This season, there hasn’t been another show that has broken out like “Empire.” The series is a monster in the ratings, growing each week since its premiere at the beginning of January. Despite its success, the show is not perfect, and this episode exemplified both the drama’s high-points and flaws.

“Empire”

B
FOX
Wednesdays at 9 p.m.


Most of “Empire” ’s successes stem from one performer: Taraji P. Henson (“Person of Interest”), who single-handedly carries this episode. She shows a wide range in her performance, from a more nuanced moment with her speech to company investors, to an angry moment when Elle (Courtney Love, “Sons of Anarchy”) appears high at the event. She brings all the different sides of Cookie to life in a way that makes the show worth watching just for her character — in a way similar to watching Viola Davis on “How to Get Away with Murder.”

However, the episode doesn’t shy away from some of the more frustrating aspects of “Empire.” Lucius Lyon’s (Terrence Howard, “Iron Man”) health has been a consistent issue, as he decides to remain on a drug despite its potentially killing him. Even in the heightened reality of “Empire,” character choices like that don’t register as choices someone in real life would make.

If the show didn’t have some of these character issues, Henson and its wonderful music (last week’s hour featured a great performance by Jamal and Hakeem) would be enough to carry it. Unfortunately, some elements were frustrating enough that they hurt the episode.

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