Reid: I'll say this about Empire: For an episode that dropped a girl-on-girl revelation before the opening credits, a drive-by execution before the closing credits, and in between just may have featured the network TV debut of the word "thot," I found myself genuinely moved more than once. Yes, I'm going to lead off our discussion with Taraji P. Henson, and I'm not going to apologize for it. I don't think it's overstating things to say we're looking at one of the elite performances on all of television right now.
Look at what Taraji is doing with that absolute dog of an FBI plot line. Nobody likes it; it may well end up dragging this show down into a morass that it'll have trouble crawling out of. But I'm invested, because it's Cookie, and I want her to come out on top, even if it means testifying to the grand jury about a master criminal and misinterpreting sweet gestures from Lucious as a threat upon her life. Henson still managed to save her best for the storylines that deserved it, though. When she finally made it back to Jamal's studio session, after traipsing all over New York City in her skittish high heels, she made a few keen-eared suggestions (well, as much as Cookie ever suggests anything) to the producer, and the crazy thing was: They were good. And smart. And respected by the producer and appreciated by Jamal. Do you realize how easy it would have been to make Cookie a fool here? The meddling mom-ager, unsuccessful multi-tasker, comic-relief dummy? Or at least the Lil' Kim cautionary tale? I can't deny that my heart swelled watching Jamal put the IRL praise-hands emoji (also known simply as "hands") up to his mom as they both basked in what's sounding more and more like Jamal's monster hit in the making.