Season 1 Ep. 4
The race for the throne is still on at Empire Records. Yet, this week, Lucious (Terrance Howard) reveals why he’s been riding everyone so hard in a tender moment with Anika (Grace Gealey). Lucious letting the truth about his ALS out to Anika is likely going to come back and bite him with the feud Lucious allows to persist between his two loves.
The competition between Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and Anika is still burning strong. Cookie continues to establish herself as a true manager, scoring Tiana by promising to protect her music and make her a star, and talking to Titan’s (a new rapper character) mother to get him on Empire’s roster. While Anika has enabled Takeem to get a spot at the Teen Choice Awards, Cookie’s reach is still apparent as Tiana texts for approval. At every turn “Empire” is showing that Cookie is the better woman for Empire records and Lucious.
This episode also reveals more of Andre’s relationship with his father. As Andre gives an alibi to the cops for Lucious on the night that Bunkie was murdered, we realize that this is a pattern stemming from childhood. It simply cements why Andre will go ham when he doesn’t get kinged. Bi-polar disorder to the side.
Jamal proves himself to be the man that his homophobic father doesn’t belief he is by returning a check sent to him after playing for Hakeem. Jamal’s stance also shows that he’s the better artist. He believes in himself, knows his worth, and isn’t afraid to stand alone in the struggle to make the world know. As he finds inspiration in the projects where he’s now living, we know he is going to have some hits soon.
Wrapping things up we’re introduced to Lucious’ rival and old boss, Baretti (an almost unrecognizable Judd Nelson). He promises to dig up old dirt and bury Lucious if he continues down the path of securing Titan as his artist. Unfortunately, this felt more like a filler episode with fragmented storytelling.
- The Nation killed Lucious’ father. Cookie specifically mentions this in the episode which means his father has some sort of importance to the show, and we’re going to likely find out how the two relate.
- Hakeem is a spoiled brat. When he’s not in a hot tub with Naomi Campbell, he’s still salty about his mommy issues while lampin’ in his $2 million dollar apartment that his father pays for.
- Takeem’s performance. While Tiana sounds like Empire’s Rihanna, Hakeem can barely be heard. The musical performances continue to feel so forced and staged, while the show still speaks to the current state of authenticity (and the lack there of) in hip hop.
- Lucious and Cookie’s tango. It’s super obvious they should and possibly will hook back up as a power couple, but this is going to get dragged out to the end of the season.