Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, February 22, 2019

"Empire" Recap: Authenticity and personality


Note: The following recap contains spoilers for fourth episode of “Empire,” entitled “False Imposition.”

The overarching theme of this week’s episode of “Empire” is authenticity. While Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard, “Hustle & Flow”) and Anika Lyon (debut actress Grace Gealy) try to sign new rapper Titan (music producer Jim Beanz), Titan seeks to rediscover his old connections to the Nation of Islam while in jail. Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson, “Think Like a Man”) shames Hakeem (debut actorBryshere Gray) for making music that implies a false narrative of growing up on the streets, when, in reality, Hakeem has never experienced the struggle. Jamal Lyon’s (Jussie Smolett, "North") tough new life in run-down Bushwick apartment provides a new source of inspiration for his music, and Tiana Brown (Serayah) asks Cookie to be her new manager, because Cookie promises to “protect the music.” It seems that every character is struggling to find a way to stay loyal to their roots, their families and their art.

This episode also introduced an interesting perspective on the Nation of Islam, the religious movement that advocates for black empowerment and Islamic ideals throughout the United States. The audience learns that the Nation was possibly involved in the death of Lucious’s father, and Cookie divulges that the Nation also helped her through tough times in prison. What are the future implications of the involvement of the Nation of Islam in “Empire?”

Although Camilla (Naomi Campbell, "The Face") makes another steamy appearance, we still don’t know what the heck she is doing with Hakeem. Other questions from previous episodes are left unanswered, like what Cookie’s FBI deal entails, whether or not Lucious’ dark past will come back to haunt him and what is going on with Andre’s (Trai Byers, "Selma") medication.

Hopefully “Empire” will be able to successfully juggle all of these different storylines and give us some answers next week.

Tune into “Empire” on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.

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