That was WELL worth the wait, you guys!
Personally, I'd hyped up Empire Season 2 Episode 1 so much in my mind that anything other than a masterpiece was going to disappoint me. And while it wasn't without its flaws, I was absolutely compelled from start to finish.
Everyone worried about a sophomore slump can rest a little easier now, seeing as how this series is showing no signs of slowing down. In this season premiere we were gifted with Cookie in a cage, a killer new song to add to our Empire rotation and more guest stars than I could even keep up with!
It's hard to start talking about Empire and not begin with the core nucleus, the Lyon family. It's been three months since Lucious was locked up and it's interesting to see how the family is dealing. While Jamal is still in charge and seemingly isolated from the rest of his family, Hakeem and Cookie are closer than ever.
Hakeem has come a long way from Empire Season 1, and while he's still a bit of a petulant child like 95% of the time, I enjoyed him more this week than I think I ever have. Maybe that's just the power of Cookie. She makes everything better.
Speaking of Cookie, she was all over the place. Her main goal was to finish the takeover of Empire and finally force Lucious out, but she also wanted to publicly show her support for Lucious by throwing a massive rally that would court celebrities and investors alike.
Thus we got #FreeLucious. How absurdly amazing was that? From Al Sharpton to Andre Leon Talley, it was clearly the place to be and Cookie and company pulled it off beautifully. Cookie's impassioned speech about incarceration in the black community was another shining moment for Taraji P. Henson.
As we talked about in our Empire Preview with showrunner Ilene Chaiken, there are always social issues permeating throughout this show, as they've never sought to shy away from tough topics. It's refreshing, important and another reason why I feel this show has achieved such phenomenal fanfare.
Jamal: You need to go visit that man.
Cookie: Did ya'll bother to tell him that when I was rotting away?
Cookie's decision to not visit Lucious was justified, and I didn't blame her at all. For all that Lucious has put her through over the years, why would she be running to visit him and make sure he was okay behind bars?
When she finally did visit him, it was for protection from the powerful, dangerous
Chris Rock Frank Gathers.
I have to admit, I did not buy Chris Rock as any kind of menacing figure until about the tail end of the hour when he met with Jemele and was eating that steak with a napkin draped across his chest. For some reason it was in that moment that I could finally see why someone would ever possibly be scared of him. Strange, I know.
The severed head in the box we've seen before (RIP Jemele), but it let Cookie know that things were serious, and she needed Lucious to help protect her and their family.
It's crazy how I can love your ass and hate you at the same moment.Lucious [to Cookie]
I could go on and on about the chemistry between these two, and I have before, but it was on full display during their tense reunion. No matter the circumstances or time they've spent apart, there is a respect there that will never go away. They will always be family, for better or worse.
So, at Cookie's request, Lucious dealt with Frank Gathers. Although, I've seen enough soap operas to know that no one is ever truly dead until you see a body. And don't ever get it twisted, Empire is a deliriously entertaining nighttime soap opera affair!
- The bromance between Jamal and Hakeem has cooled considerably, and I am not happy about it. These two have always been my favorite pairing, and I'm hopeful they will find their way back to one another.
- Jamal. Is. Lucious. And that is NOT a compliment. Notice how his entire family has deserted him, Jamal? Do you want to end up like that?
- Michael is back. Ryan is gone. It's looking like Jamal is...sorry, I'm already bored by Michael's return and lost my train of thought.
- Aside from the aforementioned guest stars, the other big addition was Marisa Tomei, whose shady investor Mimi screwed over Cookie and ultimately let Lucious keep control of Empire! Sneaky, sneaky lady.
- Mimi had some strong eyes for Boo Boo Kitty, but even a little dirty dancing didn't keep Mimi from turning her back on Cookie. Also, was Boo Boo Kitty actually somewhat likeable this week? I know, I can't believe I said it.
- Andre is still haunted over killing Vernon. Maybe I missed something, but did anyone mention just where exactly Vernon is supposed to be these days?
- I didn't catch the name of the opening song at that #FreeLucious rally, but it was everything and more. The music was a staple of the first season, and I really hope the hits just keep on coming.
- Game over, bitches.
Can you tell I am extra pumped over this premiere? I can't wait for you guys to weigh in and let me know how much you enjoyed it! What are your feelings about Jamal turning into his father? When and how will Lucious get out of prison? Who was your favorite guest star?
We're back and ready to talk Empire each week! So make sure you watch Empire online right now so you don't miss any of the discussion!
And here is your first look at Empire Season 2 Episode 2:
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.