I’ll admit that my head was spinning after the season finale of “Empire” last spring. It seemed like the writers crammed everything they could into a two-hour story block, and it left me feeling off kilter and befuddled. During last night’s season premiere, I felt the same way almost until the very end of the episode.
The season premiere of “Empire” picked up three months after Lucious’ initial incarceration. With Jamal still in position as the head of Empire; the rest of the Lyons are playing nice for the time being. Cookie and Jamal have put together a Free Lucious concert hosted by Swizz Beats and attended by nearly every black celeb known to man. From Al Sharpton to Andre Leon Talley, it was cameo overload, and not in a good way. When Don Lemon popped up out of nowhere, I really wanted to fight my TV screen.
Still, nothing could have prepared me for Cookie dropping on the stage in a cage while wearing a gorilla suit. As talented as Lee Daniels is, this was just #teamtoomuch. Though I did appreciate the show driving home the fact that thousands of Black men are unfairly incarcerated, Cookie’s chanting “How Much Longer?!” did not make me feel sympathetic towards Lucious. Even Reverend Al said he was a lost cause.
After Cookie gets the crowd riled up, Jamal takes the stage to perform on his father’s behalf and we cut to Lucious watching all of this on a rather fancy television from prison. It turns out that Lucious is basically The Godfather of jail and he already has his minions set up to do his bidding. A shifty prisoner (who turns out to be another one of Cookie’s cousins) Jermel (played by DeRay Davis) begs Lucious to protect him from a gangster named Frank Gathers. Lucious isn’t too keen on the idea, he has no beef with Gathers and he’s not trying to start any. Lucious gives Jermel a swift brush off just in time to see Hakeem take the stage.
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