“Empire” recap (1.5): Dangerous Bonds

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Last night’s episode of Empire was off the chain, as per usual! If you aren’t watching the sexy, soapy, drama yet, you need to drop what you are doing-seriously, put it down- and start streaming the first five episodes now. AfterEllen has already given you reasons to check it out including Lee Daniels, Ilene Chaiken and AzMarie Livingston. Here are just a few more reasons to tune in:

  • Superior acting by a star-studded cast including Taraji P. Henson, Terrance Howard, Jussie Smolett, Gabourey Sidibe and more.
  • Amazing guest stars such as Courtney Love, Jennifer Hudson and Gladys Knight. Yes, you read that right. Gladys Freakin’ Knight, yall! According to Lee Daniels’ instagram account, he is trying to persuade Denzel Washington to tape an episode as well.
  • Remember those actors that you loved back in the day, but haven’t seen in a while? Yeah. They’re on Empire. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Malik Yoba have already appeared out nowhere. Raven-Symoné, who has taken some time off from acting to attend art school, is set to appear in a future episode.
  • The music!
  • The production value!
  • The Shakespearean drama!

But I digress.

The last reason I’m going to mention, is that the character of Tiana Brown (played by Serayah) was revealed to be queer (bisexual, maybe?) in last night’s episode (which by the way, was directed by John Singleton). This is how it went down:

Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray)—the youngest son of Lucious Lyon (Terrance Howard) and one of three sons hoping to inherit his multi-billion dollar music company, Empire—hits the red carpet with Tiana, an up and coming pop star along the lines of Rhianna. Hakeem is a talented rapper in his own right and yet, the reporter on the red carpet introduces him as the son of Lucious Lyon. Tiana defends him saying that Hakeem has his own name and soon people will be thinking of Lucious Lyon as the father of Hakeem and not the other way around. Hakeem brushes it by promoting the new single off his upcoming album.  Yet, once they are back in the car he lets Tiana know how much her support means to him.  He invites her over to his place but she declines because she has to get up early to be in the studio all day. After they kiss goodbye, Chicken (AzMarie Livingston) teases him that he must be falling in love.

red carpet

Tiana enters her apartment and takes a look in the mirror. Behind her a voice says,  “Hey T. Did you have fun tonight?” Tiana turns around and we see a blonde woman lounging on the couch wearing active wear. She’s looking comfortable, like she lives there. Perhaps, Tiana has a roommate.

Well, if by roommate you mean “secret lover,” the answer is yes. Tiana saunters over dropping her pink faux fur jacket on a chair and sits on the woman’s lap. More pleasantries are exchanged and the next thing you know, the women are making out.

Tiana like girls

But what does this mean? Is she bisexual? Pansexual? Queer? How long has this relationship been going on? Does she love this woman? Does she love Hakeem, or is she just with him for the publicity?

There’s not much time to ponder my many questions because there is so much else going on. Lucious, the dying king of the music empire everyone wants, surprises his girlfriend, Anika (who also happens to be the head of A&R at Empire), with her favorite singer, Anthony Hamilton. As THE Anthony Hamilton sings “The Point of it All” for them in their living room, Lucious proposes to her with an 18-Carat diamond ring.

The next day Cookie, Lucious; ex-wife and the mother of his three sons, accompanies Jamal to run-down studio to record a song. There are people sleeping on the stairs and bullet holes in the office windows, but Jamal insists that this is where he wants to record. If his father can’t accept him and the fact that his is gay, then he doesn’t want any of his father’s money. Cookie can’t stay because there are feds downstairs waiting to talk to her.

She tells the producer and owner of the studio, “Take care of my baby boy. If not, I’m holding. The name’s Cookie. Ask about me.” And then she struts out like the badass she is. 

Once outside, Cookie is confronted by Agent Carter. She’s been following Cookie around to protect her and make sure she holds up her end of the deal she made to get out of jail early and testifies against the head of the crime organization she used to sell drugs for: Frank Gaithers.

Meanwhile, Hakeem plays his new song, “Drip Drop” for his father and presents his idea for the music video. He explains that he has to go all out for the video. He has to rebrand himself. Indulge in the fantasy that other people have about what it’s like to be Hakeem Lyon. Lucious agrees even if it means that the video will be way over budget. He tasks his oldest son, an astute businessman, with finding the money to make it happen.  Andre is not an artist. The talent he brings to the company is purely financial. So if he can’t make this video happen, Lucious has no need for him at Empire and no reason to leave the business to him when he dies.

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