Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of Empire. You can check out previous coverage, here.
If you were able to predict this past week’s episode of Empire, the infamous ASA award belongs to you, my friend.
By the end of “Rise by Sin,” audience members were given a moment to decompress after a dramatic, disheartening and chaotic episode, but audience members may also be used to that.
Something audience members may not be used to is the parallels to the work of Shakespeare that Empire composes throughout its seasons. In fact, if you’ll remember, the entire plot of Empire is based of off Shakespeare’s King Lear. This week’s episode title was parallel to Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, a play that reinforces the contemplation of purity and morality versus corruption and debauchery.
It’s safe to say that this episode instilled more than just contemplation.
In a move that will either go awry or hike up the ratings for the season finale, we meet the newest enemy of the Lyon clan—Freda Gatz.
If you’ll remember, Mr. Lyon killed Freda’s father in prison in the first half of the season, before forming a creepy bond with Freda, who had no idea that Lucious was her father’s murderer.
Suffice to say, she figured it out. No thanks to Carol, who we’ve seen more of in the past two episodes than I think was worth the time given, but alas.
It all goes down like this: The ASA Awards have been set up since the beginning to ensure that a big climatic scene goes down before/during/after the award ceremony. The Lyon’s are being introduced as the “First Family of Hip Hop,” and the red carpet is a set-up for disaster; not to mention, Hakeem and Laura were once cute, but now have just as many problematic components to their “romance” as Fifty Shades. Then there’s Lucious and Cookie, who the writers are desperately trying to get everyone on board for, but I will remain on shore forever on that one (sorry, Lee Daniels) and there are more interconnecting tension-filled spines than ever before.
Let’s lay them all out: Cookie pissed off her sister Carol before the awards because Carol wants to shack up with Tariq (The Freak and also The Fed), except Cookie straight up tells him Carol has herpes with the hope that it staves him off. Hint: it doesn’t. Then we’ve got Tariq working to uncover Lucious (sorry buddy, everyone is) which results in Carol stumbling up to the ASA Awards drunk, before Lucious has security throw her out. Carol spills the beans to Freda Gatz that Lucious was the one to kill her dad.
In turn, shit hits the fan real quick. Freda grabs the gun off a security guard in a hastily planned act of revenge and makes to shoot at Lucious. Jamal steps in the way and is shot. Big props to Bryshere Y. Gray, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett and Terrence Howard who absolutely nailed the heartbreaking scene. Credit where credit is due.
(Also: This is not what I meant when I said I wanted more of a plot line for Jamal. This is not what I meant at all.)
Besides the fact that Jamal and Lucious were on hostile terms for a few episodes now, after Lucious caught Jamal and D-Major (who is still in the closet) getting hot and heavy, he flat out tells Jamal, with tears in his eyes, that he will celebrate the day Jamal contracts AIDS and dies.
Jamal still steps in front of that gun, and I still can’t believe this show exists.
Not to mention, Thirsty has Andre and Lucious’s mom locked up in a panic room, because the world must know that she didn’t actually commit suicide like Lucious has allowed everyone to believe.
Also, Rhonda is done being patient and confronts Anika. Anika is blindsided and panics—silent. We all knew it was Anika, and now this plot line, among many, has dragged on too long.
Next week we’ll find out if Jamal makes it, which no help to Jussie Smollett for his tweet.
The finale is upon us. Good luck.