‘Empire’ continues to show its dominance. On the third episode of the hip-hop themed series, which aired on Jan. 21, we see the Lyons family take a trip to Philly and get a glimpse at what life might’ve been like had Lucious not made it big– unsurprisingly, it brings up a lot of issues.
Empire‘s third episode, “The Devils Quotes Scripture,” was tense, to say the least. Between Hakeem’s (Bryshere Gray) new girlfriend–and Lucious (Terrence Howard) trying to promote it– we’re still just skimming the surface of the Lyons family’s struggles.
‘Empire’ Recap: ‘The Devil Quotes Scripture’
The episode starts with the shooting of a provocative music video featuring hip-hop star Tianna and Hakeem as one of her back up singers. How else would an episode of Empire start?
Meanwhile, Jamal (Jussie Smollett), wants Lucious to book him some gigs, but Lucious says not until he gets back in the studio. Lucious continues his streak of disappointing his family when Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) asks about his plans for her cousin Bunkie’s (Antoine McKay) funeral after he was murdered on the previous episode. Speaking of Bunkie, a detective showed up at Lucious’ office and revealed that they found a witness for the murder. And, well, Lucious seems underwhelmed with this information — well, he killed him so of course he is!
Back at the studio, Cookie is continuing her quest for the next up and coming songwriters. After Lucious turned him down, Jamal shows up at the studio and tries his hand at convincing Cookie to give him the chance he wants. Like Lucious, though, Cookie says he needs to accept that if he wants to make it, he needs to sing other peoples’ songs, not his own just yet.
That all becomes an after thought, though, because Anika (Grace Gealey) had a detective to follow Cookie. It turns out, Cookie hired a couple feds and met with them at Leviticus after Hakeem’s show. Luscious confronts Cookie who, naturally, denies it. “You can play country dumb with anyone but me,” he tells her.
It turns out Cookie does have some sort of deal with the feds, as she asks her sister, Carol (Tasha Smith) if she mentioned it to Lucious, but we don’t know what the deal is.
Anyway, let’s forget about it all and enjoy some gorgeous funeral singing for a few seconds . . . and, that’s over. We flashback to the time right before Cookie and Lucious got busted all those years ago and Lucious, present day, weeps while speaking for Bunkie.
‘I’m Going After His Empire’
That same detective who showed up at Lucious’ office has reason to believe that a homeless man named Old Salty was the witness to Bunkie’s murder. You won’t be shocked to hear, Salty wasn’t a reliable source.
Of course, Andre (Trai Byers) gets involved and pays the deputy mayor a midday visit (of the sexual persuasion) to get the info about Old Salty out of her. The oddest part? Andre comes home and reenacts his sexcapade with Rhonda (Kaitlyn Doubleday) — she’s totally into it. It’s weird.
Back to the non-sexual espionage storyline, Cookie and her FBI agent have concocted a plan to find Cookie’s old friend Puma (guest star Cuba Gooding Jr.), and they have a meeting with Lucious in Lucious’ office no less. He doesn’t seem to detect their scheming, because he invites Cookie to a party he is throwing the next day to welcome Tiana (Seraya) into the family.
Cookie finds Puma on a gorgeous ranch and immediately, it’s clear they have a romantic past. But right now, Cookie needs him to write a song for Jamal because he’s “the best songwriter [she] ever knew.” First he declines,but of course, as Cookie is walking out, he gives in and says he’ll send her something. Guess what? Cookie loves the song and Jamal does not. She’s heard this song before, though. Flashback again to she and Lucious’ drug dealing days, listening to Puma’s song. Lucious didn’t like the song back then, either. Like father like son, I guess.
Mr. Detective pays Old Salty one more visit, this time with a six-pack of beers. And Salty starts talking– he still sounds pretty crazy, talking about a “lion,” but then Detective shows Salty a picture of Lucious and asks if that’s the lion. Turns out, it is.
Family Dinner Drama
The family dinner a bit later is pretty mellow, although Cookie’s grace included the word “skank.” After dinner, though, Jamal performs Puma’s song for everyone and Lucious has a change of heart. He loves it now, and decides it would be great for John Legend. And how convenient, because Lucious bought the song from Puma all those years ago and owns it.
Jamal is angry that Lucious wants to take his song, and points out that Cookie saw its potential when he couldn’t. He also calls him “dried up” and a “little bitch.” Ah, family!
After dinner, Cookie catches Lucious popping some of his pills, and thinks it’s the perfect time to call him out for “running from something that’s trying to chase him.” Cookie assures him, though, that he can hide from his demons, but he can’t hide from her.
Lucious shows up at Jamal’s house, and he isn’t sure why, other than that he wanted to see him. “Since I was a baby, you beat me,” said Jamal. “You said it was to toughen me up, but that was a lie. You hate me,” Jamal screams at his father, referring to his intolerance of the fact he’s gay.
“Nice speech, kid, especially hearing it in the apartment I pay for,” Lucious responds. Not a problem: Jamal and his boyfriend pack their things and leave — for good. “I’m going after his empire. I’m gonna take it.”
Well, he can certainly try!
What did you guys think of Empire?
— Casey Mink