“Empire” recap: “The Lyon’s Roar”

Lucious Lyon is a big hypocrite. I think what I’m writing has been painfully obvious from the beginning of Empire, but this episode, “The Lyon’s Roar,” clearly shows in stark detail how much of a hypocrite Lucious is. He tells Jamal to sing his truth, and then gets mad when that truth isn’t what he wants it to be.

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Lucious, Jamal is gay and there’s nothing you can do to change it. I wish he’d just get over it, like Cookie advised him to do. But no, now that Jamal has come out, Lucious feels like his whole family is crumbling around him. Just like I said in another recap, Lucious is using his ALS diagnosis as a way to bully his family into doing what they want him to do. Just as Jamal said, Lucious loves no one but himself.

I’m proud of Jamal for coming out. It seems like he finally got a load of weight off his chest and, frankly, it’s the happiest I’ve seen this character in a while. Or, rather, it’s the most relieved I’ve seen this character in a while. Which makes me wonder if Jamal was with the wrong guy in the first place. Michael seemed content to coast by in the Lucious Lyon-paid for penthouse. Meanwhile, the new guy, the guy hired to film the Lyon Legacy documentary, is not only a take-charge guy in the realm of romance, but he’s also encouraging of Jamal to live as the man he was born to be. The doc guy’s father also isn’t that keen on his son’s sexuality, but Doc Dude doesn’t care; he’s living his life on his own terms, and that means reveling in his bisexuality.

Just for the record, for anyone who is prone to think that a representation of a black person stands for all black people, not all black men treat their gay sons like dirt. It’s an issue in the black community, yes, but we are not monolithic in our thoughts. The most high-profile example: basketball legend Magic Johnson, who embraces his son EJ.

What I really loved was that Jamal’s coming out moment also brought him and Hakeem back together as brothers. Sure, their dad’s impending death helped pave the way towards a reconciliation, but Jamal’s bravery to proclaim to the whole world his sexuality was what really sealed the deal. In fact, I’m actually paraphrasing Hakeem, because he was the one who said that Jamal’s statement was the bravest thing he’d seen a person do. I feel like this is setting up for both brothers to break out of Empire and start something on their own. You know Hakeem’s not going to stand for Lucious tearing his brother down, even if he is dying.

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This leads me to a big question: Why does Cookie put up with Lucious’ bigotry? I understand that she’s still trying to fight for the family she feels she left behind, but I hope she wakes up and realizes that the man she thought she knew never was the man she fell in love with. Lucious basically let her go to jail for him. Again, I get she’ still in the mindset she was in prison, longing for the family she left behind, fantasizing them to the point of being the perfect family when they never were—Lucious put their son in a trash can, for goodness’ sake.

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Another reason I don’t get why Cookie is putting up with it (yet do understand) is when it comes to dealing with Anika. Anika, despite her debutante bumbling, is playing to win. In the long run, I just don’t see Cookie winning without giving up her soul in the process. Lucious talks about telling the truth in music, but Cookie actually lives the truth in her music and her life. Being with Lucious is just asking for too much. She’s going to have to reconstruct her family in a much different way.

One way would be to 1) keep growing her relationship with Hakeem, 2) find she and Jamal a good place to live for the little girl and 3) focus on creating a loving, supportive family with Jamal, the girl, and perhaps Hakeem (if he’s not too controlled by Camilla by then). Forget Lucious; just let Anika have that shell of a man, since that’s what’s she’s been fighting for.

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I will say that I was missing Tiana and Elle. We need resolution on Elle’s story! Anika needs to get got for that! And what about Tiana and Hakeem? Did they end their relationship? Why is everyone just accepting that Hakeem’s with Camilla now without questioning where Tiana is? (I know Cookie went ALL THE WAY IN on Camilla, even saying she’d be good in prison because she’s got a long tongue. WOAH, COOKIE.)

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I was horrified by Andre this week. And by horrified, I mean “saddened and depressed.” In a way, Andre’s life is mirroring how Lucious feels his life is going right now; everything’s in shambles. Andre’s wife no longer wants to play the creepy sex games (which was kind of a 180 degree turn of face for her), and Lucious hates him because he knows he can’t trust him. And Andre has no musical talent, unlike the rest of his family.

All Andre’s ever wanted is to be accepted by his father, to the point of leaving behind his own sense of self. But for Lucious to bring up Andre marrying a white woman as a thing to hold against him? COME ON, NOW LUCIOUS. Don’t take out your aggressions about Jamal on Andre like that. Was he holding going to an Ivy League school over him as well? Quit grasping at stuff to hate people for, Lucious!

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Andre really needs some help. He’s on a downward spiral, and if no one reaches out to help him soon, he’s going to do something irreversible. We saw him toying with suicide in this episode to devastating effect.

What did you think about this episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below.

Photo credit: Matt Dinnerstein, Chuck Hodes/FOX

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