What's Worth Watching: Empire, The Path, Face Off, Underground and more for Wednesday, March 30

Matt Roush
Empire, jussie Smollett, Taraji P. Henson and Trai Byers
Chuck Hodes/FOX

Empire (9/8c, Fox): "I can't take this second-rate telenovela any more," says a backup singer, walking away midway through the eventful spring premiere of this over-the-top musical melodrama, resuming the action after nearly four months off the air. (The last original episode aired Dec. 2.) Can Empire regain its momentum? The opener is certainly full of incident, as the Lyons deal with a tragic family crisis while battling the conniving Camilla (Naomi Campbell) for control of the company she stole with the help of rebellious Hakeem (Bryshere "Yazz" Gray).

The Path (Streaming weekly on Wednesdays, Hulu): Faith is a fascinating subject too rarely tackled on TV, and this provocative but murky drama about a bizarre religious cult clearly desires to join the cult-TV ranks of shows like Big Love and The Leftovers. Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) is an exposed nerve of raw emotion as a doubter in the midst of the Meyerist Movement, and his is a dangerous path indeed, which he tries to keep secret from his devout wife (Michelle Monaghan) and the cult's tightly wound leader (Hugh Dancy). The heady brew of eroticism and surreal mysticism can be seductive, but the show's unsteady tone makes it hard to want to swallow the Kool-Aid.

Face Off (9/8c, Syfy): Is there a more collegial competition series than this addictive creature make-up show? With only four contestants left in the semifinal round, they're still so supportive and helpful to each other, although each is desperate to make it to the finals as they craft humanized versions of species found in the world of King Kong (synergy alert: the challenge promotes a new Universal Orlando attraction). So much detail, so little time as they race to beat the clock in yet another enthralling episode.

Underground (10/9c, WGN America): Moonlighting from his groundbreaking role on Empire, Jussie Smollett guests in a powerful and pivotal episode of this searing historical drama—but he doesn't share scenes with his sister Jurnee Smollett-Bell, who as newly escaped slave Rosalee has plenty to deal with as she and Noah (Ardis Hodge) run for their lives with the plantation in lockdown. Jussie plays an unhinged and vengeful escaped slave, Josey, who turns the tables on his abolitionist protectors John Hawkes (Marc Blucas) and wife Elizabeth (Jessica De Gouw).

The Americans (10/9c, FX): The screws tighten in another riveting episode of this superb spy drama, as the Jennings take a meeting with Pastor Tim (Kelly AuCoin), hoping to derail his suspicions, while Stan (Noah Emmerich) escalates his scrutiny of suspected office mole Martha (Alison Wright). Emmy winner Margo Martindale returns as Claudia, meeting with fellow handler Gabriel (Frank Langella), who says despairingly of his charges' latest dilemma, "There are no good choices here." But loads of good drama.

Inside Wednesday TV: Expect tears to flow in a special episode of PBS's Nature titled Animal Reunions (8/7c, check local listings at pbs.org), in which human caregivers are reunited with the animals they tended years ago. Will there be recognition? How will the animals respond? No way is this not intriguing. … The tribes merge on CBS's Survivor (8/7c), once again throwing alliances into disarray. … Shemar Moore may have left CBS's Criminal Minds (9/8c), but Grandfathered's Paget Brewster is back for the week as former agent Emily Prentiss, now at Interpol, tracking an international serial killer to the U.S., which is where her old pals at the BAU come in. … Oxygen's Quit Your Day Job (10/9c) is like a Shark Tank for millennial entrepreneurs, pitching expert financiers in hopes of getting the capital to bring their dream ideas to life. … Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz makes his first visit to ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live (11:35/10:35c), which could result in interesting, and possibly funny, fireworks.