This Empire review contains spoilers.
Empire Season 2 Episode 3
Finally, it’s war on Empire. After all of the false starts and side swapping, the lines are finally drawn in the Lyon family and things are going to start getting ugly. Tonight we got our first diss track, and it’s only week one of the Empire vs Lyon Dynasty feud, can you imagine how much this thing could escalate? We could be reaching new levels of absurd hip-hop drama here!
Overall, this week was a stronger episode of Empire for a lot of reasons. First off, having Lucious Lyon back on the streets provided a lot of energy. I praised the show for having Lucious locked up, and though I think there could have been more potential there, it’s nice to see Lucious free, with his egomania reaching new heights. Terrence Howard’s melodrama might not be as snappy and fiery as Cookie’s, but there’s a hilarious gravitas, a seriousness, that he brings to the camp that few other actors could pull off. Whether it’s breaking up a battle rap amongst gunshots or stealing the opposition’s talent with an evil mustache twirl, Lucious has more to do tonight than maybe ever before.
Other characters are shining too. I’m really starting to enjoy Hakeem more than I ever have in the past, but that’s partly due to Cookie. There’s a great dynamic happening here that was missing last season, while Hakeem was busy being angry and resentful at his Mom. With the two finally acting like a real version of mother and son, there’s added layers of humor and warmth that come out when the two share the screen. Also, the show has finally decided what they’re going to do with Anika, putting her firmly in the anti-Lucious camp. It’ll take a while to see if she can gel into the Lyon Dynasty camp as well as Hakeem and Cookie have.
On the flip side of the coin, Andre is still a mess. He practically takes the exact same approach trying to get back in his father’s good graces at a lunch before he eventually decides to play the grandchild card. It would be wise of the writer’s to play up the fact that Andre is worried about making a life for his child. The Lucious and Andre scenes keep hitting the same beats, and I’m really getting sick of hearing Andre say “Pop,” but the flashbacks that are bringing context to Lucious’ treatment of Andre is really helping their material move in the right direction.
Just like Andre and Lucious, good and bad material comes in the form of celebrity cameos. In some instances, like with Sway, the cameo fits naturally in the universe of the show. Sway’s radio show creates a new venue for the Lyons to air their grievances in this episode and the scenes are fun. Other cameos, such as tonight’s Pitbull appearance, are distracting and feel forced, but maybe I feel that way because I hate Pitbull, who knows?
All I know is that the best part of this episode is the full introduction of Freda Gaddis. Sure, we got to meet Frank’s daughter in a brief prison scene, but tonight we get to see her attitude, anger, and wicked freestyle skills on full display. Lucious is drawn to her, causing a new rift between Jamal and his father, but something tells me that this girl could potentially be Lucious’ downfall. I thought Frank would become a real antagonist for this show, but now I’m thinking that could come in the form of his far more interesting daughter.
Empire had a ratings slip last week, but don’t be fooled, the show isn’t getting any worse; it’s only getting bigger.