Family is the focus of this latest episode of Empire, titled “More Than Kin.” Once again, the title is borrowed from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where the full line is “A little more than kin and less than kind.” The Lyon family has that covered in spades. You’d be hard-pressed to find a time when one member of the Lyons isn’t feuding with another. The minute two of them are getting along, the other three are at one another’s throats. Take Cookie and Lucious. At this point in the series I can’t tell if their worst days are behind them and their best are in front of them, or vice versa. It’s clear that Cookie is sweet on Lucious once again. She wears her jealousy like one of her best animal print suits each time Lucious shows interest in another woman; in this case it’s famous blogger Harper Scott (Annie Ilonzeh). She’s been shadowing Lucious for an in-depth exclusive. But there’s more between Lucious and Harper than an interview — she wants a one-on-one between the sheets and Lucious is circling her like a Lyon ready to pounce. Their hook-up gets cut short by news of a family emergency delivered via a series of frantic phone calls and texts from Cookie. Harper doesn’t take kindly to Cookie and tosses a “bitch” her way. Lucious is having none of Harper’s disrespect of Cookie Lyon and kicks her out (and any hope of a front-page exclusive). But Cookie’s got Lucious’ back and arranges a scoop with a different publication. And because the board, which is still in a state of flux on who should be named CEO of Empire, sees how nicely Cookie and Lucious work together, they offer to make them co-CEO’s. Cookie turns the offer down but Lucious insists she take it. He feigns happiness but behind Cookie’s back, you could almost see him stabbing her. They’ve been through worse, and while they appear to be all good, are they?
Lucious and Hakeem are on shaky ground. Lucious’ orchestration of Hakeem getting knocked off his Empire CEO post has sent him into a Champagne and stripper stupor. His fiancé Laura is stunned when she finds out he’s going to be a baby daddy and walks out on him (finally). Anika tells Hakeem Lucious threatened her life so she’s not even sure she wants her Lyon cub around this family. That’s enough for Hakeem, who marches right up to his dad and promises that Lucious would never see him or his grandson if Anika walks. Lucious actually thinks this is pretty ballsy of Hakeem and after Anika suffers a pregnancy complication, he’s found a new level of respect for his youngest and calls off the hounds he had on Anika, arranges top hospital treatment for her, and even convinces Laura to go back to Hakeem. So they’re good for now? Lucious and Jamal, however, are damaged. Jussie Smollett, who stars as Jamal, was recently quoted as saying, “There’s some scenes that are coming up this season between Lucious and Jamal that are so intense that you’re almost like ‘Can they come back from that?” And it looks as though we’re entering that point in the show. The two are constantly at odds with the ASA Awards approaching. Lucious’ competitive streak is glaring — and he finds opportunities to spread a little hate dust Jamal’s way wherever he can. So they’re not good at all.
Finally, Andre and Lucious seem great! He’s in full on power-grabbing mode. He’s cozied up to Lucious and Cookie in order to once again make a play for second in command at Empire. But this time he finds a way to get his name out ahead of his brothers by offering to be the face of a campaign with a bipolar charity that Empire will front. But Andre’s rug gets pulled from underneath him when the scorned Harper Scott, drops one big bomb in his hands: pictures of Andre’s living “dead grandmother!” His ying and yang are clearly coming apart and Andre is on a mission to confirm this ugly truth and, when he does, I’m pretty sure things will definitely be less than kind.