TV Recap: Empire (2×12) “A Rose by Any Other Name”

Empire Camilla Mimi Dead

Credit to FOX/Chuck Hodes

Welcome back to my weekly recap and review of FOX’s hit and run  show Empire. This one contains some major spoilers about the episode because so many things happened that I couldn’t not discuss it without context.

And we’re back with an even bigger bang . . . well let’s make that two.

If you’ll recall back to my previous review of the past few episodes, you’ll remember that Camilla and Mimi knocked Lucious out of the top spot and took it for themselves with the help of Hakeem. Inevitably, this plot line reached its final peak of doom and Camilla and Mimi are no longer the co-runners of Empire. Because they’re dead.

Let’s start at the beginning of the episode:

The recently divided (think: last episode) Lyon family have now sort of banded together to take down Camilla and Mimi (who is suffering with cancer) and once again, Hakeem proves he’s hands down the most idiotic Lyon out of the bunch (not including Jamal, who right now is off my radar) by sleeping with Camilla and filming it.

Yes, please make a sex tape to take down the woman who manipulated you into a relationship and caused you to relapse.

This puts Camilla in a bit of a bind and she ends up murdering Mimi after the sex tape reveals her saying some pretty nasty things about her wife. In the end, Camilla stages a suicide for Mimi by murdering her while she’s in the bathtub. Lucious catches her in the act, obviously, and Camilla sips the poison instead of being forced to jail by Lucious himself.

Naomi Campbell was a fun part of Empire, but her inevitable demise after turning on Lucious is not surprising. I’m still reeling from the shock of her presence this season, actually.

All of this of course puts Hakeem back into the Lyon’s semi-good graces, even though they’re setting Hakeem up for a blood bath, considering he’s still CEO of the company.

The age old question of season one rests in the new title sequence. Which is of course, Hakeem’s side profile instead of Lucious. Cue the music.

I will note that it’s hard to be kind to these characters when they’ve become so readily destructive to each other. The core point of this show is family, and slowly but steadily (and it’s only season two) the writers have destroyed any and all relationships they have with each other. There are few moments of reprieve (i.e: take me back to the elevator scene in season one with Hakeem, Jamal and Andre), but the unrealistic moments of forgiveness, the ones that disprove the strongest characteristics they’ve instilled in these characters? I don’t see it. This episode featured a small moment where Cookie called Andre “crazy.” A slip of the tongue, a quick moment of forgetfulness, but I can’t help but wonder just how Cookie could forget? The hurt that flashes in Andre’s eyes is just another reason why I respect Trai Byers a great deal for what he brings to his character. This abrupt moment lost in a sea of unrealistic plot lines and it is the only one that has stayed consistent and utterly hard to face when it’s incorporated.

On the other hand, how can we go from Jamal having an intricate, deeply personal tale of accepting himself despite his father’s disapproval, to him begging for a reconciliation with the LGBT community after having a fleeting (albeit out of the blue) relationship with a woman? And not realizing it was his father who set the whole thing up?

I can’t even call the final straw that severed the relationship between Jamal and Lucious in this episode as a good thing. It is, in retrospect, but after multiple episodes full of betrayal, I’m just relieved. Not to mention, there’s still that award Jamal and Lucious are up against each other for.

When Cookie circa season one comes back, let me know.


Brooke Pawling Stennett is a college student pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism and Creative Non-Fiction in the old Windy City. She tends to lean toward the obsessive side of the tracks when it comes to books and music. She's an avid concert attendee (or at least she tries to!) and rambler. She'd like to travel the world and write about it, but in the only ways she knows how: sarcastically and full of internet jargon. Her opinions are her best ones, especially if they involve boy-bands and Netflix. . .even though she doesn't even have her own account. You can tweet her at @br_stennett and tell her how ridiculous (and totally great!) her opinions are.