January 8, 2015

Review: Empire’s Pilot Episode

Now I am not usually a fan of FOX. This is for several reasons but most importantly, they haven’t had programming that appealed to me in a while. I think the last show I watched was House. However, I am a regular viewer of Gotham and it looks like I will be tuning into Empire.

Let’s run through this episode shall we?

We enter the Lyon’s Den – Lucious, head of Empire Enterprises and his three sons: Andre, Jamal and Hakeem. Very quickly we learn that Lucious is sick and isn’t expected to live for very long though we aren’t told immediately what is wrong with him. This leads him to gather his three sons and tell them that he would soon be grooming one to be the head of the company. While no one is aware of his illness as yet, this immediately puts them in competition with each other.

Image via FOX

Andre, the oldest, seems like the obvious choice. He is a brilliant man who has been working at the company since he was a boy and has been grooming himself to take over once his father steps down. However, he is not an artist and lacks the charisma that Lucious believes is needed to run the company.

Jamal is the middle child and a very talented singer. The problem for Lucious though is that Jamal is gay. This immediately strikes him off of the list in his father’s mind because it angers and embarrasses him. We get several flashbacks as to when Jamal’s parents first started seeing signs of his sexuality and Lucious DID NOT take it well AT ALL. When little Jamal walked towards his parents with his mother’s heels on, Lucious aggressively picked him up and stuffed him in the trash. So we already know the feelings that have lingered and the massive strain this relationship is under.

Hakeem is the baby. While they don’t give his exact age, I believe he is 18 years old. He seems to be constantly drinking and partying. He is the rapper of the family and the one Lucious seems more inclined to leave the company to and wants to succeed the most. I guess he reminds him a little of himself when he was younger. I see two major problems with Hakeem: Firstly, to me he isn’t that great of a rapper. Secondly, he seems to value the fame and money over the hard work.

So as of right now there is no clear cut choice to run the company. We know we will definitely be seeing more of this struggle as the episodes go on.

My absolute favorite person in Empire though is Mrs. Cookie Lyons played by Taraji P. Henson. When I tell you that Cookie is everything, she is EVERYTHING! She has recently been released from prison after serving 17 years over $400,000. The same $400,000 that we later found out started Empire Enterprises. So of course she comes back to take what she believes is rightfully hers – half of the company.

Nene leakes nene reading i dream of nene throwing shade gif

 

This creates a major contention. Lucious is not able or is not willing to do that. In the end, with a little help from Andre (who is working his own angle), Lucious gives Cookie $5 million a year and the rights to manage their middle son, Jamal.

Cookie killed every single scene this episode – the one liners, the side eyes, the outfits and her overall demeanor; I am here for all of it!

tarajiempiret

 

The episode ends with a gathering where several Empire Enterprise employees are in attendance. Lucious toasts to the return of Cookie and the announcement that his two youngest sons will be releasing albums within the year. This marks the beginning of a major rivalry in the Lyon’s Den with Hakeem being managed by Lucious and Jamal by his mother, Cookie.

We also find out that Lucious has been diagnosed with ALS and has been given three years to live. Based on the preview for the upcoming season we know that this time will be nothing if not eventful.

Other quick notes and questions from the episode:

    • Why does Hakeem chop up his eyebrows? And why did he have those big ass dogs in his apartment? Furthermore, why does he already have an apartment?!
    • I don’t see it for Andre’s wife and hope she brings something to the table in future episodes because right now she is a stereotype that I’m not a fan of.
    • I thought it would be at least until the second or third episode until Lucious caught a body but no! Lucious killed his best friend before the end of this episode.

 

  • Speaking of that murder, why didn’t Lucious have anyone looking out for him? Did he even check his surroundings before just pulling the gun out of his coat?
  • What is with thew new Mrs. Lyons? She’s gorgeous but it seems that Cookie might run all over her. I hope she isn’t fooled by Cookie’s tough exterior, she needs to watch her.

Empire is Hustle and Flow with a splash of The Godfather wrapped as a hip hopera. Very few pilot episodes are actually very good and this one is no exception. It wasn’t brilliant but it wasn’t bad either, It’s unintentionally funny at times but its enough for me for now. I can definitely see the mark of Lee Daniels on the series already.  I know with the pilot out of the way, the upcoming episodes will ramp it up and bring the heat.

I will be watching again next week for no other reason than to get more life from Cookie Lyons, to see the sometimes questionable fashion and to bare witness to all of the shenanigans!

Starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, you can catch Empire on Fox on Wednesdays at 9pm.

Did you check out the pilot episode? If so, what do you think?

 

*Post will be updated with video once made available*

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Natalya

Natalya is an Account Manager by day and an editor and author's assistant to passionate creatives by night. When she is not adding to her enormous book collection or stationery supply, she is catching up on her favorite television shows.

Natalya is the author of All The Things I Never Said, a soul-stirring collection of short stories, prose and love letters for the soulful wanderers, the brokenhearted and the hopeless romantics.

You can follow her rantings and occasional sparks of brilliance on Twitter @NatalyaMuncuff.
Natalya