EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

'Empire' recap: Nothing says family like a little competition

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Pilot” | Aired Jan 7, 2015

Great music, familial drama, and murder made the series premiere of Empire surprising, shocking, and left me wanting more.

The show follows the Lyons family, headed by Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), who started his record company, Empire, with the money his now ex-wife, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), made from a drug deal that landed her in jail. After getting out early on good behavior, Cookie is ready to get what’s her’s: half of the company. Naturally, Lucious isn’t having it, and offers to give her $3 million and call it even. Not satisfied, Cookie begins to plan her revenge.

Meanwhile, Lucious has other concerns. Learning that he has a terminal illness, he realizes it’s time for one of his three sons to take control of the company. Andre (Trai Byers), the eldest and most invested in the company, seems the obvious choice, but Lucious tells the boys he’ll be looking at all three of them for the job.

Andre, who’s spent his whole life preparing to take over the company, doesn’t take well to this news, especially when he sees his younger brothers, Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) and Jamal (Jussie Smollett), as slackers who only live for their music. At first, it seems neither Hakeem nor Jamal want the company anywaym but Lucious decides to try to convince them both to go for it. Listening to the advice of his wife, Andre decides to use this to his advantage and hopes to pit the two other brothers against each other, breaking their friendship and allowing himself to rise to the top.

Although both boys are musically talented, Hakeem lacks the drive, and Jamal’s sexuality has always been a point of contention between him and Lucious. When Lucious offers to help Jamal jump-start his career and become a celebrity, Jamal says he wants to come out and be true to who he is. Lucious disagrees, believing Jamal’s “lifestyle” won’t be accepted by the hip-hop community.

As for Hakeem, Lucious makes a song for him. But when Hakeem comes to rehearsal hung over, Lucious begins to lose faith in his son’s abilities. Knowing his brother will understand, Hakeem asks Jamal for help to make the song more fitting for Hakeem. Together, they’re able to make a song that Lucious approves of. But when Hakeem tries to give Jamal credit, Lucious discredits Jamal, saying it was all Hakeem. Once again, Jamal feels the hurt of being turned away by his father.

Andre decides to use his mother’s release to his advantage by convincing her to manage Jamal’s musical career while Lucious manages Hakeem’s. Jamal has always been closer to her mother, who has consistently defended him against Lucious’ abuse, as shown through flashbacks. Although he’s at first hesitant, the continued disapproval by his father convinces Jamal to take Cookie up on her offer. By using the blackmail Andre provided, Cookie is able to force Lucious into giving her Jamal.

Although Hakeem and Jamal have promised each other to stay close and not let competition tear them apart, it’s clear this will only lead to conflict as Andre continues to pull the strings. Additionally, it’s clear that all the Lyons are willing to do anything to stay on top—as evidenced by Lucious killing one of his oldest and closest friends, who kept asking Lucious for money and threatened him a few days before.

Besides the great music produced by legendary artist Timbaland, the show also contains an amazing cast, including Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Trai Bryers, and Gabourey Sidibe. The use of flashbacks on the show is brilliantly executed, showing where the Lyons started, how they got to where they are, and how their past continues to affect them.

It seems no one is safe on this show, which puts money and power above family. We wonder what will happen next.

Empire airs Wednesdays at 9/8C on FOX.


TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

You May Like