A Lean & Hungry Look (4×15)

This week’s episode saw resolutions to several storylines, and had an unexpected twist towards the end.

A party is thrown for Cookie, they whisper instead of yell “Surprise”, for fear of stirring another heart attack. All of the Lyon family were in attendance, and so was Empire’s board. After all this time of the members appearing on screen, I can only remember Edna. Is that because I just don’t pay attention well?

Lucious proposes an expensive project called House Lyon, a sensory experience that supports his seeing color and sound waves when he listened to music and was first struck with synesthesia. Cookie is right to warn him of the enormous pricetag the project would give, and I think the Lyons need to stop neglecting that their wealth can turn to debt just as quickly. Maybe my financially-minded father could give Lucious some budgeting tips?

Blake and Hakeem squabble over who gets to rap over a beat Shine made. It’s interesting to see their dynamic post-basement party, since it seemed to me that both were getting along as mentor and mentee. Lucious wants to swipe it from them, and have Blake as his featured artist. Strangely though, the idea is trashed seconds after it was proposed.

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giphy- Empire – Fox
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giphy  – Empire – Fox

Tiana is salty since Eddie left. I appreciate the fact that the producer gave her so much, but I’m surprised that Tiana still wants Eddie around, considering how taxing his high expectations were on her before. Cookie offered the Lyon family’s support to Tiana, and reminder her that she was Tiana’s first cheerleader after she was signed to Empire. This makes me think of the time that Tiana was caught by Hakeem messing around with a girl in a store. Oh, those were the days, when Tiana was seen as more than a diva and Hakeem’s on-again, off-again bae. Was she queer, bisexual, or pan? Or maybe just a closeted heterosexual. Maybe Fox can only handle writing one LGBTQ character at a time…

Maya runs into Cookie at the main desk. Maybe she feels guilty for wanting to cut Cookie and Poundcake out of her life. But it seems there’s a longing to know more about her birth mother, and Cookie again reminds her to read the letter Poundcake wrote to her daughter.

The jail flashbacks here are always great, since we never got to see just what life was like for Cookie during her 17 years in lockup. Her excitement for early release is palpable, and this likely occurred after Cookie snitched on Frank Gathers.

Jamal gathers a group of artists to form his collective. He’s right in his element here, explaining how a weight is being lifted, allowing for an equal space for their music to be posted anonymously. So like EmpireXtreme without all the obsessings over numbers and name drops. Just the music.

Eddie wasn’t gotten rid of so easily, as Thirsty is seen speaking with Lucious in the studio about a payout. He tries to keep it hush-hush but Shine wants to know what’s troubling him. Apparently, the payout amounts to $10 million dollars. (How much are the Lyons worth anyway? Jeez.) Eddie is trying to expose the Lyons for their shady business practices, and Shine reminds Lucious it’s okay to have two seperate books, one legitimate the other not so much.

Andre wants to talk to Leonard, and he tells the eldest Lyon about the board’s concerns for Eddie Barker’s signing to leave the company. Now I know two of the names of the board members, Leonard and Edna. It makes sense though that any change in leadership should worry the board, and considering they’ve had Lucious as CEO twice, and Camila, and then Cookie and Lucious taking over, their concerns have merit.

Cookie hears about a clothing deal with a company and thinks back to when she was excited to wear her furs on the outside. I just want to see the sketchbook to get a closer look at a photoshoot that could happen. Cookie’s about the only character who hasn’t had an awesome moment behind the camera. It’s been all about the music moguls and Lucious’ legacy.

More flashbacks reveal the guard tried to plant dope in Cookie’s bunk when they checked the beds, and Poundcake saves her release deal by taking the fall. It seems Poundcake’s relationship to Cookie extended beyond the matriarch trying to seperate the guard who raped Poundcake. I like the dynamic of going from adversaries, to confidants to real friends.

Blake is killing the rap track, and Hakeem grapples with him over a track – they get so close that I wasn’t sure they’d make out or throw fists. Hakeem seems more relaxed and the other dude seems more hungry, much like we saw Hakeem act in Season 1.

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giphy –  Empire – Fox

Shine and Lucious reminisce as they watch from the other side of the screen in the studio. Shine wants to hop in the studio, and Lucious supports him to throw on a track and he KILLS it, rapping over a beat with ease.

Becky walks into Jamal and the group rehearsing. Apparently she has “spies everywhere” and when she tracked him down, Becky understandably wondered why Jamal wasn’t pursuing an album for the 20 for 20 project. I can appreciate Jamal sticking to his guns and continuing the collective, because he seems to be in his element there. Becky notices this too, and agrees to keep things quiet. Jamal owes her big time. Seeing Jamal happy working with other intelligent and like-minded artists makes my heart happy as a viewer.

Cookie visits Maya at the dance studio again, and Cookie reminds her that Poundcake did so much good, despite being a “jailbird” in her daughter’s eyes. Apparently she can’t let it go, trying everything to convince the young woman to visit Poundcake before it’s too late.

Other flashbacks reveal Poundcake is in the hole when Cookie visits her quickly on her way out. She’s set for processing but Cookie is kind enough to thank the other woman and implore her to stay safe, insisting that both stay in touch after she leaves jail.

Maya wonders why her birth mother didn’t want her. It’s a heavy load to carry, being unsure of what a young child did to deserve her mother leaving her. She didn’t leave though, since Sara Lee, Poundcake’s real name, just couldn’t find her in the system. Maya finally agrees to visit with her birth mother.

Shine’s track lays over the scene as Blake is asked to fetch Shine’s dry cleaning. It’s still so hysterical to see a white dude doing grunt work for the Lyons. Paying his dues and all that. Hakeem is still entitled as he’s got the #1 track, but he still needs to mature. I was hoping he’d be a bit more humbled having helped Blake, but we’ll see.

Thirsty finds Eddie’s whereabouts and Lucious sets up a meet. Shine can’t believe the patriarch is going to pay Eddie off – and Lucious decides against paying Eddie off after all. They want to give Eddie the “Philly Treatment”. That doesn’t sound good….

Shine: “There’s dudes you pay, and there’s dudes you end. What kind do you think Eddie is?” Something to consider, as Shine agrees to come along to meet with Eddie.

Anika is meeting with the board over dinner with a proposal, and Tiana is there to give Eddie credit for his mentorship. She loves the attention that comes with charming other people, and it makes sense that Lucious saw something in her before. Her tenacity and willingness to go to great lengths are also what makes Anika a formidable foe. Anika reminds the board that Eddie should be the one heading the company. It’s funny that Eddie is mentioned so much, but he never makes an appearance even once in this episode.

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giphy – Empire – Fox

Meanwhile, Andre is seen spying on the whole meet where Anika reveals a lot of details of the Lyon family’s behavior, seemingly to make their “uncouth behavior” a reason to kick them out of Empire. Edna is right to say that Eddie isn’t much better, with all his debt and ex-wives to deal with.

I want to hear some of the music Jamal is cutting with the collective. Hopefully we’ll see a track out next episode.

Maya visits with Sara Lee, while the older woman is in rough shape, unable to speak, as the cancer seems to have taken its toll. How much time has passed between Cookie’s first encounter and Maya’s visit?

Cookie reads the letter to speak for Poundcake’s feelings since she’s unable to speak for herself.  Poundcake seems to be soaking it in, staring into Maya’s eyes as they switch, and Maya reads the rest, while Sara Lee is on the verge of dying. The entire scene is quite emotional, especially when the letter has concluded and Sara closes her eyes, seemingly for the last time.

Shine and Lucious wait at the strip for Eddie’s jet to arrive. It’s hard to sense who Lucious is speaking of about loyalty, Eddie or Shine? But it seems Lucious put the pieces together, and Eddie is not coming. Lucious is seen hearing Thirsty telling him that morning Shine orchestrated it all.

Lucious and Shine pull guns on each other, but Lucious has a goon behind him. Shine’s track is supposedly worth more with him dead, and Shine says the Lyon family is soft, and Lucious couldn’t handle the streets. Will he shoot Shine? Nope.

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giphy -Empire – Fox

The goon fires, several times, as Lucious looks over his former friend’s body. It’s times like these I forget how many demons and terrible things he’s capable of doing.

Lucious speaks with Cookie over the phone about the events. At least there’s something they both shared with each other. They’re communicating better now.

Is Cookie set to visit with the old fart of a guard again? No. Instead, she visits with her mother, probably out of guilt seeing Poundcake pass away without receiving at face to face conversation with her daughter.

Tell us: Did you see Shine’s death coming?

 

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