Empire: The big problem with Lucious, Mimi and the almost-threesome

If you were looking for a wild time tonight and you tuned into this week’s episode of Empire, well, you got your wish. Sort of.

Don’t get me wrong — things started off promisingly enough. At the start of the episode, Cookie and Laz are sharing a particularly steamy session in the sack, one which winds up lasting three days, no less! And, y’all, it’s hot. Even though we know the significance of Laz’s longhorn tattoo and its potentially nefarious implications, Cookie is still oblivious. Thus the whole sleeping with the enemy thing.

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As the episode progressed, however, the plot became more frenetic and fragmented than ever. From Andre getting permission from his pastor to seduce and bribe, to Laura belting out “I Will Survive” on the sidewalk and managing to make all passing New Yorkers stop in their tracks, it took a minute to process the many WTF moments in this week’s episode.

Perhaps none more so than one of the final scenes involving Terrence Howard’s Lucious, Marisa Tomei’s Mimi and a random side chick they keep referring to as “Springtime.”

To be clear, I’ve got nothing against sex scenes — last week, I was all for Becky getting a little action from J. Poppa. And you know and I know everyone was into that hot opening sequence between Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie and Adam Rodriguez’s Laz.

But when Mimi brings out a virtual harem of women for Lucious to choose from in celebration of their music streaming merger, I started to get an inkling this scene was heading nowhere good fast. Sure enough, Lucious and Mimi are making out moments later with a scantily clad call girl sprawled out on a chaise awaiting her turn (er, turns?).

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That’s when I started pumping the mental brakes. Whoa, whoa, whoa… what just happened here? When did we take the sharp left into Crazy Town? Things only get worse when Mimi takes a phone call that causes her to break down in a fit of teary emotions, while a drunk Lucious can’t quit having flashbacks of his mom’s apparent suicide.

So, yeah — this nearly-threesome didn’t work for me. It didn’t work for a lot of people, apparently.

Basically, this just about sums up the collective viewing experience.

So where, exactly, did the writers go wrong? After all, this is a show that won viewers over in Season 1, thanks to its fresh, irreverent writing. This is clearly a writing team capable of delivering a risqué sex scene fans would absolutely be into.

Here’s the big problem, though — this almost-threesome felt totally gratuitous. For starters, Lucious and Mimi have shown no sexual interest in each other all season (to my knowledge). As far as we knew, Mimi wasn’t even into men. After tonight’s episode, it’s obvious she is bi. This is an interesting development and one that adds even more depth to her already intriguing character.

However, she and Lucious simply lack any tangible chemistry. At no point when they are making out was it believable. And even less believable, perhaps, was that they were about to work this young girl over together. As a tag team. As partners in business and pleasure. Nope, not buying it.

What, then, was the purpose of this scene?

How was it really relevant to the show or to Lucious’ arc? One might argue that he saw the gun tattoo on the call girl’s arm that reminded him of his mother, which ultimately led to a musical catharsis. Really, though, he could have seen that call girl’s tattoo without Mimi being roped into some far-fetched ménage à trois.

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It felt like this almost-threesome was thrown into the mix solely for shock value. It was tossed into tonight’s episode because it was possibly something that could happen in a rap mogul’s world. But it didn’t make sense with that woman in this rap mogul’s world, and that’s the issue.

Give your viewers some credit, huh, Empire? Quit trying to shock us just for shock’s sake and continue building the incredible story behind all of these characters. The drama will come organically — and it certainly won’t look like a contrived and slightly comical threesome involving two of the show’s most unlikable characters.