Poor Laz Delgado!
Adam Rodriguez’s duplicitous Empire character ends this week’s episode — and possibly his run on the series — on the brink of being turned into just another Malbec stain on Cookie’s office carpet, but winds up getting upstaged by a vomiting junkie, a completely crazy kiss and (not so surprisingly) the Lyon matriarch’s eye-popping new jacket (a Tom Ford for Sesame Street original, naturally).
Worst part is, even if he survives Lucious’ “oh, baby boy, you are soooo dead” death-stare, Laz is definitely disinvited from Cookie’s Cookout — and the opportunity to sip Mirage a Trois’ “Bottomless Mimosa” live and in person. #tragique
Laz isn’t the only one having a bad week, though. Boo Boo Kitty’s blonde wig is gone — but her descent into madness is as vibrant as ever. The streaming-service deal that it feels like Lucious has been pursuing since the dawn of time is about to end up next to Uncle Vernon (in the shallow grave under the tree with the hole in it — no, the other tree with the hole in it!). At least the legendary Diahann Carroll gets an early Christmas present by way of a legendary name-check. Let’s recap, yes?
THEY TRIED TO MAKE HER GO TO REHAB | Cookie (code name Loretha) and Candice spend two days squabbling in Philadelphia and wearing all the wrong clothes trying to track down their relapsed sister Carol. “I don’t do prisons — I’m definitely not doing a crack house,” huffs Vivica A. Fox’s alter-ego, to which Cookie zings back, “Would you stop acting like Diahann Carroll, heffa? You ain’t been livin’ in the suburbs with that white man all your life!” With the help of Cookie’s prison pal Pepper (Rosie O’Donnell), they track Carol down to a dirty couch in an alleyway, and since she’s clearly not going to be allowed to continue this revolting life choice, she chooses to leave her kids with Candace and go sober up at Cookie’s. Before that decision, however, she pukes all over Candace’s shoes — cosmic payback for Candace’s snide “I didn’t think it was Greek literature” bon mot after Pepper reminisces about Cookie protecting her from Lady Athena while they did hard time. There’s a twist at the end of the K Hole, though: While Cookie’s using the ladies’ room, Candace points out that if Cookie knew what Carol did while she was in prison, “it wouldn’t be such a Sister Sledge reunion.” And just like that, we’ve got a nasty secret to hang over our heads til February sweeps (or whenever the writer’s room needs it). (Please tell me Carol didn’t get with Lucious.) (Sorry for putting that in your heads.)
THE SKYE’S THE LIMIT | Jamal hooks up (not a euphemism) with pop diva Skye Summers to record the first track for his upcoming Black and White album, but discovers the woman he’s idolized feels trapped in a girl-power pop box. “Burn the box!” advises Jamal, whose “Ready to Go” video is being directed by Lee Daniels (in a verrry meta moment). Jamal and Skye bang out (not a euphemism) a jam called “Powerful” that’s about overcoming racism/seeing past race, and it’s pretty, well, powerful — though no so edgy that you couldn’t envision it as an album cut on any record by Beyoncé or Lady Gaga or Katy Perry. (OK, probably not Katy Perry.)
“Thank you for seeing me,” says Skye, mid-performance.
“Thank you for letting me see you,” coos back Jamal.
“Who the hell talks like this without a Carol-style stomach-purge,” I ask, cynically.
But there’s not much time for my dialogue-induced indignation, as Jamal leans in for a little mouth-to-mouth (definitely a euphemism), and Skye doesn’t look all that unreceptive. Now, let’s remember, while it’s easy to shout, “He’s supposed to be the gay one!,” Jamal is also the first of the Lyon brothers to have thought (however erroneously) that he’d fathered a child (with his old fiancee, Raven-Symone’s Olivia), so it’s not as though Hall & Oates “I Can’t Go for That” is his theme song.
COOKIE? MONSTER! | Laz suddenly seems less sure of the plan he cooked up with his fellow Bully Boys to extort Lyon Dynasty for money. But before he can come clean, Lucious comes strolling in and tells Cookie about all of her new man’s underhanded dealings. “I had no idea I was gonna fall in love with you!” cries Laz, sounding like he’s woken up in a really bad erotic-thriller on Pay Cable. But Cookie isn’t hearing it. She double-checks the bull tattoo on Laz’s back, confirms his gang affiliation, then hands his gun to Lucious with a knowing look. Lucious raises his eyebrows, to be certain. Cookie’s expression remains unchanged. Now, mind you, I don’t have a lot of experience interpreting non-verbal cues for “put a bullet into this snitch bitch,” but much like the Supreme Court ruling for obscenity, I know it when I see it. So until proven otherwise, #RIPLaz.
ANIKA’S GOT A BUN | Hakeem and Laura are working on a new track, “Miracles,” for Cookie’s Cookout — and Anika is watching the live feed scarfing down pregnancy-craving ice cream, printing out maps of Laura’s home and scrawling “LIES” across paparazzi pics of her ex-love and his new flame like she’s AHS: Coven‘s Madam LaLaurie learning America has had a black poet laureate.
Anika drops by Rhonda’s new mansion (purchased for her and Andre by a contrite Lucious) for some iced tea, and misled to think Anika is pining for some random artist (not her brother in law), Rhonda encourages her to do whatever’s necessary to preserver her relationship. I love Rhonda’s side story about sneaking into the dorm room of a college rival who went after Andre, cutting off her ponytail, and texting her, “I will continue cutting if you do not leave Andre alone,” but unfortch, this is totally the wring place and time for it. Anika follows up by crashing Hakeem’s latest party — and bringing every bit of bitchiness Cookie taught her. “Do I know you from somewhere?” asks Laura. “No, I doubt it, honey,” hisses Anika, “unless you bus tables at Nobu.” Anika tells Hakeem about how Laura lives in a house with seven of her siblings — sheesh, compared to the crimes committed by the Lyon family, this transgression is akin to making the guy breakfast in bed — and the plan backfires. “You won’t be a Lyon — ever!” Hakeem winds up telling Anika — and he has no idea the wigged fury he might have just unleashed.
THAT DEAL | Lucious wants to forefeit future royalties on his catalog for “cash on hand” to complete the SwiftStream deal that I thought was finalized last week with Mimi’s slurry contract-signing. (But hey, what do I know?) Cookie refuses to cosign — seeing as she owns half the rights to most of Lucious’ early music — reminding him she’s the only one who can see the big picture. It’s strike two when his offer to have Hakeem rejoin the Empire family is harshly rebuked (Ummm…did dude actually think his estranged son would say “Yes” to this mess?) Finally, Lucious agrees to Andre’s plan to sell Empire’s sports and liquor assets to pay for SwiftStream — and you know (not just based on next week’s previews) that it won’t end well.
What did you think of this week’s Empire? Will you miss Laz (if indeed he’s dead)? How did Vivica A. Fox and Rosie O’Donnell fare? Sound off below!