Thursday, March 31, 2016

Empire 2x11 Review: “Death Will Have His Day” (An Evil Empire) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]

“Death Will Have His Day” 
Original Airdate: March 30, 2016

Empire is back! And I mean really back: back to the intense Shakespearean drama that was season one. It picks up where it left off before the break, with Rhonda at the bottom of the stairs, and Lucious in his office after the board — including Hakeem — voted to remove him as CEO.

Empire works best when it’s tightly focused on the Lyons. After all, the Lyons put family above everything — well, everything except Empire. Every scene with the Lyons crackled with chemistry, but the scenes involving Jamal’s award nomination or Hakeem’s many ladyfriends fell a little flat.


The most powerful storyline for me was Rhonda losing her baby. I sort of wish, though, that they had some sort of warning for seeing Rhonda covered in blood going through her miscarriage. It was quite graphic and pretty upsetting!

Empire began with a conflict between Lucious and his sons. This episode worked because it focused on that conflict. Almost every storyline could be traced back to daddy issues, including Rhonda and Andre losing their son. Rhonda feels like she is letting Andre down by not keeping his heir safe, and Lucious lost the grandson he was so looking forward to meeting. Of course, part of why Lucious looked forward to a grandson was so he could have another minion to try to control, but he’d never admit that out loud.

Rhonda voiced what so many women have felt after they miscarry (of course, there is no regular reaction): guilt for not being able to bring their baby into the world safely, loss of faith in God for letting this happen, and just being heartbroken. I was touched when Cookie told Andre that she and Lucious went through a miscarriage before Andre was born. They lost a daughter. They were so upset they just moved forward and acted like it didn’t happen. But not talking about miscarriages, which are sadly so common, can make women feel more alone and more stigmatized when it happens.

The other huge father and son issue this episode was, of course, Lucious threatening to kill Hakeem because Hakeem took his company away. I mean, talk about daddy issues. Cookie manages to hold Lucious off — for 48 hours. Cookie says that Lucious would regret that decision for the rest of his life, but I’m gonna be real with you guys, I don’t think he would regret it at all.

In maybe the most twisted move in a twisted relationship, Lucious asks Hakeem to meet him alone, at night, under a bridge, in the same spot where Lucious killed Bunky. I certainly wouldn’t meet Lucious anywhere, but the hold Lucious has on Hakeem is strong. So Hakeem shows up, only to have Lucious hand him a gun and try to convince Hakeem to kill Lucious before Lucious gets a chance to kill Hakeem. Worst father, or the worst father, am I right?

Hakeem keeps his cool, which is actually showing some personal growth for Hakeem in the middle of the mess he got himself into, and he walks away, saying that he doesn’t have to do what Lucious tells him to do.

All of Lucious’ sons are messed up, but it seems like Hakeem really got the short end of the stick. On top of his own father threatening to kill him, his mother is ready to cast him away and destroy the relationship they worked hard to rebuild the second that Hakeem makes a mistake. In a nice callback to season one, Cookie is waiting for Hakeem to get home, with a broom in her lap, so she can beat him with it the second he comes through the door.

Hakeem is all over the place, one second doing Camilla’s bidding and the next picking a fight with Laura. In spite of being in love with Laura, he’s getting into bed figuratively with Camilla and literally with Laura, even though he thinks it’s a bad idea. Laura, when a boy tells you it’s a bad idea to sleep with you, don’t do it! I’m sorry you lost your virginity to someone who is running a company with his controlling ex and is possibly the father of another ex’s baby. (Wow, Hakeem’s love life is hard to keep track of.)


Cookie is in peak form this episode. I love that Cookie is not always right and doesn’t always do the right thing. She is messy and sometimes terrible, and I think it’s great that her character is given the room to not be loveable — or even likeable — all the time. When she cast Hakeem away while the family was gathering in the hospital to comfort each other about Rhonda and the baby, it was maybe the coldest Cookie has ever been. It’s too bad that she threw away her relationship with Hakeem, which she was working hard to repair when they worked together at Lyon Dynasty. It also looks like she’s throwing away Lyon Dynasty to get another chance at Empire.

Anika finally makes an appearance in a striking white and beige cape dress thing when she comes to comfort Rhonda in the hospital. We don’t have confirmation, but the show is trying hard to make it look like Anika is the one who pushed Rhonda down the stairs. Maybe she did it so that her baby would be the only baby in the Lyon family? Hopefully her baby will be born healthy and then get as far away from the Lyons as possible, but it never works out like that on Empire, does it?

Cookie crumbs:
  • I generally hate miscarriage plots because I find them really upsetting, but we all know a Lyon baby wouldn’t have worked on the show, right? Well, maybe the writers don’t know that because it looks like both Anika and Laura may be pregnant with Hakeem’s baby.
  • Becky’s triumphant return to my TV screen came when she burst into Lucious’ office on the tails of Camilla and the cops to tell him Rhonda was in the hospital and possibly dying. That girl does not get paid enough. 
  • Cookie is a manipulative master, and I don’t doubt she can take down Camilla. 
  • Okay, literally who would vote for Hakeem to be CEO after he walked on top of that table? He does not have his daddy’s gravitas.
  • The lighting on this episode was great. When Cookie woke up in Lucious’ bed in her fur coat, she looked like a queen. And Lucious was bathed in red light like the devil he is.
  • Subtlety is not one of Empire’s strengths. Every single song was about a crown or a kingdom.


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