Empire Is Back: 5 Things That Will Make the 2nd Half of the Season Even Better

Jussie Smollett, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Bryshere Gray and Trai Byers (Michael Lavine/Fox)
Jussie Smollett, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Bryshere Gray and Trai Byers (Michael Lavine/Fox)

Yes, lawd! Empire returns tonight with the second half of its third season. Back in December, the midseason finale ended with a bang—and for once it didn’t involve Lucious shooting someone or him getting shot.

Still, Lucious tried to kill Angelo Dubois’ mayoral career—or at least leave a nasty scar. The Lyons’ eldest son, Andre, continued his descent into darkness and revealed a plan to kill Papa Lyon. Can you blame him? Can you? It’s a wonder the whole family doesn’t join in.


Boo Kitty was back to season 1 form, and the wardrobe department returned to Frederick’s of Hollywood, so we got to see a nearly naked Miss Kitty randomly prance around without discretion. It’s not that I have a lady crush on Miss Boo Boo, but her antics give Leslie Uggams’ Leah Walker more biting one-liners. Obviously, I have a lady crush on Leah.

Best of all, Cookie, Cookie, Cookie. The show bowed down to the queen and mined her surprising family history to reveal that she was once a good, studious girl, until she met Lucious and gave up a promising future as a spelling bee champ and mathlete. There was so much good stuff in the finale; here’s what I hope happens for the rest of the season.

1. Andre continues taking his life goals from The Godfather playbook.

Let’s not forget that to get his way in a business deal with Gina Gershon’s Helene “I’m Not a Racist” Von Wyeth, Andre issued a warning by hacking off Helen’s daughter’s hair while the little girl was sleeping. A little girl! The child was a blonde, too, and you know how white people have a bizarre attachment to blond hair. Andre got his way, of course. Oh yeah, he also announced his plan to kill Lucious. No judgment. Bad Andre is all kinds of sexy, especially when he puts on the hat, so I say: Have at it, Andre. Speaking of ...


2. They bring on the bad-girl bitchery.

Andre’s protégé/love interest, Nessa, is shady AF. After she deliberately set Tiana’s couture dress ablaze before a big event and made sure the ensuing tantrum went viral, Nessa put on her lipstick, raised one eyebrow of evil and took Tiana’s place in a big show. If you ask me, Sierra Aylina McClain’s Nessa makes a top-notch bitch, and the show needed one for the younger set.


Even though she’s been around since the first season, I never found myself going, “Where’s Tiana? I miss her.” I save my longing for Cookie’s clunky assistant, Porsha, who makes me clap my hands with glee when she galumphs into a scene with her lollipop. Anyway, if Empire plans to do anything with Tiana, keep adding fuel to this dueling-divas story and let the catfights begin. Lock each other in broom closets; knock each other offstage. Make it work.

3. Gimme a shower song, please. 

Not to bring up old scars, but I have never recovered from Lucious’ “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom” mess. “Black Girl Magic” gave me an empowering song to butcher. Contact me if you’re interested in a cringeworthy karaoke night!


4. Leah Walker is allowed to do some dirty work.

Lucious’ mom is crazy like a fox. OK, she’s actually crazy, but it was hilarious to find out that she and Lucious were working together to thwart Tariq’s sting operation and hopefully let the Tariq-vs.-Lucious thing drop. I’m not saying the tale of Lucious’ long-lost stepbrother/FBI agent was uninteresting; I’m just saying ... Zzzzzzzzz. Whoops, I just nodded off there for a couple of minutes. Empire should trot out Leah every time there’s a lackluster storyline. The best part of Leah’s mischief: You can’t always tell if she’s off her meds or if she’s just stirring up trouble.


5. Last but not least, Cookie goes to Washington.  

Or at least Gracie Mansion. Can’t you just picture Cookie as New York City’s first lady? To get even with Clair Huxtable, aka Diana Dubois, for getting haughty with him (and probably to mess up Cookie’s shot at romance), Lucious maneuvered to bring Angelo Dubois’ sordid past to light. The pol’s drunk driving killed a girl, and he ran off. Look, it didn’t end Teddy Kennedy’s career, and he probably would have made it to the White House if he had the advantage of the “Cookie effect.”


The constituents love Cookie. Let her smooth things over, maybe distract everyone with a glitzy wedding and then have Cookie join the political scene. Or just make her mayor. Phylicia Rashad and Taraji P. Henson are brilliant together. Let’s watch ’em duke it out with higher stakes. You can get away with anything in politics these days; Cookie’s got my vote.

Empire airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.

Elaine G. Flores is a New York writer, editor and bon vivant. She’s a hard-core shipper. You can visit her site, TV Recappers Delight

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Glad to see Thirsty back. Everyone either needs a friend like him or afford a lawyer like him.