Post Mortems

Empire Season 2 Premiere: EP Talks 'Gorilla Suit' Moment, Cookie/Jamal Rift, Marisa Tomei's Lesbian Tycoon

It’s impossible to distill Empire‘s Season 2 premiere down to a single line of dialogue, but under threat of a Frank Gathers dinner invite (more on that in a second), we’d go with Lucious Lyon’s cold, calculated “Who is that lesbian bitch?”

In other words, Wednesday’s explosive hour — which featured a decapitated head in a box, a boardroom scene that would make Alexis Carrington-Colby gasp and a ferocious booty-shake from Boo-Boo Kitty herself — is evidence that Fox’s critical and ratings juggernaut is on course not just to maintain the pace of its heady freshman season, but to supersede it.

“We came out of Season 1 feeling like, ‘There’s no reason this show should stop or slow down,” says showrunner Ilene Chaiken. “In fact, it’s not a challenge to figure out where to take stories, it’s a challenge to figure out which stories not to tell — because there are so many possibilities.”

And if you found yourself howling at the Lyon family’s scathing zingers — “Game over, bitches!” “You can’t even dyke right!” — rest assured that Chaiken and fellow EP Danny Strong (who co-wrote the premiere) were right there with you. “We had a blast working on the script. And it felt like the actors were really happy to be reunited with those characters,” she says.

Empire201_sc17_0127_jm_hires1To recap the hour: Cookie, Hakeem, Andre and Anika thought they’d managed to lock down a hostile takeover of Empire Entertainment using $250 million from investor Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei). But despite an aggressive courtship that included dangling Anika as a sexual plaything, Mimi changed sides at the last possible second, teaming up with Jamal and a still-imprisoned Lucious to maintain their power position. As retaliation, Jamal shelved Hakeem’s record, and froze out his beloved mother — leading her to slap his face not once, but twice, and express her deepest fear of him turning into his father.

At the same time, Frank Gathers (Chris Rock) — Lucious and Cookie’s cannibalistic boss from their drug-running days — landed in jail and learned that it was the Lyon matriarch who’d ratted him out (and put out that Season 1 hit on his henchman). After having the head of Cookie’s cousin delivered to her apartment door, Cookie broke down and visited her estranged ex in prison — leading to Gathers’ slow, painful murder (preceded by Lucious’ promise to sign and deflower Gathers’ teenage rapper daughter).

In other news, Cookie opened the hour by donning a gorilla suit at a #FreeLucious concert, then giving a stirring speech about the treatment of black men in the American correctional system; Andre continued to be consumed by guilt over his and Rhonda’s murder and surreptitious disposal of Uncle Vernon; and Jamal and Michael reunited (though with a new and twisted dynamic putting the middle Lyon son in a power position).

Below, Chaiken breaks down the episode’s key scenes, teases how and when the Mimi storyline will play out, ponders the odds of a mother-and-child reunion for Cookie and Jamal, and dishes the “tragedy” of Lucious and Cookie’s romantic connection.

Empire201_sc1pt_0115R_hires1-2TVLINE | You open with Cookie being lowered to the stage at a “Free Lucious” concert — in a cage, wearing a gorilla suit — followed by a scathing speech indicting the criminal justice system and what it’s done to black men in this country. How did that scene come about?
There’s so much to tell about that scene. Firstly, it’s really exciting that we get to tell a story in which those kinds of sentiments belong. They don’t feel shoehorned in. We’re not on a soap box. We’re just talking about where these characters are in today’s world — this show is located in this moment in time where these issues really would be touching their lives. So, we knew that we were opening the show with the Free Lucious concert, with Cookie and Jamal and the rest of the family at wit’s end. The lawyers haven’t been able to get Lucious a bail hearing, and whether he’s guilty or not — and everybody who’s watched the show knows he is — nonetheless, there’s this sense that an injustice has somehow been committed. [Laughs]

Danny Strong and I wrote the script — we broke it in the room with all our writing colleagues. Lee Daniels was directing the episode, and one day, pretty close to production, he calls me and says, “Ilene, are you sitting down? You know that opening scene where we see Cookie in a cage at the concert? I’m gonna put her in a gorilla suit.” [Laughs] I said, “Ohhh!” He has this inimitable way — he’s so passionate as a filmmaker, and he comes up with these fabulous and challenging ideas — and I just let it sink in. I said, “Lee, I don’t know how I feel about it.” And he said, “I know it’s really controversial, and I know it’s scary, but you’ve got to trust me on this, Ilene. I know what I’m doing — and this is what I want to say.” We had written some of Cookie’s speech, but not all of it. He said, “Cookie is going to say, ‘How much longer are they going to treat us like animals?’ Because that’s what it feels like, I’m telling you from experience.” My first reaction was, “I’m scared of this. I don’t know if I like it.” But then I took a moment and thought, “Who am I to tell Lee Daniels that this is not the way to tell this story? I’m gonna get behind him. I’d be foolish not to.” But I did say, “Lee, you know that I am obliged to let the studio and the network know. And I leave the Taraji part to you.” [Laughs] She delivers that monologue with such force. It’s thrilling. I was really excited by it, and I know she was, too.

TVLINE | Marisa Tomei enters the picture like a hurricane. She’s hitting on Cookie. She’s eyeing Anika like a trophy. They’re throwing her a party where bikini-clad girls are making out. I found myself a little shocked by how overt it all was, but then I had to check myself. If her character was a male business tycoon, that predatory behavior and amorality would’ve been expected. Tell me how you conceived the Mimi character. And was there any discussion of softening her or did you just dive headfirst hoping to have the maximum amount of fun?
The latter. We initially conceived of the storyline: Cookie, Hakeem and Andre — and tangentially Anika — are going to attempt this hostile takeover. We ended Season 1 with them still needing to raise a quarter of a billion dollars — how are they foing to raise it? And we said in the room: “There’s going to be a rich white man. Let’s call him Rich Whiteman for the purposes of this conversation.” This got us onto the idea of the dangers that people like Lucious Lyon open themselves up to when they take their companies public — especially when the company is an artistic endeavor so intrinsic to their person. You expose yourself to being appropriated, to having your art taken away from you or having it changed. And that’s the story we’re telling. We wanted to start with Cookie — and having Lucious turn things around on her.

As we talked about the arc, we realized Rich Whiteman was an important character — and he also needed to be an interesting one. At that point, someone in the room — I can’t remember who — said, “Let’s make her a lesbian.” Actually, it was probably me. And we just had some fun with the idea of the lesbian billionaire. We talked about all those male conventions you were referring to, but why not play with them? Nobody tried to pull us back, and we just went for it.

Empire201_sc17_0178_hires1TVLINE | Grace Gealey is amazing in this episode. I don’t think anything could’ve prepared me for Anika’s ass-shake.
It was really fun to watch both of those actresses [Marisa and Grace] find their characters. Grace knows Anika so well, but that moment was something new. We knew what was going to happen in that scene, but we didn’t know what Grace was going to do in that moment when she had to dance with Mimi. It was so fabulous.

TVLINE How many episodes do you have Marisa Tomei for? Where is that arc going to take us?
Mimi is with us for five episodes. That storyline pays off in our midseason finale — Episode 10. — airing sometime in December. I’ll just say it builds to a glorious and hopefully unexpected conclusion.

TVLINE | Can we assume Cookie will not accept defeat so easily?
Oh, she’s seething — and there will be some sort of comeback.

TVLINE | Speaking of Cookie, she and Jamal couldn’t be further apart at the end of the episode — and it’s really distressing.
That’s a big story for us — and one we really care about. As big as the show is, as soapy as some people might find it, that [arc] is very real to us. And it breaks our hearts to make those two characters estranged. But of course, there’s a path back for them, and it’s a story we tell over the course of the season — and one we relish telling.

TVLINE | Why is Jamal so much harder on Cookie? Lucious rejected him his whole life. Cookie makes this one misstep and…
Because he never, ever, ever thought she would betray him. She didn’t feel she was betraying him, but it cuts so deep for him. It’s an authentic reaction.

Empire201_scB3_0017r_hires1-2TVLINE | Is Jamal, as Cookie declares, at risk of becoming his dad?
Yes, I think he is at risk of becoming his dad. I don’t know that he will — but it’s definitely a risk. But [at the end of the hour], when he shuts the door and you see how he really feels, it’s a revealing and a redeeming moment for him.

TVLINE | I find it really interesting how Jamal has come out of the closet both personally and professionally — but he has that discomfort level around flamboyant men. His journey to get comfortable with his sexuality is not so black and white — and we see that through the prism of him being a major-label artist and a major-label executive, as well as the tension there is with Michael becoming a real LGBT activist.
It’s really great to be able to tell stories about gay identity that are nuanced and not so obvious. We really are delving into it this season. It relates to all of that and speaks to the idea that gayness isn’t monolithic. Not everybody is gay in the same way. It’s a parallel theme in the show.

TVLINE | Andre, not having the musical inclination, has always felt a little separate from the family — and it feels like Vernon’s death, the secret he and Rhonda are carrying, threatens to isolate him further. Is that murder going to come back to haunt him soon — or is he going to be merely haunted by the memories?
[Vernon’s death] has a very explicit consequence in the early part of the season that drives a lot of story. We don’t just drop it. And it plays a big, big role in his life. It also plays a role in continuing to motivate Andre’s search for faith and morality.

eTVLINE | Given Lucious’ double-cross and the fact that he didn’t visit Cookie in jail for 17 years, it’s a shock when she finds herself visiting him in jail. And yet it’s impossible to deny that scene was crackling with chemistry and playfulness.
He says she’s ride-or-die, and the relationship is ride-or-die. Cookie and Lucious will never completely get away from one another, because as we say in the scene, they love and hate one another at the same time. The relationship will always be torture, but the love and the spark between them is inextinguishable. It doesn’t mean they won’t have other relationships. But the tragedy of both of their lives is that they’re both trying to find somebody who can replace that romance, and it will always be hard.

TVLINE | Speaking of Lucious in jail, I still can’t believe you snuck in that line he says about Gathers’ daughter, “I’m gonna slip her my bone.”
I still don’t want to talk about it. I keep thinking, when they realize it’s in there, they’re going to take it out! [Laughs]

TVLINE | You’ve set up this scenario with Gathers’ daughter — and her having this legitimate talent as a rapper. Is Lucious going to make good on his promises?
I’ll say this outright: Lucious doesn’t make good on the sexual promise. That’s just something he said to be foul. But yes, Lucious signs her — it’s a classic Lucious Lyon story. How twisted is it to kill a man, then sign his daughter and make music with her?

TVLINE | Kind of like having a baby with your gay son’s fiancée?
[Laughs] A little like that!

TVLINE | The word “Bitch” is used to hilarious effect throughout the hour: Lucious’ “Who is that lesbian bitch?” Carol’s “This bitch!” Frank’s “That bitch!” Even Lucious calling the prosecutor a “bitch in cheap shoes.” Was there any premeditated attempt to try out that word in so many ways?
[Laughs] It wasn’t conscious. It wasn’t a writerly affectation at all. It’s a word that just lives in this culture in so many different ways. It’s very expressive — and it seems to me to be all about intonation and context.

TVLINE | I feel like that could be a college term paper: Intonation and Context of the Word ‘Bitch’ on Empire.
Yes! Somebody should do it!

What did you think of the Empire Season 2 premiere? Which story arcs have you most excited? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jay says:

    Um I though it was very slow, even a tad boring, am I the only one?
    I thought the jail plot was a little dumb. I am really disappointed.They literally did a 360 on Jamal’s character

    • Sally McLinn says:

      I agree. The writing was all over the place. What happened to the Judd Nelson character? Why isn’t anyone talking about Vernon’s disappearance? Sloppy writing, and why has this show turned into a gay, lesbian and transgender show?

      • Wendy says:

        This is the first episode of a very long season. How about you give it time? And nice of you to put focus on that after all the other stuff they show. Because you can get past the murder but not a few gay people.

      • Annie says:

        Lucious did mention Vernon. I would assume that one of the reasons why he’s been in jail for three months without a bail hearing is because the Feds are trying to find Vernon. Andre and Rhonda also talked about Vernon. Vernon was a drug addict, and was just out of rehab when he was killed. So, I don’t think that anyone is surprised that he has vanished.

        Empire has never shied away from having a diverse cast. Gay and transgender people exist, just like black people exist. There are many people posting on message boards asking why does the cast have to be majority black.

        • Ulrich says:

          There should be zero comparisons of gays to ANY RACE, not us whites, blacks, Hebrews, Asians or anyone. The comparisons are cheap tricks to gather sympathy for the lgbt lifestyle by invoking parallels to Americas’s Jim Crow, Dutch Apartheid, Germanophobia or other forms of xenophobia, antisemitism, etc. These groups were born with blue eyes, yellow skin, etc….not a lifestyle choice!!!!

          • abz says:

            Please stop with the generalizations. Being gay just means that you’re attracted to the same sex and therefore would be romantically involved with a person of the same sex. Gay people are all different. Just like straight people are all different. They look different, have different types of jobs, different personalites, They have different ethnicities, different skin color and eye color. Some might be feminine, some might be masculine. Some might be tall and some short. Some skinny and some fat. Some might be parents and others might not. It’s not just one lifestyle you can generalize every LGBT person as having. LGBT people are simply just regular people just like everyone else with the difference that they are attracted to same sex instead of the opposite sex. Try getting that through your head.
            Sexual attraction is not a lifestyle choice. Who you decide to sleep with a choice. You can’t control who you’re attracted to. That’s probably why many people see similarities with racial discrimination. You can’t control the color of your skin and can’t control your sexual attraction. If a man gets an erection upon seeing a man he’s attracted to or upon seeing a woman he’s attracted to, please tell me how he will biologically control it. How will he force his brain and allow his neurons to communicate and send signals to stop his attraction to that person?

          • Win says:

            Blaue Augen sind falsch.

      • Helen says:

        Perhaps trying so hard to appeal to the gay community. It fell flat to me. Didn’t make any sense

      • muffin says:

        Judd Nelson? Nobody gives a flying FRAK about judd nelson……Girl you watching the wrong show, bye!

      • Jena says:

        That is certainly a part of Empire I don’t care for. Although we knew Jamal’s status it did play a huge role in the first season. Now they seem to be making everyone Bi, gay or something else. That’s the sickening part about it. Great show that is going to ruined by all this Sodom and Gomorrah mess.

    • Annie says:

      Jamal has changed, and while I’m not crazy about it, we’ve actually seen reasons for the change. His whole family tried to stab him in the back, he’s always wanted to get his father’s attention, and most important of all, we actually saw signs of this happening last season. Jamal, like his father, believed that showing courage or that you were a man, meant putting a lot of base in his voice, and putting on an act. He was also quick to anger on too many occasions, so the 180 degree turn has more than a shred of believability.

    • Mary says:

      No your not, I thought it was a little slow myself. I found myself looking at my computer quite often when last year, I was glued to the TV. Oh well I hope it picks up.

  2. CK2 says:

    I’d give it a B. It kind of made me hate Jamal, but I don’t really think anything he did was out of character. You could tell from the last few episodes of last season that power and his father’s approval would change him for the worst. It started off a very slow though.

  3. Florence+TheMachineRules!!! :) #MariahSlays says:

    This episode WAS EVERYTHING!!! 😃😃😃 #TeamCookie #NoRegrets

  4. Colleen says:

    Dibs on that paper topic

  5. Morgan says:

    Cookie said boy so much in this episode, I felt like playing a drinking game.

  6. Jay says:

    Anyone else think Chris Rock was totally miscast?

  7. Jess says:

    I didn’t find it boring. Lucious is vicious and crazy at the same time. He definitely isn’t the man to cross. Cookie is hilarious as always.

  8. hbeachman says:

    Rich Whiteman? Obvious much, writers?Sheesh!

  9. laurelnev says:

    I just want to know if the head in the box came from the dude Chris Rock was eating, or from the one he was interrogating?

  10. Linda says:

    Season 2 was not what I was better then I expected.So many twist and turns in one episode.No other show can too this premiere. Kudos to the writers.

    • Shonda Rhimes says:

      Boo boo kitty, you just wait and see HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER and SCANDAL tomorrow night. We’ll double the twists and turns EMPIRE gave you tonight.

      • Ray says:

        If dts d real @Shonda rhimes, am such a big fan..i cant wait for tonight..Greys, Scandal & how to get away with murder. Am literally just playing over several possibilities i my head 😀😀😀😀

  11. angie says:

    Was well worth the wait. The show was the bomb.

  12. Malik says:

    I missed half of it but I saw the rest I missed wonderful season

  13. Malik says:

    I missed half of it I missed I saw it was wonderful very

  14. Malik says:

    I loved it #teamcookie #empire

  15. Malik says:

    I think empire was wonderful and I hope to see new celebrities

  16. sladewilson says:

    Boring? Ummmm no. It wasn’t balls to the walls like last season but they have more episodes this year and scaling back a touch is a smart move. There was still plenty to digest. Lucious was in rare form and why do I think he wanted Frank to send that head to Cookie? As for the brothers, Andre might crack at any moment, Hakeem was in spoiled brat mode, and Jamal? He honestly felt betrayed. And rightfully so because if Cookie thought for one minute that Hakeem and Andre felt the same way about taking care of Jamal, she was fooling herself. And I liked Mimi – she was hilarious. Poor Anika – she “can’t even dyke right”… HA!!! Yup, Empire’s back, bitches. Game on.

  17. bandar judi, says:

    If you are going for best contents like me, just visit this web page everyday for the reason that it gives quality contents, thanks

  18. Jen says:

    “You cant even dyke right” lmao Anika should just stick to what she knows. Just stick to pr and management

  19. Daphne Berard says:

    Empire is about what’s been going on in the industry today. The murders do this and I’ll give you a contract. Not saying I’m gonna make you rich, but you get my drift

  20. Mable says:

    The men kissing and gay scenes were a bit too much. Not liking the over the top Jamal role of playing gay on TV. We all know he gay but enough is enough. Only great part was cookie and luscious offing Chris rock.

    • Greg says:

      No one is forcing you to watch, maybe you can catch up on a repeat of the antiques road show if you don’t to see progressive television depicting people that aren’t straight for a change.

      • Helen says:

        I knew someone would def throw an attack against any comment that complains about gay scenes. I swear it’s petty. yes the over the top gay scenes were absolutely unnecessary.

        • abz says:

          No, what’s petty is the complaints and endless whining about gay characters and scenes with gay characters in them for every single damn show. Even HTGAWM last year had the same issue. Why don’t you GET OVER IT? Gay people exist in the world. May not be as many as straight people, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to see themselves or characters they can relate to on TV. They are finally being given a chance to be depicted on television a lot more these days in meaningful ways and not just as one-off side characters.
          Saying the “gay scenes” were unnecessary makes no sense. What TV scene is actually necessary? Is TV actually necessary? No, it’s a form of entertainment, and if you can’t bear to keep your eyes open for the few seconds or minute that a gay character may be on screen form, then there’s plenty of other shows out there or perhaps read a book.

        • Ulrich says:

          It is very petty indeed!! When enough complaints come in, it will get toned down as it was with Scandal and HTGAWM….toned down real quick. And many of the gay scenes are “statement” scenes and not plot relative. Just like some of the gore on GOT and The Blacklist don’t jive with the script sometimes.

      • Bigdede says:

        I’m not sure if you know this or not but people have a right not to like the gay lifestyle. So if I were you, I’d just ignore the comment and keep scrolling

    • abz says:

      So a character can be gay, but can’t be shown kissing or having dinner with his boyfriend? Please use your brain.

    • Raven says:

      Gay love scenes also make me a bit uncomfortable but why can’t gay people get to see themselves as full-fledged, well-rounded human beings like almost everyone else. For decades, everyone who wasn’t straight and white were made asexual on television. Only recently have television execs and showrunners admitted that African-Americans and Asians have sex just like white people. If you want to watch the show but those scenes make you uncomfortable, just fast forward them. Maybe one day we both won’t be so uncomfortable seeing it.

  21. Williams says:

    It was all over the place and to much gay Stuff. Nothing wrong with gay lifestyle but we just need to see a Lil bit. Lucius Call people bitch Wasn’t cool. It seems to be very Ghetto Really no style,,to much music and not enough plot storyline

    • vanvon says:

      I am shocked – well, maybe not – at all the homophobes complaining – as usual – about all the “gay stuff”. It is so sad that people can’t move beyond their bigotry that poisons all our lives.

      • Ulrich says:

        It is homophobic to not want to see so much actual kissing and butt grabbing or whatever. MOST PEOPLE UNDER 50 ARE STILL UNCOMFORTABLE WITH MEN MAKING OUT, and the over 50 crowd just finds it strange behaviour from men. Get over this fact!! Folk aren’t siding with gays because we agree with that lifestyle (yes, no one forces any of our sexual tastes, it is a choice to be gay or hetero, unlike being Chinese or my bkue eyes). We somewhat side with them as a way to protest against any form of discrimination….but it gas been interpreted as heteros being 100% comfortable with the lgbt lifestyle. We just need a moment to adjust, and yes, gay men will akways be less acceptable than lesbians for obvious reasons….like to some extent, viewers are far more comfortable with white men in love scenes with pretty, educated colored women than folk are with colored men and white girls, FACT. Scandal would never have worked with a handsome black president sexing a pretty white girl and her sexing yet another black boy!!! We all need to give some pairings a bit of breathing room and tone it down. I get the boy is a gay, but I don’t need rough visuals. They should be portrayed as a soft, normal, loving couple with normal couple interaction. For that matter, I don’t like heteros having too many raunchy scenes either, but sweet love making is perfect if it flows with the script. And stop comparing race to homosexuals…NOT REMOTELY THE SAME SITUATION OR NARRATIVE. Rampant mistreatment of the Irish, Italians, Jews, and Romas in the early days of American inner cities or the ridiculousness of your Southern states treatment of coloreds is not the same as the gay situation. Treating me bad because I’m half Deutsche/half Danish is a racial issue–we are of the Germanic race, not a sexuality issues, so enough with the black or Jewish or whatever racial comparisons to gays!!!! This show is ghetto, and they are notjing like the millions of upscale coloreds in northern Europe, Atlanta/Dallas/Seattle/Manhattan/Caribbean many of which I conduct business with on a monthly basis. Like whites aren’t rednecks like some on Nashville. The writing is horrid on this show, and Taraji’s looks and talents would’ve been best utilised on a show where she plays a tough tortured detective or sassy clandestine agent Iir something…not this insulting, racist depiction of coloreds.

        • abz says:

          Ugh, this comment is groan-worthy. It is not a choice who you are attracted to. The person or people you decide to sleep with is a choice, but you have no control over your attractions. If it were a choice, I find it hard to believe many people would actually choose to be gay and deal with all the crap many unfortunately have to endure. How is this such a difficult concept for people to understand?
          What “rough visuals” were you seeing with Jamal in this episode? Was kissing his boyfriend before dinner too “rough” for you?

        • :) says:

          You told me everything i needed to know when you referred to black people as coloreds.

          • :) says:

            Ulrich i apologize for my comment. What i should have said was it is inappropriate and very rude call black people colored. I should not assume you know better.

        • :) says:

          Also TH had the job you said would be better. They killed her off that show.

          Can someone explain why Godfather, scareface, the departed and shows like that are great but every minority needs to be a teacher or lawyer so they can set a good example for their race?
          Every race has crooks and preachers. Every subcategory we can choose to divide ourselves in has good and bad. When people stop treating each category as monolithic this world will be better

        • Relaxxx says:

          @Ulrich I’m literally cringing of your use of colored! Just no! No!

        • Raven says:

          The show is ‘ghetto’ for a reason. Rap started there and most real rappers come from the streets not the manicured lawns. Just because a rapper hits it big does not mean they lose where they come from. It’s their children that will get the good education and the opportunities that their parents didn’t get. They will become the educated that you speak of but their parents will still be the product of *their* experiences.

  22. Annie says:

    Overall I loved the episode. Parts were slow, which is odd, since they packed so many plot points into the episode, but it’s hard not to get excited about Lucious letting Frank know that he didn’t have any power, and Lucious showing that he was still running Empire by teaming up with Mimi.

    I’m interested in seeing what they do with Jamal’s character, but I also want more of Rhonda and Andre.

    I understand why the show moves so fast, but it would have been nice to see several storylines play out over the course of several episodes.

  23. Williams says:

    The writing was so bad it seem like the made up stuff as they went along Lee Daniel we get it “it’s ok to be gay dam with that already give a good plot!!!

  24. Relaxxx says:

    I really enjoyed the premiere! I was expecting things to slow down a bit to set things up for the longer season! We needed to see where and what the characters were up too. The previews for the next episode looks awesome so I’m extremely excited! Wonderful to see Cookie, Jamal, Hakeem, Lucious, Andre, Becky, Porsha ( love her hair) and even Anika who needs to learn the fine art of twerking or was that bucking? I’m not sure what she was trying to do but she took a few hits for the team!

    I was pleasantly surprised to see Michael and Jamal back together. Can’t wait for Lucious to get out. This looks like another amazing season! Empires back! ☺☺👏👏

  25. nick says:

    This episode was better than any in season one. I loved it.

  26. Shyvonne Paul says:

    I remember not feeling the first season of Empire until around the 3rd episode. The same thing happened tonight! But as soon as the second season hype runs its course, the story lines settle down and the music feels good, I’ll look forward to Wednesday night TV on FOX-5! BTW, loved that peacock dress Cookie had on, she was wearing it!

    • Sally McLinn says:

      The show needs – still needs — better writers.

      • Ulrich says:

        It needs a damn linear plot!!! Sensationalism and exploitation of lower class blacks that doesn’t work when the writing is inconsistent. Writers have to be very careful when tackling fringe groups.

        • Annie says:

          Sensationalism of lower class blacks? How is that being done? The Lyon family is not lower class.

          BTW, calling poor black people a “fringe” group is far worse than anything that I’ve seen on Empire.

  27. Tim Godfrey says:

    This episode lacked something. All the over the top gay stuff was over kill. I hope the story line gets better. It was kinda stupid and insulting.

    • Sally McLinn says:

      Watch Blackish instead. Last night’s episode was really good.

      • Ulrich says:

        Blackish has an 80s sitcom silliness to it…and still making a big deal over a black family being freaking middle-class?!?!? Lolol! Millions of blacks are middle-class, and thousands are affluent or straight up rich! With them having a damn near 70% middle and upper class in america and abroad, and whites getting poorer, the slapstick just doesn’t work. I hope other American and BBC shows are better this year.

  28. dancmh says:

    Jamal siding with Lucious makes absolutely no sense. I don’t care how they try to sell it, it’s ridiculous.

  29. Alex says:

    It’s 2015, and still all the gay characters on TV are either insecure about their sexuality or kind of villainous gays (or, better both in one) or evil plotting lesbians or goofy funny guys whose relationships parodies heterosexual relationships in some way. I guess we need to wait for showrunners who grew in the 2000s and didn’t have to live with all those stereotypes in their heads or struggle with their sexuality like Daniels, Williamson, Murphy, Ball & Co did.

  30. Ver says says:

    Empire was the bomb I give it 5 stars…The whole cast was great as expected..Everybody I knows watched it…some had TV nights at different places…and it was well worth it..We love you Empire!!!!

  31. muffin says:

    EMPIRE!!!! Back like a vengeance. I watch the show for what it is, Brilliant! I live my life with an open mind and don’t let prejudice’s and ignorance keep me from a good thing. The only thing I can say to people who don’t appreciate a show because there aren’t enough or maybe too much white, black, gay, straight, men, women, etc……change the channel.

  32. kirads09 says:

    Graded a B
    -It was a decent set up for the new season
    -Not sure about IRL anymore, but as an actor, I cannot get enough of Terrence. Lucious is electric.
    – Great unexpected twist with Tomei’s character in the board room.

    – I felt they killed off Frank Gathers too early. I think it would’ve been interesting to stretch out a cat and mouse game btwn him and Lucious in prison over a few episodes.
    – I am not liking a vicious, mean Jamal. Not at all
    – The gorilla suit was just silly IMO
    – A lot of the story line just felt incongruous to me – a bit messy and thrown together

    Give me more Becky and Porsha, please. Assistants really run everything anyway.

  33. lastfrontier84 says:

    I’m so over all the perceived “poor treatment of minorities by police”. I see it enough on the news and don’t need to see it on a show. What’s next? “Immigration reform “? The premiere was disappointing. Maybe it was the opening that tainted it. It picked up towards the end though. First episode I didn’t love. I gave it a C.

  34. fjohns says:

    Did Not Like it at All. Total Fail,and by the way it’s to much for regular T.V.,this should be on HBO or showtime next to power.They lost a fan in me,I bet this is how Lee Daniels real life is very messy

  35. abz says:

    Criticism of the show over its plot/story or its character development or its pacing or dialogue, etc.? Absolutely. Go for it.
    Criticism of the show for having gay characters and actually giving them screen time is stupid and getting really old. Either you change the channel/read a book OR you accept that we’re in 2015 and that television is slowly but suredly progressing forward and having gay characters being portrayed more AND in more meaningful ways and equally to their straight counterparts and not just as one-off side characters or full-blown stereotypes.

  36. Daniel Berenger says:


  37. Allison says:

    I missed the first five minutes of the episode, so I missed Cookie’s entrance. I was so enthralled with Lucious’s prison antics and then seeing Chris Rock as a bad guy that nothing else mattered. When I first learned that Chris Rock was going to be portraying this type of character, I was thrilled because I know that Chris Rock is good at playing bad. He has this look about him and he can give off that killer vibe. Yes, he’s funny, but when I take that out of the equation, he is so good at being bad. Then Ludacris will be on Empire this season as well – Wow! He is also a good actor. Whatever character he plays – good, bad, or indifferent – he will nail it. Anyway, I do not like the monster Jamal has become. Yes, I know he and Cookie will eventually reunite, but right now I am not liking him at all. He was so close with Cookie and Hakeem and now he is just – ugh – for lack of a better word. Anyway, the surprise for me was seeing Miss Lawrence from RHOA!! I had to put down my snacks! I heard the voice and I was like Nooooo!!! That sounds just like Miss Lawrence and sure enough it was him in all his glory!!! I don’t blame Jamal, I would have been uncomfortable as well (that’s because I am shy and easily embarrassed). Clearly, I missed Chris Rock’s character eating the dude because I was shocked to read about it above. The same dude’s head arriving in a beautifully wrapped box had me gasping. I was expecting there to be flowers – silly me! Anyway, it was nice to see Marisa Tomei! I still remember her as Maggie from A Different World. I loved her then and I love her now. As far as Anika’s booty shake, I have to quote Destiny’s Child and say “Girl I didn’t know you could get down like that!” Well, this season promises to be interesting and I am looking forward to it!

  38. Ray says:

    Just 4 word for last nights Empire: Scattered but enjoyably Interesting.

  39. Jake says:

    Does the BLM thing even apply to Lucious since he doesn’t fit the “poor guy railroaded for some minor offense” concept? Was it supposed to be ironic that Cookie was twisting it for her/his purposes?

    • Relaxxx says:

      We know Lucious did the crime but on paper he’s being held in jail for a murder rap for months with no eye witnesses or any physical evidence. Cookie spinned things to her advantage because it looks like Luscious is being railroaded!

    • Annie says:

      We know that the family is using the movement for their advantage, it is what they do. But, it is still wrong that Lucious has been held in prison for three months, without getting a bail hearing. The general message of the rally dealt with humanity and treating everyone equally. Even Lucious should be treated fairly. He’s being denied a bail hearing, while the Feds try to find Vernon.

  40. Charissa29 says:

    Love, love, LOVE, Chris Rock, but no way can I see him as a gangster! Lucious and Cookie are such fun to watch together!

  41. Criss G says:

    Supernaturaly Superd

  42. George Gibbs says:

    Can we see Anika dance every episode??😜😜😘😘

  43. Jeff says:

    I liked the multiply stories that keep everything bubbling and hot. I just would express cautious and not to over due dappling into issues that would take away from the show. I like keeping Lucious heavily involved and always kind of staying one step ahead whether by accident or deliberately. I would loved to see Lucious and the ### with cheap shoes really hooked up very soon and she and her ambition become consume in the Lyon’s dynasty. I enjoy the show and good writing but less not lose sight or get away from what made each character…I like the glimpse in each person soul but never really allowing it to deeply unfold to dominate.

  44. tanya dhir says: