I don’t think anyone expected that Empire would be the hit that it has become, but after another gaining viewers for the second consecutive week, it’s become clear that Fox truly has something special.
For instance, I read recently that the only other show in recent memory to come into its fourth week with consistent increased viewership was Jersey Shore, which unfortunately for us, turned into something of a cultural phenomenon. Is Empire about to enter the cultural stratosphere? I guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out if it joins that, so far, very Italian club.
Empire is not Jersey Shore because Empire isn’t something you should be ashamed of enjoying, unless you’re ashamed of relishing in the delights of soap opera dramatics and scenery chewing acting, in which case, maybe you should steer clear of primetime network television because this stuff is everywhere.
But Empire sets itself apart by portraying a very different aspect of the music world than, say, Nashville is, and it’s definitely featuring different sorts of power players than shows like Scandal and Revenge. The show brings a completely different atmosphere to the late night soap.
So far, the characters only continue to grow more complex. The episode begins with Lucious raging about improving Empire and eventually sees him face to face with his nemesis, Baretti. Wait, Baretti looks familiar, is that….JUDD NELSON?! Whoa, welcome back, dude. How goes it? Anyway, Lucious also reveals to Anika that he has ALS, alludes to beef with the Nation of Islam over the death of his father during his pursuit of hot rapper Titan, and gets awfully flirty with his baby momma after learning they still make a good team once their combined efforts sign Titan.
We also get to learn more about Lucious’ relationship with Andre. When the detective returns to question Lucious about his whereabouts in regards to Bunky’s death, Andre completely covers for him. We then see another excellent and revealing flashback that shows Andre doing this for his father in the past. The flashbacks continue to feature the show’s best moments and tonight it also added new depth to Andre. After seeing the devotion and lengths that Andre goes to help his father, and factoring in his mental health issues, Andre has become a threatening force in the battle for Empire. In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Andre snap and do something crazy, like harm one of his own brothers, if he feels like its what must be done.
The romance between Tiana and Hakeem hits rocky waters after Tiana invites Cookie to be her new manager. You’d expect Cookie to be the source of problems, but no, Hakeem is caught hooking up with Naomi Campbell’s Camilla again, which for some reason continues to wig me out. Tiana surprisingly doesn’t care about Camilla, as long as she doesn’t get in the way of their celebrity status.
Meanwhile, Jamal is slumming it in Bushwick, turning down money from his father, even money that he’s earned. He has some writers block, which leads to a goofy scene of Jamal banging trash cans and chains trying to come up with ideas. Conveying the creative process on film is something rarely done well, and Empire didn’t crack the code.
Once again, the scenes from next week promise a banger of an episode, hopefully better than Titan’s rhymes, which for the best rapper in the world, seemed super work. Has this show already run out of songs? As long as the narrative continues to deliver, I might be able to live.