Post Mortems
Empire Recap

Empire Recap: Emotional Trigger! Plus: EP Talks Andre's Response to Tragedy, Rekindled Cookie/Lucious

Empire‘s spring premiere was defined even more by what Hakeem Lyon didn’t do than in the bold moves he made throughout the hour.

The youngest member of the hip-hop dynasty — last seen waaay back in December’s winter finale voting to oust his father Lucious as Empire Entertainment CEO — rejected his twisted dad’s invitation to shoot him at point-blank range and walked off into the night at the end of Wednesday’s hour. That wouldn’t have been quite so dramatic had Lucious not vowed to end Hakeem’s life the next time their paths crossed. “Watch your back, baby boy,” hissed Terrence Howard’s alter ego. “I keep my promises.”

Oh, Lucious’ confession to executing Bunkie – on the same exact spot — made the moment all the more chilling. (Was Lucious disappointed when Hakeem didn’t pull the trigger? Yikes!)

Empire HakeemLucious’ rage reached its boiling point when — despite his henchmen’s violent and very effective threats to the Empire board of directors about nominating any new candidates as CEO — Hakeem leapt onto the company’s conference-room table and declared himself the heir apparent.

His first day on the job, however, found him butting heads with his scheming former lover/main Empire shareholder Camilla. Remember Cookie and Lucious’ wager over the epic Hakeem-Freda Gatz rap, which resulted in Empire and Cookie’s Lyon Dynasty producing Jamal’s next album as a joint venture? Cookie would only agree to let Empire release its No. 1 artist’s CD if Empire bought out her label — but also allowed it to exist as an autonomous entity under its umbrella.

Fret not, though, Cookie’s endgame isn’t playing tambourine for “Yoko Ho-No.” She’s planning to destroy Camilla from inside the company, she promised Lucious, Jamal and Andre — and oh, it’ll be a long, hilarious, insult-filled trip getting there.

The episode’s other big arc centered on the fate of Rhonda (she survived the fall finale’s horrifying push down her mansion’s epic staircase) and her unborn baby (who did not). A devastated Andre ended the hour praying to God to help him, but Rhonda renounced any faith in a higher power — seeing how her prayers as she lay bleeding in her foyer (to let her baby live, even if she died 1,000 times) went unanswered.

When Rhonda returned home from the hospital, though, she seemed to experience a flash of memory indicating her terrible tumble was something more ominous than an accident. (We also got to see a glimpse of the perpetrator exiting — and wearing a red-bottomed heel. Anika, is that you? #TooObvi, folks!)

ffEMP-S2_211-sc3A4.B4-ch_0655_f_original_hires1In other news: Cookie whalloped Hakeem with a broom and her purse in the wake of his Empire board vote; Cookie and Lucious got cuddlier/flirtier than they have in many moons as she comforted him over his ouster/tried to convince him not to kill their youngest; Hakeem dumped Laura as a condition of Camilla making him CEO, but the breakup didn’t stick — they reunited and had sex for the first time; Laura cut a white-hot new jam (where the other Mirage a Trois gals at?); Jamal also recorded a nifty new jam, “Freedom,” which doubled as a memo to his rich benefactor/American Sound Award booster Jameson that he was still gay and proud – but unwilling to let that dictate that he couldn’t occasionally take a swim in Lake Ladylovin’. Sexual fluidity, yo!

Below, executive producer Ilene Chaiken weighs in on what’s ahead for Rhonda and Andre, Cookie and Lucious and a character whose journey might come to an end in the Season 2 finale.

TVLINE | How will losing their baby affect Andre and Rhonda’s marriage?
It is a turning point. Any couple that goes through such a tragic event is going to face challenges. We explore that between Rhonda and Andre in some detail. It’s not a simple, straightforward, melodramatic story. It’s a story about character. It’s a story about coping.

TVLINE | Is Andre’s bipolar disorder going to become a larger part of that story?
It’s always an issue for him. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to have a bipolar break, but he’s going to face those challenges and he’s going to be in a tenuous situation, in a tenuous relationship to his own mental health, and with his family constantly vigilant and expecting the worst from him.

TVLINE | Lucious and Cookie were there for each other in really supportive ways this week — complete with Cookie slapping Lucious’ booty. Will that romance be rekindled?
I won’t say whether or not the romance will be rekindled, but I’ll say that the relationship between Lucious and Cookie is one of the deepest relationships on this show or any show, as far as I’m concerned. There’s so much between them, it will never go away. They’ll always be drawn to one another. They’ll always flirt with the possibility of what could have been — and whether it can be again. And if either of them is ever on the brink of finding love somewhere else, you know that the other one is going to swoop in and ruin it.

empire Jamal FreedomTVLINE | What’s in store for Jamal?
Jamal is, firstly, on a journey to stardom and grappling with what that means, with what it means to his artist’s soul and his music. And also possibly more important to the drama of our show, Lucious and Jamal are suddenly pitted against one another again [for an ASA statuette], and that sets off a chain of events between Lucious and Jamal which you even got a hint of in [the winter finale]. Lucious is competitive. He does not want to be surpassed by any of his children, as much as he says he loves them and wants the best for them. He’s capable of all kinds of treachery to make sure that doesn’t happen

TVLINE | Give us your best season finale teaser.
We have a huge season cliffhanger… Let’s just say that someone might not be coming back to Empire at the end of the season.
—Reporting by Vlada Gelman

What did you think of Empire‘s spring premiere? Grade it in our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

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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19 Comments
  1. Al says:

    It was an okayish episode, that was slow in some spots. Cookie had some good moments as always. But it feel a bit inconsistent that everyone is on Luscious side given the first half saw them trying to take each other down. Hakeem just came across as annoying throughout the entire episode. Overall a slight improvement from 2A but the writing is still lacking a bit.

  2. ann marie benson says:

    The Louboutin’s were mens!

  3. laurelnev says:

    So glad Empire is back! Oh, how I’ve missed my Wednesday nigh guilty ghetto pleasure. ;) Can’t wit to see Cooke take Camilla down. But I DID miss Porsha.

  4. Brian says:

    Glad this is back. It might not so far be as good as season 1, but this show is still fun to watch.

  5. liame says:

    Back and better than ever! I’m not sure what people are looking for but this show is on point and doesn’t need to be over the top bat s*** crazy every episode. I enjoy this show because the actors and story lines are entertaining.

  6. Darcy Wilson says:

    Thought this episode was a VAST improvement on the first half of the season. It felt way more focused on the family and the people in their lives once again! Hopefully the rest of the season stays tight and on some sort of track

  7. Crys says:

    I thought the episode was good. Hakeem wasn’t annoying to me in the boardroom. I appreciate he still wants the company for his family just not for Lucious. I truly despise Lucious. I love everyone else by comparison. I know every show needs a villain. But after six seasons on Frank on Showtime’s Shameless. I would prefer these awful patriarchs to be killed off sooner than later.

  8. Dude says:

    I hate, hate, hate the way they portray Andre’s ‘bipolar’ disorder. It’s not only written/acted like someone who has never heard of bipolar disorder before. It’s written/acted like someone who doesn’t know what mental illness is. FYI: Bipolar disorder doesn’t turn you into the hulk.

    • stephanie says:

      I don’t think his reaction was a result of bipolar disorder but a result of being a father who lost a child. That is an unbelievably difficult and tragic experience and I think, regardless of mental health, any father in that situation would have the potential to respond in such a way. I would agree that his being bipolar is not always portrayed in a way that is accurate or realistic but I think in this particular scene he was responding as a parent not as a person with bipolar disorder.

  9. It was a very “Season 1” episode! I loved it!

  10. Troy says:

    I’m sorry but I feel like this show peaked at Season 1. We waited 4 months for this boring episode?? I mean c’mon. We all know who pushed her down the stairs and they’re making it seem like some big mystery and Hakeem is beyond annoying and I wish they would just kill him off. I mean the women on this show (besides Cookie) are so dumb and they’re throwing themselves all over Hakeem. Poor little spoiled brat who gets drunk and talks down to women and then all he has to do is apologize the next day and they jump into bed with him. It’s so monotonous. Just when I think a woman is finally going to knock him down a few pegs she goes and loses her virginity to him. And now Jamal is sexually fluid? Please.

  11. Jax&Juice's Girl says:

    The episode was good Cookie being Cookie she HAS take down that bitch Camilla!!!Can’t stand her ass, Hakeem is annoying as EVER I already feel bad for his Gf when she finds out about “crazy” Anika pregnant w.his baby! Plus are they really going make everybody wait to find out who pushed Rhonda and cause her to lose the baby I mean we know who did it!

  12. Relaxxx says:

    I enjoyed the episode. I’m so glad the show is back.

  13. EMPIRE says:

    could the “miscarried” child that Cookie was talking about be Camilla? #connectthedots