Last time on Empire, Hakeem sent a copy of his brand new sex tape with Camilla to Mimi, Camilla’s wife, at Mimi’s hotel. Lucious popped by the hotel and saw Camilla trying to stage the scene of Mimi’s suicide in the bathtub. Of course, Lucious saw Camilla pour something into Mimi’s drink that killed her. With his gun drawn, Lucious told Camilla that it would look like a murder-suicide or double suicide. After Lucious’ encouragement, Camilla downed the poison rather than face jail.
This episode of Empire, “The Tameness of a Wolf,” sees Lucious directing an emotional music video, while Hakeem is forced to handle squabbling between Tiana and his current girlfriend, Laura, on the Mirage a Trois tour. Good luck with that, Hakeem.
We start off with Empire Entertainment staging its own somber memorial for Camilla Marks Whiteman. The building is filled with huge pictures of her, along with her fashion designs for Antony and Cleopatra. Hakeem tells everyone that the line will serve as Camilla’s legacy, and he then appoints Rhonda as the new creative director for the fashion line.
Empire Recap: Who Finally Brings Down Camilla? >>>
Andre tells Rhonda that his new medication is working, and Rhonda is pleased that he saw his doctor. Cookie and her children go to Hakeem’s office and find Lucious sitting behind his former desk. He tells Hakeem that he is only keeping the seat warm for his son. He also compliments Hakeem on sending over the sex tape that led to Camilla’s death. For that matter, Lucious also says that Hakeem killed Camilla. Cookie tells her ex-husband that the state is calling it a murder-suicide, and so that is what it is. She orders Lucious to shoot his video, and Jamal to work on his album. She also asks Andre if he is taking his medication, and he assures her that he is. Lucious once again congratulates Hakeem on earning his place at the company by getting rid of Camilla.
Cookie reminds her family that her birthday is that Sunday, and this is the first one she will have as a free woman after 17 years in prison. So what does Cookie want for her birthday? She wants a nice, peaceful family dinner. Cookie may want to ask for something else, because the tension is ridiculous in the room.
Lucious and Cookie go to see where he will shoot the video. Lucious is excited that one building on the block hasn’t changed. It is an older house with a stone lion by the front steps. Lucious tells Cookie that he slept in front of the lion the first few nights after he had run away. It was there that Dwight Walker died, and Lucious Lyon was born. Cookie asks where his mother was, and Lucious only wants to tell his part of the story. Cookie continues to hammer home the point that the video should show the whole truth.
Jealousy Hits the Stage
Meanwhile, on the tour, Tiana tattles to Becky that Laura and her group have gone over their time for the third night in a row, which is taking away from Tiana’s performance. When Laura comes off the stage, Tiana scolds her and reads her the riot act.
Hakeem and Jamal are driven out that night to find Freda Gatz. As they walk the streets, they are recognized and a crowd gathers. When a young boy brags that he can rap better than Freda, Hakeem encourages him to perform. Jamal starts singing and Hakeem comes in with his rap. I love the energy of the scene and once again seeing Jamal and his brother getting in touch with their love of music. Freda turns up, and is surprised that Jamal wants to speak with her. Jamal wants to record with her, but Freda thinks that the Lyon brothers are out to hurt Lucious. She sends them on their way after explaining that Lucious is like a father to her.
Becky comes in to see Hakeem because there is news on the gossip sites about the feud between Tiana and Laura. Becky is not amused, and Hakeem goes to speak with the ladies and iron out their issues. Hakeem gets both girls to agree to some boundaries. When Tiana walks by Laura’s dressing room and sees Hakeem making out with his girlfriend, she looks jealous and angry.
Pain from the Past
Cookie comes to see Jamal and wants to know if Lucious ever told him anything about his grandmother. Since Jamal was the only one who knew his father’s real name, Cookie thinks that he may have told Jamal even more. Jamal knows that Cookie is producing his father’s video, and Cookie asks her son if he is coming to her party. His lukewarm response makes Cookie annoyed.
On the set of the video shoot, Lucious is talking with the young boy who will portray him in the video. Freda comes in and asks where all the dragons and knight stuff is for the video. Lucious tells her that he went in a very different direction, and he cut her verse out of the song. Freda is not pleased because she wrote half of the song. Lucious tries to placate her by offering to take her to lunch next week so that they can discuss the situation.
The Truth Comes Out
Cookie is surprised to see the writer, Harper Scott, on the set. Harper is going to shadow Lucious for a couple of weeks. When Lucious sees the actress who will portray his mother, he becomes lost in his memories and tells Cookie that he wants the scene to take place outside. She takes Lucious aside and gently asks him about his mother.
He describes how, after his mother held him underwater in the bathtub to cleanse him, she took a gun, held it to her head, and shot herself. Cookie is stunned that this happened in front of her husband. Lucious lived on the streets, sleeping in abandoned buildings and eating out of trash cans. He met an older boy, Frank Gathers, who took him under his wing selling drugs. Gathers saved Lucious’ life, and he also reminds Cookie that Gathers wanted to end hers. Once again, Cookie explains that her husband needs to tell the entire truth in his video. When Lucious balks, Cookie responds that she “did 17 years for a man whose real name I didn’t even know.” Good point, Cookie.
The Harsh Truth
Jamal is in the studio when Freda shows up. They commiserate over how terrible both of their fathers are, and how they feel chained up by both men. Jamal encourages Freda to break free and she comes up with a great rap to go with his song.
Laura’s parents come to see her at the next show and are amazed at her dressing room. Laura’s mother points out that Laura inherited her singing ability from her father. Laura’s father states that there is nothing better in life than when a child shines brighter than their parents. Hakeem is shocked by the sentiment, and tells them that his family is not like that. After Tiana’s set, Hakeem takes the stage with Tiana and Laura to debut some sexy new music. (I think Hakeem is playing with fire right now. Yikes!)
It’s Cookie’s birthday, and she is pushing the film editor to get a rough cut of the video because it is, after all, her birthday. Jamal shows up with flowers for his mother, and he plans on taking her to lunch, the movies, and shopping. When Cookie realizes that Jamal isn’t coming to her birthday dinner, she tells her son that maybe, after seeing the video, Jamal will come to at least understand his father more. Jamal can’t let go of the fact that his father tried to derail his career so that Lucious could finally win an award.
Jamal wants to work with Hakeem on his new album so that Cookie can continue working with Lucious. Cookie is really upset about the fact that Jamal is firing her as his producer and skipping her birthday dinner. Jamal calls his mother out on the fact that she is falling for Lucious again. What Cookie and Lucious have is a deep connection, and that just doesn’t disappear.
Cookie arrives for her birthday dinner with Lucious, and is further disgusted by a sad teddy bear and a bunch of balloons. Lucious yells “hit it,” and piano music streams from the other room. Cookie races in and throws open the door to see all her sons singing a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday.” Cookie’s grin is huge as she asks Lucious how he pulled it off. His answer? That the boys love their mother more than they hate their father.
Empire Spring Premiere Recap: Hakeem Takes a Stand, Cookie Comes Out Swinging >>>
Meet Dwight Walker
Cookie calls everyone in to see a rough cut of the video. Lucious is blindsided and tells everyone that it isn’t ready. When the scene of Lucious’ mother holding a gun to her head plays, Andre is brought back to the time when he once wanted to end his own life with a gun. Andre gets up and turns off the video. He asks Lucious if his grandmother suffered from bipolar disorder. Lucious says that he isn’t a doctor, and they didn’t have a name for it back then. Jamal, Hakeem, and Rhonda are appalled. Andre calls his father a liar and insists that Lucious knew that his mother was bipolar all along. Lucious, naturally, begs to differ and calls out his son for his “mental issues.” He also mentions that he was embarrassed by his mother and is embarrassed by Andre. Rhonda wants to leave, but Andre tells her to stay before storming out.
A Big Question
Laura is surprised to see Hakeem at the fan line outside of the venue. He tells her that he wants to build a beautiful family like Laura’s own family. He gets down on one knee and puts a gigantic diamond sparkler on her finger. The excited fans watch the moment unfold. Tiana comes out a few seconds later and watches the lovebirds with some sadness.
Rhonda is waiting for a ride from Anika. She doesn’t know where Andre is, and she doesn’t want to go back to her house. She needs some time to focus on herself. Anika offers to let Rhonda stay with her, and Rhonda accepts the kind offer. I hope Rhonda can sleep with one eye open at all times.
Cookie shows up to see Jamal and Hakeem at the recording studio. She finds about his engagement on the internet which earns him (what else) a smack on the back of his head. Freda shows up and she and Jamal perform for Cookie and Hakeem. One of Freda’s verses mentions Frank Gathers, and Cookie realizes that Freda is Frank’s daughter. When Freda explains how he was murdered in prison, Cookie excuses herself and leaves.
I really enjoyed the musical parts of this episode of Empire. I also liked seeing how Cookie and Lucious work together.
Empire airs Wednesdays at 9pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)