Empire Recap: “Sound & Fury” (Ep. 310)

Our beloved “Empire” is back for its mid-season premiere (season 3, because I know with more breaks than what’s in Q-Tip’s crates it’s hard to keep track) after a doozy of a first half featuring Cookie’s new boo, Jamal’s new monster and Lucious’ old tricks.

In “Sound & Fury,” the drama arrived early and cooked often. The episode’s namesake peaked when the Lyon family visited Jamal in rehab. Instead of the visit being about Jamal, things quickly became about Cookie and Lucious, as usual. The two titans were jawing back and forth, until an iso shot of Jamal displayed anguish across the young singer’s face as he drew inward and the voices of his parents became nothing but that sound and fury.

The theme was also triggered when Empire acts Ness and Tiana appeared at an Inferno promo show. (Lucious promotes his albums with promotions ahead of promotion #because.) The two singers trade vocals when pettiness ensues and mics are cut, turned back on and then Xzhibit’s Shine Johnson gets his Don King on: “Back up, let them fight!” And what a fight it was. 

But perhaps here, as always the case in this family saga, the sound and fury don’t exist as a pair much as they repel in a unit. For instance, when Lucious is boxed in by Cookie’s move to bring out the Head Lyon’s momma, the Empire co-CEO pivoted by endorsing his ex-wife’s new boo’s candidate in the New York mayoral race. He also offered a bounty for information leading to Angelo DuBois’ arrest for past transgression. Sound and fury might as well be signal and noise. Or Trump and tweets.

Speaking of tweets, the buzz on the bird messaging system will be about the epic, seven-minute and two-story studio showdown between Lucious and Cookie (with her bat) over… his appointing Anika as Empire’s head of A&R, over the pain of non-relationship and over the scars of their past relationship.

“Are you trying to erase me, Lucious,” Cookie asks, with Taraji P. Henson giving us all of the Lyon matriarch’s 17-years of pain. “You built this company on my back. And you just gonna give it to that bitch?”

The same drama that propels them higher as a company also fuels them forward as a family. So it’s no surprise that as Cookie looks at the blood trickling down Lucious face that the two embrace in a passionate kiss. Cookie stops short of giving up her shortbread, though. 

“Uh uh, no. I said I was done with you,” she says, nearly shivering in her refusal. “I meant that.”

Maybe a truce was called for without a kiss. However, an inferno always boils hot. And without an imminent threat on Empire, there’s no need for them to join forces (yet). They’ll be at each other’s throats until an outside party tries to slit one of them. Then, it’s on and they form like Voltron.

*****

Before we go and do a favor for a friend of Lucious’, some thoughts on the line(s) of the night.