Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Review of Empire's 1x12: "Who I Am"

Written by Danny Strong And Ilene Chaiken
Directed by Debbie Allen

Lucious: "Game time bitches!"

And then the second part of this finale happened. Well, that turned out to be an interesting turn of events. The threat of a hostile takeover, a death, a pregnancy, some excellent duets and Lucious licking his wounds from a prison cell. A part of me feels like shouting "seventeen years, bitch" but I wouldn't be shocked if Lucious is out before seventeen weeks or months.

In a way I'm glad that Lucious is getting punished for killing Bunkie and I didn't even like the character but at the same time, I also found it a little unfortunate that it happened at literally the same time when both him and Jamal were making a genuine breakthrough with each other. In this episode alone, Lucious not only defended his son from a bigoted rapper at a public event but he even told Jamal something that no-one else knew. Okay, Lucious still deserves some jail time but hot damn though.

As for the hostile takeover bit - why can't Hakeem and Andre just work with Jamal instead of trying to take over the company? The only person I can understand doing this is Anika, due to her own strained relationship with Lucious but Andre, Hakeem and Cookie should be working with Jamal, not against him. I don't mind them going against Lucious but I don't want Jamal as collateral damage either.

Keeping with the company stuff - Vernon might have gotten a lame on screen death (Rhonda with the candle stick - really?) but I did like that it was him who sicced Agent Carter onto Lucious over Bunkie's death and he did seem to genuinely want to help an enraged Andre as well. The problem is though that while his death will have interesting consequences for Andre and a now pregnant Rhonda, other than the shock of it, Vernon isn't one of those characters that I'm going to miss a great deal.

As for Cookie - I knew she wouldn't go through with killing Lucious but her anger at him murdering her cousin was more than justified though. I didn't like that she and Jamal somewhat fell out in this episode but hopefully they can mend things early next season though. Those two are way too much fun to watch together as allies than as estranged in my opinion.

Lastly with Jamal getting comfortable in his new position at Empire, it didn't take much for Anika to encourage Hakeem with the hostile takeover stuff, now did it? I'm all for Hakeem being his own man but it might have been better if both him and Andre had reached out to Jamal first rather than allowing Anika to pull their strings to an extent.

Also in "Who I Am"

Lucious and Cookie's real names are Dwight Walker and Loretha Holloway. The latter's real name isn't mentioned in this episode but I thought it was important to note nonetheless though.

Lucious: "The Empire is yours, Jamal."

Lucious's gifts (wrapped in black and gold, fittingly enough) were gold wings for Hakeem, a gold cross of Judea for Andre, a gold lion staff for Jamal and a tiny pillow for Cookie.

Hakeem: "What kind of black girl name is Becky?"
Becky: "My mom's white."

Lucious (to Jamal, re Cookie): "You see son sometimes you gotta be willing to sacrifice your queen in order to win the game."

Keeping with the cameos, we had Rita Ora, Juicy J and Patti LaBelle in this episode.

Anika (to Cookie): "Who's Boo Boo Kitty now, bitch?"

Jamal (to Black Rambo): "Bitch!"

The show got seriously soapy with the Cookie/Anika scrap (flying pearls, people) and the way Jamal destroyed homophobic rapper Black Rambo in that rap off scene was an utter delight.

Cookie: "No matter what's going on between me and your daddy, I got you."
Jamal: "I know you do."

Lucious: "Dwight Walker."
Jamal: "Who's that?"
Lucious: "That's my real name. Cookie don't even know that."

Standout music: Rita Ora's "NY Raining", Jamal/Hakeem's "What The DJ Spins" and Jamal/Patti LaBelle's "Nothing To Lose".

Jamal (to audience): "I am the son of Lucious Lyon."

Chronology: From where "Die But Once" left off.

A brilliant finale for an excellent first season. Empire has had some incredible highs for a show in it's opening year and whether or not it can maintain the quality in future seasons is hard to tell but either way, "Who I Am" was a perfect way to cap off this debut year and ensure that I'll be coming back for seconds.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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