I hope Empire isn’t doing what I think it’s doing. And that is: trying to power through the rest of this season. I want it to take its time with me, to work through its plot lines with detail and purpose. What I don’t want is for it to throw a lot of story at me quickly and leave me standing there deciding whether I’m okay with it all come May. I say this because SO much happened in this latest installment, titled “A Rose by Any Other Name.” Just two episodes ago, we were presented with the huge cliffhanger of the Empire takeover. Last week, the Lyon squad spent the hour piecing together a plan to overthrow Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei) and the evil Camilla (Naomi Campbell) and snatch back the label they all worked so hard to build. Hell, Lucious (Terrence Howard) was even poised to knock off his youngest son over it. I figured this would at least take a three- or four-episode arch to accomplish. But nope. Needless to say, this week, shit went down. Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) wastes no time peeing on the proverbial tree by swapping Lucious’ face with his own for the new logo of the rebranded Empire with Hakeem as the new CEO. And now that he’s deflowered Laura (Jamila Velazquez) and tagged her as his girlfriend, he’s less inclined to be Camilla’s plaything. So he's ready to comply with Cookie’s (Taraji P. Henson) plan to trap Camilla into admitting that she and Mimi acquired Empire illegally.
But Hakeem quickly realizes that Camilla is too smart for that lame plan and devises one of his own that involves kinky sex and a video tape — à la Kim K and Ray J. He then sends the footage to Camilla’s jealous wife, who starts dropping Empire stock like it’s hot, while Andre (Trai Byers) instructs his finance team to swoop up the shares in his late son’s name. And just like that, Empire belongs to the Lyons. But getting Empire back isn’t enough for Lucious. He wants retribution. He shows up in some “no evidence shoes” at Camilla and Mimi’s place just in time to catch Camilla knocking Mimi off and staging the scene to look like a suicide. Lucious has Camilla right where he wants her and, though we know he’s no stranger to filling someone with lead, he instead forces Camilla to fill herself with the same poison that she used to kill Mimi. And just like that — the problem is gone.
But wait! There’s more because…Empire. Jamal (Jussie Smollett) gets accosted by an LGBT flash mob armed with flip-flops — because of his smushing session with Sky. Only now does he realize that his relationship with these fans has been threatened by the one and only Lucious, of course, who apparently spread around the rumors of his bedroom business. So Jamal drops an absolute BANGER called “Like My Daddy” as payback, and as a way to serve all kinds of hot tea about who Lucious really is…or isn’t. Now we’re left with a cliffhanger that I PRAY Empire takes its time with. And that is: Who the hell is Lucious Lyon if he’s not Lucious Lyon? He begins to tell the story to a nosy journalist who’s just scored the exclusive of her lifetime. Lucious will reveal the sad story of how an orphan became one of the biggest music moguls this world has ever seen. But I’m sure this will not change any of his evil, ugly ways because, as the title says, a rose by any other name…