Empire Recap: Full Courtney Press

From the moment she makes her first appearance on Empire, we know Courtney Love’s Elle Dallas is a badass force of nature— mainly because she disrespects Cookie Lyon (to her face!) and doesn’t wind up getting a beat-down with a broom.

But while having 150 million in record sales will still get you all the air kisses you can tolerate, there’s a footnote at the bottom of every major-label record deal of which Elle is acutely aware: Any accomplishments not achieved in the last 12-24 months might just as well never happened at all.

Elle may stamp her feet and seethe that she single-handedly kept the lights on at Empire Entertainment when the company was in its infancy, but her bravado is simply another layer of dime-store armor covering up her wrecked voice, her crippling drug habit, her lack of artistic drive and her desperate fear of irrelevancy. And so when Cookie finally confronts the fading diva during a disastrous studio session and asks her to drop the act — along with her false eyelashes, her hair extensions and her pounds of makeup and jewelry — the resultant electricity is like Dr. Frankenstein jolting a pulse into his monster. She’s alive — and y’all better be afraid! (Yes, Boo-Boo Kitty, that was directed at you.)

The scene is — all hyperbole aside — perfection. We have Cookie, the ex-con whose 17-year prison sentence serves as Empire’s foundation, pleading “It’s do or die for me, too.” We have Elle, back at the microphone with all the trepidation of a neophyte but also the freedom that comes from letting herself admit she’s scared. And then we hear it: Love’s trademark howl, which has only grown more weathered and weary since first warning us on “Doll Parts” (more than 20 years ago!) that “Someday you will ache like I ache.” Suddenly, the voltage is coursing through Cookie’s veins, too. These two women might be battling against an industry that’s ready to toss them to the curb, but — united by their love of the music —now they’re battling as a team. And that makes the fight a heckuva lot more intriguing.

Of course, Cookie is a master multi-tasker — which means she’s got a lot more to do this week than busting into Elle’s seedy motel room, flushing her stash (and her glazed-over lover) and cradling this broken woman in her arms. So let’s recap the rest of the action from this week’s installment, “Out, Damned Spot.”

Empire“OH, AND ANIKA, THIS IS AN ASS!” | This week’s opening scene pretty much sews up every single award for Best TV moment of 2015. Cookie agonizes over her look, finally chooses a sable coat, and meets Lucious at a fancy restaurant — only to realize it’s not a followup to the rose he gave her on their wedding anniversary. Instead, he’s called the entire family together to announce his engagement to Anika. Cookie sips loudly and destroys a flower while Anika waxes poetic about her diamond, ’til Cookie can stand it no longer. She hurls her mangled rose at the happy couple, then opens her coat, reveals she’s only wearing skimpy blue lingerie underneath her fur, and hisses, “You think I came here dressed like this for a friendly get-together?!” Cookie storms to the exit, but as is her wont, drops one more zinger on the way out: “Oh, and Anika,” she says, lifting her coat again and flashing her backside, “This is an ass.” Oh, and America, that is how you make an exit. (Slow clap for Ms. Lyon: Yes, she was giving ’em bahhh-dayyy.)

106Empire_ep106_scn_22__0368_f_hires1IS THERE ENOUGH ROOM FOR A COOK AND COOKIE IN THE KITCHEN? | As Jamal and Cookie plan to launch his fantastic single, “Keep Your Money,” Cookie warns Michael that fame changes people — and he’d better make sure he has his own thing going on. And while Anika feigns disinterest — “When can I hear a finished version?” she asks coolly, pretending the hot-like-fiyah track is just a demo — Cookie knows there are other ways than the Empire promo budget to break Jamal to a wide audience. She gets the record played at a club — and then convinces a football player with 5 million Twitter followers to be the first to endorse the sure-fire hit. He only does it because he finds Cookie and Porsha hilarious — what I wouldn’t give for a summer sitcom spinoff with these two gals! — but she also uses the event to undercut Jamal and Michael’s relationship. “I hope one day you find a partner that is on the same level — somebody that has their own career, their own ideas, somebody who can bring something to the table besides some damn food,” she tells Jamal of his culinary student partner. It seems unnecessarily cruel for Cookie to deny her son’s happiness, but I maybe, knowing how ugly the game is, she somehow is protecting him?

Later, when Jamal plays a set for an Internet show hosted by Sway (“Keep Your Money” > “I Wanna Love You,” BTW) he dodges questions about having a girlfriend, instead fumbling that there’s “no one special” and that he’s “in love with the music.” It’s a stinging rejection for Michael — who seems genuinely happy although a little insecure about his man’s success. But if such ugliness leads the show’s writers to explore Michael’s personality — or to give him one — then perhaps this setback isn’t such a bad thing. And even if we hate the internalized homophobia and “keep it in the closet” mentality Jamal is clinging to, it’s also what any young R&B artist would face in 2015, no? Exploring it doesn’t equal endorsing it.

As Jamal’s music heats up, he also gets up the courage to brush off bratty Hakeem and his requests for help in coming up with a hook for his newest song. “How long did you think I’d sit around and let you disrespect our mother, when all she’s trying to do is help you grow up?” Jamal says, and Cookie couldn’t look more proud. Hakeem is channeling all of his personal drama (aka Tiana’s lesbian fling, his sugar mama not answering his calls) into a tart little jam with a chorus that doesn’t exactly celebrate females: “They all phony and that’s why I don’t trust ’em” goes the chorus, making “Drip Drop” sound like it was written by Gloria Steinem. Jamal, clearly Cookie’s son, gives it a withering review: “Write a song about how much you hate women, it makes you look like a little bitch.” Prrrrrreach it!

Of course, Jamal has some female issues of his own. The episode ends with a visit to Empire Entertainment HQ by a messy chica named Olivia (Raven Symone) who demands to get past security and see her “family.” Clearly, she’s someone from Jamal’s past, and when she has her cute little toddler mumble the lyrics to “Keep Your Money,” we can see what’s coming. “She wanted to meet her daddy,” says Olivia. And BOOM — the mic has been dropped and the episode is over. I don’t even know what to say about this, because I’m still processing it.

EmpirePUTTING THE BUNKY SITUATION TO REST | Lucious finally ‘fesses up to Vernon that he was, in fact, the person who killed Bunky — but his whole, impassioned “He chose his fate!” speech leaves Lucious’ right-hand man unimpressed (and turning to his AA sponsor for counsel about devoting his life to another man’s goals and dreams). Nevertheless, Vernon does his duty — finding a shady lawyer with a client already on the hook for a murder rap, and then convincing the man to confess to Bunky’s shooting, too (the better to score a huge cash payout for his family). But just because Lucious is off the hook legally doesn’t mean he won’t pay for his crime. While Vernon initially chokes out Andre for providing an alibi for his dad, Andre convinces Vernon he spoke up without knowing what he was covering. After they make up — and again hint at some kind of darker master plan — Andre adds this tender little denouement to the conversation: “Put your hands on me again, I will slit your throat.” I’m less scared of him than Rhonda, though, so at least Vernon can take comfort that that snake-pit viper is not yet getting involved.

EmpireIN OTHER NEWS | Lucious goes on a hiring spree — snagging a “concierge doctor” who gets him enrolled in a Russian medical study for an early-stage ALS drug, and then recruiting a new head of security (Derek Luke) who quickly proceeds to get his flirt on with Cookie. (Lucious is going to hate that development!) Oh, and sneaky Anika teases Porsha that she could be making double what Cookie pays her, but then slips off the elevator without saying exactly what kind of treachery she’s seeking. Here’s hoping Porsha stays loyal to the true Queen of Empire — and that Boo-Boo Kitty uses up another one of her quickly dwindling lives (in terms of the Empire hierarchy, of course).

On that note, I pass the mic to you. What did you think of this week’s Empire? Did you love Courtney Love? Do you see any way Jamal and Michael can make it work? Will Porsha turn against Cookie? And how about the baby revelation? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Diva DIary says:

    Raven Symone will always be Olivia. She can’t escape it.

  2. Roco says:

    This episode was definitely on fire, loved every minute of it. Too bad it was just an hour. Oh Anika, This Is an ass, yes Cookie it is and a very nice one at that…Team Cookie

  3. TAL says:

    Reblogged this on Cerulean Chronicle and commented:
    Attention ‘Empire’ fans! The following is a recap of ‘Empire’ episode 1.06 – “Out, Damned Spot,’ which aired February 11, 2015, courtesy of TV Line:

  4. Annie says:

    I love this show.

  5. ninamags says:

    Another great episode. I can totally see Porsha say yes to Anika but only to gather information and give it to Cookie. She can be a double agent!

    Love was great. I do feel bad for Michael, though. I hope they can survive all that is heading their way. Especially since you can smell gold-digger on that Olivia person.

    That is indeed an a$$, Miss Cookie. Bravo Taraji 👏👏👏

    • Aimee says:

      Yeah Olivia’s only had around twenty seconds of screen time and I’m already having an extremely hard time believing she could really have had Jamal’s kid and then waited 4-5 years to hit up the son of Luscious Lyon for child support.

    • kirads09 says:

      ” I can totally see Porsha say yes to Anika but only to gather information and give it to Cookie. She can be a double agent!

      I was thinking the exact same thing. I can’t see her betraying Cookie to Anika.

  6. abz says:

    Damn this show keeps me on the edge of my seat. The music was excellent, Cookie/Taraji was flawless and Porcha continues to crack me up.
    I knew Raven was going to be in this episode and was waiting for her to pop up, but I was not expecting that ending. Can’t wait to see more. Also loved the way she looked too instead of that short blonde hair she had recently.

    • abz says:

      Also, I knew Jamal wouldn’t come out at that moment, I just hope the show doesn’t drag it out for like two seasons like Nashville has with Will

  7. laurelnev says:

    Hakeem id such a little brat! I don’t even think Cookie can help him grow up, especially while his thug father is egging him on. Maybe Hakeem will see what Karma is doing to his father and learn something before it’s too late. I have a feeling his anti-woman stand is going to get Hakeem a rep the opposite of that which he desires, while ironically, his gay bro will probably become the next heart throb! I just wish he’d followed that “who saus there’s a WOMAN at home,” with something else, if not to directly confirm what he has always known. Of course, THIS type of behavior was EXACTLY what Cookie was warning Michael about, so he shouldn’t be all that taken aback by Jamal resembling her remarks. Love the layers this show keeps adding each week! (Speaking of which, although I LOVE kick-ass Cookie, I especially enjoy seeing her softer side, which was the highlight of the ep for me.)

    • relaxxx says:

      I wanted Cookie to just take Hakeem n just hug him to death. That kid is a mess. I loved how Jamal stood up for Cookie to Hakeem. I loved Cookie looking out for Dallas n her conversation with Michael. Cookie is just so loving n all knowing. She is just wonderful.

  8. Jose says:

    I kinda missed Rhonda being all lady Macbeth…. I was expecting her to make her presence felt like she has in previous episodes!!!

  9. TigerLIL says:

    Now this episode was a number, they had drama coming and drama going. I’m like dam this is a nutty ass family everybody is a head case. I don’t know how in the hell they could be building an Empire when they are constantly setting a dam Fire. Love the Queen B intro the “Jump Off” one of my all time favorite Queen B numbers and so fitting for the way the Queen of the Empire went to hit it with her man. I wanted to shoot Lucious, why you gonna play that kinda head game with the Cookie Monster, dude trying to get somebody smacked down. But the counter punch was a sure fire hit she didn’t show her the money but she showed her the money maker “all ass” I fell out the seat on that one. But the real jest of the night is the “snake in the garden” even the bible warns us that there is a snake in every garden, them two anacondas. Vernon and Andre plotting to take over the Empire just so scandalous and they got Lucious by the “you can fill in the blank” Rolled on through the fireworks and here comes the “Boom” they getting a little Shandra Land up in the piece, that was a good one, who knew baby Jamal dipping in both types of pudding, a switch batter, no doubt, dam I thought dude was all in, that is to Dora? Didn’t see that one coming at all. But next week that’s going to be a hit out the box. Boo Boo Kitty think Cookie crazy now she is gonna go nuclear when she finds out the love of her life might not be around for the encore, and exiting stage left after she shot one of his nerves all to hell. I had to rewind that for a super laugh, I’m like dam these people are out there I do mean left field, this is a hell of a show…..LOL

  10. relaxxx says:

    Wonderful recap as always Michael! First off can we give a fast hand clap to Cookie, her perfect body, her pitcher arm, and her ever loving arm. There was so much Empire yummyness as usual. So someone else is gonna take the fall for Lucious , I tell you the strange things people will do for it. Andre is a mess. Hakeem is just looking for love is weird places. Cookie n Jeezus need to work on him. It was great to see Jamal n I think Michael needs to be more patient with him. I think we need Maury on this show cuz Jamal need a DNA test stat. Why did Olivia wait so long to tell him he had a kid? Looking forward to the next episode it looks like Luscious n Cookie may kiss yassss!

  11. Sally McLinn says:

    my problem with the show is writing. They write 30 second scenes and move onto the next 30 second scene. Whereas with cable shows, they have long discussions and long scenes so you, the viewer can be invested in all the characters. Another complaint is the story arcs of some of the cameo actors, like Courtney Love. Will we see her again? It’s like Cuba Gooding making an appearance about 2-3 episodes ago, and there’s no story behind that. Poof! he’s gone. They’re writing this show like it won’t be here in the fall, and they should take time and flush the characters out.

    • Diva DIary says:

      Well the guest stars coming back depends on whether their character is needed or not. Puma doesn’t need to come back. He’s out of the game and the song he gave to Cookie is already owned by Lucious so there’s no point. Naomi Campbell’s character is coming back so it all depends. We might see Courtney we might not. The main focus of the show is the family, so it really isn’t that big of a deal.

    • Oh please…let the writers write.

  12. LaLa says:

    There was so much to this episode. I actually think the Courtney Love storyline came in a distant second to all of the little bombs dropped throughout. However, kudos to Courtney – I appreciated her character and the symbolism. Andre and Vernon – I was wondering how no one else knew about Andre’s illness. Now we find out that Vernon DOES know, and is probably using Andre to set up Lucious for the fall. Think Cookie’s gonna come to the rescue? Cookie and Rhonda? Interesting . . . Anika and Porsha – I would say that Porsha has more sense than to follow up Porsha’s offer, but you never know. If Anika strokes Porsha’s ego and makes her feel “included” by people who have probably igged her before – we’ll see. Can’t read this one, yet. Olivia and the new security head, – Ha, ha, ha, I love Raven Symone’s rachetness. She’s gonna be fun. And I wasn’t the only one who saw Derek Luke’s character flirting with Cookie, right? From the look of next week’s episode, that could also go either way. Cause either Lucious is gonna be made to realize and appreciate Cookie, or he’s gonna disappoint her once again, and she’ll head straight for the head of security. Jamal, Michael and Hakeem – Poor Michael. But I don’t feel sorry for him. He cannot be that naive. What did he think was gonna happen once Jamal’s music took off? The same for Jamal. Shock that someone would try to hitch onto your fast moving coat tails (baby mama drama)?! Please. These men’s parents are Cookie and Lucious Lyon – how are they so clueless to the game? Hakeem, I throw my hands up with that boy. At least Jamal and Cookie have stopped trying to coddle him. Cookie and Lucious – I hope Lucious doesn’t get sloppy thinking Bunkie’s murder is behind him. And I understand his desperation, but how’d he just let that ?Dr.? use that medicine. At least Anika had the sense to hesitate.
    Bowing down to Taraji P. Henson!!!!! Cookie is such a well rounded character, wearing that heart on her sleeves, but taking no nonsense or prisoners when it’s necessary. I love this woman. And Taraji brings it every week. Is it too early to scream Emmy? Emmy, Emmy!
    This show keeps me engaged for the entire episode. I can’t turn my head for fear of missing something. And then while we’re processing this episode – the previews for next week!!!! Love it, love it.

  13. Jax says:

    Great episode! Glad to see Vernon have a voice! Love love love the writing on the show! Derek Luke was a nice addition! Happy for the success of the show!

  14. Mel Prease says:

    What I’m waiting to learn is where the disconnect Lucious has with Cookie stems from. He allows people to disrespect the mother of his children, when she made such a huge sacrifice. It doesn’t add up. Great show!

  15. kirads09 says:

    Who was the football player who tweeted about Jamal’s song to make it go viral?

  16. Lala says:

    I dont know about this Anika-Lucious thing….I think he is marrying her for the medical connections he gets from her father. He is just too calculating…nothing doesn;t happen for a reason in this family. Def Team Cookie over here! Love this show!!!

  17. Linsusan says:

    Loved Courtney Love in the last episode of Empire. Would anyone happen to know where the seedy motel that she was in is located? Looked like Cicero, IL which happens to have A Cindy Lynn motel. Just curious. Hoping someone may know.

  18. will says:

    Love Cookie & Lucious together – get that fake a** Lena Horne outta there! LOL