As the season opens with the episode “The Devils Are Here”, it’s three months since the arrest of Lucious at the end of last season and the head of Empire is trying to run the music company from inside a federal prison.
Creator Lee Daniels figured out how to capture fun in a bottle.
And all eyes will be on Empire when it returns on Wednesday (9/8c, Fox) to see if it will fall victim to the dreaded sophomore slump.
“There was a scene in episode 9 where Anika was doing the buh-buh-buh thing, tripping up on her words, I just couldn’t hold it in”. “That wasn’t even on goal , it’s the way I do it”. Henry’s three sons all want to be his successor, but dad won’t make a decision – sound familiar? – so they, and his wife, scheme in an attempt to force him to do so. “There so much ripe story there” in the origins of Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie Lyon and her rough-and-tumble upbringing in Philadelphia, and the roots of Howard’s hip-hip mogul Lucious Lyon.
Doubleday is the only white regular in the cast, making her a key player in one of the many uncomfortable social issues “Empire” confronts. “So adding the weight of a murder to that is not easy”, Doubleday says. “She feels his family has treated her like s–“.
This coming season, though, Doubleday says, there will be some conciliatory gestures, particularly since Rhonda starts the season pregnant. “He didn’t want actor talk”. I’ll refrain from mentioning any other shows that have been compared to “Empire” because I don’t believe in pitting one against the other, but still the thing that shines about some of “Empire’s” perceived competition is the great writing. “That was her one person in the family that she really could rely on”. “Factions, jealousy. It’s completely universal”. “Empire” is about the drama that revolves around the Lyon Family. Aside from the glittering costumes, larger-than-life characters, and radio-ready music, it accomplishes this through balancing multiple lightning-paced storylines with big, Shakespearean themes like ambition, creativity, tolerance, revenge, and – most of all – the intertwined ideas of family and loyalty. By centering him, Empire also makes strides to improve upon last season’s inconsistent treatment of his sexuality, which too often relied on the unfair assumption that his family, fellow musicians, and audience (all predominantly African American) were virulently homophobic. Counter to her best interests, the opportunistic Cookie is campaigning for Lucious’s release, staging a massive Central Park concert and rally (hashtag: #FreeLucious), where, in short order, she deals with the Rev. Al Sharpton (who says he can’t officially be seen helping Lucious beat the rap), Vogue magazine’s Andre Leon Tally (who throws a little shade at Cookie’s outfit, “last season’s” Gucci), and CNN’s Don Lemon, who, well, the less said the better. It isn’t that she’s becoming domesticated, but maybe she’s becoming more at ease with life on the outside. She now has more power than she ever had. “I’ve been binge-watching Orange Is the New Black”.
Although the “Empire” team has kept the new season under wraps, Doubleday isn’t violating any confidentiality agreements when she says there is plenty of attitude ahead. And Henson says that’s not likely to change, despite how popular the two are.
She admits, however, that she is personally rooting for one specific surprise.