empire rap battle

*Some of us might still be looking forward to the end of Empire’s second season but at least the episodes leading into the holiday hiatus are getting easier to watch.

It appears that there’s been an exorcism of sorts in the Empire writing room. Someone finally figured out how to create a more cohesive flow with all of the over-the-top scenarios that started out as guilty pleasure TV and then morphed into a bad imitation of Flamingo Road.

I would have compared it to Dynasty, but even on its worst day, it was still more watchable then the first three eps of Empire and the catastrophe that was episode five.

Terrence Howard in Season 2, Episode 8 of "Empire" (FOX)

Terrence Howard in Season 2, Episode 8 of “Empire” (FOX)

So, here’s what went down. Lucious and Mimi’s murky business deal to acquire a streaming company finally went through so it looks like The Empire will be saved. Jamal got an opportunity to get a Pepsi deal—which not so surprisingly is one of the show’s major sponsors. First he sought Cookie’s help but Lucious had some sort of creative orgasm and came up with some beats he knew would help his middle son land the deal.

Unfortunately, Jamal, who had been secretly working with his mom, got caught in the Cookie-Lucious crossfire and had to kick them both to the curb so he could work on sealing the deal. He got his and although there was no warm and fuzzy family hug, Mr. & Mrs. Lyon were proud of their baby boy. And, it was refreshing to see them push each other’s buttons again with punchy bantering.

Methinks Terence Howard has finally hung up the phone.

Andre, the oldest Lyon seed, only appeared in a few scenes last night and we are thankful. We get that he’s torn between his religious beliefs and running a hip hop label, but frankly I think we’re all a little over it. And, his wife has been preggers for how long? Where’s the bump? This boy has an MBA and has run a successful company. He needs to move and start his own thing.

Hakeem Lyon (Bryshere Y. Gray, right) in a rap battle that will feature Empire and Lyon Dynasty squaring off against each other on "Empire" episode 8.

Hakeem Lyon (Bryshere Y. Gray, right) in a rap battle with Freda Gatz (Bre-Z) on Empire (FOX)

That leaves us with Hakeem. The show starts out with Freda Gatz dissing him on a track called Daddy’s Little Girl produced by Lucious to get back at his son for not coming back to Empire. OK, let’s just forget what an immature move this was by a grown ass man, but when was the last time any one had a rap battle? Didn’t that era die with Biggie and Pac?

The battle itself wasn’t that bad and it looks as though Bryshere Y. Gray (Hakeem) has been spending more time in the Actor’s Studio. He didn’t take off his shirt once. Hakeem’s victory, however, set up a new wrinkle for his parents. Cookie bet Lucious that if their son won, she’d get to record Jamal’s next project at Lyon Dynasty.

In other Hakeem news, the love affair between Hakeem and his virgin girlfriend Laura has helped give his character more depth. But don’t expect any happy ever after with this pairing even though Hakeem rebuked the advances of his old girlfriend Anika when she came over to tell him that she was expecting their child.

Unfortunately, she never got the chance because Hakeem informed her that he was in love. Guess who was driving Laura’s Uber car when she left Hakeem’s rap battle?

grace gealey

Grace Gealey in Season 2, Episode 8 of “Empire” (FOX)

Last night’s biggest missed opportunity was the Cookie-Laz-Hakeem triangle. Hakeem can’t stand his mom’s new man—and rightfully so since he’s part of the gang that snatched him. But when the two men scuffle, Cookie hauls off and slaps Laz, letting him know emphatically that he’s never to lay paws on her son ever again! It would have been nice to develop this a bit more with some ensuing dialogue between Cookie and Laz—especially since he’s running game.

vivica (candace - empire2)
Last night’s cliffhanger—Cookie’s “bourgie” sister Candice (Vivica A. Fox) showing up with news on their other sister and suddenly they’re off to Philly.

Best Lines

  • “And you can kiss my white one. I have $250 million on the line.” Mimi to Lucious after he said, “Wall Street can kiss my black ass.”
  • “This is not the Disney Channel, we have no happy endings.” Cookie to Lucious after they argue over whose song Jamal will use for his Pepsi audition.
  • “Candice can you not show up here like you’re at the Cherry Hill Mall embarrassing me?” Cookie to her sister who unexpectedly shows up at the rap battle.
  • “If 17 years of prison taught you anything, it’s dress like a monkey and talk like a pimp.” Candice to Cookie, after Cookie’s nonchalant response to their sister’s recent bender.
Miki Turner is a full time lecturer at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and author of the book Journey to the Woman I’ve Come to Love

Miki Turner is a full time lecturer at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and author of the book Journey to the Woman I’ve Come to Love