Season 2, Episode 2 – “Without A Country”
Air Date: September 30, 2015
Let’s start by acknowledging the greatness that is Dee Rees, who directed this outstanding follow-up to the premiere. Rees was just nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Director for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special, due to her work on HBO’s “Bessie” and as a same gender loving woman of color, it’s quite monumental that she was given the chance to be apart of the global phenomenon that is Empire.
Now enough with the love. Let’s get to the drama. Lucious is out of prison in just a blink of an eye. It’s fitting that Wesley Snipes was in the running for the role of the Lyon tyrant as Terrence Howard puts on his best Nino Brown face, intimidating everyone who stands in his way and getting poor guest star Ludacris jumped for doing his job. But not all guest stars were wasted with the first appearance of Lucious’s mother, played by Destiny’s Child alum and R&B sex kitten, Kelly Rowland. While Rowland’s acting has an energy equivalent to a popsicle stick, I appreciate that her appearance is meaningful and adding to a fuller, more complete story as it juxtaposes with the battle Andre finds in himself to maintain his credibility as a savvy businessman and the realities of his bipolar disorder.
Cookie also unveils the new Lyon Dynasty – a label set to compete with the media conglomerate that is Empire Records. Interestingly, Cookie who seemed to be the wildcard of last season, steals the role Jamal held firmly as the underdog. She’s now on her own in a dilapidated warehouse with her bratty artist/son, Hakeem and his dreams of starting a 2015 version of Vanity 6. Good luck with that.
“Without A Country” reads as more of a transitional piece into the hopefully more meatier parts of the season and a foundation for the epic battle between Cookie and Lucious. With Mr. Lyon out on bail and unable to actually work within his company, he has more time to be even deadlier and vengeful. Stay up, Cookie.