Obviously, there will be spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned!
Episode five of Empire, titled ‘Be True’, began abruptly as Lyon Dynasty starlet Tiana was brutally mugged outside Lyon Dynasty’s headquarters. Later we discover that Lucious and his lawyer Thirsty may or may not have had a hand in this, especially after events that take place in the final seconds of episode five. During this episode, it becomes more apparent that Thirsty acts as a minion to Lucious rather than as a lawyer. Perhaps this season he is taking over the role Vernon held last season. Will his fate turn out the same?
Simultaneously Jamal and Michael exit their Honeymoon phase when Jamal is forced to consider some serious questions about their relationship. Guest starring this episode is Ne-Yo, who appears as himself to give Jamal the guidance he needs over whether he should bring Michael on tour with him. Initially Jamal’s only counselor is Lucious, and we all know how well Lucious’ few serious relationships have played out. Some people are just meant to be playboys.
So far, Jamal’s main obstacle in this season has been maintaining a balance between his rapidly burgeoning career and Michael. This careful balance is disrupted by Jamal’s new photographer, who strangely tags along in this episode though his actual job is over. Are they even friends? Yet, thanks to Michael’s insecurity over being with Jamal, the photographer’s plan to come between them plays out during a racy scene at a bash Jamal throws. Jamal walks in to find Michael in the photographer’s embrace, and thus is forced to break out his super -macho-tough-guy skills when he pulls them apart. It can be concluded that we will not see much of Michael or the photographer anymore.
What is also strange is why Empire’s casting thought that audiences would believe that a character who obviously lacks ‘sex appeal’, in a show with characters that practically drip ‘sex appeal’, would ever make moves on anyone! If the creepy photographer guy was not as awkward and plain looking, this plotline would have been more believable and entertaining.
Luckily, Jamal still has his bestie Becky. Their playful relationship onscreen and offscreen (check out Jussie Smollet and Gabourey Sidibe’s snap stories together!) is innocent and refreshing compared, to the backstabbing and contemptuous nature of other relationships that play out on Empire.
Despite the drama unfolding so far, episode five of Empire had failed to reach its apex until Andre revealed that he is finally getting baptized. Andre turned to God near the end of season one after all his struggles with bipolar disorder. His newly religious nature is another thing that makes him a black-sheep in the Lyon clan. He receives a variety of lukewarm messages after this reveal, and even Rhonda, his own wife, is septical of the whole affair. Andre then proceeds to drag dusty skeletons out of deep closets when his pastor urges him to confess his sins in the days up to the event.
All of the Lyons show up to support Andre on his big day, though Cookie and Lucious still manage to drag family drama into baptism. The scene where Andre is submerged into the holy water invokes another painful flashback for Lucious. This time he is seen being drowned by his mother in the bathtub as punishment. Like Andre, Lucious’ mother also struggled with bipolar disorder. Kelly Rowland’s chilling vocals and young Lucious’ cries for help are haunting and painful to watch. During the baptism, Lucious is forced to make a break for the exit when confronted with these harrowing memories. We really appreciate the increase in flashbacks this season. Last season a good flashback could be a diamond in the rough, but this season we seem to get some kind of backstory information every episode.
Finally, “Be True” leaves us with an exciting cliffhanger. At the very end of the episode, as Hakeem is jogging through the streets of New York he is snatched up by goons who stuff him in an unmarked black van. Could Lucious and Thirsty be behind this scheme too? When will we get the juicy details on Lucious’ childhood? Are we ever going to see Kelly Rowland outside of Lucious’ flashbacks? Are Michael and Jamal taking a break, or are they finished for good?
Here at Spectrum we give Episode 5, “Be True” a ⅗ rating. Bonus points go towards Lucious’ flashback, but points are deducted for Jamal and Michael’s awkward relationship troubles.
Stay tuned for next week’s recap/review by Spectrum!