The Empire cast continues to expand, leaving many of the main players with less to do.
On this week’s Empire: Titan, a modern-day Tupac, lands in some major legal trouble when he shoots a guy backstage at a show in Brooklyn. Lucious decides this is the perfect time to poach the guy from a rival label headed by Lyon’s arch-nemesis Billy Beretti. Cookie tries to pump Titan’s mom Fatima for information about her son, which results in Lucious deciding whether or not he wants to work with an artist closely aligned with the Nation of Islam.
Meanwhile, Hakeem would really like some attention from his father/manager, such as a music video or some sort of promotion of his work. His sort of girlfriend Tiana signs with Cookie for management services, and the newly-minted TaKeem1 line up a duet at the Teen Choice Awards nominations.2 All is not bliss for TaKeem: Tiana catches Hakeem making out with Camilla in a bubble bath in their apartment/hotel/bathtub clubhouse.
In other threads: Anika learns directly from Lucious he has ALS and she steps up her role within the Empire organization. She tries to negotiate a deal with Titan’s management, which gets sidetracked by a driveby shooting in retribution to what happened at the concert. Jamal and Michael have found a lovely roach motel where the musician finds it nearly impossible to work. Andre is also a character on Empire.
That last sentence gets to my biggest concern with this show. In this week’s episode we are introduced to Titan, his mother, his manager/cousin, Beretti, and a few more advisors within the Empire organizational chart. The universe of this show continues to sprawl, but we have main characters—specifically Andre, though it seems to ebb and flow among all three sons—that do not have enough (or anything) to do. Though the expansiveness creates a lived-in universe, the number of open plotlines is becoming almost unmanageable. In fairness, this could be pilotitis creeping in. Most dramas end up shedding plots after episode six once everything has been thrown to the fan.
You have two weeks to go Empire: figure out what stays and what goes.