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Empire - S02 E17

Music . Drama . Soap

Hakeem feels the pressure of his underwhelming fiancé, Laura, as he struggles to find a place for her both in his family and his career. Cookie finally reveals to Jamal the truth behind what happened to Freda's father, prompting Jamal to warn Freda of his family's ulterior motives. Meanwhile, despite his frustration with the family, Jamal makes a sacrifice for Lucious from which it will be hard to recover.

Episode Title: Rise by Sin
Airs: 2016-05-11 at 21:00
  • Molly Eichel

    There’s something soapy and delicious about Empire.... But it’s a double-edged sword: Empire will either continue to be fun and splashy, while staying grounded and engaging, or it will flame out as so many primetime sudsers have before it, becoming too ridiculous for its own good.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Jeff Jensen

    [Strong and Daniels} oversee the pilot with an unfussy style and attentiveness to nuanced characterizations. I hope they have enough imagination to nurture an ongoing series without pulling punches ... or going soap opera cray-cray.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Ken Tucker

    The series hits the ground running, letting the viewer fill in the narrative gaps. In other words, Empire is that rare nighttime soap opera that credits its audience with understanding without a lot of tiresome explanation, and whose purpose is to entertain, to surprise, and to confuse.

    Yahoo TV Full Review
  • Steve Macfarlane

    Empire coasts with the chutzpah of a series that knows exactly what it wants to say and how to say it, leaving viewers no quarter except to pick their jaws up off the floor between commercial breaks.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Matt Roush

    Doesn't really matter if hip-hop is your musical genre of choice, because the beat the deliciously entertaining Empire grooves to echoes the more traditional and timeless rhythms of grand soap operas. [5-18 Jan 2015, p.16]

    TV Guide Magazine Full Review
  • David Hinckley

    In the larger sense, Empire is a music soap the way “Scandal” is a political soap, and it already has that same densely packed swirl of interlocking stories.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • David Hiltbrand

    The focus and tone could shift and drift any number of ways in subsequent weeks. But whether it rises or falls, Empire is off to a sensational start.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Rob Owen

    Whether Empire can sustain these running plots remains to be seen.... But the pilot suggests Empire could become [an] addictive, juicy prime-time soap.

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Full Review
  • Gail Pennington

    Just when you're smirking at Empire, it reaches out and hooks you.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Robert Bianco

    There's no denying that the show throbs with life--and offers enough of a promise of tuneful, scenery-chewing entertainment to make up for the familiarity of some of its twists.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Alan Sepinwall

    With the former "Hustle & Flow" co-stars as the leads, whoever tunes in will get something interesting.

    Hitfix Full Review
  • Ed Bark

    Empire, its flaws notwithstanding, looks as though it has the potential to be a mainstream success. It roars into view and keeps everything humming throughout its all-important first episode.

    Uncle Barky Full Review
  • Lori Rackl

    If the rest of the series is anything like the pilot, this is one party you don’t want to miss.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Adam Smith

    The show is polished. The acting is good, and so is the cinematography. But at its core, this is really just a nighttime soap. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Boston Herald Full Review
  • Robert Rorke

    Like the Carringtons on “Dynasty” and the Ewings on “Dallas,” the Lyons play dirty and fight dirty. How far they go to control their musical Empire should be fun to watch. As long as Cookie’s the underdog, this show will have plenty of bite.

    New York Post Full Review
  • David Wiegand

    Almost nothing about Empire ... feels original, but just a few minutes into the premiere episode, you’ll stop caring.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Emily Nussbaum

    It is good, or, at least, it’s effective--unapologetic melodramatic fun, to judge from the first two episodes.

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • Sonia Saraiya

    It remains to be seen if the strength of the performances from the rest of the cast (which includes another Academy Award nominee, Gabourey Sidibe--it might be hard to find work as a black actor, hm?) will balance out the show’s pulpy premise.... Empire is notable for doing something different, in a landscape populated by dramas of an entirely different stripe. For that, and that alone, it’s worth checking out.

    Salon Full Review
  • Ellen Gray

    Empire isn't a subtle show, nor does it pretend to be: Characters say things like, "I'm here to get what's mine" and "Music saved my life." But amid all the prime-time soap-opera posturing, there are moments that feel like something more, as Lucious and Cookie catch up, or Jamal and Hakeem collaborate.

    Philadelphia Daily News Full Review
  • Robert Lloyd

    Though the result can be obvious, even cornball, at times, the show--which is smart enough, often enough--works.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • James Poniewozik

    While the busy first hour scarcely has time to set a premise and lay down a beat, it promises all the glitter and heightened emotion its genre mashup implies, if it can keep its pathos from sliding into parody.

    Time Full Review
  • Alessandra Stanley

    The story is not surprising--almost every turn seems obvious and a little hackneyed--but it is surprisingly enjoyable.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Brian Tallerico

    Empire is a defiantly sudsy bit of escapism, a show that embraces its nighttime soap foundation but does so with enough on-screen talent and off-screen flair to keep it entertaining.... Judged on its own terms, Empire works. Full Review
  • Willa Paskin

    If Lucious and Cookie and Jamal’s dynamics seem unique and complex, other parts of the show are messy and flat.... Generally speaking, the arc of the soap opera is long, and it bends toward insanity. But, one episode in, Empire feels insane in exactly the right measure.

    Slate Full Review
  • Tim Goodman

    Empire is a big swing for Fox, and there are a number of question marks and stumbling blocks within it, but ultimately its entertainment level transcends the worries.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Mark Dawidziak

    It hits a few sour notes, to be sure, and there are some off-key moments, but, for the most part, Empire artfully draws you into its high-stakes game of throne envy.

    Cleveland Plain Dealer Full Review
  • Kristi Turnquist

    The pilot has a propulsive pop energy, and melodramatic swagger.

    The Oregonian Full Review
  • Joanne Ostrow

    The series has great potential. The question is whether Empire should stick to being a good family drama in a vibrant contemporary setting with a topical issue woven into the story, or whether it can measure up to the pretensions to great literature.

    Denver Post Full Review
  • Steve Johnson

    At least at the outset, there's more than just a lot of potential. There's a lot of everything.... Parental beatdowns! Sibling rivalry! Drug money! Terminal illness! Blackmail! Betrayal! Gold chains! It's all so much, so soon.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Hank Stuever

    Timbaland produces the original songs that give Empire its real oomph, while the actors try to figure out what kind of characters they’ve agreed to play.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Bruce Miller

    While parts of this are too broad, it’s crafted in such a way it can’t be ignored. Just when you think you’re ready to move away, Henson pulls you back in and Empire becomes the new song you can’t get out of your head.

    Sioux City Journal Full Review
  • Josh Bell

    Having a prominent gay character on a hip-hop drama is still a step in the right direction, though, and Empire’s characters might develop greater nuance as the show progresses. For now, it’s a trashy soap with one entertaining performance.

    Las Vegas Weekly Full Review
  • Matt Zoller Seitz

    The script and direction could both use a jolt of crazy energy of the sort that made Precious so thrilling (or, if you didn’t like it, unbearable).

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Maureen Ryan

    Empire is being marketed as a bold, original show from high-profile artists, but it feels strangely tentative in its first episode.

    The Huffington Post Full Review
  • Verne Gay

    It's as if Empire had too many antecedents, and--failing to decide upon one--embraced them all. The result is an interesting idea that can't quite figure out what that idea actually is--or where it should go from here.

    Newsday Full Review
  • Sarah Rodman

    Fox’s wildly uneven, but potentially addictive new nighttime soap, Empire, feels like an anachronism.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Brian Lowry

    For now, Empire feels more like an opening act than a marquee player, one that will need--even more than a good lead-in--luck and time to find its groove.

    Variety Full Review
  • Jeff Korbelik

    Give me a little more music and a little less soap opera, and we may have something here.

    The Lincoln Journal Star Full Review
  • John Anderson

    Derivative to the point of parody.... [But] despite the general lameness of the show, Ms. Henson is so convincing--and charismatic--you might just keep watching.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
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  • music

  • sibling rivalry

  • black family

  • gay man

  • hip hop culture

  • record label

  • music business

  • new york city

  • record executive

  • singer

  • rapper

  • gay son

  • hiphop music

  • ceo

  • company name in title

  • antihero

  • personal assistant

  • african american family

  • interracial relationship

  • mother son relationship

  • ex husband ex wife relationship

  • father son relationship

  • brother brother relationship

  • one word title

  • rivalry

  • power struggle

  • gay character

  • female lead