Empire‘s Camilla Marks-Whiteman is dead. But ours is not to mourn her passing by dabbing the corners of our eyes with silk hankies.
Instead, let us sip too loudly from our champagne flutes as her eulogy is read, drop LOL-inducing bon mots (“That battle axe did know fur!”) and pour our sympathies on an unlikely candidate: Lucious Lyon.
Oh, don’t get it twisted: Dude is the all-time absolute worst — as a dad, as a spouse, as an artistic collaborator. But this week’s episode gave us the extended mix of his childhood flashbacks, and to paraphrase Aretha Franklin, there ain’t no way to not have your heart break a little for the child who grew up homeless in the streets of Philadelphia and turned to selling drugs to avoid eating out of trashcans. (And that’s not even the worst part — but we’ll get to that in a sec.)
With that said, let’s recap the action from Season 2, Episode 13, “The Tameness Of A Wolf”:
THE LYON SLEPT OUTSIDE | Cookie takes charge of Lucious’ video shoot for “Boom Boom Boom Boom” — and pushes him to make it autobiographical. “If you don’t put the whole truth in your video, what’s the point?” Lucious — who’s being shadowed by journalist Harper Scott (AKA Purple Passion) keeps struggling as the vision unfolds — and finally reveals to Cookie that not only did his mother try to drown him in a bathtub, but that she ultimately committed suicide in front of him. When Lucious ran off to avoid being put into the foster care system, he got recruited to sell drugs by Frank Gathers — the drug kingpin played by Chris Rock who Lucious had murdered (to save Cookie) in the Season 2 premiere. Let’s give credit where it’s due: This is some of Terrence Howard’s best work all season — as he makes palpable Lucious’ still-raw trauma, as well as the stubborn pride that prevents him from confronting his past and moving beyond it.
In the midst of all this, Jamal decides he wants to work with Freda Gathers, and their new track is [insert fiyah emoji here]. Cookie likes it too, but when Freda drops her dad Frank’s name into her freestyle verse, Cookie turns white as all those Empire board members threatened by Thirsty Rawlins. Uh-oh. THIS IS THE DAUGHTER OF THE GUY WHO LUCIOUS MURDERED. (Cookie’s all-caps, not mine.) Yep, I think we have our Dramatic Arc for the final episodes of Season 2!
VIDEO KILLED THE FATHER-SON RELATIONSHIP | All Cookie wants is a happy family dinner for her first birthday outside prison in 17 years — oh, and a cake, not a country-ass peach pie, Porsha! While the Lyon clan puts aside their differences and sweetly surprises her, things go south when she shows ’em all a rough cut of the “Boom Boom Boom Boom” video, which makes long-suffering Andre realize his grandmother suffered from bipolar disorder, just like he does now. He’s enraged, wondering why Lucious kept him in the dark even in the darkest throes of his disease, and Lucious, unable to see past his own childhood shame, rips into his son, saying his own mother was “a nutjob” and that he’s as ashamed of Andre as he was of her.
Andre storms off into the night — justifiably so — but when he tells Rhonda to stay put, his wife reaches her emotional limit. She decides to walk home — then calls Anika (aka She Who May or May Not Have Pushed Rhonda Down the Stairs in the Winter Finale) for a lift, and Anika’s all, “Feel free to stay with me, fellow Lyon Family Survivor.” Is it wrong that I guffawed heartily when the scene ended with Rhonda accepting the offer and noting, “It’ll be nice to be around someone sane for a change!” (Gurrrrl, you didn’t see Anika pretending to be an Uber driver in a blonde Party City wig, now did ya?)
MORE BLING FOR HAKEEM | Rhonda’s not the only one looking for a change of pace after yet another crappy Lyon family get-together. He’s already reeling from Laura’s dad saying that all parents want to see their kids reach greater heights than they did themselves, and so he goes to his girlfriend/employee with a rock the size of Tiana’s waist and proposes. And Laura accepts. And we all know it’s waaaaayyyy too soon and Hakeem is waaayyyyy to impulsive and Laura is waaaayyyy too inexperienced for any of this to work.
Speaking of Tiana, though, there’s one little problem. She’s on tour, with Laura’s girl group Mirage a Trois opening — we sippin’ bottomless mimosas… — and there’s hella tension between ’em. Or there was? Is it still there? I have no clue, but I think the very weird performance with Hakeem rapping and both ladies gyrating like their lives depended on it was supposed to be the diva equivalent of a truce. Except Tiana sees the proposal goes down, and gets a wistful look in her eye. Ohhhh, Tiana, your mama taught you better than that!
IN OTHER NEWS | Rhonda takes over from the deceased Camilla as head of Anthony and Cleopatra, Empire’s fashion line with a name that Cookie just despises. Wait, Empire’s just never gonna mention Mimi and Camilla again?
What did you think of this week’s Empire? An improvement off last week’s mess, yes? Hit the comments with your thoughts!