Fox‘s Empire A Rose By Any Other Name TV Show Review. Empire: Season 2, Episode 12: A Rose By Any Other Name got a bit bogged down by politics, but it ended with some seriously intriguing and emotional moments. Here are the most important parts of Empire‘s latest episode.
1. Andre’s Mental Health
When Andre (Trai Byers) tells Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) that he recently had a vision, Rhonda immediately assumes the worst. She’s concerned that Andre needs his bipolar medications adjusted after having gone through the trauma of losing their son. Rhonda is worried that Andre is on the edge of a bipolar break, but Andre is convinced that he is being spoken to by God. He convinces Rhonda to seek religious counseling with him, at which point he admits concern that Rhonda is cheating on him. Again, Rhonda responds with concern: paranoia is another indicator of an impending break. Finally, when Mimi (Marisa Tomei) drops all of her shares in Empire and the Lyon family has the opportunity to buy them back, Andre ends up having to use the money from the trust he put aside for his son. At this point it looks like Andre is falling apart; he throws his phone at a wall and almost seems to be in a trance. Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), Jamal (Jussie Smollett) , and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) take him to the studio, where Hakeem and Jamal sing him a song about how pain is all part of the plan. This rare, touching moment of family togetherness and support is one of the highlights of this episode.
2. Lucious’s Shady Past
The gay community’s anger at Jamal’s involvement with women continues in this episode, as Jamal is accosted in public by a group of gay people chanting that he “let the team down.” Jameson (William Fichtner) informs Jamal that this has become the whole community’s business because Lucious made it widely known, possibly to lose Jamal the gay support in the upcoming award voting. Jamal is furious at Lucious (Terrence Howard), first asking to end his involvement in Jamal’s upcoming record, and instead deciding on a different method of payback. Jamal performs a song about how angry he is at his dad, ends by saying that Lucious Lyon isn’t even his real name, and then drops the mic. Literally. Lucious shares with a reporter that this was information that he was trusting his son to keep secret, but now he’s willing to tell all. More on that in episodes to come.
3. The Empire Fight
The episode begins with Hakeem loving his new role as Empire’s CEO. Everybody is itching to get Camilla (Naomi Campbell) out of the picture, but they can’t do anything to prove her dirty ways until they get some sort of evidence on tape about her marriage to Mimi and her plans to take over Mimi’s share of Empire after Mimi dies. Camilla is using her power currently to cut budget on things like Lucious’s music video and Tiana’s (Serayah) tour- until Cookie convinces her to send Laura (Jamila Velazquez) and her group along as the opening act, getting Laura out of the picture so that Camilla can have Hakeem to herself. Everybody has had it with Camilla, but Hakeem’s concern is whether he’ll still be CEO after she’s given the out. In order to approve himself to his family, he makes up with Camilla, thanking her for all that she’s done and promising her that she’s his queen. Things move quickly from there, and afterward Camilla all but admits to what she’s been doing with Mimi. Then she leaves. Turns out, Hakeem got the whole thing on tape.
4. Mimi’s End
Hakeem gets in his family’s good graces by sending his and Camilla’s tape to Mimi, and sure enough, Mimi drops all her stock in Empire. Then Lucious turns up at the hotel where Mimi and Camilla are staying for the weekend to find Mimi, dead in the bath tub, and Camilla wiping off all of her fingerprints. Lucious knows exactly what’s happening: Camilla poisoned Mimi, hoping to make it look like suicide. He even knows that Hakeem is the one who sent the tapes. He makes things clear to Camilla very quickly: she’s looking at suicide or life in prison. He recommends suicide. The episode ends with Camilla taking a swig of something- we don’t know what.
Empire‘s strongest moments are in its music and its emotions, although the intrigue and backstabbing are certainly interesting to watch. This week’s episode included a lot of shop talk: budgets, who has power over which parts of the company, who gets to go on tour or produce albums and when. However, Andre’s experience with bipolar and his brothers’s support coupled with Hakeem’s motivations in serving as CEO and proving himself to his family give us the emotional tie to the characters that makes this larger-than-life show more human. As for Lucious’s past and Camilla’s future? We can’t wait for next week to find out.