On the last episode of Empire, we were left with Cookie making a promise that Lucious would remember her again—and as we all know by now, Cookie keeps her promises. Surprisingly though, “Full Circle” begins with shady nurse Claudia running a sexy bath for the one-legged Lucious. Although the imagery suggested that some steamy love making was about to go down, it’s quickly made clear that Claudia often does this, helping Lucious bathe. He’s not yet used to life with one leg.
That scene, along with a few in the middle and a big one at the end—where Claudia attempts to leave and Lucious begs her to stay, because she makes him feel safe—gives us deeper insight into the relationship the two actually have. Claudia is truly the only one Lucious trusts. And, so far, she is also the only one helping him recover without having a personal, self-serving agenda (I repeat, so far).
The depth of Claudia and Lucious’ relationship is very important to note because if Claudia’s feelings are true, poor Cookie, who just moved herself into Lucious’ mansion in hopes that her constant presence will expedite his measly memory issue, doesn’t stand one damn chance. The new Lucious is an angel and wants no parts of his sketchy (pun intended), devilish past. Cookie is a huge part of those past wrongdoings, and although he doesn’t remember much, many clues have made her involvement very clear.
In another storyline, Andre Lyon is at a bar closing a deal to sell Empire Extreme, the music streaming service under the Empire brand. He has a successful meeting and heads to the bar to grab a celebratory drink. A random, beautiful chocolate woman appears out of nowhere next to Andre. They flirt a bit and before you know it, she’s hiking up her skirt, more than ready to sex it out for Andre. This scene reminded me of the first season of the show when Andre would regularly “close deals” with his stroke. Every time he would perform those acts, it was also done doggy-style, seemingly to make it as impersonal as possible. The same was about to happen here, but guess what? Andre’s lion just could not roar. The romp ends with the random woman telling him that he just “missed the best ass he ever had.” She was too anxious for my taste to get her back blown out by random D.
Things get fishy a few scenes later, and random woman’s thirst begins to make more sense. We discover that she’s Detective Pamela Rose (played by the excellent Teyonah Parris) and is investigating the disappearance of last season’s Vegas con artist, Giuliana Green. She swears she didn’t know who Andre was and that she was just out to get plowed, reminding him of her disappointment. She’s believable, but so was Diana DuBois last season every time she lied about kidnapping baby Bella. But, just like Warren and Claudia, Pamela seems to be another character thrown in the mix that, on the surface, should be of great concern, but may very well turn out to be a lifeline for bigger troubles looming in the distance for the Lyon family.
Meanwhile, Becky is attempting to boss up in a major way. She’s just the interim A&R, but in this episode, she seems to have forgotten. She persuades both Jamal and Hakeem to cut pop records to catch a placement on a movie soundtrack and appease the fickle public. They both say yes, but decide to eventually do their own things. Jamal, who promised to just tweak an already completed tune, records a totally new (really good, probably his best ever) song, and Hakeem decides that he needs to deliver something to the streets (girl…) before producing another pop hit.
Becky plays Jamal and gives the song he was supposed to tweak to Tory Ash (Rumer Willis) and actually books a great deal for her—the one Jamal would’ve gotten. Jamal is pissed. Becky feels bad and tells Cookie what happened and, to her surprise, the Empire co-founder praises her for taking charge, giving Becky a 30 percent pay increase and moving her up to A&R proper. My heart was warmed and this sets Becky up to finally make some power moves this season. She’s been a faithful minion for way too long.
And finally, this episode caught up with Anika Calhoun. She’s been in jail for five months after being framed by Lucious’ mom for the murder of Tariq. After tolerating Cookie and Thirsty’s petty berating, the lawyer actually tries to get Anika released, to no avail. Lucky for her, mama Lucious, Leah Walker, talks too much and tells Cookie straight up that she murder Tariq and was planning to take Claudia out as well. A scene later, papers are signed by Lucious, who Leah also attempted to murder earlier in the episode (via drowning), and she’s manhandled away to, presumably, a crazy house, or better yet, prison. Thank god. She was exhausting. All this leads to Anika being proven innocent and released back into the free world, only to visit Hakeem and find her baby girl, Bella, in the loving arms of Tiana. Anika’s eyes are telling. She doesn’t like what she sees and knowing Anika, Tiana may have a little something to worry about.
This episode of Empire was, dare I say, fantastic and confirmed the series’ iconic-ness. Thus far, what I’m loving about this season is how the show has—as producer Ilene Chaiken assured us earlier this year—“reset.” The writers have brought the focus completely back on the Lyons, and as a bonus, stepped up the writing and original music. There’s a creative maturity on all fronts and my fingers are crossed that they keep it up.
Will we see Forest Whitaker again this season? His role (minus the singing) was beautifully played. And I’m with Andre when it comes to the “Empire 20 for 20” idea Cookie has conjured up. Queen is going to put Empire in some serious debt with that mess of a plan. But I have to praise her leadership of the company. Things seem to be a lot more positive and productive around the office, and no murders have happened, yet!
Catch you all next week!