King Kong ain't got nothing on Andre Lyon, who was the star of Wednesday night's episode of Empire. Initially, it seemed like Andre was the most qualified brother to take over a post-Lucious Empire Records, but his emotional instability—a result of his bipolar disorder—has made it clear he maaayyy not be the best option.
As many have pointed out, Trai Byers had serious Denzel-rage moments last night, huffing and puffing and manically laughing his way through emotional eruptions. Andre is off his meds, having dumped his bipolar medication in a toilet (He thinks he doesn't need them? Doesn't want to rely on pills? Doesn't think it helps?).
Whatever it is, his anger's been building throughout the season. He's previously had a couple secret mental breakdowns, including in the shower and when he played Russian Roulette in the studio. Andre's frantic moments are often the most serious and intense out of anyone on the show—sort of a break from the circus—and it's fascinating to watch.
In the wonderful scene above, Andre has another huge meltdown while he, Jamal and Hakeem are stuck in an elevator at Empire. Worst case scenario: They all plummet to their deaths and Cookie takes over Empire. Best case scenario: They band together and sing "Lean on Me."
Indeed, Jamal tries to calm Andre down by humming "Lean on Me," which they used to sing as kids whenever the brothers would freak out over gunshots or Aunt Carol getting high. Ah, the power of "Lean on Me" (any version of it) is so infinite.
This somehow sets Andre's chill at a moderate level. (Pause: This was an opportune time for Trina to promote her new single, which samples "Lean on Me"). It's telling that neither Jamal nor Hakeem respond to Andre's outbursts with shock or anger because they're used to this and because that wouldn't solve anything.
Andre's anger of course stems from his daddy issues and feeling like the outcast of the family. "No matter what I do, he'll never see me," he says in the elevator. Once again, Lucious is the bane of this whole family's existence. While the characterization of bipolar disorder itself is nothing to laugh about, the elevator scene is altogether scary, absurd and hilarious. It's also wildly misleading, if you listen to the grievances of those who actually live with the illness (Bassey, for instance, addressed it in a series of tweets).
Andre later continues his breakdown in a conference room at Empire, where he eventually has to be held down by security and taken to a mental hospital. Survey says, Jamal is still clearly the frontrunner to take over Empire.
**Highlight of the episode: Cookie drunkenly flirting with Malcolm by telling him, "Take these cookies."
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.