Empire Recap/Review: Season 2 Episode 8
Weekly reviews of Fox's hip hop melodrama by Spectrum.
December 2, 2015
Obviously there will be spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned!
This week, Empire audiences got to revel in the return of the infamous meddlesome Anika. She and Hakeem have been indulging in their gross and awkward affair for weeks, but suddenly Hakeem feels the need to break it off as he develops feelings for the Lyon Dynasty darling, Laura, instead. What Hakeem doesn’t know, which the audience discovers in the opening scenes of Episode 9, is that Anika is pregnant with his child and also may or may not be suicidal. Anika has so many issues all of a sudden that we know we will be forced to deal with her for the long run.
Meanwhile, Hakeem’s beef with rapper Freda Gatz bubbles over in this episode. Gatz challenges Hakeem with a throwback freestyle rap battle, which according to actress Jackée Harry, gave her “early 90s vibes”. The two have been making subtle digs at each other for weeks, but their battle isn’t just between two artists, but rather between Lyon Dynasty and Empire Records. Though lyrically Gatz is the better rapper, Hakeem wins the battle by working the crowd and announcing that he will be dropping his last name ‘Lyon’, and adopts the singular moniker ‘Hakeem’.
This episode, titled ‘My Bad Parts’, is especially corrupted with product placement and advertisement tie-ins, as Jamal Lyon wins the coveted title of Pepsi’s new spokesperson. Watching Episode 8 of Season 2 makes it more difficult to tell between an actual storyline or an hour long Pepsi commercial. The highlight of this unwarranted product placement is that Jamal’s new song for the campaign involves the use of a live orchestra, which is a relief in a show saturated with autotune. Jamal’s predicament is that he has to find a way to please both Cookie and Lucious in his new single. Of course, Lucious and Cookie refuse to work together on Jamal’s song and they force Jamal to choose between them. They come to make a deal to work together; on terms that Lyon Dynasty will release Jamal’s next album if Hakeem beats Freda Gatz in the rap battle. If Freda wins the rap battle, Empire can release Hakeem’s album.
Episode 8’s final bombshell is the discovery of Cookie’s real name, Loretha, after her well-to-do- estranged sister, Candace, (played by guest star Vivica A. Fox) arrives only to dump bad news on the festivities. Also, Anika’s obsession with Hakeem reaches a new level as she disguises herself as Laura’s driver in the final moments of “My Bad Parts”. Last season Anika’s meddlesome ways caused her to become simply unlikable to the audience. However, this season she has transitioned from unlikeable to plain pitiful. After all, she is an educated woman in her mid thirties, scheming and stalking someone who is not only immature, but also barely-legal. Her unrequited lust for the Lyon name is laughable, especially since it’s been well established that the Lyons are not all they are cracked up to be.
We at Spectrum give this episode a solid ⅗, for Anika’s crazy schemes, major bombshells and the incorporation of a live orchestra. Stay tuned for future reviews of Fox’s Empire!