A Cocktail Convo with Empire’s Serayah McNeill

A promo for this week’s Empire promised the most shocking episode yet!  That’s a high bar to live up to, and one of the show’s stars agrees. “Right. When there’s drama all the time.”

Serayah McNeill plays Tiana, Hakeem’s baby mama, and says told The Cocktail that the high bar for tonight’s show involves everyone from Lucious and Cookie to her own character. It seems Hakeem’s still brooding after his near-death experience. “Hakeem’s gonna be in the studio. He’s dealing with all of his health issues and issues from the shooting. Insecurities between Blake and him and he’s going to be doing a dis track against Blake.”

Not sure how that helps the healing.. and neither is Tiana. “And Tiana is not excited for that. She just wants him to grow up and get over it.” Yeah, I mean, how long does it take to get over a betrayal-fueled existential crisis?

Time Doesn’t Heal All

Apparently more than two years, which is the time jump the show did between seasons. And Tiana Serayah says it’s given new life to the show.

“There’s a lot in two years that can happen to a person. They’re doing a lot of flashbacks based upon the storylines. But this season has been so much more grounded, I feel like, than the other seasons.”

And that’s giving us a different view of the suddenly poor Cookie and Lucious. “Because for once the Lyons aren’t on top. They’ve lost everything. So we kinda get to see more of a street view of them. Like if we knew them before Empire was a big thing, or a big legacy.”

Going All In

So speaking of Cookie and Lucious, are looking to cash in. “So this week Lucious and Cookie will be going head to head for talent for their new talent management company, LFM. It’s really cool to see the characters kind of like fighting to get back on top. And I feel like that’s why it’s so different this season.”

Cookie’s taking a legitimate approach to solving problems. Lucious is going to a high-stakes poker game with a $500,000 buy in. Promos show a gunman bursting into the game. “So there’s gonna be a lot of attitudes going on. A lot of competition.”

Our prediction: Lucious is behind the robbery, and bought into the game to make him look like a victim and put him beyond suspicion. This would also set him up to have (yet another) skeleton in his closet and another player to have something to hold over him at some point.

Are we on to something? “Well it gets pretty hot in that scene. That’s all I know.”

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

Crown Royal & Coke.  It was a drink of choice at card games when I was young. Of course, the buy-ins were smaller and no one was packing heat. So make Lucious’ a double!


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