So what did we tell you? Sure enough, tonight’s Season 3, Episode 4 episode of “Empire” was ripe for a Montague versus Capulet show down. But was “One Before Another” all that is was cracked up to be on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being a barely keeping our eyes open and 10 being a ‘what the f*ck just happened’ must see? Given the skillful weaving in of two strong musical selections with some interesting plot twists, we give it a solid 8. Spoiler Alert for those not quite ready to know exactly what’s what and why as delineated below:
Sure enough, Shine (Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joyner) was able to get the drop on at least one Lyon despite all of Lucious’ precautions with beefed up security escorting Anika ( Grace Gealey) and baby Bella to the pediatrician, as well as snatching Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) up from her date with politician Angelo Dubois (Taye Diggs). As many a fan might predict, seeing as Jamal (Jussie Smollett) tends not to fall in line behind dear old dad Lucious, it was there that Shine was able to break in and pull the trigger on Andre (Trai Byers). As serendipity would have it, Shine’s gun jammed and then Nessa (Sierra McClain) popped up half dressed begging Shine not to catch a sentence over killing Andre. So Andre lives another day. True, we all like Andre, but it might have been nice to see a little blood spilled – especially given the heavy Shine prepping for war montage at the end of the episode leading into episode 4. But then again, this is “Empire” – not “The Walking Dead,” so maybe next time.
As for the music performances – not only were they good, but both were essential to moving the plot of “One Before Another.” Tiana’s (Serayah McNeill) “Starlight” number was as gossamer fresh as it’s title with Serayah giving a very good in studio performance good enough to warrant hearing the whole single – which unfortunately wasn’t the case. However the lesson that Becky (Gabourey Sidibe) learns from disobeying Cookie in having Tiana record “Starlight” is classic when it comes to doing business with sharks in the recording industry. When it comes to status and position, white sharks – in the embodiment of Becky’s nemesis Xavier Rosen (Samuel Hunt) – they are just as likely to deliver the fatal bite as the black ones.
As for the final music performance, not to belittle it at all, but Jamal’s “Kumbaya” half of his duo with Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) was good but in terms of drama it just couldn’t stand up to the can’t stop this fire of Hakeem’s all out lyrical war on Nessa, Andre and anybody else looking to stop his vibe when it comes to what he believes should be his and his alone.
“Empire” airs Wednesday nights on FOX at 9/8pm central.