Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Review of Empire's 1x02: "The Outspoken King"

Written by Danny Strong And Ilene Chaiken
Directed by Lee Daniels

Lucious (to Kelly McGann): "My music expresses my world."

I might still be way behind with the current US schedule but the second episode of this show certainly my interest going as controversies seemed to be the theme of the episode in the midst of an important performance at Leviticus.

First of all - I mentioned liking Hakeem in my review for the first episode and that still stands but Cookie pointing out that the kid is an entitled fool is something that Lucious shouldn't be ignoring. In this episode we saw a lot of that entitlement with Hakeem's attempts of impressing fellow singer Tiana (which later succeeded) and his public antics that went viral.

As soon as Hakeem started pissing in a restaurant, insulting the white folk and mentioning that Obama was a sellout, it would've been an extreme cop out had his antics not gone viral. Of course, it's not too shocking that while Lucious sort of had to grovel on a conservative talk show on his son's behalf, it also generated some bad boy cred for Hakeem as well.

The thing is, I don't think Hakeem is a bad person - the way he interacts with Jamal is great but he is a spoiled child and I get the impression this will be the tip of the iceberg of stupid things he'll end up doing as the show goes on. Musically though, this show is onto a winning formula every time Hakeem and Jamal duet, so here's hoping there's more of that to look forward to as this episode's performance with those two was the highlight of the hour.

Of course, Hakeem wasn't the only one causing controversy for Lucious's little Empire. Other bad boy/not very talented rapper Kid Fo Fo (really, that's a name?) inspired a shooting and didn't show any apologies for it either. Also on an equally infuriating note, he kept coming at Cookie which sadly didn't result in her whacking him with a broom but I'll take Lucious defending his ex-wife's honour by dropping him from the Leviticus gig though.

Speaking of Cookie, she's still my favourite character for now. Her attempts of having Jamal publicly did seem a little too much for her own benefit than his but at least she's perceptive about Hakeem and watching her and Anika trading insults was fun for most of this episode. As for the plotline with her and Agent Carter, it'll be interesting to see how that one pans out over the next few weeks.

As for Lucious - he's going to be divisive for me. I hate him forcing Jamal to stay in the closet but I liked his scenes with Becky and Cookie and his 'performance' when Vernon revealed that Bunky (who was Cookie's cousin) was murdered was actually pretty superb. I guess in that regard, he's actually as successful a character as his delightful ex-wife then.

Also in "The Outspoken King"

While Andre and Rhonda still seem to be the schemers of the bunch, I do like that Rhonda is helping her husband with his condition. Becky also found out about Lucious having ALS.

Cookie: "You are not shutting Jamal out anymore."
Lucious: "It's not gonna happen."

So will Cookie be referring to Michael as Dora in every episode when she's not calling Anika Boo-Boo Kitty? I found her assistant Porsha pretty amusing as well.

Jamal (re Lucious): "He don't want me there."
Cookie: "I don't care what he wants."
Michael: "We do."
Cookie: "Shut up, Dora."

Kid Fo-Fo: "And who is this stupid bitch?"
Cookie: "Someone who would've never given birth to your ugly ass."

This episode was co-written by Ilene Chaiken - creator of The L Word. She's also an executive producer on this show.

Porsha (re Hakeem's video): "It's gone viral."
Cookie: "What's viral?"
Porsha: "I don't know. It's what they said on the news."

Anika: "Rude."
Cookie: "No more rude than that anchorwoman haircut you slopped on your head."

There's some interesting support characters here - like the bald woman in Hakeem's crew and that publicist friend of Rhonda's as well. Lucious's phone conversation with Obama was priceless too.

Jamal: "The world does not revolve around you."
Lucious: "Your world does."

Standout music: Jamal/Hakeem's "No Apologies", Lucious's "What The DJ Spin" (from 2002) and Tiana's "Adios".

Cookie (to Lucious, re Hakeem): "You'll make him a celebrity but you'll make him a fool first."

Chronology: From where the "Pilot" more or less left off.

Yeah, I'm definitely hooked. "The Outspoken King" certainly had the right moments for controversy and the soapy antics are hard not to enjoy as well as the back and forth between Cookie and Lucious. I do hope that Jamal's coming out is on his own terms though when it does happen.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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