Thursday, October 8, 2015

Empire 2x03 "Fires of Heaven" (Making Moves) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]

"Fires of Heaven"
Original Airdate: October 7, 2015

Empires rise and fall pretty quickly in this town. Lucious is out of prison and ready to be a leader again, but Jamal still has to be in charge until Lucious is totally cleared. Cookie is starting her new Dynasty, which makes a big entrance at Lucious’ club... only to lose its new star by the end of the episode. Anika goes from unemployed to double-crosser in one scene. Jamal was on top of the charts last week, but Hakeem is closing in with his new hits.

Empire has always been a giant chessboard with larger than life pieces — sort of like Wizard Chess, but with hip hop artists. Lucious sees himself as the god-king, but he forgot that you need the queen to win the game. As Lucious is making moves, let’s check in with all the players.


Lucious had some great lines (“Blasphemy, I’m a god”), and his suits are on point (especially when he’s stealing the show from the DA when he’s leaving prison), but his pointed cruelty is painful. I can hardly watch any time he’s on screen, and that goes double for when he shares scenes with Andre.

Andre is broken open and wants Empire so bad that he is willing to use his unborn son in order to gain an advantage. Unfortunately, Lucious sees through this play, and instead of sharing joy, Lucious shares more pain. He keeps dangling Empire in front of Andre only to yank it away, and Andre looks like he’s going to be pushed past what he can take.

Andre would be the best CFO over any other regular MBA grad because Empire is in his blood and he wants it more than anyone. Lucious knows this, but he’s keeping it from Andre anyway because he’s worried about his bipolar disorder. But instead of putting Andre out of his misery and telling him that’s the issue, Lucious keeps dragging out not forgiving Andre and teasing him with promises he will never keep.

Lucious beat death last season, this season he’s beating prison, and now he sees himself as a god. He sees the people around him as his to control and punish—and he’s very good at crime and punishment. But Lucious isn’t a god, and he can’t see everything. Something will slip eventually; it’s only a matter of time.

Odds of Lucious running Empire: pretty good since, according to him, he is Empire. But I am confident that Lucious won’t be top dog forever.


I am stoked to see Cookie be on (mostly) good terms with everyone except for Lucious. Maybe because Taraji could have chemistry with a cardboard box, but everyone shines brighter in scenes with Cookie. Anika and Cookie were a delight, and Andre and Cookie were very sweet.

I see Cookie outlasting everyone on Empire because she is the most resilient. She is 100% correct when she tells Lucious that she will eat no matter what, but just not with him. Cookie has what it takes to rebuild herself and her life and the tenacity to get things done. Prison taught her more than how to be a mean choreographer (which is a line that made me laugh out loud); she learned how to be persistent, schmooze the right people, and be more focused than anybody else.

Odds of running Empire: She still would be the best person to do it, but Cookie’s got her own thing going now, and she could thrive at Lyon Dynasty. ... If Lucious ever eases up and lets her, that is.


Jamal wants to be number one to Lucious, and with Becky’s help, he finally got Lucious’ attention. It’s good to see that he was willing to turn to Cookie because it means it isn’t completely over for them, but now Lucious is using that in order to worm his way back into controlling Jamal.

Jamal has always been more of an artist than a businessman, and that’s already causing him issues at work when he doesn’t sign Lucious’ new protégé. Even though he is currently running Empire while Lucious is indisposed, he’s still Lucious’ pawn — he just doesn’t realize it yet.

Andre is nearing a breaking point. His heart is at Empire, but he can’t quite get there. Andre is the brother I’m most worried about right now since he can’t seem to take any steps forward and it looks like next week he’s going to be digging up Vernon. Yikes.

Hakeem is doing the best right now both musically and personally, even if Lucious threw Lyon Dynasty a curveball by buying up all the radio stations to keep them from playing new music. But Hakeem’s music is on fire, he’s on good terms with Cookie, and he’s got attention from the radio anyway (and Pitbull, apparently).

Odds of running Empire: It’s not looking very good for any of the Lyon boys, but it’s looking the worst for Andre. I’m beginning to think Hakeem, who is proving he might have what it takes, would be a good choice, but right now Hakeem doesn’t want it. Jamal wants Empire — and right now he has it — but nothing on Empire lasts.


All I want in this life is for Cookie and Anika to become friends and take over the world. There was a glimpse of what that could be like in this episode, and it was glorious. If the enemy of your enemy is your friend, Anika and Cookie should be besties. Lucious is counting on them hating each other, so they could really throw him off and do some damage if they team up. I get why there’s bad blood between them, but they could do each other a lot of good if they forgive and forget. Lucious clearly has a thing for crafty women, and it is not smart to keep screwing them over.

Wanting to hurt Lucious gives Anika the motive I was missing from her last week. Revenge makes a lot more sense than wanting to play nice again with a dysfunctional family.

Odds of running Empire: Slim to none. But she would be a good asset for whoever does run Empire, and the odds of her leading Lyon Dynasty are high.


Oh, Valentina. If a label signs you just to get revenge, they probably won’t have your best interests at heart. You are a tool for Lucious and you will be dropped just as easily as he picked you up. I respect that you are looking out for yourself, but signing with Empire was a mistake.

During each episode, Empire has been taking mini-breaks to do something different — like the phone montage or making things look like a music video. This episode, the choreography scene looked different than the rest of the episode. For a few minutes it seemed like a new show entirely and that Cookie had opened a dance studio instead of a record company. I’m into shaking things up a bit, and it makes these scenes lighter and more fun than the soap opera that often categorizes the rest of the show.


Becky once again saves a Lyon from himself. Girl, I hope you get that raise!

Cookie crumbs:
  • Lucious’ chair at his dining room table looks like a throne. Because of course it does. 
  • “Don’t smirk at me like I don’t know what I’m talking about.” – Becky
  • Jamal’s wink when Hakeem was performing is everything.
  • Cookie’s best line: “I doubt Jesus Christ himself could save you without burning his hands.”
  • And her best/craziest look: The metallic structured top she wore when she was interrupting Lucious’ party.


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