Camp can easily career into incoherence--the road of excess leading to the palace of cray-cray--and the two-hour season finale of Empire (Fox) was a multi-car cherries jubilee pileup cherries, and then some. Betrayal, a carpet-ruining manslaughter, attempted suffocation, more betrayal, a rap-off, a demonstration of Suge Knight business persuasion technique (Judd Nelson's music mogul Billy Beretti nearly pitched off a balcony by a rampageous Jamal), more betrayal, a Dynasty-like cat fight that put Mob Wives to shame, a surprise pregnancy announcement--"Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at their rear ends," to paraphrase Thelma Ritter's great line from All About Eve. It sure wasn't fun. Yes, lots of funny lines and classic strokes of diva bravura courtesy of (who else?) Cookie, whose array of mink coats are like refugees from Wild Kingdom, but the utter lack of pacing, character consistency, and even a faint wisp of plausibility suggested that desperation and overconfidence were wrestling for the steering wheel as the pell-mell finale reprised Death Race 2000. Overstuffed as the two hours were, the one thing I wanted to happen didn't: Naomi Campbell's imperious, transatlantic return. Instead, we got a clumsily staged rebound hookup between Hakeem and Anika that had all the dramatic impact of opening the wrong closet door.
Tom & Lorenzo were hilarious (they're always hilarious, but especially so here) about one of the big ceremonial moments in last night's Empire, the bestowal of treasures from Lucious to his rivalrous sons.