A different show would have probably spent one or two more episodes uncovering Anika’s betrayal, but Empire wastes no time and gets into it in the first five minutes. Cookie and Porsha crash Lucious and Anika’s meeting with their wedding planner and reveal that Anika is secretly working with Billy Baretti, Lucious’ enemy and the owner of Creedmoor Entertainment, a rival music record company.
Up until now, I had a hard time warming up to Anika’s character. But seeing her go against Lucious made me actively like and root for her for once, (and I think the majority of the characters on this show work best when they’re having some sort of conflict — external or internal — with Lucious.)
Porsha fetches Jamal, who’s now dating Ryan the documentary filmmaker, and tells him that Empire is at war. And true to form, Empire starts battening up the proverbial hatches like this is some superhero movie and Ultron is about to send his robot army to destroy Earth. Captain America a.k.a. Malcolm Deveaux even talks about “neutralizing the enemy” while Cookie checks him out for the umpteenth time.
Meanwhile, Andre isn’t doing so well. I learned after watching the episode that Trai Byers, the actor who plays Andre, attended Yale School of Drama — and it definitely shows in this episode. Of the three actors playing Lucious’ son, Byers is the strongest and that’s what makes his scenes so engaging. He’s upset with Lucious for making him feel worthless. He’s also deeply insecure about his place in the family as the only son who lacks musical talent. The emotional turmoil results in Andre flushing his bipolar medication down the toilet and acting manic, violent, and depressed for the rest of the episode. He shares a really heartwarming scene with his brothers in the elevator. As the eldest, he’s had a tougher road than Jamal and Hakeem and part of him resents them for that — and because Lucious clearly favors them. But you can tell that he genuinely loves his brothers.
Elsewhere, Creedmoor Records is auditioning Lucious’ clients. Anika is a tad reluctant to reveal everything about Lucious — everything meaning his ALS — suggesting that she’s still in love with Lucious (to the point where she doesn’t want to sabotage Empire’s IPO launch, anyway). But she’s more than willing to “steal” artists away from Empire.
Estelle guest stars as an artist named Delphine and she and Jamal sing “Conqueror” together. I liked the song, but the performance went on way too long. Jamal wants to sign her with Empire but Lucious is resistant until Jamal calls him out, saying that Lucious has always said that the company is more important than anything else, including Lucious’ problem with Jamal’s sexuality.
Also, Malcolm saves Cookie from a mugger after she manages to keep one of Empire’s rappers from leaving the label through a drinking contest. (Taraji P. Henson is a really good comedic actress and really deserves an Emmy nomination.)
Hakeem distracts Anika so Cookie can convince Tiana to stay with Empire. Tiana wants to get back together with Hakeem, but Hakeem loves Camilla. His speech about family does the trick, however, and Tiana appears to be swayed.
At the end of the episode, Andre is completely out of control and manic and threatens to expose Lucious’ secret (that he’s a murderer). Lucious has Andre sedated and, as he’s rolled away on a stretcher, Rhonda signs the papers to get Andre committed.
- I love how Jamal’s daughter was just casually sitting there in the background with her toys when Anika was getting exposed. (Have they even done a DNA test on her? Maybe we’ll get the answer to that in the next episode.)
- Not that I was in love with Michael’s character or anything, but he was way cuter than this Aussie guy.
- I hate Lucious.