For almost the entire summer, one of the largest questions when it comes to “Empire” was whether or not the show was going to be able to capture the magic, the buzz, and the drama that we saw from the first season. It is a show with cheesy moments, but somehow there are still ways to forget all about them just because the performances are so good.
Take, for example, Terence Howard’s dark gravitas as Lucious Lyon. While the Empire Entertainment mogul sits behind bars, he still found a way to somehow pull some strings to ensure that under no circumstances were his company separated from him. For a time, it started to seem like Cookie had found a way to get someone else involved. Enter Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei), a successful billionaire who made Cookie start to feel like she was going to help. The problem? Mimi realized still that more than anything, Lucious is Empire. She’s not going anywhere without him.
Also on the guest-star roster for the episode was Chris Rock, who made a memorable appearance as a fellow inmate who Lucious decided to go after in his own way. For the most part, this just felt like an excuse to get a big star on the show; still, we did see Lucious continue to flex his muscles in any way he could behind bars. It’s almost like he wanted everyone to still know he is boss.
If there was anything more surprising in this episode than watching Cookie’s plan fail, it was seeing the rise of Jamal almost as the new Lucious with him gone. He is the one who accused much of his family of betrayal and threw him out, and he is the one looking after the company. We feel like Jamal needed to show this dark, competitive side to show that he can become the complex character he deserves to be. This level of moral complexity is what makes this show in part the hit it is. Grade: B.
What did you think about the season 2 premiere of “Empire”? Let us know right now in the comments, and you can head over here to take a look at some of what is coming up the rest of the season! Also, be sure to sign up here in the event you want some other TV news on everything we cover, sent right over to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: Fox.)