Death! Attempted murder! And a premature birth all within the first few minutes! Break out your, tackiest furs, wiggiest wigs, most complicated prints, and gaudiest glasses for a Champagne toast friends, ‘cause Empire is back! And in true fashion, the season 3 premiere covered a lot of ground and planted some wicked seeds so brace yourselves. In season 2 of Empire, Rhonda was lucky to be alive after surviving a violent fall when she was pushed down a flight of stairs by Anika. But alas, her luck has run out. After confronting Anika about that push, the two get into a scuffle on the rooftop of a skyscraper where Hakeem’s ill-fated wedding took place. Season 2 closed with someone falling but it wasn’t clear who. Now we know it's Andre’s ride or die. Rhonda’s body came crashing down on a car right in front of Lucious! Of course Andre is out for blood from Anika but he gets amniotic fluid instead — all over his shoes when he literally chokes the life out of her. Just not her life, but baby Lyon’s when Anika goes into premature labor. Lucious is pissed when he finds out his new wife Boo Boo Kitty’s kitten is a girl, after helping deliver his granddaughter-step-daughter while her real father-stepbrother Hakeem —who got jilted at the altar — goes running and stumbling back to Tiana (Serayah).
Meanwhile, get used to seeing a lot more of Shyne Johnson (Xzibit) whose role has been beefed up and who, by the way, does a helluva job playing a badass. When he came into Hakeem’s studio session and snatched up all the power in the room, I felt like I needed to get my shit in order. A quick recap: Shyne’s the reason why Bunkie is dead. Bunkie was trying to get money from Lucious for Shyne — and we know what happened to Bunkie. Shyne used to be a rapper and worked with Lucious but now, the only rapping he’s threatening to do is to the Feds if Lucious doesn’t throw him a bone. Lucious obliges to his face but has other plans behind his back. Doesn’t he always? Side note: Be on the lookout for Nessa (Sierra McClain). She appears as an artist Shyne’s trying to get signed. She gets some shine (no pun intended) when she has to sing in place of Jamal after he suffers PTSD from being shot last season. That girl's voice is everything.
Lucious is hell-bent on building his legacy. He plans a relaunch of his music streaming service under the Empire moniker. That’s when we get our first new celebrity stars in the way of French Montana and Birdman. If anything, seeing their faces signals a shift back to Empire's use of celebrity guest stars. And as long as they're not used excessively, I'm cool with that. And I AM here for a diva-sized serving of Mariah Carey next week. Tariq (who we found out last season is Lucious’ half brother), is chomping at the bit to take Lucious down. He tries to get to Cookie through her shady sisters Candace (Vivica Fox) and Carol (Tasha Smith) — but Cookie isn’t selling out Lucious to Tariq (the freak) even if her heart is jilted by his decision to invoke spousal privilege by marrying Anika. And about that marriage: the Lyons are all in cahoots to pass Lucious and Anika off as the real thing to Tariq. For all their bickering they always seem to ban together when it counts. #Squadgoals. Everyone thinks they have Tariq fooled but the jokes on them because he’s got a camera planted in Baby Lyon’s room. Finally, you may recall that the underlying theme of season 2 followed Shakespeare’s tragedies. This time the writers are taking a loftier tone. They’re going straight biblical. Season 3 episode 1, titled “Light in Darkness,” is in reference to a bible quote from John 1 verse 5, which reads: “The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” However, our friendly neighbor Beelzebub a.k.a. Lucious Lyon is clearly going to challenge this verse with one of his own straight from “Empire’s” greatest one-liners when he tells baby Lyon, “Wait until we show them how dark hell can get.” Cue the dramatic music.