Empire Recap

Daddy Dearest Lucious Lyon throws a party at Leviticus and invites “vloggers, bloggers, and whatevers” to witness Freda’s new diss track…aimed at Hakeem. In the song, Freda brags about how she is the son Lucious always wanted and mocks Hakeem for being a spoiled rich brat and a mama’s boy. “In my hood, you a sucka,” raps Freda. Aw, snap. Freda, you’re not right, girl . . . But you’re also not wrong.
Hakeem is in the middle of making out with Laura, who admits she is a virgin and wants Hakeem to be her first when he gets the news about the diss track. Hakeem is upset–he is a lover, not a fighter. Well, sort of. He abandoned their lovin’ to get agitated about Freda. Hakeem = Sucka with a capital “S.”
Meanwhile, Jamal has a shot at being the new face of Pepsi (#ProductPlacement) but has to submit an original song for consideration. He turns to Cookie for help. She’s happy to oblige but she can’t resist nagging him about defecting to Lyon Dynasty. Jamal tells his mother that he wants to secure the Pepsi deal first and can’t let Lucious know they are working together, or else he’ll sabotage the deal.
However, Lucious has his hands full negotiating the SwiftStream merger. His and Mimi’s illegal plan to dope up the head of SwiftStream to steal his company wasn’t completely foolproof–Jago Locke, the CEO, jacked up the price of his company, so the merger is now more expensive. Lucious wants to bully Jago into lowering his price and Andre reminds his father, “This is business, not a rap battle.” “It’s all the same to me, so long as I win in the end,” responds Lucious. Lucious tells Andre to call in Thirsty to find dirt on Jago.
Meanwhile, the writers finally remembered Grace Gealy is still on the payroll and finally give her a storyline: Anika discovers that she is pregnant with Hakeem’s baby. Dang, maybe you should have just kept quietly collecting those checks, Grace Gealy. Carrying Sucka Jr. is not much of a storyline.
In a surprising twist, Hakeem challenges Freda to an epic rap battle for the title of Lucious’s protege. (#sarcasm). Cookie and Lazo berate Hakeem for letting his hotheaded ways get the company in trouble again. “You do realize that if she beats you, we will lose a cred before we even had any?” demands Cookie. Hakeem points out that if he wins, Lyon Dynasty will get so much promotion. “If you win,” points out Laz. Hakeem gets angry that his mother’s boyfriend is inserting himself into company business and mockingly tells Laz to “go hand out some flyers.” He and Laz get into a shoving match, and Cookie quickly breaks it up. She gives Laz a good slap for hitting her son and then turns around and reminds Hakeem that if he loses, everyone at Lyon Dynasty loses. “I’ma make that bitch my bitch,” promises Hakeem.
Rhonda runs into Anika at the gym, and the two grab a smoothie to complain about how they are the show’s butt monkeys catch up. Rhonda tells Anika she is excited to have a baby, especially since her impending pregnancy has made Lucious finally start being nice to her. “Babies are kryptonite to Lucious,” says Rhonda. You can see the wheels start turning in Anika’s head…Uh oh.
Hakeem sees Cookie Skyping with Jamal and gets angry that she is more focused on Jamal than him. “What makes you love Jamal more than me?” he pouts, like a SUCKA.
Cookie patiently explains her plan to poach Jamal, but Hakeem threatens to tell Lucious about their secret meetings. Cookie tells her son that he’s starting to sound like “a snitch bitch” (and a SUCKA). Hakeem is already having his street cred questioned; he agrees to keep quiet for now, like a SUCKA.
Thirsty reports that Jago Locke can’t be blackmailed, because “you can’t blackmail a man who flaunts his foulness.” Andre tries to gently suggest to Lucious that they cancel the SwiftStream deal but Lucious is stubborn. In the end, Empire has to pay the high amount Jago requested but Lucious doesn’t care. “In six months, I’m-a own the whole world,” he declares.
Similarly, Anika is full of hope when she goes over to Hakeem to inform him about her pregnancy. She attempts to seduce him but Hakeem blows her off and tells her that he is in love with Laura. Anika is disappointed and makes an excuse to leave, without telling him about the baby.
Jamal brings both of his parents to his recording session for the Pepsi song and tells them that he wants to use both of their beats. Lucious and Cookie agree to work together but in reality, that can’t happen–they end up arguing over every note. They demand that Jamal choose which label he wants to be with, and Jamal dodges the question, instead stating that it’s shameful that his parents can’t get along. Cookie and Lucious decide to handle things themselves and make a private bet: if Hakeem wins the rap battle, Jamal’s next album will be released through Lyon Dynasty’s label. If Freda wins, Hakeem’s album will be released through Empire.
I hate to say it, but I think Cookie is going to lose. Freda and Hakeem rehearse separately for the rap battle, and Freda sounds wayyyyyyy better than Hakeem. I don’t know why his crew is hyping him so much when he sounds so lame. Jamal offers real advice when the two get together. He suggests that Hakeem focuses on turning his raps into a performance to get the crowd on his side. In exchange, Hakeem tells Jamal to go ahead and mix both of Lucious’ and Cookie’s songs together instead of picking one. Jamal takes his advice, and he invites Cookie and Lucious to the performance for the Pepsi execs to show how combined their two songs. The song is a hit with the Pepsi people (was there any doubt? #productplacement). Jamal informs his parents that he wants both of them to produce his album, so they better learn to work together.
It’s the moment the writers want us to think is a big deal! The rap battle is here, and it looks like Freda is going to win. Not only does she get in some good digs about how Hakeem has to rely on Cookie all the time (“Tell Cookie to get the milk because her baby’s crying!”), she also mocks Jamal’s penchant for longline cardigans (“Your brother the man and he put on a nightgown!”). Hakeem decides to follow Jamal’s advice and creates a spectacle. He announces that he is dropping his last name and will now go by the mononym Hakeem. For dramatic effect, he destroys the neon lights that spell out Lyon. This impresses the crowd, and with their cheers they proclaim him the winner.
The family celebrates the win/loss at Leviticus. Lucious, and Cookie decide to produce Hakeem’s album together.  A happy Lyon family ending? Not quite. Cookie’s sister Candace (Vivica A. Fox) shows up to tell Cookie that their sister Carol is missing. The two of them team up to go to Philadelphia to find Carol.
Hakeem sees Laura out of the club, and they kiss goodnight. Laura gets into the car and asks the driver to take her home. “Buckle up,” says the driver, who turns out to be Anika in one of Becky’s unflattering blond wigs. Oh no, what is she going to do now?

And now it’s time for the Empire episode awards!

Most Likely To Be Making A LOT of Bad Decisions in the Future
Anika. Girl, I know the job market is tough and you’re scared of being a single mom but you don’t have to kidnap your baby daddy’s new girlfriend for attention.
Worst Break Up Line
Hakeem’s “But we still homies though? I think you’re dope” line to Anika.
Cutest Brother Bonding Activity
Jamal and Hakeem eating Cheetos and advising each other on how to deal with parents.
Lucious’s Worst Outfit
What is this? I can’t even…
Best Battle Rapper
Freda. We all know she won.


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