Obviously, there will be spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned!
Episode 3 of Season 2, titled “Fires of Heaven”, began with Lucious’ sudden release from prison, much to the shock of the Lyon family. At the end of episode two, Lucious’ lawyer, the flamboyant Thirsty Rawlings, threatens the judge with explicit pictures thus the judge is forced to release Lucious on a million dollar bail to preserve his reputation.
Last season we definitely enjoyed the intense melodrama that was regularly featured during traditional Lyon dinner parties. This episode, the now reunited Lyons, again try to make civilized and respectful conversation. The dinner ends with Cookie dragging the entire table setting off in response to Lucious’ comment about how ‘Lyon Dynasty’ is no match to Empire.
The first thing on Lucious’ to-do list now that he’s out of the joint, is to recruit street tough rapper Freda (played by the real-life rapper Bre-Z), who is the daughter of Chris Rock’s character in Empire’s season 2 debut. This is all a part of his massive plan to ‘revamp’ the hardcore rap label that Empire started out as, before becoming the multi-billion dollar company that it is now. The old Empire used to put out the “grittiest tapes on the block”, and Lucious wants this back. Freda’s signage onto Empire’s label comes to much of Jamal’s chagrin. The more artists Lucious recruits, the less time he will have to work with Jamal on his new album. Jamal threatens to find a new producer but Becky (Jamal’s secretary, as played by the rarely seen but frequently enjoyed Gabourey Sidibe), talks him out of it saying that Cookie was the only person the Jamal ever liked to work with.
The Lyon family reunites again at a massive party thrown by Lucious, featuring an unseemly duet between Jamal and Pitbull. Hakeem crashes the stage with a crew of his own performing with rappers Leviticus and Timberland, flaming Jamal in lyrics that remind us of a certain rap beef between Meek Mill and Drake. The most entertaining part of this whole scene is Cookie’s outfit. Taraji P. Henson looked stunning in a gold chain leotard, 6 inch heels, a massive blond weave that resembles a lion’s mane (go big or go home right?).
Meanwhile at Lyon Dynasty, Cookie is still preoccupied with developing her label’s new sound with Hakeem’s poorly named girl group Mirage A Trois. She whips them into shape using old drills she learned in prison, including pushups in 6 inch heels, to prepare them for their radio debut on the popular urban music station Sway. Hakeem and Mirage A Trois front woman Valentina are seen intimately together at the beginning of “Fires of Heaven”, but by the end we realize that she has been Lucious’ plaything all along. Mirage A Trois was just a ploy to get her foot in the door with Empire. With her manipulation skills, maybe she really is the right woman for him?
Like the last episode, “Fires of Heaven” leaves off on another heart wrenching note. Andre makes the decision to reveal Rhonda’s pregnancy to Lucious. But once again, Lucious cannot even congratulate his eldest son. He only sees Andre’s revelation as a ploy to let him back into Empire. This scene cuts to another flashback of Lucious’ childhood. It is revealed that Lucious’ mother (played by Kelly Rowland) had bipolar disorder like Andre does. Lucious receives the news of his first grandchild so coldly, is because he is worried that his son’s mental disorder will be passed down to his grandchild. In future episodes, will Andre ever be given a role larger than opening up more details about Lucious’ development? Will we ever see him with story line that does not ping-pong between the rivalry between ‘Lyon Dynasty’ and ‘Empire’?
We give this episode a 2/5 rating. “Fires of Heaven” leaves a lot to be desired in regards to musical performances and character development.
Stay tuned for next week’s recap/review!