We’re hitting the home stretch for the regular 2015-2016 TV season, and the main question we’re staring down is: How many more lesbian/bisexual characters are going to die? We lost two more queer women on Empire this week (which Carolyn has dutifully recapped for you below), bringing the total number of lesbian/bi deaths to 152. Rosewood comes back next week; let’s hope Pippy and TMI didn’t drive off a cliff during the two-week break.
Wednesdays on Fox at 9:00 p.m.
Written by Carolyn Wysinger
Normally, my recaps are in chronological order but this week a couple of things happened on Empire that necessitated a change in this recap so I am going to jump around a bit.
Let’s begin at the end. This episode ends with the murder-suicide of lezzie couple Camilla and Mimi. My first thought was: Damn, we can’t even get a final cameo by Marissa Tomei? I mean, we come into the death scene and only see Mimi’s dead body in the bathtub. After the shock of this fake-ass Mimi mannequin, I was able to process the storyline as a whole. I, like everyone else, disliked Camilla and was absolutely on board with the attempt to oust her from Empire. However, this notion of killing evil lesbians (that the writers created to be evil)? Come on, y’all can do better.
The overall scene was even harder to swallow with the presence of Lucious, who seemed to be the true evil in the room. He admits to pretty much watching them the whole night and videotaping “their last precious moments together.” Then, like a scene straight out of Devil’s Advocate, he talks Camilla into killing herself, which I guess wasn’t so hard because she had a random bottle of pills hidden in her robe? When I first watched the episode live, I said, “Oh God they killed the two lezzies and I haven’t seen Freda Gatz all season, so in one brush stroke all of the lezzie characters have been erased from the show!” When I watched it again, I saw that Freda had a very short non-speaking cameo, so I guess that was supposed to be the dog whistle that said “Hey, were killing of the two power lezzies at the end, but Freda Gatz is still here so we are okay!” Okay?
I personally linked all of this queer death to a scene that happens early in the episode with Jamal. He is walking out of Empire headquarters with Becky when a queer woman walks up to congratulate him on his ASA nominations and asks him to sign a pair of flip-flops. When he asks what the shoes are all about, an epic flashmob and call-out happens. I mean epic. The most telling portion though was the woman’s reply to Jamal’s question when she says, “We put you where you are” and then the dancers launch into a chant about him letting the gays down to the beat of Hakeem’s anthem Drip Drop called Flip Flop.
I have a lot of complicated feelings about Empire’s use of gay characters. With them launching into this storyline with Jamal and Sky and now killing off Camilla and Mimi, it feels an awful lot like they created a buzz around their show by propping up gay characters to have them self-destruct and disappear. I don’t want to make it to make it seem like queer characters are any different than the others, that they can die or disappear or change course at anytime. But it sure does feel like their queer characters have taken a turn and an interesting time. We’ve already lost 11 queer women on TV this year, and when we’re already so underrepresented, that’s a huge hit. Time will tell if Empire redeems that part of itself but, as I said in the last recap, that probably won’t happen until they get better writers at the table.
About the rest of the episode: Hakeem has a press conference and then performance where he introduces himself as the new CEO of Empire. He also debuts a new company logo where he has replaced Lucious’ image with his own. I got a hearty chuckle when they put the new logo in the show’s opening credits. Way to be self-aware, Empire.
Jamal confronts Jamison about the flashmob. He doesn’t understand why the gay community would turn on him based on gossip. Jamison informs him that Lucious put out the information about Jamal and Sky.
Camilla is still pressuring Hakeem to get rid of Laura because Mimi only has a little bit of time left on this earth and will be leaving all of her stock in Empire to her. She claims to want Empire all to herself so that she and Hakeem can be a power couple. I continue to be amazed with how desperate Hakeem is for someone to believe in him and think he is important. He is starting to remind me of the desperate narcissism of Kanye West and not just because he was wearing raggedy clothes at his performance that looked straight from Kanye’s clothing line.
We haven’t seen Tiana in a while, but apparently she is going on tour. That tour finds itself in jeopardy as Camilla continues to gut the budget for all Empire projects. She slashed Lucious’ video budget and intends to do the same for Tianna’s tour. Yet she is starting a fashion line? FYI, this is how most labels go under. They start cutting music budgets for outside ventures that flop. Tiana believes that Hakeem is the one cutting her tour because of his relationship with Laura. Which gives Cookie a bright idea. She decides to save Tiana’s tour by getting Camilla to put Mirage a Trois on the tour. This would get Laura away from Hakeem which is what Camilla wants so bad. Cookie’s idea works and Camilla feels like she is still in control.
Rhonda and Andre are having their share of problems. Andre reveals to her that God gave him a vision that someone pushed her down the stairs. Rhonda is convinced that he is having visions because he is having a nervous breakdown. I’m not convinced she is wrong after Andre tells Jamal that the way to get “the gays” back on his team is drop his drawls. Wait Whuuut? Hmmmm. But Rhonda goes to work for Camilla at the clothing company which allows her to be Cookie’s spy on the inside as Camilla and Mimi have their own share of marital troubles.
Jamal performs at another ASA event. He performs a song where he reveals the family secret that Lucious entrusted him with about his real name. I clearly missed that scene earlier in the season. I tend to be preoccupied while watching. But he calls Lucious a fraud in front of the press. Lucious takes this as a cue to call in a journalist to which he is going to give an exclusive about his former life as Dwight Walker.
The family doesn’t believe that Hakeem is with them in getting rid of Camilla. Of course, the most important thing to him is who gets Empire when she is gone. Jamal tells him that he has done so many things he has to prove himself to the family to remain CEO. He puts his plan into motion by sleeping with Camilla “his mommy” on tape and getting the tape to Mimi. Mimi immediately dumps all of her stock in Empire. Just like that, Mimi is out of the business. Andre calls the brokers to buy up Mimi’s stock in the company but apparently every family member has reached their max shares. However, there is one family account that they can still buy with. The trust Andre had created for his son. That is Andre’s breaking point. He buys the stock but it comes at a pretty high emotional price. To refocus him Jamal and Hakeem sing a song they wrote her him as he grieves the loss of his son.
Lucious arrives and Cookie tells him that Mimi is officially out of the Empire business and probably dumping Camilla as they speak. He is adamant that he wants to see it himself so his slimy ass goes over to her apartment and that’s where this recap began. True to form. The over the top drama is just beginning.
Thursdays on ABC at 8:00 p.m.
Written by Aja
And we’re back! My apologies for missing last week, I was back in San Francisco visiting family and friends! Let’s jump right in.
“Amelia’s back,” Grey says sweetly, her expression anything but as she closes the several cabinet doors Amelia left open as they all sit down to dinner. Amelia’s shiny happy face falls and Pierce jumps in to try and buffer the inevitable clash in the Haus of Sister Lady Chiefs with a glass of wine for Mere, but it’s too late! Amelia reminds Mere that she invited her back, and if she wants to rescind it, to just say so. Oh noes! So much tension already!
That same night but way lamer, Penny’s slowly and ploddingly reading aloud I don’t know what to Jo and Edwards, because her voice puts me to sleep. They’re all filing their applications for a special resident grant award, but when asked, Penny says she’s opting out as a frail and contentious newcomer — dare I say she’s got a lick of grace in her after all? (JK, after a cringeworthy pep talk from Callie, Penny applies for it anyway.) Elsewhere, Webber’s chewing Mama Avery out for meddling in her son’s affairs and encouraging Jackson to take hostile legal action against his ex-wife. Yikes! He calls her all kinds of names: “You are a meddler, a busybody, a helicopter mama, a nosy nelly, a buttinsky!” “That is TRASH TALK!,” she shouts back. “All up in the bug juice, you don’t know the flavor, woman!” (I have no idea what this means but it’s goddamn fantastic!) It’s the cutest fight ever, with pillow slamming and blanket grabs.
Unfortunately, the next day April is working an ER shift with a pregnant 14-year-old patient who has an aneurism. In yet another patient story involving a grown-up overbearing teen mom failing her child (not that I’m oversensitive to that theme or anything), the girl worriedly asks that Kepnar keep her secret, which reignites the Arizona-April war of right and wrong choices, and eventually Kepnar betrays the girl’s confidence and tells the mother and chaos ensues. (Watching April justify telling the mother is like watching her literally punch herself in the face over and over.) They land in surgery after the aneurism threatens both mother and baby’s lives, but all’s well that ends well, with the mother rushing to her daughter’s side, the baby unharmed. Webber tries to make up with Mama Avery over a complicated surgery in the OR, as well as convince her to soften her stance and stop haranguing her son into suing Kepnar, which they do, and she does. When Jackson decides to stop interfering with April’s agency over her own body, it’s too late: April overheard Mama Avery and files a restraining order against Jackson, and his peace offering of a pristine white crib with a big yellow bow on it hits her like a truck.
Everyone else is preoccupied with ditching Bailey’s budget meeting that day, so Grey, Riggs and Hunt set out on a heart procurement mission after Pierce swaps her spot to avoid DeLuca. Back at Grey Sloan, there’s a really adorable chat between Amelia and Edwards about the grant; Amelia of course can’t discuss it with Edwards, but there are LOTS of knowing looks and super cute sly smiles. It’s so nice! Back in the Amigo Trio ambulance, traffic leads to some casual conversation between Grey and Hunt, which leads to Riggs blurting out, “I didn’t know Shepherd was an alcoholic, I totes bought her a drink a few months ago.” (All that’s missing here is an actual Homer Simpson sound effect.) Grey jumps in before Hunt has the chance to lose it, but when the heart mission fails, Hunt thinks it’s okay to have a big man baby tantrum, lashing out at everyone and destroying the other hospital’s property in a rage. When Grey takes Hunt to task and tells him to bloody let go already, he comes back at her with some Riggs-the-cheater version of the story behind his sister’s death, but I and every other sane person with eyeballs to roll remain fully unmoved. Later on, Riggs confronts Hunt and I officially start to feel like I’m in a special circle of hell where Nicholas Sparks writing is stuck on an alpha male infinity loop and I can’t escape.
[Open letter: Good job, Hunt! I’m so sick of your weak macho bullshit and the pathetic garbage excuses you give for continuing to display ZERO CONTROL OVER YOUR OWN PERSON. Did I mention pathetic? I’m glad Yang ended up as far away from your toxic ass as she could get, and Grey should dump you as a friend, too. You’re addicted to anger and control way worse than Amelia could ever be to alcohol and your brand of rock bottom will probably end up with a body count.]
In refreshing relief to all of this, Ben makes a very grownup decision to pass on the grant this year, reassuring Bailey that he knows his time will come but for now, in her first year as chief, he would rather be home and by her side at Grey Sloan rather than bouncing all over the country. True, Penny half-heartedly attempted the same with Callie, but it sure didn’t last long. Penny’s pals were none too pleased with her; it wasn’t so much that she applied — they were encouraging in the beginning of the episode — it’s that she was so adamant that she wouldn’t, and the sudden change of heart feels like a trick. Guess who gets the grant? Mm hmm. At least this means we’ll be seeing less of her now!? Sorry not sorry, Callie.
When the episode ends we get a lesson on sisters, and sisterhood. Maggie is anxious that Grey and Amelia will implode, Amelia admits that she’s really annoying and Grey assures them both that nobody is kicking anyone out anytime soon. Maggie wanted sisters and well, now she’s got ’em! They won’t get along all the time, they’ll ride each other’s nerves constantly, but they love each other, and being together, and being there for one another, and that’s just the way it works. It reminds me of my best friend (who I used to tease mercilessly for watching a show like Grey’s, by the way). It’s really annoying when she and my wife agree on things I am adamantly in opposition to, usually because it means they’re right and I’m super, super wrong, but if not for them stopping me in my tracks from doing stupid shit, heaven knows where I’d be now. We are nothing at all alike, and we get under the other one’s skin in a way literally nobody else can after 24 years of friendship, but we can’t live without each other — she’s my person!
Thursdays on The CW at 9:00 p.m.
Karly will be back to recap the season finale of The 100 on April 28, which may or may not include Lexa — honestly, we don’t know what to believe at this point about what’s going on there.