TV Review: Empire 3×01 “Light in Darkness”

Storming onto the television scene less than two years ago, Empire became one of the biggest breakout hits in quite some time. It took audiences by storm, being one of the few shows in which the first season saw increased viewership for each episode. The shocking dramatic twists and dazzling music numbers made it must-watch TV.

Picking up where season two left off, audiences get the much-awaited answer to the finale’s big cliffhanger. The Lyon family, as per usual, are at each other’s throats, but must band together against the threat of an undercover investigation against them.

Now entering its third season, Empire is beginning to become more commonplace by television standards. It’s hard to complain too much, though, when the show is still an impressive balancing act of characters, drama and twists that are always enthralling.

The core of the show is the dynamic between the Lyon family, which is propelled by the talented ensemble cast. Terrance Howard and Taraji P. Henson are dynamite as usual, with Howard being delightfully evil as always and Henson stealing the scene throughout. Perhaps the best quality about the series is the continued growth of its young actors. The trio of Trai Byers, Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Gray are getting more comfortable in their roles, delivering performances equal to their more experienced counterparts.

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Empire, as always, is a show about the music. The season three premiere offers up a few quality tracks already, with Jamal’s Black Lives Matter song being especially poignant. The music scenes are directed with energy and style, and while they break up the pacing a bit, they’re always a joy to see.

Where this episode particularly thrives is in its furthering of the divisions within the Lyon family. The show is certainly at its most interesting when everyone is at each other’s throats, and the writers do an impressive job at handling the balancing act of giving the characters enough screen time. The plot threads that the episode sets up are sure to have some fairly interesting followthrough. However, it feels like the show is continuing to lose the spark that made season one so compelling. Maybe it’s just from being on the air longer, but Empire is beginning to feel less and less like the game-changer it started out as. This premier in particular, while an enjoyable episode, lacks the shock value to make it have a big impact. I am slightly concerned going forward if this season is going to have enough tricks up its sleeve to live up to its previous seasons.

This season premiere may not be as dynamic as the last two, but Empire continues to be as strong as ever in creating an engaging plot and delivering bold performances. With so many guest stars to come, this season should be a fun ride.

Rating: 7/10

Matt Conway has been writing about entertainment and sports on the internet for nearly four years. Growing up a film and television fan in the wonderful state of Massachusetts, he grew a strong attachment to personal dramas. Teaming up his fandom for the world of entertainment along with his love of writing was just an all too natural fit for Matt. He can be often found at the local cineplex, eating at the local restaurants or playing basketball at any basketball court across Mass.