Empire Recap S2 E5: Be True

Empire Recap

Ain’t no office party, like an Empire office party, cuz an Empire office party includes lap dances?

Lucious, Thirsty, and the entire staff at Empire celebrate victory against Booby McBoobs, Esq prosecutor Roxanne Ford. She dropped the charges against Luscious because her star witness turned up dead….in her car. But that was last week.

This week, Lucious posts a video of himself gloating about how he persevered in the face of an unjust police investigation. Cookie finds his bragging distasteful, especially since she suspects Vernon did not kill himself, as is reported in the official story.

Andre is welcomed back to Empire and Lucious tells him that he will be in charge of managing the Gutter Life sub-label and his first client will be Freda Gatin. In his fitted suit and tie, Andre does not fit in with the loud, boisterous bunch at Gutter Life but he keeps his mouth shut to fulfill his plan of running Empire someday.

Back at Dynasty, Hakeem shows off his latest discovery, Laura (Jamila Velazquez), the lounge singer with the angelic voice from last week’s episode. Laura is meek and timid and is surprised by the way Hakeem is so flirtatious with all the girls. Oh girl, you’re going to be surprised by a lot more when you’re in this company!

Meanwhile, Jamal spends the episode recording a song in the studio with help from his father and guest star Ne-Yo, who’ll be touring with Jamal, resisting lewd advances from Wacky Andy Warhol, and trying to decide whether to bring Michael with him on tour. Zzzz . . .

Andre’s pastor encourages Andre to stay strong in the face of Lucious’s test and discusses what needs to be done before Andre can be baptized in the church. “I’ve committed murder, just tell me what to do,” shrugs Andre. The pastor tells Andre to confess his sins to his family and suggests that maybe God will use Andre to lead his family to the church. I hope God is going to give Andre a big shepherd’s hook because there is no way that family is going in easy.

Tiana is mugged outside of the Dynasty building and a mysterious masked figure posts a video to the company threatening that if “you want to chillax here, then you gotta be taxed here.” Cookie refuses to be extorted. She seeks assistance from super duper fine Delgado (Adam Rodriguez), a concert promoter who promises that he can take care of the menacing knuckleheads.

Jamal and Michael meet with Wacky Andy Warhol (Empire’s co-creator, Danny Strong) who is also on the “Don’t bring your relationship on the road” bandwagon although for a very different reason than Lucious. He claims that monogamy is too much a drag creatively and attempts to perform oral sex on Jamal when Michael is gone. Rightfully freaked out, Jamal tells Wacky Warhol to leave him alone, no matter how many pretentious self portraits he can make of Jamal.

Andre is surprised to see Thirsty in Lucious’ office and is even taken more aback whenThirsty asks Andre if he’d be willing to steal Lyon Dynasty’s master tracks. “I would never do anything to hurt my mother,” says Andre. He orders Thirsty out of the office. “And here I thought we made nice digging in the dirt,” quips Thirsty as Andre scowls.

Even though Jamal rebuffed Wacky Andy Warhol’s bizarre come on, Michael is upset that Jamal doesn’t want him on tour. Ne Yo suggests that Jamal just take Michael along and Jamal is excited to tell Michael the news, but in an oh-so-predictable development, he catches Michael in a compromising position with Wacky Andy Warhol.

Ain’t no party like an Lyon Dynasty office party, ‘cuz a Lyon Dynasty office party has sexual harassment? Meh, lots of office parties have that type of behavior. Empire has Lyon Dynasty beat when it comes to office parties. Lovely Laura storms out of the party when Hakeem gets too handsy (with, um, other parts of his body) at the party. (She didn’t stay mad long; Jamal coaxed her back to re-join the Not So Supremes).

Elsewhere, Cookie and Delgado take out some robbers who were attempting to steal the master tracks. These are no ordinary thieves. They’re Thirsty thieves! Thirsty (no doubt channeling Bubbles and his “capers”) sent them. Cookie is furious but also impressed by the way Delgado helped her handle the situation.

Andre begins confessing his sins and admits all the dirty work he did in season 1 to his family. Hakeem and Jamal are forgiving and are willing to attend the baptism but Lucious refuses to go. “There is no God,” he tells Andre. “You just need to man up.”

It’s ironic that Lucious is such a terrible father to his sons but can be a great mentor figure to Freda. Perhaps Lucious realized this irony because he changes his mind and attends Andre’s baptism. “I think I see some angels running for cover,” snarks Hakeem as he changes seats. Before the ceremony starts, Cookie hisses to Lucious that he better stop messing with her company and stop trying to turn his family against each other. Lucious shoots back that he will never stop until he gets what he wants.

However, his confidence is shaken when he watches Andre be baptized because it brings back memories of when his mother Leah (Kelly Rowland) attempted to drown him while singing “Mona Lisa.” He quickly leaves the church, to the dismay of Andre.

Okay, this is where I have to take a break and rant about how poorly Lee Daniels has been portraying bipolar disorder and mental illness in general. Although people with bipolar disorder can exhibit dangerous and even violent behavior when they are off their medications, it seems unrealistic how Andre and Leah are constantly portrayed at their worst. There isn’t any room for nuance of what it is truly like to have bipolar disorder. As Bassey Ipki, a mental health advocate who also has bipolar disorder, sums it up best: “Bipolar disorder exists in a spectrum, but within that spectrum are symptoms that are noted and known and help people get diagnosed…When writing or depicting an illness [for television] that is so misunderstood, it’s important to stick to an ‘outline’ of symptoms. You can exaggerate certain aspects for dramatic effect, but you can’t just invent symptoms.” Empire’s ridiculous portrayal of bipolar disorder is even more inexcusable because, hello, Empire’s writers can binge-watch Homeland’s Carrie Mathieson, if they need help figuring out how to portray a character with bipolar disorder.

Rant over (for this week). The episode ends with Hakeem being kidnapped by mysterious gangsters. Thank God, I am so not interested in getting that girl group off the ground.

 And now it’s time for the Empire Episode Awards:

Most Fun Look

10

Tiana. I love that 80s esque colors and make up! Too bad for some strange reason, she was being photographed in black and white.

Sorry You Got Mugged Consolation Prize

11

Tiana. Next time, take a leaf out of Bobby Hill’s book.

Weirdest Justification of a Come On

8

“This is also an artistic form of expression.” –Wacky Andy Warhol, attempting to perform oral sex on Jamal.

Honorary Participant

9

Porsha. You never do anything but I still love you. And also:

Best New Character

9

Whoop de Woo, Lyon Dynasty’s new “guard dog.”

Empire

Wednesdays 9 pm / 8 pm Fox