You want to catch the killer, because he or she is the only hope you have of finally living a peaceful, happy life. But you can’t catch him or her like you used to. No one can make the killer look back at you. No one can make your old enemies look at you. The killer has moved on.

In the second episode, the Empire ups its game while Dino Morea revels in his wickedness.

As the story progresses, The Empire starts to shine in its second episode. In the premiere, considerable groundwork was put down. This second episode focuses on the young Babur’s first foray into governing, as he is compelled to take up the mantle and rise to the occasion, in the process discovering himself. Meanwhile, Dino Morea’s Shaybani Khan becomes more menacing and unpredictable, giving some of his scenes a little edge.

The plot revolves primarily around Babur’s attempts to hold fort in Samarkand while plotting to reclaim Ferghana, both of which he eventually loses by the hour’s end – Samarkhand to Aslam Nawaz, whose bride-to-be betrays her own father in exchange for the throne, and Ferghana to secure his family’s safety back home. Babur and Aslam spend a significant amount of the episode exploring a hidden tunnel lead by a child caught stealing groceries who managed to slip in unnoticed.

Attempts are made throughout to show all sides of Babur. There is a compassionate side to him, where he observes the carnage, constant death, and suffering around him, and wishes it were not thus. Despite this, we see him wielding a sword and killing brutally to save others, or even killing in rage when a witness to his brutality makes a sarcastic comment about his family. This episode does a much better job of attempting to give Babur’s depiction more depth, as well as providing more background for Kunal Kapoor’s narrative in the flash-forward. He is obviously traumatized by his actions to the point of numbness, his decisions resulting in the loss of many lives, and no matter how much he want to excuse himself, he knows he is responsible for bringing them to their deaths in combat.

Morea’s Khal Drogo-inspired Shaibani Khan, on the other hand, becomes more unsettling. His presence generates uneasy tension at moments, which is fantastic for a character that began on a cringe-worthy note. The final scene, which I will not reveal here, is one that you can see coming a mile away yet still manages to be unpleasant to see. Shaibani is shown skinning a wild animal in a very bad effort to imitate Charles Dance skinning a deer in his introduction sequence, which continues the Game of Thrones similarities. Shaibani’s characteristics, such as his false disgust for blood, and his joy in violence and killing, showing the savage side of the Mughal period at the time, possibly standing for the worst, begin to emerge.

Of course, you still don’t care about most of the characters, but the writing, as well as the directing, in this episode seems to be a step up from the previous one. The shots are considerably more confident and self-assured this time around, the sets are well-presented and used, and although many parts remain corny, there are some nice moments to be enjoyed. The aftermath of the siege in the chilly open is a well-executed set-up, and the wall climbing progresses at a rapid speed, even if it looks a little bemused. In terms of performance, I give respect to the youthful Babur and Morea for embracing their roles and coming out much stronger in this one.

We haven’t seen the full scope of the CGI in this season yet, but we’ve seen snippets, most notably the usage of Ferghana’s fort. Shots are repeated as is normal, yet the terrain sometimes provides magnificent vistas. Overuse of visual effects in Indian film is infamous, to the point that budgets run out and you wind up with cheap-looking scenes. So far, I haven’t seen any really awful pictures, despite the fake-looking backdrops being obvious due to the insufficient lighting.

The background score is another place where things are coming together. It’s not the most memorable since there aren’t any memorable leitmotifs to recite or remember, but some of the things towards the end did build up the suspense well. While Ashutosh Phatak veers a little too far towards the suspenseful build-up tradition, it’s far from the disaster that Tandav’s soundtrack was (not that the score itself was bad, but it was quite generic and ruined by overuse).

Overall, this episode was much superior than the first. Director Mitakshara Kumar’s fictional version of Indian history is going along well, and if the series can keep up this pace, it may wind up being at the very least enjoyable to watch.

8.0 out of 10 for The Empire Season 1 Episode 2

My review of The Empire Episode 1 may be found here.

For readers of the blog, the Panther’s Prowl, is all about movie news, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis, analysis. Read more about panther prowl gsu and let us know what you think.

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