In a different show, Anika’s betrayal might have taken several episodes to be revealed. But Empire is not a different show. Empire has the indomitable Cookie Lyon, and she does not suffer fools. Let’s sit back and enjoy as the drama unfolds.
Empire Recap: Can the Lyon Family Survive?>>>
Honeymoon is Over
When Lucious and Anika are in the middle of meeting with a wedding planner, discussing doves, Cookie busts in and announces Lucious is being played. Anika is working with Beretti! She tried to pay off Porsha to spy on her!
Cookie goes on a hilarious rampage, shouting insults and flinging Anika’s wardrobe from the balcony. There’s a serious scene going on, but it’s not nearly as interesting as Cookie in High Cookie Mode.
Oh, fine. Anika immediately calls Billy Beretti to rescue her, tries to get Veronica to come to Creedmore, Lucious begs her to tell him what she told Beretti. He blackmails her, saying if he goes down, then her dad gets convicted of fraud. She leaves in tears.
Jamal and his new beau Ryan the filmmaker are watching Jamal’s new footage when Porsha breaks in, telling them war is on and they need to stop touching each other and get to Empire STAT.
Cookie and Lucious walk into the label, guns blazing, and it’s clear they are going to fight Beretti together. Malcolm, a character I don’t remember, says they will “neutralize the enemy.” Apparently Anika going over to Beretti and Creedmore Records has set off a label war, which makes people run around shouting into phones and waving charts as if this were an actual war. Or a business war, rather. Not an actual war. The whole thing seems really over-dramatic… but that’s Empire. And we love it that way.
Andre’s at home, trying to decide whether to down a full bottle of pills or flush them. He takes a handful, flushes some, and hides the rest when Evil Wife Rhonda (EWR) comes in, telling him that something’s going down at Empire. (It’s a war, EWR!)
Back at the label, Becky (Hi Becky! We missed you!) is running things in the Situation Room. All the label’s artists are on a big screen, looking like a golf leaderboard. Hakeem’s idea to fix this is to get some C4 and blow Creedmore up. Lucious informs him that he is being silly, then proceeds to make a lot of Very Serious War References. They are going to draw blood, Lucious says, by making sure they keep all their artists and snag of few of Creedmore’s.
Meanwhile, Over at Creedmore…
At Empire, Jamal says he will track down Royale-T for Lucious. Lucious says only a “real monster” can deal with him… so naturally Cookie volunteers to go.
Andre shows up with a suitcase full of cash to “entice” the talent back to Empire. When Jamal protests that “hookers and blow” are not what Empire is about, Lucious makes a gay joke and Jamal is OVER IT. He says that yes, sexual proclivities did get them into this situation — Lucious’ inability to keep it in his pants got them into this mess. Burn! Go Jamal!! Lucious just glowers. He glowers a lot in this episode.
At Creedmore, Veronica kills her audition. Billy Beretti promises to make her into a household name. Anika, who is fitting in well here, says she is poaching a lot of Empire’s artists. Billy doesn’t want just anyone, he wants Tiana, Hakeem’s old girlfriend. Because this war is personal.
Later, Billy tells Anika he misses Lucious. He was the first artist Billy signed, and after he bailed on Creedmore, Billy didn’t sign another artist for almost a year. He wants to know what dirt Anika has on Lucious to take him down. Anika lies and says she doesn’t have anything, then requests Billy take his hand off her knee and keep things “professional.” I almost, almost feel bad for her. She’s getting treated like an object all over the place.
Jamal “Conquers” Delphine
Cookie is in hot pursuit of Royale-T, who is jamming at a graffiti-covered studio. A bunch of dudes are sitting around drinking and eating fruit loops from a mixing bowl. It looks like a frat house. Cookie asks Royale-T to come back and is promptly belittled and harassed by some of the guys, who essentially tell her to go back to the kitchen while the men are working. Cookie takes this as well as you might imagine, and insults the integrity of their “purple drank.” Royale-T says Cookie would not be able to handle the drink, and a challenge is born!
At a recording studio that is not at Empire, Jamal meets Delphine. She’s a mega-star who Empire passed over before she was huge. Now her contract is up and Jamal wants to win her for their label. She admired his coming-out party and asks him to sing with her.
Back at Empire, Lucious is trying to talk an artist, Travie, into staying with Empire. Travie says that the Internet has killed the record label and that he will make more money going at it alone. Andre interjects, speaking very quickly and in a singsong voice, but something he’s saying speaks to Travie, who shakes Lucious’ hand and says he’ll stay. I am very worried about Andre.
Delphine and Lucious duet on Delphine’s (but really Estelle’s, who plays Delphine) single, “Conqueror.” It’s really good. Both of them are digging it, and Jamal knows he can get Delphine if his dad would pick up the darn phone! Jamal leaves another message.
The Purple Drank-Off
At the frat house, the drank-off is going super well. That is to say everyone is passed out except Royale-T and Cookie. Royale-T says if she can walk after the next shot, he will stay at Empire. She takes the shot, tries really hard not to barf, and stumbles out, victorious. Anyone who challenges Cookie to anything is a fool who deserves what he gets.
Back at Empire, Lucious is still not taking Jamal’s calls, because he is the worst. Hakeem is angry that Andre took the lead on the Travie deal, but Lucious tells him he still has a lot to learn and that he needs to watch his brother carefully. Someone should be watching Andre carefully! He needs help!
On the street outside the frat house, Cookie almost gets mugged, but two bodyguards rescue her. Cookie heckles the mugger while clutching the wall for dear life. She is undefeated. The bodyguard attempts to pour Cookie into the SUV while Cookie hits on him. He politely declines, saying that his boss (Lucious) is still in love with her and therefore off limits. Cookie waves her open legs in his face and directs him to “take these cookies.” Never, ever change, Cookie Lyon.
In the Situation Room, Becky (who is apparently the only one who knows how to do anything) says that Travie is going to Beretti. Lucious runs off to… do something about it, but not before sending Hakeem to find Andre, who is missing. Somehow Jamal ends up in the same elevator as Hakeem, and Andre gets in too. Once the three boys are together, they get into a fistfight and guess what? The elevator gets stuck!
Jamal Saves the Day, Several Times
Lucious and Beretti get out of their cars… somewhere? I assume near the airport? They appear to be near a park in broad daylight, but they all point guns at Lucious so it seems unlikely they are in a public place. Lucious is not afraid of their guns and insults Beretti, saying he used him and threw him away just like he did with Anika. He says Travie and Beretti deserve each other. Then everyone puts away their guns and gets back into their cars. Crisis averted.
In the elevator, Andre is really losing it. He’s shouting about how he worked 8am to 10pm at Empire every day to make it into what it is and neither of the other two understand because they were too young when things were really bad. He is kicking things, shouting and absolutely breaking down. Jamal is trying to reach him by singing the song they used to sing as a family when things were scary. It’s “Lean on Me,” and with Hakeem beat-boxing, it’s enough to get through to Andre. He joins in, and the three brothers sing together, hugging and crying. It’s a very emotional scene. Andre still does not look okay.
Back in the Situation Room, everyone is still nervously looking a charts. Tiana is going to meet Anika in Chelsea. Jamal is supposed to meet Delphine at Leviticus tonight. Lucious says he’s not interested in Delphine and that they need to get Tiana back. Lucious and Jamal start to argue, but Cookie takes charge and tells them to go get Delphine, she and Hakeem will go get Tiana. Jamal tells his dad to put away his “played-out homophobia” for the good of Empire. Delphine wants to work with them because of Jamal, and Lucious needs to accept that. Jamal’s homosexuality isn’t a liability, it’s a selling point. Lucious glowers, but agrees to go with Jamal. He says to call EWR and to not to let Andre leave the building. This will probably not end well.
Yes to Tiana, Yes to Delphine, No to Andre
Hakeem sees Anika getting out of a cab and chases her. He makes a heartfelt plea to her to come back to Empire, because things aren’t right without her, but really, he’s just distracting her so Cookie can slip in to her meeting with Tiana. Hakeem says even though his dad didn’t do right by her, he still must do right by him.
Cookie promises Tiana that things will be good again at Empire. Tiana wants to come back, but she also wants Hakeem back as her boyfriend. Hakeem says he’s sorry but he still loves Camilla. Cookie tells Tiana she is family, and Empire is about family. They will do what’s right for her career.
At Leviticus, Delphine, her agent, Lucious and Jamal are talking business. Lucious says he will handle Delphine personally, which thrills her. She’s a huge fan of his early music, specifically “You’re So Beautiful.” Lucious says they should sing together at the club, which Delphine agrees to if Jamal can join them. So Jamal, Lucious and Delphine sing “You’re So Beautiful,” and it sounds really great. Tiana, Cookie, and Hakeem join in and they all sound awesome. The whole family is singing together again! I really hope Andre isn’t back in the studio alone with a gun right now.
No sooner do I think that then we’re back to Andre, who’s going off the rails in the Situation Room. EWR is there, but she’s not able to calm him down. Lucious walks in and tries to reason with Andre, saying he’s his son and he loves him. Andre asks, suddenly startlingly lucid, if he loves him, then will he pick him to run Empire? When Lucious says he’s not sure who he’ll pick, Andre whispers “pick the son who knows you’re a murderer.” The paramedics come in and have to sedate Andre, who is wheeled away on a gurney. Lucious looks really shaken up, but probably only because Andre revealed his secret, not because he’s actually concerned for his son.
Next episode: Jennifer Hudson guest-stars as a music therapist! If anyone can help Andre, J. Hud’s magical voice can.
Empire airs Wednesdays at 9pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)