Lyons, killers, new music, oh my! ‘Empire’ made its return to TV on Sept. 23 and it was well worth the wait. As Lucious Lyon sits in jail for a crime he did not commit, his wife Cookie is devising a plan to take back the Empire.
Since Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is still in jail, it’ll be much easier for Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) take back Empire, right? While the matriarch of the Lyon family secretly set up an alliance between herself, Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), Andre (Trai Byers), and Anika Calhoun (Grace Gealey) to overtake the company, they still had to deal with Jamal (Jussie Smollett), who Lucious left in charge.
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The show starts off with an over-the-top, televised “Free Lucious Lyon” event put on by Cookie and her sons to show their support for Lucious. From the very beginning, we find out that Cookie invited Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei) to the event in hopes that she would invest $250 million into Empire, allowing the group to force Lucious out of the picture.
Almost every family member is a part of the scheme except for Jamal, who thought his mother was doing her best to free his dad from jail. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. As the event went on — don’t forget, it was televised! — Lucious was able to see almost everything that was going on while he was in jail. Of course Jamal and Hakeem perform a song together and at one point, the camera pans to Cookie looking super cozy and having fun with Mimi. Obviously that signifies there’s something going on there and Lucious intends to find out exactly what’s happening.
‘Empire’ Recap: Frank Gathers Goes To Jail
Remember when Cookie and Lucious used to move drugs? Well, even though Lucious’ druggy days are behind him, he was going to be reunited with his past when he found out Frank Gathers (Chris Rock) was headed to jail. Initially it seemed like Frank and Lucious’ reunion was going to be a hostile one.
When Frank made his way into the venue, everyone stopped and starred at him. Some inmates even moved out of the way for Frank! Obviously he’s bad news — he’s been bad news from the very first time he was mentioned back in season one — it totally made us think he and Lucious were going to have problems in jail!
However, when the two finally reunited, there was nothing but love between the two. Shocker! Lucious and Frank shook hands, and that was that! The only person who seemed to be nervous about Frank’s arrival was Cookie’s family friend, the guy who killed Frank’s henchman Teddy in a drive-by. It’s understandable as to why Jamel would be nervous. He has blood on his hands and Frank totally knows it.
‘Empire’ Recap: Jamal Visits Lucious In Jail
It’s hard to imagine Jamal having a good relationship with Lucious, especially when you consider their history together. However, after Lucious named Jamal his successor, things have been better between the two. Jamal takes time out of his busy schedule to see his father in jail and the two basically talk business and music.
We find out that Jamal hasn’t been able to write music in a long time since he’s running Empire. Jamal also complains about his album dropping on the Billboard charts and vents to his dad about Hakeem being a huge pain in the butt! Lucious chalks it up to Cookie not knowing how to manage the young rapper and leaves it at that.
Lucious then mentions Mimi by calling her a “lesbian b–tch” and asked his son why she was at the show. When Jamal says he doesn’t know, Lucious tells him to “find out.” Maybe Cookie should’ve been more careful going out in public with Mimi! She should’ve known Lucious would’ve been watching — it was thrown in his honor after all.
‘Empire’ Recap: Cookie Continues To Persuade Mimi By Throwing Her A Lavish Party
Schmooze until you lose, right? That seemed to be Cookie’s mentality throughout the entire episode. The matriarch of the family threw a fabulous party in Mimi’s honor, but when she found out Anika was there, she was furious. It turns out, Hakeem invited her to the shindig! Scandalous.
As the night went on, it was noticeable that Mimi was DEFINITELY into Anika. Even though she hilariously called her by the wrong name of Anita, Cookie played along with it and was basically pimping her out! So wrong, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do! Anika didn’t want to play along, but she did it because, well, they both have a common goal: to take Empire away from Lucious.
‘Empire’ Recap: Frank’s Kids Visit Him In Jail
Meanwhile, Lucious got a brief visit from Roxanne, a new prosecutor in his case. Their visit was pretty hostile. Roxanne tried to get Lucious to confess to killing Bunky, his childhood friend, the singer refused to do so and their visit ended.
While he had time to spare, Lucious returned to the communal visitation room and overhears Frank’s eldest daughter rapping for him. Lucious walks on by to compliment the young girl on her skills before getting a somewhat dirty look from Frank. Lucious gets whisked away because he had another visitor in a different room.
As that is happening, we see Cookie, Hakeem, Andre, and Anita walk in on Jamal’s meeting with the board with their heads held high. Cookie then takes over the meeting to announce that they were able to successfully get an investor to give them enough money to push Lucious out of the picture. Until Jamal turns the table on the group and reveals that Mimi was sitting in on the board meeting! GASP!
Cookie should’ve known better than to pull a fast one on Lucious. Mimi went on to explain that she almost took the deal with Cookie until she was able to meet with Lucious, who offered her a better deal. She hit them with the inevitable truth, “Empire is Lucious Lyon. Lucious Lyon is Empire.”
As much as Cookie wants to believe she’s in control, it looks like no one wants to work with Empire unless Lucious is at the helm of it all. Before the meeting ends, they’re all surprised by an appearance from Lucious, who is webcamming with the board in his bright orange jumpsuit. “Game over, b–tches,” he says to Cookie and everyone else who was involved in her plan.
‘Empire’ Recap: Jamel Rats Out Cookie & Craziness Ensues
In jail, Frank meets up with Jamel. Although Frank knows Jamel killed Teddy, he wanted Cookie’s family friend to admit it. Frank continued to grill Jamel until he confesses that it was Cookie who snitched on Frank. Unable to believe that, Frank basically tells Jamel to stop lying. It wasn’t until Jamel pointed out that Cookie was let go from jail earlier than expected, that he started to believe him. Furious with the news, Frank had to do something about it.
When Cookie finally reaches the front door of her home, there’s a mysterious box with a giant bow on top of it, waiting for her. Confused, she takes the box into her home and sees that her sister Carol is there with three of her kids. She sets the box down on the table and demanded to know how Carol got into her home and why she was letting her kids play with Cookie’s wigs.
When Carol was finally able to get a word out, she told Cookie that the roses sent to her earlier in the day was from Frank. Terrified, Cookie then looked down at the box, which definitely made us think either there was something gross in there or it was a box full of red roses — Frank’s usual warning. Unfortunately, it was a former. Before opening it, Carol ushered her kids out of the room and when it was clear, Cookie gingerly opened the box only to find a severed head in it. GROSS. And scary!
‘Empire’ Recap: Cookie Visits Lucious In Jail
Terrified by this, Cookie ordered all of her children to report to Lucious’ home for safety. Carol also took her kids there to wait everything out. Cookie then travels to jail to visit Lucious. The two had a bittersweet reunion with Lucious saying he finally understands why Cookie was mad at him for not visiting her when she was incarcerated all those years. Cookie then retorted that Lucious had only been in jail for three months and that he should talk to her when five years passes by. We definitely don’t blame her!
After their reunion, Cookie tearfully tells Lucious, without mentioning any names, that Frank was coming for her. Even though Lucious was in jail, she knew that turning to him was the right and safe thing to do. Without saying a word, Lucious gave his estranged wife a look that had a mixture of shock, fear, and anger. We weren’t quite sure with what Lucious was going to do since he had to be in jail with what seemed to be one of the most dangerous drug dealers in the area.
‘Empire’ Recap: Lucious Meets With Frank About Cookie
In order to protect his wife, Lucious knew he had to meet with Frank to find out what was going on. He showed up alone to what appeared to be a recreational area for inmates to hang out and play cards. Frank, impressed by Lucious’ respect, invites him to sit down and tells the men he was sitting with to go away.
Lucious then asks Frank about his beef with Cookie. When Frank tells Lucious Cookie was the one who ratted him out to the police, it seemed like Lucious had his hands tied. Frank basically said he was cool with Lucious, but not cool with Cookie, which means he had to do something about the woman who turned him in.
Just when we thought Lucious was going to turn his back on Cookie, he hits Frank with a crazy line! Lucious admits to loving Cookie and that he was willing to do whatever it takes to protect her. Unhappy with what Lucious said, Frank got up and commanded the men still in the area to kill Lucious quickly and quietly. However, much to his surprise, the guys didn’t do anything!
In fact, it was Lucious who started up the conversation again, saying that even though Frank ruled the streets, it was Lucious who the men were loyal to. He went on to explain that he took care of the families of each men standing in that room. Frank walks back to his seat and Lucious tells the guys to kill Frank, loudly and for as long as possible. He walks away to the sound of the men beating up Frank. However, we’re totally not sure if that is indeed the end of Frank. Anything could happen!
‘Empire’ Recap: Jamal Turns On His Family
When Cookie finally returns to the Lyon mansion, she then tells everyone that everything is fine. Although she was out of breath, Cookie managed to tell her kids that she visited their father in jail and that they were all safe now. Everyone was pretty much happy about the news, but then Jamal decided to kick everyone out. It’s clear he’s still angry about what happened earlier in the day when Cookie tried to take over the company without his knowledge.
One by one, everyone starts to leave, but Cookie is still trying to reason with her son. He tells her to get out and that obviously hurts her. She slaps him, not once, but twice before she walked out of the door and he closed it on her face. So sad! Hopefully Cookie and Jamal will be able to repair their relationship. The duo were so cute in the first season when she was released from jail!
Tell us, HollywoodLifers! What did you think of the premiere episode of ‘Empire?’
— Michelle Phi