“Empire” recap: “Dangerous Bonds”

Empire is really introducing some hard “OMG” moments now with the episode “Dangerous Bonds.” I don’t know what I’m excited/scared for the most—Andre tearing his brothers apart or Cookie running for her life now that she’s got some powerful gangsters killed!

Before I get to the big moments of the show, I do have to say that even though Jamal slowly became my least favorite character despite the show clearly wanting us to root for him, he’s edging his way back up to being one of my favorite characters. Why the increase in his likability? Because he’s actually doing something with his life besides whining.

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That sounds harsh, I know. But I’m tired of seeing him wear just grey and talk about how his father hates him. We know these facts! Sure, if I were Jamal, that’s all I’d talk about too, but I’d also set out to prove my father wrong. If he didn’t love me, he would respect me. It seems like that solution is finally on Jamal’s radar since he’s taking it upon himself to find a studio and actually record something.

 

However, Jamal’s still recording the same “My father hates me” song, this time called “Keep Your Money.” It was very sly how the show seemed to comment on Jamal’s penchant for making annoying introspective beats and melodies, with Cookie telling him over the phone to change the beat up. She was so very right. The new beat took the song from being another sad sack song to something with more bite to it.

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Hakeem, on the other hand, is also showing his own amount of fortitude by pitching his entire Hakeem brand, including the music video for “Drip Drop” to Lucious. Of course, Lucious would love it and of course Andre, not wanting to find a dime to fund it, would hate it, especially since Lucious is basing Andre’s sole worth on if he can find the money for it.

It’s sad that the only way Andre feels he matters is if he’s the last brother standing. But both he and his scheming wife Rhonda are ready to take down blood by releasing video of Tianna with her girlfriend! How did Rhonda get to the backend of the site Perez Hilton? Is she a hacker or something?

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Andre didn’t think sending some of Hakeem’s goons to mess up Jamal’s recording session would end up with someone getting killed, or did he? It seems like he’s willing to kill for his spot in the sun, but I think if he does ever get one of his brothers killed, it’ll really send him into a psychotic break. He was close to achieving such this episode, since one of Hakeem’s goons did, in fact, have a loaded gun and shot someone in the arm. So now Jamal thinks Hakeem sent the guys on purpose.

 

The first question I would have asked if I was Jamal is, “Did you send them there?” Of course, Jamal wouldn’t ask this, because he’s supposed to think Hakeem would send them and lie about it. However, when has Hakeem seemed like he would do such a thing? He even said he would never do that.

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Jamal and Hakeem seemed to know the value of brotherhood, so I’m surprised Jamal is going to just let it break that easily. “But he had a gun to his head!” you’re saying. I know. But it’d take more than just one small scene for me to get my head around that, if I were Jamal. It’d take Downton Abbey levels of scene wheel-spinning to get my head around that.

Surprisingly, this wasn’t one of the big OMG moments in the epsiode! The two big moments were when Hakeem confronts Tianna about her relationship and when Cookie tries to protect herself with ill effects.

Lucious, who is now engaged to Anika, passes on some of the worst advice a black man could give. It’s already a cliche to say “black people are homophobic,” but it’s even more cliche to have a black male character pass on that stupid logic of “a gay man is terrible, but two gay women mean  two women you can have sex with.”

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That’s not to say that “cliche” is bad. It’s expected of Lucious to think this way. To quote some folks who use this terminology, he’s what they call a “fuckboy.” (Excuse my language). Of course he’d hate gay men because to him, a man involved with another man not only doesn’t make sense in his worldview, but is something that’s a threat to his own masculinity (which doesn’t make sense in any worldview). But if it’s two women, then that leads to Lucious happily explaining it away as “trigonometry.” Sigh, Lucious. BIG SIGH.

Also, BIG SIGH to Hakeem, who couldn’t stand to see Tianna with someone else, even though she gave him a pass for being with Camilla. If Hakeem had a better male role model, he would be blocked from these “fuckboy”-isms. But because Lucious is not a role model, the only path Hakeem can take is the one Lucious is laying out for him. I mean, both Tianna and Hakeem are wrong for playing each other, but Hakeem could at least be like, “fair is fair” and get on with it. It’s troubling that Lucious’ advice is what made Hakeem okay with Tianna and her girlfriend.

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Now to Cookie taking out a hit. Cookie testified against a real Gangster, a man who took out a federal agent. Now that Cookie’s snitched, she’s in fear for her life. She’s even more fearful when she receives a rose on her door. She thinks its from the gangster’s man on the outside, who puts roses on targets doors before he kills them. This leads to Cookie asking one of the guys in her sister’s neighborhood to take the dude out. He and his crew successfully do take the dude out, but surprise! That rose wasn’t from him after all. It was from Lucious, who was celebrating their anniversary (on the same day he got engaged to Anika, no less. The “F” term applies once again.) UH OH.

But, even though Cookie’s messed her life up even more, she can handle a lot. The best example of this is when she’s in the back of the taxi with her sister, dishing out advice to Jamal, giving instructions to the producer, managing Tianna’s career post Perez Hilton, and getting on Lucious’ tail all in the course of a ride back to town. Let’s also not forget that she schooled the Indian cab driver who said all black people do is make trouble. “What do you mean ‘you people!’ You black like me!” Classic. And so classically black. I’ve heard my parents say things like this all the time.

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Finally, let’s get into Anika’s parents. Her mother might be extremely bougie, but she’s right. Lucious is nothing but trouble, especially since it seems Lucious has cheated on her with “women,” not just one woman. But Anika’s father? DUDE. I thought you had some integrity, especially if you’re going to such lengths as to call Lucious a “thug.” But you’re going to get bought out like that? You’re going to put your doctor’s license on the line so Lucious can get a clean bill of health so the company can finally go public and Anika can get beaucoup money? Okay.

Before I forget, props to Anthony Hamilton. Hooray for Anthony Hamilton!

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In short, it was another solid one for sure. What did you think about this episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below.

 Photo credit: Chuck Hodes

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