Spoilers for tonight’s episode of Empire, titled “Unto the Breach.”
In just nine episodes, Fox’s Empire has made it abundantly clear that the Lyons are one of the most dysfunctional families that TV has ever known. But beneath the constant turmoil and namecalling, everybody just wants the same things: money, fame and hit records. And while Lucious soon won’t be able to physically handle the drama for too much longer, one of the Lyons is at the end of his mental rope: Andre. That boy seriously done lost his damn mind, and his days on this Earth might be numbered if he doesn’t get it under control.
Since Andre’s talents are more business-oriented than creative, he’s already at a disadvantage when it comes to taking over Empire Entertainment. And as Lucious has made abundantly clear, Andre having a white wife certainly hasn’t helped the company’s image. (In Lucious’ mind, at least.) The pressure has been building in Andre’s fractured brain for a while now, and he picked the absolute worst time to erroneously assume that avoiding his bipolar medication was the right thing to do. Empire was on lockdown after everyone found out Anika was doing backdoor business with rival producer Baretti, but the company’s biggest threat was already in the building.
With increasing anxiousness and lucidity, Andre makes a terrible financial decision and has a near-complete meltdown while trapped inside of a halted elevator with Jamal and Hakeem. His mania and over-exertion on stating his “wining and dining” place within Empire soon spiral downward to the point where his only reaction is physical confrontation. The lone thing that stops him from talking to himself in half-sentences is a brotherly rendition of “Lean on Me.” All was well after that slightly heartfelt moment, right? Hardly.
By the end of the episode, Andre is being quarantined inside the conference room, although it’s clear no one is fully away just how far gone he is. While the rest of the family is jamming “You’re So Beautiful” with Tiana and new signee Delphine (Estelle), Andre is going berserk and threatening his wife. (The physical acting when he spills the basketballs all over the place was uncomfortably amazing.) It all comes to a head when Lucious makes it back to the office, and Andre pulls out the biggest weapon he’s got in his arsenal in “convincing” Lucious that he should lead the company.
Are you kidding me with that shit, Andre? I know blood is thick on this show, but the guy that Lucious murdered was a family member (of Cookie’s) that used threats to try and take advantage of Lucious. And they were extremely close friends for many years. What makes Andre think that he’s above any kind of fatal retribution for calling his father out a little too loudly in mixed company? Lucious is obviously aware that Andre is temporarily out of sorts, and that his 48-hour stint in the hospital will help, but that’s not a saving grace here. There’s probably nothing that will convince Lucious that a repeat episode would never happen.
Here I thought Vernon was going to be the next one centered in the crosshairs, but he just got lapped by the eldest Lyon offspring. Andre better get amnesia or spend the rest of his days begging for forgiveness if he wants to make it to Season 2. Assuming he doesn't go off playing Russian Roulette again.
Andre’s meltdown is exactly the kind of wacky shit that makes Empire such a must-see series, and why it’s a ratings juggernaut. I don’t know that a character’s mental breakdown has made me this uncomfortable since Walter White would lose his shit on a weekly basis. (Okay, so Michael McKean’s aversion to electricity on Better Call Saul is better/worse.) In any case, it’s just as fascinating as Hakeem’s misguided youth and Jamal’s burgeoning sexuality.
Let us know what you guys think about Andre’s behavior.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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