More Than Kin
Taraji P. Henson as Cookie, Terrence Howard as Lucious.
I’m starting to wonder if Empire has any writers under the age of 45. This show makes random strippers say things like, “Do it for the ’gram,” and makes Hakeem say things like, “You’re trying to make me turn up,” all with straight faces and in tight close-ups. Where is that cute girl who invented “on fleek”? Someone put her in the writers’ room.
Hakeem is on a bender at a strip club that he has rented out so he can lip-sync to his own music and distract himself from getting fired and getting Boo Boo Kitty pregnant. Hakeem handles his problems in a very mature, responsible way. After a positively excessive amount of Hakeem lip-syncing for his life, one of Hakeem’s flunkies, who I can only assume is named Chicken, sees Guadalupe is blowing up his phone. “I lost everything. Who cares?” BE THAT WAY, HAKEEM. Just grab strippers in a way I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to.
There’s a quick but wonderful shot of a stripper dressed as a nurse, who is just assigned to gather the money in a garbage bag. I want her story. Is it a rotating position? Did she interview for that position?
Meanwhile, Empire is having a party for the ASA voters because the ASA voting has lasted longer than the 2016 presidential primary. Topical jokes! Political jokes! Lucious is still roaming around with his dick out and his nostrils flaring because he’s horny and angry. He’s horny because Lady Journalist’s narrow behind is walking around and he’s angry because Jamal is still trying to win an award. To Lucious, that’s a grave sin. Lady Journalist has a blog and she might put Lucious on the cover. Blogs … don’t … have … middle-aged writers’ room. Never mind.
Cookie is trying to create buzz for their fundraiser and Jamal is just trying to keep his cool in a Lenny Kravitz–inspired ensemble. The gloves come off when Lucious and Jamal sit down for a press conference and Lucious compares Jamal to Oscar De La Hoya. Which is an insult? Thirsty comes rolling in and lets them know that the board is considering an outside hire for CEO and Lucious refuses to work for white people and wants to know how many he’s got to take out. When Lucious hears bad news, he immediately jumps to straight-up murder. How many people does he take out when he finds out the McRib isn’t year-round? Cookie wants to unite everybody behind Lucious so someone can win something and keep family control of the company.
Andre sees through Cookie asking him to ask Jamal to tone down the attacks on Lucious. Andre has an even better idea, and because Andre is tragic light-skinned Eeyore, whatever he proposes will go terribly for everyone involved. This is the way. He wants to put himself at the center of the fundraiser for bipolar disorder and wants to be the spokesperson. Cookie says, “So you’re ready to … ” and points to her head. Cookie, you’ve got to use your words a little better.
Hakeem is waking up in the foam room with his head on a fishnet-covered ass, drunkenly rambling about how his family doesn’t believe in him. Guadalupe walks in and he starts talking about all his failures: He’s not CEO, he’s not rapper of the year, he got Boo Boo Kitty pregnan — oh, he didn’t mention that one before? Yikes. Guadalupe slaps him and storms off. Fair.
After a brotherly pep talk, Jamal walks into Empire headquarters for the fundraiser with Becky and her good hair when ex-boyfriend Michael says he’s got a break coming up soon and maybe they could grab coffee? Because sure, let’s just bring this sad sack back, Jamal agrees. Jamal and Michael go to the coffee shop where they met and where Jamal performed eons ago. (Or, like three weeks ago. How much time has passed in Empire?) Jamal jumps up with some blipster band and whisper-shouts his way through the song.
Hakeem has Boo Boo Kitty come over to see he baby-proofed the crib, which is hard because everything in his home is made of marble or created for strippers to climb on. He even bought a giant teddy bear, which is television for “I’m ready to be a father.” BBK is worried that Hakeem’s fiancée won’t take too kindly to the idea and also his father threatened to kill her so …
Lucious is eating ganache with Lady Journalist when Cookie rolls in with her hair laid and she unleashes a torrent of jokes about Lady Journalist’s intimate hygiene routine. This is such a tremendous old black lady move and I am here for it. Cookie lets Hakeem into Lucious’s seduction boardroom and Hakeem attempts to stand up to his father and threatens to leave if Boo Boo Kitty leaves. Does she want Hakeem to come with her? I’d say no.
Cookie goes to see Boo Boo Kitty and her door is open. Paramedics wheel Boo Boo Kitty out on a stretcher and Cookie pushes her way into the ambulance. How much bad luck can befall these people? How many unborn fetuses will be imperiled on this show? What does Boo Boo Kitty have? She doesn’t have any symptoms, except for a fast heartbeat. Did she go too hard on Xbox Kinect? Cookie uses her strong motherly powers to calm BBK down.
Lucious is entertaining Lady Journalist at the club and holy smokes, this is a booty call. Looks like she’s Lady Booty Journalist now. LBJ. Topical! Political! Lucious throws her on the couch and we endure a very uncomfortable and unsexy scene of LBJ slapping Lucious’s face. Good thing he always takes Cookie’s calls, so he’s off to the hospital. Hakeem hasn’t heard the news yet because he’s trying to plead with Guadalupe that his days of stripper parties and getting his dad’s ex-girlfriend pregnant are over. She takes the ring off.
Hakeem heads to the hospital and BBK’s mother, Boo Boo Kat, has forbidden Lucious from seeing her daughter because he forced her father to commit fraud. Oh, yeah! I guess that did happen. Lucious shows up and tells Hakeem that he’s finally proud of him for standing up for BBK. Cookie shows up after Hakeem tries to fix all his relationships with women. Lucious tells her that nothing happened with LBJ and Cookie says, “They make pills for that.” COOKIE. BLESS.
At the fundraiser, Lucious is talking trash about Jamal and how he’s still developing as an artist and how “Boom x4” is all about mental illness. Sure. Well, Jamal overhears Lucious and storms out. LBJ walks up to Andre and hands him an envelope of specialty sized photographs of the group home where Mama Walker is being kept. How did she get those? However she got them, Andre runs off shocked, leaving Cookie and Lucious to do the presentation on their own. LBJ asks why Empire’s sons aren’t there. Hakeem re-proposes while Boo Boo Kitty lies asleep in her hospital bed. Jamal is off having a pop-up concert with Freda Gatz in the audience and nothing happens. To make up for their absence, Cookie promises a Lyon family performance at the ASAs.
Because of her quick thinking and general fabulousness, the board proposes that Lucious and Cookie run Empire as co-CEOs. Lucious accepts. I can’t wait to see what the logo looks like next week.