As the Empire Turns

The ridiculous baby heir drama continues in this episode. Andre (Trai Breyers) arrives at Anika’s (Grace Gealey) to reconcile with Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday). He tells her that he has recalibrated his medication and has stopped going to church. Rhonda only relaxes when he mentions the latter part. He tries to talk her into getting an apartment together but they are interrupted by the sounds of Anika throwing up in the other room. Anika is initially coy but admits that she is pregnant and it is Hakeem’s baby.

C Suite Shenanigans

Meanwhile, Lucious (Terrence Howard) is premiering his new music video for Empire shareholders. Everyone fawns over him and tells Lucious that he, not Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), should be CEO again. For real, shareholders of a company think making a good music video demonstrates executive skills? Mmkay.

Papa Lyon responds with a statement about as genuine as a lion attempting to purr. He claims he supports the board’s decision to anoint Hakeem as CEO “But the board answers to the shareholders,” points out a shareholder. “If the board calls on me to serve, I will consider it,” Lucious says.

Nice, Lucious. Don’t ever let them think you’re desperate for power.

Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) arrives at Lucious’ private party and warns him against sabotaging Hakeem. She also berates him for signing Freda Gatz (Bre-Z), whose father Lucious killed in prison because it could come back to haunt them. Cookie is especially worried since Freda and Jamal (Jussie Smollett) are getting closer as they collaborate on Jamal’s latest album.

If she wants to micromanage the lives of one of her kids, Cookie should focus on Hakeem. Homey needs help. As CEO, he has to make a presentation to the shareholders and impress them. Hakeem especially wants to focus on his Antony & Cleopatra fashion line but Andre warns that Lucious will be looking to sabotage that first. And just like Andre predicted, Lucious’s shady lawyer Thirsty Rawlings (Andre Royo) hired thugs to break into Empire’s fashion warehouse and steal the clothes from the upcoming line.

Told you he was shady. (Sounds like Thirsty has taken some lessons from his cousin Bubbles — reference to The Wire).

TV Juriste Public Service Announcement: If you’re watching Empire but you have never watched The Wire STOP reading this recap, stop watching Empire, stop every TV related thing in your life and start watching The Wire!!  

And if that wasn’t enough, Laura (Jamila Velazquez) calls Hakeem from the road to report that their tour is on hold because the feds raided the tour bus and found drugs, obviously planted there by Lucious. Okay, I don’t know if we can really blame Lucious for that. Musicians do like to chase the dragon, if you know what I mean.

Nevertheless, Hakeem confronts Lucious who denies everything while simultaneously gloating about it. “What if I did?” he shrugs when Hakeem accuses him of sabotage. “It’s a boss move. Any half-assed CEO should know how to clap back.”

Speaking of clapping back, Cookie has a plan to lure Jamal away from Freda. She sets him up with a partnership with rapper Stacee Run Run for his album but there’s a catch: Stacee’s contract forbids any other female rapper from featuring on the same album. Jamal is torn: Stacee is an established rapper who could get him great promotion but Freda is what could make his album great. He tells Freda about his dilemma and although she is hurt, she encourages him to go work with Stacee because it’d be best for his album.

Meanwhile, Lucious takes Andre to visit the grave of Lucious’s mother, Leah. I guess he and Andre made up after that whole “I am ashamed of you and my mother being bipolar” argument from last episode. Andre makes an inspirational speech at the gravestone, telling Leah (and Lucious) that “medical science has given more hope for people like us.” Lucious opens up and tells Andre that living with his mother was difficult and all he wanted to do was provide a good life for his family. Which, he can do if only he was back as Empire’s CEO again…perhaps with Andre’s help?

Andre doesn’t respond but when he delivers bad news about the new Swiftstream app in a status meeting, I’m wondering if he is lying. I mean, things are not going well for Hakeem at this point: his fashion line is ruined, his fiance’s tour has been cancelled, and now he’s got nothing positive for the shareholders. Plus, Andre and Rhonda help Anika announce to the family that she is pregnant with Hakeem’s child. Everyone is in shock and the only two people supportive are Andre and Rhonda.

“This family has already tragically lost an heir,” she says defensively.

“This family uses the word ‘heir’ like we’re in some Shakespearean play,” mutters Jamal.

Was that water? Was that lemonade? No, I’m pretty sure that was some tea being spilt.

Jamal points out that his daughter Lola from his marriage to Raven Symone is technically Empire’s heir but then Lucious announces that he had Lola’s DNA tested and it turns out Raven Symone got with some other guy. Did the writers forget that Lucious previously announced that he was Lola’s daddy? This show . . .

Anyway, all Anika says she and her child want to be part of the Lyons clan, as all the Lyons growl their dismay. Lucious later confronts Anika at her home, offering her a lump sum payment to turn over the child and disappear.  Oh, because you and Cookie have done such a good job with your kids? Whatever, dude. Anika refuses to back down (although not with those exact words) and accuses Lucious of turning her into the lunatic she’s become.

“If you acted like a lunatic, those were your choices!” he shoots back.

Actually, those were the choices of the writers who decided to turn Anika into a sad pathetic wannabe soap opera villain.

Anyway, Anika warns Lucious that she has dirt on him that she could turn over to the FBI and Lucious shoots back that “a lot of women don’t survive childbirth”.

After threatening a pregnant woman, kicking a puppy, and taking away candy from a baby, Lucious sabotages Hakeem’s presentation for the shareholders by asking a series of trick questions. Before he and Hakem can get into a brawl onstage, Cookie quickly intervenes and reminds them–and the audience–that Empire was founded on family. Hakeem and Lucious make up but it is too late. Later that day, the shareholders hold a vote and reinstate Lucious as CEO. He pats Hakeem on the back and tells him, “You did good, son.”

Not. Lucious totally gloats and rubs it in.

Jamal goes to work in the studio with Stacee and is disappointed to see that Stacee just pre-recorded her verses and then left to go on tour. Jamal misses Fred and invites her back on the album but Freda brushes him off. Can’t say I blame her. This is the second time the girl’s been kicked off a Lyon project. “Fool me once, shame on me” yada, yada, yada.

Speaking of fools, I sure hope Andre didn’t seriously choose to team up with his dad. Lucious cannot be trusted. As evidenced by a scene where Thirsty goes to a nursing home in Pennsylvania to check on Leah, Lucious’s mother. That’s right: she’s very much alive.

Now it’s only a matter of time until everyone finds out…

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

Cookie’s Worst Outfit

1

Anika’s Worst Outfit

2

What is up with this? You have a pearl trimmed cardigan and skirt but the cardigan is a crop top? It’s like Anika wants to dress like a PTA mom but remembers that she’s only two months pregnant.

Worst Luck

5

Freda. Her dad died in prison, and his murderer signed her to his record company. Jamal invited her to be a featured artist on two tracks, kicked her off, but then came crawling back…This girl needs a manager.