Our Thoughts on Cannibal Chris Rock, Double Slaps, and All the Juicy Goodness of Empire‘s “The Devils Are Here” Episode

Two slaps >>> one slap.

By Michael Arceneaux

After six very long months, Empire has returned, and whew, the writers wasted not a single second of airtime. The season premiere had as many stories as a Chinese buffet has options. And when it comes to casting, I usually only see that many black famous people at the BET Awards or some really famous person’s funeral. In any event, I’ve managed to stop my head from spinning long enough to share my thoughts, so let’s talk it out, folks.

Can you believe there was a speech about mass incarceration on a primetime drama on FOX?

Peculiar costuming aside, it was quite a sight to see Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) offer remarks on the issue of mass incarceration on a broadcast network show. Not just any show, but the biggest show on television. From an Academy Award and Emmy Award nominee, who is presently on the cover of the latest issue of Glamour magazine. That happened.

I want to relish in that moment for a bit. It’s so much more progressive than what I’m used to getting: “We need to stop blaming the white man for all of our problems, pick up our pants, and praise Jesus” from some old black character who is about to die from diabetes or a stray bullet.

Who was that fake-ass Kendrick Lamar?

Just curious.

How long has it been since Marisa Tomei has been around so many black people?

After all these years, Marisa Tomei is back on a black sitcom. For those of us who recall the rather blah first season of A Different World, Marisa played Maggie Lauten. Now, she’s playing a very aggressive lesbian. The kind that makes my straight homegirls clutch my arms tight as hell when I take them to the gay club because some people don’t accept that they only drive a stick. I’m with it. One, I love Marisa Tomei, and two, it proves #TheBlacks truly are back in vogue on television. That said, I don’t remember her name. All I can recall is Lucious (Terrence Howard) seeing her and asking Jamal (Jussie Smollett), “Who was that lesbian bitch in the red suit?”

I also enjoyed watching an Oscar winner dance to Bobby Shmurda. I don’t know what the hell Boo Boo Kitty’s (Grace Gealey) body roll was about in that scene, though.

Who wants to invest in a music label in 2015?

Yes, I’m happy to see Marisa Tomei on Empire, but that doesn’t mean I understand her character being so obsessed with investing in a record label.

What dat mouf do, Anika?

Apparently not close the deal.

Are we happy Jamal’s old boyfriend is back?

In theory, I should like Michael (Rafael de la Fuente) because we have the same name and the actor playing him is a cutie. Unfortunately, de la Fuente is a very good actor, because Michael irritates the hell out of me with his whining. To that end, he could have stayed in the abyss where Jamal left him. As long as he’s back, audiences deserve a sex scene. Soon.

Were you afraid of Chris Rock?

Respect to the comedic legend Chris Rock for tackling a dramatic role, but I was not afraid of his character at all. I literally yelled at my TV, “Pookie, please.”

Did you notice Chris Rock’s character was on the Hannibal Lecter diet?

I suppose this show has everything else thrown into it. Why not a cannibal? Surprised he didn’t dip a finger in BBQ sauce. Maybe that’s DVD extra.

Don’t you miss Hakeem and Jamal’s close relationship?

In my mind, Jamal and Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) were like the hip hop/R&B Alvin and Theodore Seville—Andre (Trai Byers) is obviously Simon—so I hate to see them fighting. I just don’t understand why Jamal has to be so rude to Roscoe Dash Jr. Can Iyanla Vanzant step in, sass them both, somehow blame Cookie (you know how she do), and make them call a truce? Please don’t pretend this ridiculous idea could not happen on this delightfully ridiculous show.

So DeRay Davis’ head can just travel out of prison like that?

Riddle me this: How can you chop off an inmate’s head and somehow get it mailed to an adversary? Did El Chapo used to live here?

What federal prosecutor shows up to prison with a jacket cut that low?

I am not trying to make any assumptions about the lawyer who visited Lucious in jail to discuss his case, though I am curious as to why her breasts nearly fell out of the jacket? Was she about to offer Lucious a plea bargain and then breastfeed afterwards?

What’s happened to Jamal?

A few minutes into the show, Jamal was his usual self. I didn’t bat an eye when I saw him on stage, dressed like Eric Benet and looking like he was waiting for Tamia to join him on stage to perform “Spend My Life with You.” But then he just got progressively more evil as the minutes rolled on. Jamal’s Jack’d profile has gone from musical theater to DL thug with such haste. He is same sex love Lucious now—and has turned on his mama! The woman who picked his gay ass out of the trashcan after his no good daddy threw his heel-curious self into it. Jamal turned on her!

I was happy when Cookie slapped Jamal—twice!—for ordering her and his siblings out of a house he doesn’t even own. By the way, shout out to Rhonda being like, “F-ck you, Jamal!” and gliding right on out of that house. She’s committed murders for this family and dealt with Andre’s issues. I don’t blame her for stepping away from an ingrate.

Anyhow, back to Cookie. If Jamal wants to be the Jill Zarin, Brandi Glanville, and Mean NeNe of the show now, so be it. Here’s hoping Cookie slaps some sense into him. Before the next slap, though, she has to do a maternal remix of Mary J. Blige’s “Not Gon’ Cry.”

Jamal gon’ learn today.

Until next time, y’all.