The madness of the music world continues with the latest episode of Empire. After a modest start, episode two picks up with each character continuing to fight their own battles. Lucious tries to get Cookie in his corner, Jamal tries to move on from his gunshot and Hakeem continues to push the bill as a rap artist.
Seemingly working its way back into game day form, this second episode is actually a welcome improvement over the season premiere. This episode continues to push the extreme dynamics of the characters, while having a great deal of fun doing so.
Perhaps the most notable addition to this episode is the introduction of Taye Diggs as Angelo Dubois, who runs a social work movement. Diggs’ smooth persona fortifies a seemingly simplistic character, and the writers do a strong job of introducing an array of interesting paths he could take throughout the season.
After a premiere that felt constricted by the need to wrap-up and introduce several plot lines, episode two is thankfully able to figuratively let its hair down. This episode was honestly one of the funniest in the show’s history, with quips from Lucious and Cookie being in strong form. Empire is a show that works best when it lets Cookie loose, with Taraji P. Henson continuing to deliver one of TV’s most impactful performances. As a side note, it’s also nice to see fan favorite Portia show up.
This season in particular is delving deeper into the dynamic between Lucious and Cookie, with both episodes using promptly timed flashbacks to outline their history. These bits in the wrong hands could feel contrived, but they are executed with style and capture the strong bond they have. It also helps having actors like Henson and Terrance Howard, both of whom are so natural in their roles.
Empire’s focus still remains in its melodrama, with this episode packing a strong punch. Most of it centers around Andre as he continues to try and find his head with his extreme case of Bipolar Disorder. Smaller scenes with him and other family members are welcomed introductions, giving the character’s illness some much needed reflection. Recovery seems to be a common theme, with Jamal’s battle with overcoming PTSD from being shot also being a key development.
Where the episode drops the ball a bit is the music aspect. Aside from some fairly forgettable scenes with Hakeem in the studio, the only other major music number comes with a lackluster rap from a background character. It’s hard to complain too much, though, when the rest of this episode is firing on all cylinders.
“Sin That Amends” is Empire in top form, with a pitch-perfect balance between melodrama and comedy, delivering a widely entertaining episode overall.