TV Review: Empire (2×04) ‘Poor Yorick’

Part of me wonders if the writers of Empire sit in a large room full of furs and flashing lights and ask themselves, “How do we make this episode as over the top as we can get?”

And this is just the beginning.

Don’t get me wrong, the episodes are as divine and addicting as always, but the part of me that would catch snippets of soap operas while my mom sat on an early day off consuming them whole, is slowly withering away at the constant onslaught of plot twists.

There is no rest for the wicked with this show, and the appeal of it was beginning to lose its momentum. Fortunately, the slippery slope was avoided on this week’s episode, and I lived through a whole full hour without even having to pause to process.

The episode never consumes its own misery like last weeks, and the beginning actually matters to the ending.

For Jamal, this week’s episode got him a knife to the painted throat, a jealous boyfriend, and a fight with his brother. Although the episode sees him through musically, I’m still uncomfortable with this new power prowess Jamal seems to be showing off. I mean, it’s hot and all, but it’s episode four and I’m unsure where his story line is going, other than being “head of the company,” and his faltering relationship with his family. Compared to murder, lying to the police, blackmailing a judge, and snitching on a family member, this seems to be the least exciting of the problems.

Speaking of fighting with one of his brothers, audiences at home saw Hakeem in his natural habitat: being whiny and then feeling bad about it later. Although we can see Hakeem’s loyalty gaining credibility and his drive gaining momentum, it’s always the same: Jamal gets praise, Hakeem hates it, and then everyone suffers for it. I can see the pain and abuse Hakeem suffers through every day via his dad or himself, but it’s never a focused point of the show. Hakeem has lived a spoiled life, but this episode trivialized his child-like need for approval, despite his silver platter. After Jamal has his face painted by a cute hipster painter guy, Hakeem has to ruin it by sticking a knife through the painting’s throat. I mean, the responsible thing to do as writers would be to expand on this self-abusive and traumatizing behavior Hakeem has developed and been subjected to, but I’ve yet to feel like addressing it is imminent. Not entertaining enough, apparently.

And as for the Rhonda and Andre, they’re ride or die. Rhonda and Andre have gone through the fiery pits of the Lyon’s den to come out on top, and yet at the end of the episode, there they were digging in the dirt to feel whole again. It’s mostly Andre, but Rhonda feels the need to dig the hole with him. While pregnant. With his child. After murdering his Uncle last season.

On the other hand, we have Andre claiming a religious purpose but everyone knows this is a set up to something that will blow up and cause a revolt. I hope it’s in the form of Lucious Lyon’s face, and I am patiently awaiting Anika’s revenge regarding that sociopath. If Anika doesn’t get to be a part of the breakdown of Lucious I just don’t get the point.

This drawn out will-they-wont-they of whether Cookie and Lucious are going to “hook up” again is sprinkled throughout the episode, with stubborn-as-hell Cookie throwing Anika and her designer purses out on her ass because of Lucious. When does the cycle stop?

The episode is shaped by the advancing war of FBI versus Lucious. Although we had the family in cahoots with each other in the first part of the episode, Cookie is confronted at the end, and held on an arrest charge unless she gives up the goods.

Cookie ain’t no snitch, we must not forget.

Cookie also doesn’t want anyone messing with her sons. The threat of this combined with haunting flashbacks produce an outcome I don’t think anyone was expecting.

All in all, the episode wasn’t lacking in drama, but the over the top feel was taken down a few notches, and I can only hope Lee Daniels and Co. are packing their furs and flashing lights away with the intention of keeping the show tasteful and not so emotionally draining next week.

I have a feeling that’s not going to be the case.

I’m going to watch and enjoy it immensely any way.

8.5/10

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.