In this week’s episode of Empire, we see another Lyon family meal, with Andre’s noticable abscence. Lucious is continuing to keep an eye on Cookie following her recent heart attack, even going as far to moniter her blood pressure and heart rate through the watch she’s given, and limiting her access to Empire projects, only allowing messages to be read off by her assistant Porsha.
Although Eddie sent word of his apology to the Lyon clan, Cookie and Lucious seem far from accepting towards his words. It’s also important to note here that Eddie is physically absent from the episode, which is nice. A break from Eddie onscreen is nice.
Tiana is rehearsing her new single, “Unforgettable”, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the woman running rehearsal might be another one of Eddie’s ex-wives. Where he couldn’t reach inside the Empire company, it seems his ex-wives could, but her character remained unconfirmed. I appreciated how nice Becky looked in her purple dress, commanding as head of A&R as Tiana is told she’s moving too fast. Rehearsal slows as Hakeem waltzes in with his possee, telling Becky and the rest his family runs things, so he’s allowed to rehearse where he wants. But Becky is firm and Hakeem is asked to leave. Not before all his friends steal the cupcakes and other snacks, to Becky’s dismay. I laughed heartily at this scene.
Cookie is home at the Lucious mansion, only receiving messages from Porsha during her recovery. It seems Lucious smartened up, taking away any cordless or longrange phones and recent electronic devices from Cookie’s reach. It was a great nod by the writers as Porsha read off warm messages, hoping Cookie recovers well from “Bey and J”, implying the power couple are friends with the Lyons. Cookie’s acquiring a message from an old prizonmate/friend named Chyna struck the matriarch’s interest, and Cookie is quick to send a car without any further explanation to Porsha.
Andre has more than enough damage control to do with Lucious, even as he continues to insinuate that Eddie is up to no good. Lucious still doesn’t seem to trust his son, and for good reason, but it’s important that Andre brought attention to Empire’s stock being boughout out by various entities, around the time that Eddie thought Empire would be sold successfully to Eddie Patel. The bizarre company names include “She Dragons Incorporated” and “Blue-Z Ventures”, both of which explained by Lucious can be connected to Eddie. Andre and Lucious look further for evidence by deciding to visit Eddie’s ex Celeste, the She-Dragon.
Chyna visits with Cookie, reflecting on life on the inside. Cookie thanks her for Chyna’s support while in prizon, and they joke about how they’d bet on which women would leave, only to wind up back in jail again. A flashback shows Poundcake returning to the women’s pententiary five years later, and Cookie doesn’t want anything to do with her. Chyna tells Cookie in the present that Poundcake is still in jail, but she’s in hospice after being stricken with cancer.
Jamal is sitting with his team, jamming out to one of his new songs, one with a rougher sound. Although as an artist, Jamal is eager to share the new song, his team warns that they’ve received poor feedback from fans as they test out new music set to release through Empire’s 20 for 20 project. Jamal is perturbed. The bad press seems to have painted him as a bad boy. Becky and the rest encourage him to return to his music roots, but Jamal isn’t ready to shelve his new tune.
Hakeem comes to Shine, wanting to get back into the studio and record new music. It’s nice to seem Shine working as a producer again. We haven’t seen him doing much of it on the show, not since Nessa’s appearance last season anyway. Shine makes Hakeem a deal; he’ll offer help to the rapper if he coaches some young blood. Hakeem isn’t keen on the idea, not believeing a white dude from Chicago could understand the experiences he’s had as a black man, despite the white man having grown up on the streets. Hakeem leaves, deciding it’s easier to produce his own stuff alone.
Cookie visits with Lee Willaims, aka Poundcake, at the hospice center. Flashbacks introduce Poundcake revealing she was unable to find her baby girl while out of prizon, and she tells Cookie as much. It seems the guard who raped her made more difficult than Poundcake realized.
Cookie takes a good look at Lee, and Poundcake seems through her kind routine saying, “If you startin’ to lie to me, then I know it’s bad.” Her gauntly physique is visible, lying in the hospital bed. Poundcake wants to know how the good life Cookie lives is, mentioning all her magazine interviews she’s read. She tells Cookie even after 20 years, her young daughter is lost to her. They exchange a sweet conversation, imaging how Poundcake’s daugher might be living, going to college or even dating a chick. Cookie’s heart bleeds for her friend and she promises Poundcake that she’ll find the convict’s daughter and bring her to visit at her bedside.
Hakeem is working at the soundboard, experimenting with a new beat when Blake enters. Keem seems a bit put off, but listens as Blake tells him how his music helped the pale skinned man get through life. This was such a cool rap battle to exchange, because the challenge was improvisational, and less aggressive than other times that Hakeem faced other rappers (a la Freda and others). The old Hakeem sound was present as the two men shook hands and they collaborate to make a track together. I hope the writers set aside moments to see how Hakeem’s mentorship grows with Blake.
Andre is able to find Celeste the She-Dragon playing tennis, which plays out in later scenes.
My favorite scene in this week’s episode had to be when Lucious calls Cookie, worried about her spike in blood pressure. Cookie hadn’t realized her watch was connected to Lucious phone and she takes it off as she travels with Porsha. Immediately, though, Lucious calls back.
“Put it back on.”
“How did you even-?”
“Either you took it off or you just died. I need you to put it back on.”
Lucious cares enough to keep track of Cookie’s health, even as they’re both busy dealing with business issues. Coocious is on guys!
I hadn’t expected Tory to confront Tiana on her recent behaviour. The diva seems to be off her game and making her team miserable. Tiana even fired someone on the spot for not meeting her expectations. The two women brawl for a bit before Tiana orders Tory to leave, only to have Tory step inside the studio where Jamal was working.
The poor middle Lyon looks bored out of his fucking mind. The producer implores him to cut the track playing, telling Jamal to throw on his vocals to make the song move up a few steps. But Jamal is at his wits end, dismissing the man, looking stressed and frustrated. He tells Tory that he only wants an audience to experience his new music, and Tory tells him she has a way to get people to enjoy “They Don’t Know” live. Their kinship since the rehap stint both had shows they really get each other, and as a viewer, I appreciate Jamal has a few friends outside of his tight family circle.
Lucious and Andre are able to meet with Celeste as she works out at a tennis court on a private resort. She makes a barb about gangsters being let on the premises, despite all the money she pays to stay there. Lucious raises his hands and tries to speak with her, asking about her “She-Dragon” status, but Celeste refuses to say anything and returns to playing tennis.
Andre decides to switch off and charms Celeste at lunch, as she mentions his education and how she loves Andre more than the rest of the Lyons. The quick ruse he plays on Celeste is successful, as Andre reminds her the deal with Kelly Patel is squashed. The hilarious use of an empty piece of Empire stationary by Lucious, as he pretends to discuss how Giselle is employed by Empire is easily something that sets Celeste off. Exascerbated, she reveals that a ponzi scheme spearheaded by Steve Lawrence was what made Eddie lose all their money, and she was forced to buy into Empire assets and sell her property to get some money back.
The moment that Cookie and Porsha traveled to Mr. Burleson’s house was one I’ve been waiting for since Cookie was put in the shu and beaten badly during her time in jail. It was clever of her to pass off her watch to Porsha, imploring her to stay calm when she entered the house. As an avid television viewer, I know it’s always suspicious when a character opens a door and both seem like they love their lives.
The fact that Mr. Burleson was able to convince his wife Joyce that he loved his “girls” in the penitentiary made my jaw drop in dismay. But Cookie saw right through his ruse and inferred to her that Poundcake was one of his favorites.
She was able to break through his viel of control and Bo pulled her aside. She demaded to know where Poundcake’s daughter is, and with some encouragement, he told Cookie the women in the system whose babies were half white where sent to Hope House for adoption. As she left with the information, Joyce reentered the room offering lemonade and cinnamon poundcake.
I lost it when Cookie said, “It’s good to see Bo still enjoys eating Poundcake!” The fact that the innuendo was made despite the circumstances of the event simply shows Cookie is able to take on life without letting things affect her as badly. Thirsty was put on the case to track down Hope Houses, and when the organization was revealed to be legit, Cookie rightly turned around the tell Joyce the truth. She deserved to know the mistreatement her husband conducted as a C.O.
After painstaking hours of searching, it seems Lucious and Andre have uncovered more proof in the way of an insider trading deal. Eddie was hoping to frame the Lyons as perpertrators to get them all sent to jail, so Eddie would walk out with plenty of money after the Kelly Patel deal went through. Andre rightly reminded his father to fire Eddie even as Lucious remains aghast. As he nostagically remembers how Andre protected him since he was young, Andre told him where it all went wrong. His bipolar diagnosis changed how Lucious treated Andre, as he treated his eldest as someone who was damaged and seemingly incapable, despite all of Andre’s successes as a financial advisor with Empire and having graduated business school. Andre is right to imply his father is far from perfect, as Lucious is damaged in his own way. This insult seems to fit just about everyone in the Lyon clan.
Hakeem and Blake are seen officially recording their track in the studio, and it seems to have come together quite well. As Shine promises the boys to head out to a strip club, it was hilarious to see Hakeem reminding the new rapper that Blake was to stay behind and clean up the studio, before his father should see ash stains and the like making a mess of the place. Blake looks so bummed out.
Tiana is practicing in the studio and Hakeem dials back to witness her sweating and looking exhausted. She’s reminded again that she’s pushing back her team and she tries to tell Hakeem to shove off, since they’re broken up. But Hakeem and Tiana seem to support each other through so much over the years, so Hakeem is kind enough to listen as Tiana tells him why she turned down his proposal (besides that fact that it was so sudden and random – Hakeem you really need to work on your timing with women!). Eddie seems to have promised her much more success with her music career, and her focus on music seems to stem from wanting to impress him. I just hope Eddie doesn’t try anything weird with her, keeping things professional if he helps her, despite his actions in trying to take down the company for himself.
The covert way that Tory helps to bring by a copy of Jamal’s new track in a DJ booth at a crowded club was perfect. Jamal was donned in a hoodie looking casual and almost anonymous as the DJ agrees to play the track, “They Don’t Know”. The crowd seems to love his sultry voice with Tory assisting at the end of the bit. I hope this allows him to convince his team later to keep the song on his submission for the 20 for 20. I love this song and its vibes, “They Don’t Know” has definitely moved up my list of the track’s Jussie has cut for Empire.
I’m not going to lie, I was worried that Cookie was saying she was leaving Empire for good at the end of the episode. But it seems she just wants Lucious to respect her, both in business and privately. She deserves to have her half of the company and to be valued as an important person in Lucious’ life.
Tell Us: What did you love most about this week’s episode? Empire airs Wednesdays at 8pm on Fox.