Empire Recap: Now I Ain't Sayin' She's a Grave Digger...

When Andre Lyon finally writes his tell-all memoir — let’s say during Season 26 or 27 of Empire — he’ll have no shortage of killer titles from which to choose: Can’t See the Carcass for the Trees; When Push Comes to Shovel; Are You There, God? It’s He, Andre; The Return of the Man Who Killed U.N.C.L.E.; How to Un-bury a Millionaire. And the ideas just keep on coming! (Feel free to add to the list down in the comments.)

But let’s not throw a pity party for the eldest Lyon son. Sure, he had to dig up the months-old corpse of poor Uncle Vernon to ensure his father’s freedom (and his own corporate future), but look on the bright side: He got the orders via direct message (in his head, not on Twitter) from God himself, and learned his wife Rhonda is the literal definition of “ride or die.” Plus, when it was all said and dug, Andre won back his position of CFO of Empire Entertainment — and learned about the existence of what’s essentially a metal detector for dead bodies. (The more you know…)

While Andre was definitely the star of “Poor Yorick,” his family had more than enough drama of their own: Hakeem almost took a baseball bat to Jamal’s head (and possibly discovered a new frontwoman for Mirage a Trois); Cookie beat Roxanne Ford at her own game; Jamal transformed himself from artist to art itself; and (speaking in record-label terms), Boo-Boo Kitty got shelved — with no release date. Let’s recap!

EMP204_sc21_0601r_hires1SNITCH BITCH? | The FBI raids both Empire and Lyon Dynasty HQ, as D.A. Roxanne “MiracleBra” Ford continues her quest to take down Lucious. But she uncovers one spread sheet she didn’t expect when Lucious greets her butt-booty nekkid in his bedroom, sneering, “Hi there, baby. Look wherever you like.”

Thirsty — inexplicably guiding the family’s legal strategy in a wide ’70s necktie — insists Lucious, Cookie and their kids need to publicly present as “one big happy family,” the better to influence public opinion. And Lucious’ insistence that the FBI raid just makes Empire look more raw and dangerous quickly convinces Mimi that her quarter-billion investment is totes safe. “This is how playas play to win!” shouts the cancer-surviving mogul, before high-fiving Papa Lyon. (File under: Things you never could’ve seen coming.)

Roxanne, though, gets Cookie brought down to central booking an old warrant (involving Porsha and a jumped turnstyle) — and Cookie’s “If I die in police custody, I did not commit suicide!” proves both LOL- and chill-inducing. Our fabulous, red-leather-clad matriarch experiences some incarceration-induced PTSD — but, eventually uses it to her advantage, telling Roxanne that Lucious and Bunkie’s beef pertained to the Apex Sattelite Radio deal. A giddy Roxanne promises to dig deeper into the merger — essentially rendering it dead in the water — and the vibe is so congenial that Cookie apologizes (!) and tells her her weave is “nice.” (!!) Then Roxanne is all, “So is your wig.” Good thing Cookie’s playing the prosecutor like a Stradivarius, or I’d shout “Objection: Out of character!” at the imaginary judge. That’s not the final Roxanne scene of the hour, but more on that in a moment…

EMP204_sc24_0118r_hires1BROTHERS AT ARMS | Despite being signed to opposing labels, Jamal and Hakeem agree to work together on the video for “Ain’t About the Money” — a detente brought about during a hilarious, contentious meeting between Lucious and Cookie (“Tell me a grandma that’s got an ass like this!”)

At the shoot, though, everybody goes and makes things more complicated than an Avril Lavigne single. Lucious presents Hakeem with a custom-made beat, one he can only access if he returns to Empire. Mimi shows up to sip champagne and absorb Cookie taunts like, “Uh-uh. White bitch, you gotta go!” And after the video gets upstaged by renowned artist Chase One showing up with a new painting of Jamal, Hakeem has a tantrum, declaring it “the most ugliest painting I’ve ever seen in my life” and then jamming a knife right into the canvas. Is it a shock, then, when the final shot of the video ends in unchoreographed fisticuffs. (If Cookie hadn’t been in lockup, you know she’d have ended the sibling silliness with a broom and a couple of choice zingers, K?)

Hakeem winds up feeling bad about it, pouting into his drink at a jazz bar. But before he can hit “Send” on a “Sorry, bro!” text, his ears get enchanted by an amateur singer named Laura, offering a Spanish-language cover of “Blue Bayou” so pretty it’d make Huckabee and Sanders sway in time to the music.

EMP204_sc37_0812r_hires1LOVE IS WAR-HOL | So, yes, we already talked about Chase One and his Warhol-esque rendering of Jamal The Artist. Did I mention he drops waayyyyy obvi double-entendres like “I wanna be inside you” and “God you’re gorgeous” to Jamal — right in front of a silent, seething Michael. (Has boyfriend learned nada from Cookie?) Chase doesn’t even flinch when Hakeem defaces his painting, cooing that “art is fluid, ephemeral” and making me think he’s thinking about some other fluid, ephemeral activities he’d like to do with Jamal. I don’t get the scraggly hair and unkempt beard and black tunic-y garb, but I’m currently wearing shorts by Old Navy, a t-shirt from Target and socks from BJ’s (I know, I’ve given up at life), so what do I know?

CAN YOU DIG? | Lucious continues to have scary flashbacks to his glassy-eyed mother and their visits from child services every time his manic-depressive son comes extending an olive branch. Finally, Andre asks the big question — “if I can make this [FBI probe] all go away, will you let me back at Empire as CFO?” To which Lucious, ever the opportunist, is all “and then some!”

EMP204_sc12_0120r_hires1So Andre goes home and tells Rhonda that God’s been speaking to him, that he needs to dig up Vernon’s body, and thereby prove the FBI has no star witness left claiming Lucious killed Bunkie. Rhonda, powered by love or self-preservation or both, goes along with — and five feet down into the ground, she realizes that while they went in knowing Vernon was buried in front of the tree with the hole — whoops! – all the trees have holes… dun dun dunnnnn…

Lucious and Thirsty — who put a tracking device on Andre’s car — suddenly appear in the woods and help the homicidal couple finish their job. Andre takes a moment to stare into the trunk and apologize to the man whose care and kindness helped him become the man he is today (brilliant, rich MBA — not emotionally disintegrating accomplice to murder). Lucious has a message for his dead buddy, too: “You will rot in hell, you snitch!” But first — his body has to be put in Roxanne’s passenger seat… because so what if that’s the kind of foolery that puts your whole plan at risk. A good scream from the bad witch in black is a victory all its own.

EMP204_sc7_0411r_hires1ANIKA PINK-SLIPPED… AGAIN! | Cookie continues to freeze Anika out of Lyon Dynasty — but then makes her rival an offer. If she can sign Royal T to the label, she can get back on the payroll. Only — whoops! — after a conversation with Lucious, Cookie changes her mind. Sure, she says, she knows Anika is telling the truth and Lucious is lying about wanting Anika to steal Cookie’s masters, but Cookie simply can’t trust Boo Boo. I think her logic is essentially, “At what point will the power shift and Anika will betray me?” and that makes sense. But with orders like “Don’t show up to my studio again,” where does it leave Grace Gealey’s lovely alter ego in our story? (This troubles me, Empire fans!)

Anyhow, what did you think of this week’s Empire? How badly will this end for Andre? 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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27 Comments
  1. Jake says:

    I feel this season is basically rinse and repeat. It’s basically the same thing for the last 4 episodes of whose company is better. Again I don’t mind a alert pace but I need p burned too much plot in season 1.

  2. Rob G says:

    I actually loved the episode . I thought Taraji was fantastic and Andre was great as usual .

    Yes the first season was crazy this crazy that …this second season is even better story wise . it gives us a solid plot for the first half? Of the season .

  3. Annie says:

    I like this episode. I laughed through out the episode. I’m glad that they are finally moving Andre’s storyline along, and it was good to see Rhonda. I’m confused about why Michael only had five lines, especially since someone was coming on to his boyfriend.

    I think that some people may have an issue with the lack of an OMG moment that makes you want to tune in next week. Despite the obvious issue of Vernon’s body being in Roxanne’s car pointing the finger at someone in the Lyon family killing Vernon to protect Lucious, I have a feeling that that storyline is over. Despite liking the show, it is missing the first season’s urgency of wanting to know what happens next.

    That being said, I’m glad that we got a chance to see Cookie use her brain to solve the radio problem. It was refreshing to see someone in the family solve a problem without resulting to violence or throwing money at the issue.

    • The Beach says:

      My biggest laugh of the episode was the photo of Porsha jumping the turnstile and telling them her name was Cookie Lyons.

  4. Cat says:

    Great episode better than last week – how could you miss that the video was an homage to Tupac and Dre’s “Caifornia Love!!!” so classic

  5. Beth says:

    Finally a good episode. Hope it keeps getting better.. was starting to lose interest. It’s pretty predicable though. I told my husband “watch they’re going to get into a fight” while shooting the video and sure enough two seconds later – a fight. So much flip flopping, too. I know it’s supposed to be dramatic and over the top, but sheesh.

  6. Al says:

    I just come away feeling meh, it’s too predictable

    • The Beach says:

      I think it’s falling a bit into the “Glee” trap of adding way too many guest stars instead of concentrating on its key players.

  7. laurelnev says:

    I’m sorry, but I disagree with all the folks complaining Empire isn’t living up to its 1st season glory. I’m loving this season. Loving about everything but Cookie’s wig tonight. Guess that was one of the ones the nieces decimated! Lucious was back to showing his true colors: those of an abhorrent, lying snake. Lying straight to his own son’s face without a twitch, cursing Bunkie as they dumped his decomposing body in the trunk, and sabotaging his ex-fiance’s career, all in the course of a couple of hours, and that’s only the tip of his iceberg of capabilities. But I have to say I LOVE how Cookie turned the tables and used her brief re imprisonment as a way to sink Lucious’ radio deal. Can’t wait to see how that plays out. That, and how Jamal reacts once he finds out Andre is about to depose him. I SO HOPE Jamal goes straight to Lyon Dynasty!

  8. Allison says:

    Good episode tonight. The song Jamal was singing in the beginning of the episode was really nice. When I saw Hakeem take that bat in his hands and nearly swing it at Jamal’s face, I didn’t think it was real, but when I realized it was, I was like whoa! Anyway, I love the way Cookie played the prosecutor – brilliant – that’s the Cookie we know and love – play the prosecutor and get back at Luscious at the same time – kill two birds with one stone. Finally, we got to see Laura. I was waiting for Laura. She was worth the wait – so beautiful and so talented. That is what I love about Empire. The show displays talented artists that, speaking for myself, I know I never would have even heard of if not for this show. When Luscious and Thirsty showed up where Andre and his wife were, I at first thought it was the cops. Then when I saw it was only one car, I knew it had to be Luscious. My thought was confirmed with Luscious’s reply to the question of who’s there when he said the devil himself and I said yeah that’s Luscious. I don’t know what role Anika will play in the show anymore now that she and Luscious have split but Grace Gealey is too much of a talent for the show to lose. She and Taraji play well off of each other so I hope tonight’s episode was not the last we see of her. Next week’s episode looks beast so I will definitely watch if for no other reason than to see what happens when all those Lyons gather together in a church!

  9. ann says:

    I think this was one of the better episodes. That being said, I’ve noticed the more cohesive the plot gets the more some people lose interest in the show. They want something happening every second whether it makes sense or not. It’s probably a generational thing. I still enjoy and prefer a plot while millenials seem to go more for the instant gratification. Since that’s who the advertisers want we’ll see if ratings continue to slide.

    • Mary says:

      I don’t know if it is a generational thing, I am not that young, but the show seems to be dragging or repetitive I don’t know how to explain it. Each week is a little better but it is missing something. I don’t know, maybe the characters seem out of wack. Last year I was glued to the TV, this year I am easily distracted. Not given up yet but I will say I am a little disappointed.

      • Marie says:

        Definitely not a generational thing. One of the ways I’ve always measured my pleasure with a show is: at the end of each episode am I left saying “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? (How the hell did she do that? How the hell is he gonna out of this mess? or “I never saw THAT coming.) Two examples of shows that prove such good writing is possible were “Breaking Bad” and “Weeds”. The closing scenes of the bulk of their episodes either left me gaping at the screen in surprise or yelling to a friend “How the heck is he/she gonna get out of this one?” They were fantastic series.

        I also find Empire is becoming repetitive. While it does give me some surprise moments, it tends to be Luscious being a bastard in business as well as in manipulating his family: Cookie telling off someone or trying to be peacemaker; Hakeem and Jamal fighting each other (or someone else either verbally or physically): Andre being treated like crap by Luscious and as a result Andre’s mental illness becomes more and more apparent (I’m starting to wonder if Luscious believes Andre isn’t his …… he’s so much more ignorant to Andre… maybe it’s more than just that Andre isn’t a marketable singer/rapper like his brothers); and Hakeem, Jamal and every darn artist complaining about not getting the support they need.

        Seriously, at this point, I’ve starting FF’ing through the songs (maybe that is a generational thing hahaha) and some characters’ conversations; then I just read the summary here the next day in case I missed something important.

        At this point, I watch the show for Cookie. Taraji P. Henson is the best thing about the show I’m thrilled she’s getting the accolades she’s long deserved. Apologies to his fans, but in spite of the fact that Terrence Howard one of two stars of the show, I wouldn’t mind if he were written off the show tomorrow. Even when they write his character scenes that are there to help us understand why he’s so cold and manipulative and power hungry, it doesn’t make Luscious anymore interesting or likable to me. I can’t explain specifically why I feel that way, I just do. I expect to get jumped on by the Howard fans as well as by people who will say “he’s the star, there isn’t a show without him to be the catalyst for so many story lines”, but I figure if quit tomorrow, the writers could take the show in a different, successful direction pretty easily. Anyway, it’s just how I feel, many will obviously and understandably feel differently. More power to them. Each to his own.

        • KT5 says:

          Regarding Andre, I get the feeling that Andre reminds Lucious too much of his mother because of the mental illness and perhaps he feels some guilt because he believes that he passed this illness along to his son. Or perhaps we will find out more as we learn more about his mother through flashbacks.

  10. Donna Lenning says:

    you need to put up YouTube video of the Spanish version of Blue Bayou. That was gorgeous.

  11. KS says:

    How exactly was a pregnant woman able to dig graves all night?

  12. Bigdede says:

    Cookie’s fashion and wigs have not been good so far this season. Loving Andre. Like Hakeem and Cookie’s relationship. Jamal is so annoying this season. For a minute I thought Jamal was going to start singing California Love!! Thirsty is a better sidekick than Porsha. At least he has a device that can find dead bodies.

  13. Bigdede says:

    They need to stop having Anika kiss Cookie’s behind! What happened to last season’s Anika? No way she would’ve slept with Mimi because Cookie told her to. She wouldn’t be begging Cookie for a job. Yes we understand Cookie is a fan favorite but we like Boo Boo Kitty also. They better fix her.

    • Annie says:

      I’m fine with Anika sleeping with Mimi as a last resort, but I think the misstep was not showing her initially trying to sway Mimi by showcasing her skills as a smart business woman. The same is true with the writers choosing to show Anika grovel, instead of proving that she can add something to Cookie’s company. Last year they showed that both women are smart, and that they each bring something to the table that the other lacks. A partnership between the two of them would make sense.

  14. Win says:

    “…but I’m currently wearing shorts by Old Navy, a t-shirt from Target and socks from BJ’s (I know, I’ve given up at life), so what do I know?”

    Preach, My Slezak, preach!

  15. Relaxx says:

    Michael Slezak gives the best recaps always! This episode is the best so far. It was funny and great. Thirsty, Chase One, Cookie, Luscious and many others were hilarious. Laura’s voice is so beautiful. I loved when Lucious called Hakeem a mama’s boy, what a difference from last season. The best part of the episode for me was Luscious final words to Vernon then Vernons rotted corpse showing up in Roxanne’s passenger seat. Great episode.

  16. kirads09 says:

    Thought this was THE BEST episode of S2 so far. Many golden moments.