’s behavior toward Lucious has stayed exactly the same. Just because Cookie makes snide remarks about a new woman in Lucious’ life doesn’t mean she’s convincingly selling her emotions for him. It just means that Cookie is territorial about her family and her company — and she is. Continuously telling me that Cookie is jealous doesn’t make me actually believe it. She has to show me, too.


The second fake-out of the episode came when Lucious was taking that other woman on a date. Before I get to their disastrous date, let’s talk about Harper for a second. Harper has no personality. She is just another vindictive lady journalist who sleeps with her sources, and I am so bored of those I could die. When she and Lucious go on their date, they embark on a truly terrible scene. I mean, it is just not sexy at all, and they got so violent that I actually thought Lucious might accidentally kill her. Which, honestly, would have been a more exciting story than what did happen. What did happen was they were mercifully interrupted by a text from Cookie letting him know that Anika was in the hospital.

Which brings me to fake-out number three: Cookie had gone over to Anika’s to smooth things over after Lucious threatened to kill her in childbirth last week (because, sure, that can be smoothed over). Cookie found Anika being rushed to the hospital, so she jumped in the ambulance with her. In an actually sort of emotional scene, Cookie helps Anika calm down and breathe, and Cookie begins to struggle with what it means to become a grandmother. When they get to the hospital, though, Anika is... fine. No one ever says what was wrong with her, and Lucious moves her to a fancy room. Good thing we spent all that time on an emergency hospital run, I guess?

Fake-out four comes when Laura breaks off her engagement to Hakeem after she finds out about Anika’s pregnancy. Well, first Hakeem just assumed she broke up with him because she slapped him after he told her about Anika. But then she really did break up with him and gave his ring back. But then Lucious called Laura and convinced her to give Hakeem another chance, so now they are engaged again. Whew, that was quick and pointless.

Also in this episode, Andre started a National Lyons for Bipolar Disorder organization and found out that Lucious’ mother is still alive, and Jamal sings in a small club in the fun musical scene for the week.

Cookie Crumbs:
  • Jamal looked ridiculous in his all black get up with his sunglasses inside.
  • I love that every time we see Laura, she is wearing a more expensive outfit. Get that Lyon money, girl.
  • I really do not understand how the ASA awards work. Why are people campaigning? Are they like the Oscars? When will they be over? 
  • Harper runs a music blog, so why does everyone keep talking about getting Lucious on the front page? The front page of what? Her website? Where all her new stories go? I just cannot.
  • Does Hakeem seem angrier that Lucious forced Anika’s father to commit fraud than he does about Lucious threatening Anika’s life? 
  • Oh yeah, Michael — the most boring boyfriend in the world — is back. The show is really are going back to season one, even the bad parts. 
  • Of course Hakeem parties to his own music. Of course he does. 


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