Time heals all wounds. And in TV, a time jump heals a wounded show that was starting to limp along. Empire jumped ahead two years, which has allowed them to introduce fresh characters and give us a new power dynamic without letting it laboriously play out over several episodes or an entire season.
But the best result is the series getting back to the core group: the Lyon family. Losing everything you thought was important allows you to focus on everyone who really is important. The ‘poor’ version of the Lyons has allowed the family dynamic to shine through. Kingsley may be a tech-savvy scammer, but he was right when he took Cookie and Lucious to th wing joint and said what they really care about is family. And this revitalized dynamic is buoying the show and giving Empire a new lease on life.
Divide And Conquer
And now it’s the united Lyons against a divided music world. We had a soapy Cocktail Convo with Nicole Ari Parker, aka Giselle, whose character has had an eventful start to the season. “She’s been made interim CEO of Empire in its new phase of tech savvy, digital, algorithms. A lot of the flavor of the old Empire has changed and so she’s now running the ship until Silicon Valley investors make up their minds about what they wanna do. So.. she (was) riding high.”
Of course no one rides high on this show for long, and her “interim” title didn’t last an episode before Kingsely pushed her aside. “I think we’re both coming full force and they’ve gotta tag team and double up to fight both of us. And we initially start out on the same path. But Kingsley turns out to have a different agenda than Giselle.”
So now it’s everyone for themselves. “Right now you are smack dab in the middle of a race to the top. Cookie and Lucious need to get back on top. Giselle needs to go for hers and get what was taken from her. And Kingsley has this crazy, new fangled mission that gets revealed later in the season. But everybody’s clawing right now. And that’s what’s making season five just soar.”
That’s a fast fall, considering she made the ultimate power move that no one knew about. In the season premiere, Giselle watched Eddie bleed out, stepped over the pool of blood, then threw his ashes down a sewer. We asked which of those acts is coldest. She laughed and told us “They were both justifiable. They were both necessary because enough was enough, in terms of the pool of blood. She really wasn’t gonna cherish the urn anyway, so she just let him be in the wind.”
Clearly Giselle won’t be on an episode of Hoarders anytime soon.
But that’s about all Nicole would talk to us about. “I don’t want to giveaway too much. Maybe I’m saying too much I don’t know.”
Fair enough. So on a completely different topic, who’s in the coffin? “Very funny. You tried to segue in there. Not gonna happen.”
There’s a reason
Giselle Nicole is wary of our cocktail-infused questions. “I’m the new girl, I wanna stay. I don’t wanna get pushed down the stairs next week because I said too much.” Good point. That is kinda this show’s M.O. “Gabby has a line that says the last new girl around here ended up on a table full of champagne glasses.”
So.. does that mean she’s holding her breath every time a courier shows up with the script for a new episode? Did we even have to ask?
“Every table read I’m like holding my breath.”
Exhale, Nicole. You got this.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
A glass of a fine red wine. That’s what Jamal’s boyfriend, Kai is drinking. He’s British, civilized and maybe the only one in the group that has his head on straight (so far). So we’ll follow his lead and have a big, tall, oversized glass of red.
Oh who are we kidding, just hand us the bottle and we’ll swig right from the source!