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All’s fair in love and war has never been truer in the realm of Empire.

 

We left off last time with the big twist of Lucious being released from prison thanks to some great blackmail. We begin this week’s episode with his release basically being the front page news. A condition of his release is that he isn’t allowed to step foot inside of the building of Empire. Lucious responds to the question of what he will do since he can’t go in the building: “I am the Empire.” Gotta love Lucious and his amazing comebacks! The writers do a very good job giving him these weapons and Terrance Howard uses them well!

 

Lucious gathers his entire family at his house and, through some idle banter, we are told that Jamal got set up with a really great producer. Cookie responds that she’s surprised with this development. Since Lucious is out of prison, she assumed Jamal would be his top priority. It’s sad how much Jamal stands so firmly by his father’s side, forgetting who his father really is. He’s witnessed it first-hand, so it baffles me at how blind and stupid he’s been. However, if I am correct, this may be a ploy for an even bigger development on Jamal’s character. I hope I am right. Lucious arrives to give Cookie a chance at quitting this war with him and she doesn’t. She is fighting this fight for her children and for those who are mothers, that will resonate with you. Lucious continues to try to talk them out of their plan to war with him and Cookie bravely stands up, citing that Lucious doesn’t know her. She’s right; Lucious doesn’t. He underestimates Cookie often and guess who ends up on top in the end? Cookie. Cookie then proceeds to leave and drags the cloth on the table, pulling all the food with her as she walks out and all the food spills on the floor. SCORE:  Cookie 1, Lucious 0.

 

Anika’s feud with Cookie took a back seat this week, which was quite refreshing. After Lucious summoned Anika, we find out that Lucious knows she’s unemployed and basically wants her back at the expense of using her against Cookie. Anika flexed her own muscles, standing up for “Lyon Dynasty” (the name of the company she, Cookie and Hakeem are starting). However, Lucious again reminded her about her feud with Cookie and how much Cookie doesn’t want her involved. Anika then asks Lucious what he has in mind, indicating that she will be joining him. One thing I love about Anika is she’s a HUGE player with a small role, if that makes any sense. The scale can tip in Cookie’s favor or Lucious’ favor with her, so it’ll be nice to see what the writers do with her for the rest of the season.

 

Back at Lyon Dynasty, Hakeem is getting his all-girl Latina Group in the studio to record. He’s producing for them with Cookie supervising. There was a great moment between Cookie and Hakeem where he reminded her that she used to have so much trust in Jamal and now she needs to do the same with him. It’s great to see them back on good terms like this after spending a large part of season 1 fighting each other. The writers are giving us something unique with them, as their relationship differs greatly from Jamal and Cookie back in season 1 and that’s also amazing! He also gets into a little hot water by agreeing to unveil his girl group in just a few days, which forces them to move along with producing music.

 

Meanwhile, Andre is working overtime to try to get back into his father’s good graces. Poor Andre. He’s just like Jamal in a way, but the difference with Andre is he’s actually the most power hungry out of all of the children. He is more deserving of Empire than both Hakeem and Jamal, but his bi-polar disorder makes Lucious view him as weak, stemming from his mother’s history with the disease (his mother is played by guest star Kelly Rowland, who is amazing in this role!). Through flashbacks, we see a young Lucious (known then as Dwight) watch his mother struggle with the disease, so in present day, we get why he’s not fond of Andre. During lunch, Andre tells Lucious to purchase a couple of radio stations, which will ensure he has control over the urban music he’s trying to put out there. At the same time that this scene occurs, Lucious is trying to sign a female rapper from the ghettos of Brownsville named Freda, someone who means everything to Lucious musically. Lucious orders Jamal to convince her to sign with Empire. She doesn’t, as expected, thanks to her band of thugs who accompanied her. Once one of her thugs looks at the legal papers, he cites that he doesn’t understand any of it and thinks it’s a ploy and they leave. Sorry, Jamal, but you are no Andre. Lucious decides to go and find this girl on his own with the help of Thirsty Rawlings, who knows exactly where she is. Again, Jamal is shut out and another clear sign that he needs to abandon Lucious.

 

Back to Cookie. Anika is waiting for her in her office at Lyon Dynasty, much to Cookie’s dismay. She immediately starts her usual hate talk of Anika, but Anika reveals the meeting with Lucious. I wasn’t expecting this and I’m sure viewers share the same feeling. Lucious wants everything; Hakeem’s tracks, the other artists that followed Cookie from Empire. Anika also reveals that Lucious is throwing himself a big party at Laviticus in honor of himself. Anika then is about to give up on even trying to talk to Cookie but then, Cookie does the unthinkable. Instead of referring to Anika as “Boo Boo Kitty,” she calls her by her name and then says “tell me more about this big party.” A scheme is happening between the two enemies!

 

 

That night, at the party,  Jamal performs with Pitbull and the party is in full swing. Everyone’s loving it…and then, the stage clears and the DJ is hijacked by Hakeem’s friend. Cue Cookie, looking fabulous as always, stealing the spotlight. This was an amazing moment to be honest because, again, I love how ghetto Cookie can be, but also deviously classy at the same time. Taraji P. Henson does this well! So, Cookie basically unloads to the world that Lyon Dynasty is here and introduces Hakeem who hits the stage with an amazing rap! The audience is hooked and so is Pitbull. Once it’s over, Pitbull basically tells Cookie that he’s interested which is a big deal for Lyon Dynasty. Lucious is not pleased. SCORE: COOKIE 2, LUCIOUS 0.

 

Cookie and Anika’s plan proves to be a great thing for them as Lyon Dynasty is now put on the map and the phones are blowing up (forcing them to hire people to cover the phones). However, things with the girl group aren’t working out so great. The girls are cat fighting about solos being taken, etc…and Hakeem helplessly watches, not knowing what to do. Andre arrives to speak with Cookie and he reveals why he’s so dead set on getting back into Empire, which includes announcing Rhonda’s pregnancy. Cookie is happy but she also eggs Andre on to use this as a way to get into Lucious’s good graces. That plan fails, miserably. Lucious is the devil. He has no heart, so the announcement of a child only makes it worse for Andre because Lucious does not want this child, who he feels will have bi-polar disorder, anywhere near Empire. The writers are on fire with this story line because it harkens back to Lucious’ childhood in dealing with his mother who had bi-polar disorder. I love how real this story feels and natural to the realm of Empire, but it’s also very sad to watch Andre be rejected by the man he once idolized and has gone to great lengths for.

 

Back to Jamal, he’s having no luck finding a producer. Let’s just say it like it really is: he’s having no luck finding a Cookie. He knows, in his heart, he cannot thrive without her. She was the only one who believed in him beyond his sexuality. Becky has a little heart to heart with him that goes out the window shortly after because when Jamal goes to seek Cookie out, Lucious shows up and reels his son back in. He offers to produce Jamal himself, a move that we all know is just another ploy to keep Jamal from joining Cookie. Jamal, at this stage, is gullible enough to fall for the act.

 

Hakeem and Cookie are then waiting for Valentina (the lead of the all-girl group) impatiently at APEX Radio. Lucious shows up and crashes the party, pulling the rug from under Cookie. He purchased the radio company, ensuring that Empire now has control over what gets played over the radio. This puts a huge wrench into Cookie’s plan because she knows airtime is vital to the success of Lyon Dynasty. What’s worse is Valentina has now been signed by Empire. The war is heating up with Cookie suffering a huge blow as Lucious now gains a huge lead. SCORE: COOKIE 2, LUCIOUS 3 (1 for purchasing Apex, 1 for stealing Valentina & 1 for keeping Jamal).

 

This episode was another knockout to say the least. The pacing slowed a bit, but I am glad it did. It got us to see more character development. This week’s MVP, to me, may have been Andre. He was front and center in this episode. His persistence to rejoin Empire showed a lot about his character but also, to me, made me feel for him more. He’s always the underdog, but the writers put him in front this time even if viewers did not notice it. The war is heating up and something tells me, these next few episodes, anything is on the table…and in the realm of Empire, that is not good!

Produced By: Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo, Ilene Chaiken
Written By:Danny Strong
Distributed By: Lee Daniels Entertainment, Danny Strong Productions, Little Chicken Inc., 20th Century Fox Television
Starring: Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey, Malik Yoba, Kaitlin Doubleday, Gabourey Sidibe, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Serayah
Release Date: October 7, 2015
Run Time: 42 minutes
Rating: TV 14

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