Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Review of Empire's 1x06: "Out, Damned Spot"

Written by Eric Haywood
Directed by Michael Engler

Cookie: "I am fighting for a comeback too, Elle. It's do or die for me too. Okay, now let's do this together but we gotta do this right. I'm all you got."

And the surprising celeb attached to Empire records turned to be Courtney Love or should I say Elle Dallas? As an appearance, it wasn't one I was expecting but it was one that worked well for the episode even if Cookie's fangirling over the somewhat fading Elle was a little OTT in places. That being said, Cookie is continuing to prove her stripes as a manager.

When she wasn't boosting things for Jamal (more on that in a bit), she was doing her best to get Elle to remain clean and use her pain to actually make a good recording session, along with getting rid of all the tacky eyelashes and stuff on her as well. I love this side to Cookie and I have to admit that Elle seemed like a slightly neutered version of Love's own wild child reputation of yesteryear as well. Character wise, I want some more scenes with Cookie and Elle.

As for Jamal - well, this was a massive episode for him, wasn't it? On one hand we had Cookie getting him tweeted by a sports star, setting up live interviews and also having the world hear two of his songs. It was actually going pretty well for Jamal, except for the fact that he closeted himself by admitting there was no special lady in his life, which did not go down well with Michael.

I've mentioned in previous episodes that I didn't feel we were getting a lot on Michael and this episode we did. As in the imminent death knell of his relationship with Jamal. We had Cookie basically forecasting their doom by going on about Jamal's rising fame and Jamal's schedule putting Fire Island on hold along with concealing his sexuality. One step forward Jamal, several ones backwards - not good mate.

Of course if all that wasn't enough to spell the near end for Jamal and Michael, then the arrival of Olivia and Lola certainly will. It looks like Jamal is Lola's daddy with Jussie Smollett's real life BFF Raven Symone playing the role of Olivia as well. This isn't a plotline I was hoping for and I'm not sure of Olivia's motives either. She didn't exactly come across pretty well in the last scene but I'll see how this one plays out before judging too harshly.

As for the rest of the episode - what exactly are Vernon and Andre in cahoots over? Taking Empire from Lucious probably. I'm actually surprised that Vernon figured out that Lucious killed Bunky and even more surprised that he went to the lengths he did to cover for Lucious as well but it does give him a hold over things now. Assuming Andre doesn't live up to his threat that is.

As for Hakeem - he got a new song, but mainly because he spent most of his time projecting his anger onto both Cookie and Tiana into his new hit. It's great that they inspired a song for him but Hakeem seriously needs to get over himself as well though. I'm glad Jamal called him out on a few choice things this week as well.

Also in "Out, Damned Spot"

Ah, the Shakespearean quotes for episodes title are great, aren't they?

Cookie: "Oh and Anika, this is an ass."

Cookie didn't take Lucious/Anika's engagement well but she should be more worried about the latter trying to turn Porscha against her.

Cookie: "You should start preparing yourself. Fame changes people."
Michael: "What should I do?"

Jamal: "You come first, you know that."
Michael: "First and second if we're keeping score."

Maybe it's because Ilene Chaiken is an executive producer/writer for this show, but I can't be the only one to see some parallels/shades of Dana/Lara from The L Word's first season with Jamal/Michael's current story line.

Anika (re Jamal's song): "I assumed it was a demo."
Cookie: "You would cos you're a hater."

Cookie: "Ex-wife."
Elle: "Darling, don't be shy. We're all someone's ex-wife."

Elle really does seem like an odd signing for Empire Records but perhaps that's a good thing as well.

Vince Boy (to Cookie/Porscha): "I'm only doing this because you two are hilarious. What's the name of the song?"

Lucious got Anika's father to give him an experimental cocktail from Russia in order to combat his ALS as well in this episode. Not to mention that Vernon is aware of Andre's bipolar and Cookie seemed attracted to new security head, Malcolm.

Michael: "What happened to not caring about fame and money? Weren't you all about the music?"
Jamal: "You really don't get it, do you? This is about the music."

Standout music: Jamal's "I Wanna Love You", Hakeem's "Can't Trust 'Em" and Elle's "Take Me To The River", even if the latter song was intentionally ropey.

Andre (to Vernon): "One more thing. You put your hands on me and I will slit your throat."

Chronology: Not long from where "Dangerous Bonds" left off. I love that Anika made a point of mentioning that Lucious proposed to her on a Wednesday too.

My favourite episode so far. While I don't know about the Jamal having a kid plot or the imminent split with him and Michael, I do think "Out, Damned Spot" had so many great moments for the character and it was nice to see other characters like Vernon showing their hand as well in the scheme of things too.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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