Thursday, April 14, 2016

My Review of Empire's 2x13: "The Tameness Of A Wolf"

Written by Attica Locke And Joshua Allen
Directed by Paris Barclay

Jamal: "Sorry your birthday got ruined."
Cookie: "Yeah, well at least we were all together for a little bit before everything went to hell."

Well, that was a pretty incredible episode, wasn't it? We had Cookie's birthday as a backdrop to one of the most explosive moments in the series as the rest of the characters learned more about Lucious than they thought they knew.

First of all, I had actually forgotten that everyone except Lucious knew that Freda was actually Frank Gathers daughter so Cookie, Jamal and Hakeem's shock at the end of the episode when she revealed who she was actually surprised me. Cookie's reaction was perfect, in light of both Lucious killing Frank to protect her and also because we learned that it had been Frank who got Lucious into hustling back in the day.

I haven't been that interested in Freda as a character but suddenly this episode made her more interesting. When Lucious rightfully took her out of the Boom Boom Bang video shoot (made sense, it really was his story), pairing her up with Jamal for a song was a stroke of genius and I felt that even before the last scene that this episode had done a much better job of fleshing out the character than previous ones have done. It'll be interesting when she finds out her father figure murdered her father though.

Speaking of Lucious, this was a big episode for him. He may be the devil incarnate at times but I like that the show gave him some vulnerability as he let Cookie in about his past with his mother as he made the video for his song. Unfortunately any decency Lucious shows then got thrown out the window when he turned on Andre as the latter was rightfully annoyed with not knowing about his grandmother's history with bipolar before.

Then we had a stressed out Rhonda being conveniently picked by Anika at the end of this one as well. I get that Rhonda is at breaking point between losing a baby, fearing for Andre's health and her in laws general craziness but I'm not sure Anika is the best person to stay with at the moment either.

As for the rest of the episode, I didn't really the implication of a triangle between Tiana, Hakeem and Laura in this one and the engagement between Hakeem and Laura definitely feels like it's going to end badly, especially with Anika back on the scene too.

Also in "The Tameness Of A Wolf"

Hakeem's face is still in the logo for the opening credits.

Hakeem: "Make some noise for Anthony and Cleopatra."
Cookie (to Jamal): "Always hate that dumb name, come on, boy."

For anyone hoping that Camilla didn't die, the opening scene of this one confirmed that she most definitely did.

Jamal: "It's not good for a CEO to be banging his artists, Hakeem."
Hakeem: "What's the point of being a mogul then?"

Harper: "I'll be shadowing Lucious for the next few weeks."
Cookie: "I didn't know vampires had shadows."

Was one of the kids who rapped for Jamal and Hakeem pulled from a talent show? Good rapping by the way.

Cookie (re Frank): "We did what we had to do."
Lucious: "Damn right, cos he would've killed you twice."

Cookie (re her family): "How did you manage to pull this off?"
Lucious: "Well, apparently they love you more than hate me."

Standout music: The Lyons singing "Happy Birthday" to Cookie, Jamal's "Shine On Me" with Freda and Hakeem/Laura/Tiana's "All Nite".

Lucious (to Andre): "The real truth is that my mother was a nutjob. I was embarrassed by her, the same way I am embarrassed by you. How does it help you with that truth?"

Chronology: Not long from where A Rose By Any Other Name left off.

I loved this one. The Tameness Of The Wolf was anything but tame in terms of the material we got this week. Lucious might be an awful human being but he's a consistently a fascinating character who can still shock and horrify his family and audiences in equal measures. This episode certainly acknowledged that in spades.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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