Hilarious quotes from Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson and Taye Diggs.
Pushed boundaries for discussion on #BlackLivesMatter and privilege.
Amazing acting and directing
Mariah Carey guest stars!
Not much character development for Jussie Smollett's "Jamal".
So many blowups from Terrence Howard's "Lucious" and Trai Byers' "Andre".
Life imitates art when Empire makes us think about injustice against Black America
For awhile, we’ve been seeing the third season go from intense, to slow, now to interesting. This episode, entitled “What Remains is Bestial”, proves to make us think about the injustices of Black America. Yes, Andre (Trai Byers) is still in the middle of an intense court battle between the cops who had harassed him last episode, but it’s a lot more than that outside of the show. Episodes like this showcase why movements like #BlackLivesMatter are so important in the real world. Lucious (Terrence Howard) brings his boys Andre, Jamal (Jussie Smollett) and Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) back to their roots to wake them out of their privileged music-dynasty bubble. Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and Councilman DuBois (Taye Diggs) tag team to ensure aspiring rapper Zeah (Ezri Walker) has a good future, while their own relationship hints at something more than associates. Not to mention, esteemed diva and music legend Mariah Carey guest stars as Kitty, Cookie’s longtime friend who helps Jamal in more ways than just music.
So with all that being said, let’s talk about this heavy episode!
Empire Extreme streaming service hits the next level.
Anika comes in to see Lucious to talk, and the Empire Extreme streaming service has up to 6 million streams already. But of course, Lucious is not satisfied with those numbers; he needs more. The Board says if Lucious doesn’t get to 10M then they’ll pull the plug on the whole project. Anika feels like a prisoner in the house and wants to break out. She knows about Cookie looking for a Head of A&R job, but before she can put herself out there, Lucious clams up. One of Lucious’ beautiful assistants comes up from under Lucious’ big wide table, and we are disgusted that she had been taking care of him while Anika was there. Gross!! Eww!!
Not to mention, he needs 5 new songs from Cookie and Jamal by the end of the week. Lucious is planning to finally release Jamal’s debut album; Jamal, on the other hand, doesn’t want it anymore. Jamal confronts his father about his album not being released. But if the album is released through Empire Extreme, it’ll raise the streaming views.
“Ok we get it, you are a vampire. So let me bring in a freshly-slit vein for your liking.” – Jamal
In exchange for pulling the plug on Jamal’s debut “Black and White” album, he’ll record the new song with Kitty. We think it’s a shame, because we bet it’s got some great music on there. More than any one duet will bring. If Jamal’s not ready, then he’s not ready. Lucious still gets what he wants, but at least Jamal isn’t pressured to do something he’s not prepared for. The banter between Cookie and Lucious is hysterical, if not totally gross!! The writers have been really clever coming up with quotables to keep us laughing.
“Jamal is right, you are a vampire.” – Cookie
“Then why don’t you let me suck on some of your blood?” – Lucious
“Drop dead, Lucious.” – Cookie
“I can’t, I’m a vampire.” – Lucious
This episode has it’s humorous moments, in particular when Anika called Lucious from the studio with Hakeem to talk about Xtreme’s streaming numbers, only for her hot, UPS guy (Juan Antonio) to show up under Lucious’ desk!! Anika flipped the script on her “husband” with the UPS guy!! Also, to make matters more precious, she got Lucious his 10M views on Extreme. That scene was a smart, classic way to get back at Lucious for his nasty ways in the beginning of the episode. Grace Gealey’s acting in this scene delivered a great performance as Anika’s calm, professional demeanor.
“I married you to save yo’ ass. And I saved yo’ ass again when I found that camera in the teddy bear. So let’s be clear. I’m not the one who needs this marriage.” – Anika
What really made Lucious the power-hungry bastard he is, is when he changes Jamal’s album title from The Black and White Album to The Black Album. After Jamal had already said no to releasing it on any platform. Lucious gets rid of the songs produced by Cookie, but we all know it’s to get back at her for not getting back with him. She knows that since she owns HALF the company, he can’t get rid of her that easily. Plus, she has the Board on her side which makes it twice as hard to get rid of her.
It’s game on between Lucious and Cookie!! Who will come out on top?
DuBois and Cookie?
Cookie seems to be finally getting used to Councilman Angelo DuBois. They even tag team together to help Zeah out when he is offered to record at Empire by Lucious. Councilman DuBois is upset that Zeah, a bright, young black man on his way to a full scholarship at MIT, is willing to throw that away for a rap career.
“The world doesn’t need another rapper.” – Angelo
While we’re all huge music fans, Angelo’s comments on Zeah’s rap dream is kinda true; we have too many we can’t keep them all straight anymore. There’s so much music, so much talent, so many of the same faces and acts, that it’s hard for any new rapper to get noticed, let alone be noticed by Lucious Lyon.
Cookie thinks Lucious may be on to a good deal for Zeah, until Angelo takes her to Black Girls Code – Zeah mentoring and teaching young women in his neighborhood about computers and technology. Wow!!
“This is the future, this right here. This is how we rise.” – Angelo
The Lyons are so stuck in their music-dynasty bubble that they don’t see the struggles other black youth still have to go through. Having Angelo there is a wake-up call, and we sure do like it!
Cookie sees the light and saves Zeah from signing his life away to Lucious. She even rips up the contract, sending him to college, where he belongs!! YES!!
“When I look at you, I see more than a future multi platinum selling artist. I see a brilliant mind. The world has enough rappers, we don’t need another one, yet.” – Cookie
Cookie offers to keep Zeah in check when he graduates in 4 years. It’s amazing to see how her character has changed in small moments. Last week, her pep talk with Jamal and Andre, and now this week, it’s saving a young rapper who needs to do more than just rap. Taraji P. Henson plays this new, fresh Cookie beautifully.
Cookie knows herself well enough not to be ashamed of who she is, and where she’s come from with Lucious. Councilman DuBois respects that, and even dives in for a kiss on the cheek, but Cookie pulls back. We wonder how long it will take for them to get together; hopefully not that long at all.
Family bonding in Lucious’ old neighborhood turns ugly
One of the most thoughtful parts of this episode is when Lucious pulls up and takes the boys to his old neighborhood. Hakeem swears he doesn’t know but he was a baby then. Andre and Jamal remember though. Lucious explains that when Cookie went to jail, (not “went away” as he put it) he tried everything he could to get his fam out of that dirty, nasty, messy, violent neighborhood; it made them soft.
“I coddled y’all. I let y’all breathe rarified air and live in gates and drive in limos. Biggest mistake of my life, because it made y’all soft. Now my sons walk these streets like food.” – Lucious
He’d thought that each of his sons’ issues —- Andre’s bipolar disorder, Jamal’s sexual orientation, Hakeem’s spoiled nature — were the cause of their childlike behavior, but the real issue is: “y’all don’t know you’re black!” We know that this scene is supposed to express some kind of twisted lesson in Lucious’ eyes, but the way all three boys stood up against their father, ready to fight, was hilarious. Like they couldn’t believe that their own father was questioning their blackness.
“When you step outside of this high wall of privilege that I built around you, your name might as well be Trayvon or Philando or Freddie. And the fault lies in me, ‘cause I didn’t prepare you. And it’s something you gotta live with. But you gotta get WOKE and quick. Because you are one moment from becoming a hashtag.” – Lucious
We applaud Lucious for wanting his sons to see the darker side of what it means to be a black man in America. It also shows a daring side to the show as a whole because it pushes these four characters to think outside of their comfort zones. However, Lucious shading Rhonda like that was uncalled for. He didn’t need to do that to Andre. Andre’s already hurting enough. Lucious didn’t need to add in that last part to hurt Andre even more.
“You dare talk about my wife after what happened? I don’t know what it means to be a black man in America? I know what it means to be a Lyon. I’d rather be in jail, hell I’d rather be dead than end up like you.” – Andre
The acting in this scene in the limo is astounding, from Terrence Howard and Trai Byers especially. Howard keeps his character calm and collected, and Byers expresses the right amount of resentment towards his father. The direction of all three sons’ annoyance in their body language, while still keeping their own individuality, was genius!! We hope that this scene keeps families at home talking about privilege and respect among each other in the black community.
The one and only Mariah Carey!!
America’s song bird Mariah Carey guest stars in this episode, but before we get to her, first we find out how she and Jamal meet.
Jamal enters a PTSD support group to “test the waters” of his condition, but Jamal doesn’t want to talk since everyone knows what happened at the summit last episode. He shakes off the feelings of insecurity, but we all know he’s still not ready to perform onstage yet.
Cookie introduces Jamal to Kitty (Mariah Carey), hoping to cure him of his PTSD. Kitty even offers a new song for Jamal but he’s not ready to perform. In exchange for pulling the plug on Jamal’s debut “Black and White” album, he’ll record the new song with Kitty.
We all get in a Prayer circle for Jamal recording with Kitty, but it’s not enough when Jamal has a mini-breakdown as soon as the track starts. But Kitty suggests changing the lighting of the room, and Jamal is ready to go. It’s a beautiful duet, and music supervisor Rodney Jerkins did a fabulous job producing Jussie Smollett’s soft vocals with Mariah’s powerhouse octaves.
We can just end the episode right there, no need for the last 20 minutes!!
Andre’s unfair trial against cops strikes a deal with Tariq
Our poor Andre has been through too much since this season started. He’s now lost his wife and child, and now being accused of assaulting police officers. It hurts us to see him being bombarded with intrusive journalists waiting outside of the police department, especially one that asks him, “Are you a gangster now too, Andre?” for having his hood up. We can’t help but shake our heads at the prejudice and injustice of it all. Of course, Andre isn’t a gangster, but he just doesn’t know how to deal with all of the drama that has happened since Rhonda’s death.
Andre in trial for the police altercation, they’re saying he assaulted them?! We screamed at our televisions, “WUT!! NO HE DIDNT!!” But it’s his word against there’s, since there were no cameras or witnesses around. Is he Innocent or guilty? Even though we all know he’s innocent.
Andre’s lawyer thinks they might need to cut a deal. Andre doesn’t want to lie about going to his own home; he feels betrayed by his lawyer, who’s known him for a decade; he was at his wedding.
Lucious and Cookie want to hire a powerhouse lawyer to support Andre, but Andre wants no part of it. He has his own lawyer, so he’ll do this on his own. It’s good for parents to support him but at what cost?
Things take an interesting turn when Tariq catches up with Andre towards the end of the episode. Andre figures out that Tariq was behind the whole entire situation with the cops arresting him for assault, and now Tariq wants new info from his father in exchange to drop the charges. But Andre, being a Lyon, doesn’t back down. However, we know Tariq doesn’t give up that easily, so we’ll see if and when Andre will agree eventually.
Can we talk about the filming of that scene for a second? It’s fitting that they’re walking by a church doing their dirty work. The director (Millicent Shelton) made a good choice of filming that intense scene outside, in the dark, near a church. Considering that Andre is skeptical on his soul and religion in general, it’s intriguing that he may be thinking of striking a deal with Tariq. He turned down the offer, but the church is what stood out the most to us.
Final Verdict: “What Remains is Bestial” provided more drama and music than we had hoped for.
“What Remains is Bestial” was much better than last week’s. Mariah Carey was our initial reason to get excited. But Lucious’ talk with his sons, Cookie and Angelo’s time together, and Jamal’s denial of his PTSD kept us engaged not only with the context of the show, but in real life.
With so much racial tension between cops and young black men in real life, it was no shock that Andre would have to deal with that on Empire. So it was a bit of a wake-up call for us fans. We may have personally been involved or know someone who had been involved in police brutality. Seeing Andre’s struggle for justice on television makes us want to find out more and support Andre and Jamal even more. “What Remains is Bestial” is only the beginning for more battles for the Lyons to come throughout the season.
Questions, Comments and Concerns
- While Tariq (Morocco Omari) is still stalking the fam outside of an event, we feel so bad for Porsha outside the gates. “Dont nobody wanna see Porsha?” We love you, girl!
- When Hakeem becomes jealous of Tiana and Gram (Romeo Miller) making out onstage during a show, he and Nessa plan a diss track against them. But when Shyne almost chokes Nessa to death for refusing to get on Hakeem’s style, Hakeem rethinks the whole project. However, Hakeem tells his father, but he doesn’t care. Lucious just wants whatever it takes to get a hit.
- After Lucious’ talk with his sons in the limo, Andre leaves with Jamal, and Hakeem and Lucious head back to the studio to hear the diss track. The final product is without Nessa’s vocals, but they used Tiana’s vocals from her song at the show to cover it up. The start of a stupid rivalry.
- Jamal visits Freda Gatz (Bre-Z) in jail, but he’s still afraid of her. We’re just glad that Jamal isn’t the one she’s mad at, it was Lucious she was trying to shoot. He just got in the way. Freda really didn’t mean to hurt Jamal, but in the end, he did, mentally and physically.
Empire Review [3×03]: “What Remains is Bestial”