Lucious brags about the size of his junk. Cookie says Carol has herpes. And Jamal’s life hangs in the balance…in other words, just another day at Empire. After watching the latest and greatest, titled “Rise by Sin,” I need to collect my thoughts. There is so much to unpack. In keeping with the Shakespearean theme — the nighttime soap was high on drama, tragedy and, yes comedy. This time the title was borrowed from Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure,” deemed a comedy, yet considered so much more, as is the latest Empire offering. One of the play’s main focuses is on the dichotomy between corruption and purity. This idea sums up the Lyons in a nutshell. Hakeem is drenched in hip hop swag, lost somewhere between being a bad boy and a lover boy. He’s longing to find family in Laura but we just saw him licking his chops at Tiana last week. He wants to give Laura her dreams, the love and wedding she desires, but will he be able to give her the marriage she deserves? Her burgeoning music career might be flickering out — will being the wife of a hip hop star be enough for both of them?
Cookie has done her share of dirt. But she’s all about protecting her Lyons, all while being a boss chick in heels and flip down shades. As soon as sister Carol mentions Tariq the freak (Morocco Omari), Cookie’s onto him and tries to stave him off by telling him that Carol is a crack head with herpes. But Tariq’s on Lucious like a hellhound. Cookie warns Carol that Tariq is a “Fed” but jealous Carol’s petty level is on 10. They have a huge fight — Cookie disinvites her to the ASAs. Lucious has “tolerated” Jamal’s homosexuality for as long as he can. The shit has finally hit the fan between them. Lucious walks in on an intimate moment between Jamal and Derrick, a.k.a. “D-major” (Tobias Truvillion), who flips on his down-low switch and bounces before Lucious reveals to Jamal that he is fully aware of D’s double life and that he doesn’t want Jamal to have any parts of that. They then call each other ALL the bitches. There wasn’t a bitch left in the book when they were done with one another. Lucious accuses Jamal of being a “bottom,” and literally tells Jamal that the day he dies from AIDS is the day he is going to celebrate. He’s truly his mother’s son. This drives Jamal straight to Cookie, but before he can lay it all out, the mention of Freda Gatz stops Cookie in her tracks. She’s forced to reveal the sordid details of Frank Gather’s demise, and furthermore, why Jamal needs to stay away from Frank’s spawn. Jamal’s mind is blown. Meanwhile, Rhonda is not having the bullshit, not since she got a glimpse of Anika’s "killer Christians," and so she asks Anika about the red-bottoms and if they were on her feet the night she got pushed off of hers. Anika goes silent…radio silent.
But Empire was not done with me! Thirsty locks Andre and Leah in a panic room, just as they are about to make their way to the ASAs. Leah is hell-bent on telling the world she is alive and well, contrary to the “Dwight Walker video.” Lucious says he misses Cookie’s “booty” (which is what every girl wants to hear), and the two attend the ASA’s together. Carol surprises Cookie by showing up drunk to the red carpet. Lucious has security remover her, but not before she runs into Freda and spills all the beans about Lucious offing her daddy. Freda loses her shit, grabs a security guard’s gun and blasts on Lucious, but Jamal intercepts the bullet! Finally, Tariq (the Freak) bypasses Carol for Anika. He plans to drill her for intel on Lucious. And you KNOW she’s got all the tea. My jaw dropped more times in this episode than Cookie flipped those shades up and down. And with one episode left, I have questions. Will Cookie and Lucious marry? Will Anika admit to pushing Rhonda? Is Jamal dead? And finally, where the hell are Oprah and Common, dammit?!