Empire (2015– )
7.9/10
627
1 user 5 critic

False Imposition 

Lucious tries to steal a major artist from his rival, Jamal works on composing original music, and Hakeem faces complications in the lead up to an important performance.

Director:

Rosemary Rodriguez

Writers:

Lee Daniels (created by), Danny Strong (created by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Terrence Howard ... Lucious Lyon
Bryshere Y. Gray ... Hakeem Lyon
Jussie Smollett ... Jamal Lyon
Trai Byers ... Andre Lyon
Grace Byers ... Anika Calhoun (as Grace Gealey)
Malik Yoba ... Vernon Turner
Kaitlin Doubleday ... Rhonda Lyon (credit only)
Taraji P. Henson ... Cookie Lyon
Naomi Campbell ... Camilla Marks
Judd Nelson ... Billy Beretti
Jim Beans Jim Beans ... Titan (as Jim Beanz)
Serayah ... Tiana Brown
Gabourey Sidibe ... Becky
Damon Gupton ... Detective Calvin Walker
Rafael de la Fuente ... Michael Sanchez
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Storyline

Lucious tries to steal a major artist from his rival, Jamal works on composing original music, and Hakeem faces complications in the lead up to an important performance.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Music

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 January 2015 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Lucious Lyon: You know something, you and I always made a real good team.
Cookie Lyon: You damn right we did. I make you better. Don't you forget that.
See more »

Connections

References Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Hustle Hard
(uncredited)
Performed by Jim Beans (as Jim Beanz)
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User Reviews

Backstage melodrama with gritty urban backdrop
30 January 2015 | by BrianDanaCampSee all my reviews

This is a primetime soap centered around charismatic black characters in positions of power portrayed by two high-caliber performers, Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. I've often wondered how a melodrama with a predominantly black cast would work on TV, so I watched this episode (the only one from this series I've yet to see). It not only reminded me of nighttime soaps like "Dynasty," but also old Hollywood melodramas, gangster movies and musicals. The plot point about Henson having taken the rap and served time in jail to allow Howard the freedom to build up the business brought to mind films like I WALK ALONE (1949), with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. The scene where Howard's son Jamal (Jussie Smollett) walks through a shabby Bushwick street and gets inspiration for a song from various street sounds reminded me of bits from any number of old musicals. (I immediately thought of that number in IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER, 1955, where Gene Kelly dances on garbage can lids.)

Younger viewers without these frames of reference may not take so kindly to this series. The day after seeing this, I questioned young African-American co-workers in my office who'd sampled the series and they were all quite dismissive of it, calling it "cheesy" and "implausible," among other things. They outlined their criticisms for me and their arguments had merit. These young men are closer to the world where the series takes place and found its portrayal dishonest. I, however, was simply looking for an old-fashioned show biz melodrama, but with black characters dominating the narrative, and was quite pleased to have found it. Howard and Henson clearly relish the opportunity to play proactive characters with a certain amount of control of their lives and it's fun watching them do it.

My only quibble with the episode is that there isn't much in the way of music. I would like to have seen at least one complete song performed or at least larger segments than we get. A significant supporting character is rap star Titan (James Washington), whose music is constantly held up as a model of what Howard and his crew at Empire are trying to achieve, yet when we're introduced to him performing at a club, we only get a line or two of his rap before there's a cut to backstage after the show. For us to believe his status and Howard's eagerness to sign him, we needed a more substantial piece of his performance. The biggest song segment we get comes during a number staged for the "Teen Choice Awards" featuring Howard's youngest son, rapper Hakeem (Bryshere Gray), and female soloist Tiana (Serayah). Tiana reminded me of Aaliyah, although my co-workers likened her more to Rihanna. Either way, the actress, Serayah, making her TV debut here, is quite lovely and would do well in similarly glamorous roles if only some talented soul would write them for her.

If I continue with this series, I'm hoping for more creative use of musical numbers and more dramatic scenes for the two leads. I'd like to see what happens when they lose control. The younger characters aren't that compelling and I can't quite see where they're headed.


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