Thursday, October 01, 2015

My Review of Empire's 2x02: "Without A Country"

Written by Carlito Rodriguez
Directed by Dee Rees

Jamal: "I'll sue the drawers of your black ass."
Hakeem: "And that's why I'm not coming back to your stupid ass Empire."

Yeah, because Lyon Dynasty is exactly where it's at nowadays. Well, no, not really. In this episode alone Hakeem tried and failed to get a girl band going (there's always the next few episodes) and leaked his album online to get back at both Jamal and Lucious, which certainly had the desired effect by the end of the episode.

Jamal's relationships with his family are certainly getting more and more strained now. It's weird seeing him and Cookie barely speaking to each and it's also sad to see him being on the outs with both Hakeem and Andre as Lucious is the only one he has an actual relationship with now. Even his reunion with Michael hasn't been largely focused on as he struggles to record music and continues to fight with his family.

As for Lucious - well, he suffered a cop (played by Ludacris) hating his guts but aside from that and having his meds held back for a bit, this episode was another reminder of how little prison is a deterrent to him. I just knew that at the end of the episode he was going to get bail, so it wasn't a shock to see it happening though Roxanne's venomous hatred for him will obviously pose a problem in later episodes.

Thirsty Rawlings is one hell of a lawyer though. He got Lucious a recording session and even Ludacris's cop couldn't stop the music from getting leaked online. Despite Lucious's terrible qualities as a person - his callous rejection of an exhausted Andre, I really do have an admiration for his determination. If there was an apocalypse, you'd be guarantee that Lucious would be one of the few survivors of it.

As for the rival company plan - I'm trying not to get too attached to it because somehow even before we get to the winter finale, Cookie, Andre and Hakeem will be back at Empire - even Anika too. That's not a spoiler but more like a statement of the obvious. Plot wise, it's decent enough but I can see why Andre decided to bail in the end though.

Also in "Without A Country"

Kelly Rowland appeared in a flashback as Lucious's mother Leah. I think we were also given an explanation towards Lucious's attitude with Andre as well.

Cookie: "Jamal, you already won. You run the Empire. All Hakeem's got is his music."

Rhonda told Jamal that she was pregnant. Begging the question - why don't Lucious/Cookie/Hakeem know or do they already?

Cop (to Lucious): "Far as I'm concerned, the world would be a better place without you in it."

Hakeem (re Rainbow Sensation): "Anika liked it."
Anika: "The concept, not the name. It's a marketable concept."

Are Hakeem and Anika still sleeping with each other? In this episode alone, he also hooked up with Valentina - the girl who auditioned for Rainbow Sensation.

Rhonda (to Jamal): "The reason I'm not drinking is because I'm pregnant. I'm having a baby."

Cookie: "You worry too much. There is no way Jamal is going to sue his brother."
Andre: "You don't worry enough, Cookie."

Standout music: Lucious and his inmates "Snitch Bitch" (clearly this season's "Drip Drop"), Jamal's "Born To Lose" and "Sorry Just Don't Cut It" along with Veronika's "Hourglass" and Tiana's "Get No Better 2.0".

Lucious (to Andre): "You pray that God forgives you, because I don't."

Chronology: Not long from where "The Devils Are Here" left off.

"Without A Country" felt like a bit of a quiet episode compared to the opening one but I actually really liked it a little more than the premiere for some reason. The music was a bit better, the Lucious scenes were the strongest point and while him getting bail was done too quickly/easily, I'm cool with it though.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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