Note: if you haven’t watched the episode, you may want to skip this recap.
After the insanity of last week’s season premiere, it looks like “Empire” has settled right back into the juicy show that we all love.
The episode opens with Cookie, Andre and Hakeem being put out of Empire headquarters. They all look rather pathetic carrying their personal items as the exit the building. Jamal really isn’t playing games with them. The trio engages in various conversations over the phone about what their next move might be. Hakeem suggests looping Anika into the fold, but Cookie is not having it, and Andre is not trying to be in the middle of them. Cookie and the boys meet at Ghetto Ass Studios, the studio where Jamal recorded some of hits last season. Neither Andre nor Hakeem look like they’re about this life, but at the moment it’s their only option. It seems like Hakeem ignored Cookie’s wishes (surprise, surprise) because Anika is already in the studio with former Empire recording Artist V. V is less than impressed with her surroundings because she is NOT feeling Anika or her helpful hints.
In jail, Lucious is attempting to see the doctor for his medication. If you recall, he doesn’t have ALS, but he does have myasthenia gravis, which isn’t fatal but still needs to be monitored and treated. Unfortunately for him, the doctor can’t seem to find his authorization forms, which means no medicines for Mr. Lyon. Something is definitely amiss here.
Back at his fancy loft, Jamal is singing his ass off and giving an interview with a reporter from “Spilling the Tea”. He lets the world know that Michael is his bae and he’s chatting about the delay in his new album, and his father’s imprisonment when Cookie comes bursting in unannounced (In true Cookie fashion.) The duo keep it cute for the cameras, but Cookie is there for Hakeem’s album. She doesn’t want Empire holding it hostage. Jamal is still feeling petty it seems, because he doesn’t seem to care what she wants. Oh, and Cookie also takes this time to tell her middle son that she, Andre and Hakeem are starting their own company.
Back on the prison yard, Lucious is acting like the King of Sheba, rapping and carrying on with his crew. Ludacris appears out of nowhere as one of the prison guards (I believe his name is McKnight). It’s clear immediately that McKnight has it out for Lucious, he snatches the crew up off their bench and then proceeds to call them “boys”. Lucious is wheezing and out of breath and apparently McKnight knows something about his missing medical form. He’s in Prosecutor Roxanne Fuller’s pocket. (You know the lady with the extreme cleavage from last week.) As much as I despise Lucious, McKnight is truly the worst kind of human.
At Ghetto Ass Studios, Hakeem is auditioning female artists for a girl group he randomly came up with. (Apparently he put an ad on Instagram). One particular Latina artist blows him away, but when he tells her he’s looking for a group, not a solo artist, she is over the entire situation. (I’m pretty sure this story line will somehow tie in with Lee Daniels ‘next venture with FOX, “Star”. It’s an “Empire”spin-of about a girl group based in ATL.) Later on, Hakeem tells Andre and Cookie that he found some girls he likes, but they’re all Latina. His idea was to get a Black, a white and a Latina artist to form the girl group. He wants to call “Rainbow Sensation.” Andre is understandably horrified, and it took me a moment here to stop laughing. In the midst of this, Anika comes strolling in and Cookie comes for her immediately! She knows about Boo Boo Kitty’s escapades with Hakeem, and she is PISSED. She tells Anika she knows marketing because, “She’s made a whole career of selling her ass.” WHELP!! Oh and Hakeem is 20 years old, I don’t think we knew that before.
Jamal visits Lucious in jail ,and tells him that he’s considering giving Hakeem back his album. Lucious tells him that he bet not! Instead, he wants Jamal to get Hakeem back at Empire. Papa Lyon isn’t looking too good, he’s all sweaty and soft-spoken. He needs his meds for real. During this conversation, Bubbles from “The Wire” randomly cuts in. Apparently his name is Thirsty Rawlings and he’s a lawyer who is wearing the dog out of a cheap purple suit. Jamal dismisses him immediately, but Lucious is intrigued when Thirsty leaves his card. (This entire situation is beyond hilarious to me.)
Back at the Ghetto Studio, Tiana is giving Janet Jackson moves at rehearsal, when Hakeem pops up asking her to join Rainbow Sensation. She gives him her most disgusted look ,and tells him that she’ll leave his company if he ever even thinks about that again. As Hakeem exits the studio, Jamal rolls up in a Bently, and tells his baby bro to hop in. He tells Hakeem that Lucious wants him back at Empire, but when Keem asks about Cookie and Dre the conversation doesn’t go to well. Oh and Cookie sees this entire thing going down, until Jamal rolls up in the window in her face. WOW!
Apparently Hakeem had to take one of his epic bubble baths to think all of this over. The singer that auditioned with him early joins him in the tub, and she tells him she’ll be apart of his little group as long as its at Empire… interesting.
Meanwhile, Jamal’s gotten a surprise visit from Andre’s other half. Ms. Rhonda is doing what she does best, manipulating and conniving. She tells Jamal that Andre is miserable without Empire (which is true) and that she’s pregnant and sick of worrying. Jamal is pleased as punched about the baby news, and he tells her he’ll see what he can do about Andre. (Side note: Jamal has been drinking quite a bit these last two episodes.)
Sickly Lucious is lounging about in one of the prisons hospital rooms, until a random guard shows up with his medication and directs him to a janitor’s closet. It turn out that Thirsty has set him up with a make shift studio. He records “Snitch Bitch”, which admittedly is a rather catchy tune. Just as Lucious is about to wrap up, Officer Petty McKnight shows up to ruin his fun. McKnight has Lucious and his friends thrown in solitary. He even talks real slick about who he is and what he’s gonna do. Lucious is unbothered.
At the end of his shift, poor simple McKnight is walking in the parking garage to his car when two goons accost him. He gets some papers snatched from him and he’s pistol-whipped and left on the ground. The goons head out of the garage and walk up to an old Cadillac. Thirsty is inside, he pays them for their trouble and takes the paperwork from them. (Apparently Thirsty gets it done!)
At the studio, Hakeem let’s Andre and Cookie know that he’s not going back to Empire. He also lets them know that he leaked his album online. (Hakeem you stupid imbecile!!) That’s the last straw for Andre, he’s not here for any of this, and he knows Jamal will sue the hell out of them. Dre worked has ass off for Empire, and this makeshift operation doesn’t even come close. He begs Cookie to let him go and she does, but she’s distraught. Still, Cookie sees the potential of what the company could be even if she only has Hakeem left.
Andre heads to jail to visit Lucious and begs for his forgiveness. Father Lyon asks his eldest son if he’s still going to church. Andre answers affirmatively, and Lucious says, “Then you pray to God that he forgives you, because I don’t.” (Lucious is the devil). Andre is devastated, and he asks his father how he can forgive Jamal and Hakeem for what they’ve done, and not forgive him. Lucious stares off into the distance and we get a flashback of him as a young boy with his mama (played by Kelly Rowland). All is well at first, she’s singing to him, but then her voice kind of fades away in the middle of the song. From what I can guess, I’m assuming Lucious’ mother was bipolar, which is why he hates Andre. It’s really tragic to watch.
Back at Jamal’s house Hakeem tells Jamal he leaked his album online. (Why wouldn’t Jamal know this by now?) Jamal is enraged, and let’s Hakeem know to expect a lawsuit. Hakeem also informs him that he’s not coming back to Empire. He and Cookie have formed ‘Lyon Dynasty’. Jamal calls the name corny (it is) and throws his brother out.
Hakeem returns to Ghetto Studios to help Cookie begin cleaning up. As they sweep, Lucious’ song, “Snitch Bitch” comes on the radio. It seems like Lucious is preparing for his comeback.
The day of Lucious’ bail hearing has finally arrived, only Thirsty is nowhere to be found. Judge Robbins is about to dismiss the case, when Thirsty comes bursting through the doors, looking about as disheveled as possible. He hands the judge some “new evidence” which happens to be some very kinky photographs of the judge and he hands Prosecutor Fuller something else. Needless to say, the judge quickly grants Lucious bail at $1million. It looks like Papa Lyon is coming home.
I really enjoyed this episode. What did you all think of “Without A Country”?
Aramide A Tinubu has her Master’s in Film Studies from Columbia University. She wrote her thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger, and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami