Post Mortems
empire jamal derek

Empire Recap: Grand-Ma Seizures Plus: EP Talks Lucious' 'Love' for Cookie, the Tricks Up Anika's Sleeve

Not since the days of Marie Antoinette has a cake-bearing woman been asking for such a complete and total takedown as Lucious Lyon’s mother on this week’s Empire.

Leah Walker might present herself as a kindly old grandmother type, but the way she waves a knife in her son’s face, then hisses, “Sorry I was too weak to kill you when I had the chance,” gives me a case of the mean chillakers (a new term I coined just now to describe the feelings I get from the old battle axe’s threats). She does bake a mean confection — or, rather, a half-dozen of ’em — but before we dig in, somebody had better check on Juanita!

Oh, wait! I’m burying the hot, gay sex — and I’m all about that life!

Tobias Truvillion Empire D MajorJamal meets contentious with American Sound Awards’ musical director D-Major/Derek (Tobias Truvillion), and before you can say “baby lock them doors and turn the lights down low” the two sexy fellas are (euphemism alert) pushing and shoving and (not a euphemism) making beautiful music together. I’m officially ‘shipping JaMajor, even if it’s all built on a foundation of internal homophobia, music-industry politics and lies we tell ourselves.

Allow me to recap the action from Season 2, Episode 16 — before jumping to some thoughts on what’s ahead from executive producer Sanaa Hamri.

ASA IN THE HOLE | Meeting with D-Major to plan their ASA set, Cookie insists the Lyons need seven minutes, not four. Unfortunately, Jamal, Hakeem and Lucious are all so deeply invested in promoting their own interests/careers that they can’t settle on a unified performance. “Y’all sound like a rack of bitches!” shrieks Cookie, but they’re all left silenced when Andre waltzed in with Lucious’ presumed-dead mother Leah.

Empire trying to flyWhaddaya know, though? Later, when Lucious sits down at the piano with his mother, it inspires an idea for the collaboration, and he sells the concept with some startling and startlingly sweet honesty. “I’m still y’all’s father,” he tells his boys, before turning to Cookie. “And you’re still my first love.” The resultant ditty — “Chasing the Sky” — features lyrics from Lucious, Hakeem and Jamal that all make me a little misty-eyed, and apparently D-Major is moved, too. “Mama’s a beast!” he says, before giving Cookie everything for which she asked.

“YOU NEED NOT TO GRAB ME” | Derek says that to Jamal when the two have an argument over the middle Lyon son’s desire to perform a new single at the ASAs — but he’s only talking about his arm (wink wink) because seconds later, these two foooooiiiine gentlemen are GOING. AT. IT. (D-Major even stops to lock the door.) Jamal eventually decides that a relationship with the closeted (and still publicly hanging with hot chicks) Derek isn’t worth it. “I worked damn hard to walk in my truth,” he says, and I respect that. Except…oooh the chemistry between these guys is really hard to argue against. So later, after their Leviticus set, when Jamal tells Derek to stop by later, I can’t conjure up any righteous indignation, especially when the producer purrs, “I dont wanna make you do anything you don’t feel comfortable with.” (Please, let’s have some footage next week, Fox, and thanks in advance.)

empire vivica foxSISTER ACTING | Cookie’s sisters Carol and Candace are at odds, mainly because the latter sibling wants Carol to take her kids back. But it turns out recovering addict Carol is haunted by the fact that back in the day, after Cookie went to prison, she helped Lucious “murder a few people.” (No biggie?!) She wants to confess, but — uh-oh — they’re being eavesdropped on by former Philly beat cop and current FBI agent Tariq. He winds up at a bar where Carol is trying to resist a glass of Wild Turkey — and methinks he’s not above seducing her for intel. He might not even have to, given the look on Carol’s face when at the ASA event, Porsha is all, “I’d be jealous if my sister had everything and I had nothing.”

BYE, BLOGGER | Remember how it was Harper who spilled to Andre about Leah still being alive? Well, Andre drops that deet into his “Heeeere’s Grandma!” reveal, and next thing you know, she’s in a limo with Thirsty, thinking she’s headed to an interview with the Empire CEO. But nope, they wind up on the wrong side of the tracks, under a bridge, and she’s not even panicked. “Lucious should know I can’t be threatened or bought,” she grumbles, and Thirsty counters that, “I wouldn’t touch a hair on your head.” As he lets Harper out onto the curb, though, she’s abducted violently and horrifyingly by a pair of Thirsty’s thugs, and I sense the high heel that falls off her foot is the last we’ll see of her.

THE RED(-HEELED) WOMAN | Rhonda visits Hakeem’s babyproofed pad with Anika, and when a box of infant supplies almost falls on her,she has a flashback to her tragic fall — and remembers she was pushed. Later, back at Anika’s, she spies her buddy’s red-heeled shoe — and has a horrific awakening that the woman who’s been offering her a crash pad may be the one responsible for her losing her baby. Except… if it plays out that way, it’s a little too bland-basic for Empire, no? So I fully expect a more twisted end game — and Anika being exonerated. You?

empire cookie luciousGRANDMA’S ABOUT TO GET RUN OVER BY A REINDEER? | Once Leah’s back in the picture, she presents herself as innocent and a little vacant — even sharing a moment with Lucious at the piano. Her son, for his part, explains to Cookie that everything in the “Boom Boom Boom Boom” video was true — except Leah’s gun had no bullets when she pointed it to her head and pulled the trigger. “I need all of you to understand how dangerous she really is,” he pleads. And at the end of the hour, we see he’s not exaggerating. Leah bakes him a collection of cakes, wakes him in the night, and practically threatens his life if he doesn’t eat up. She still resents him sending her away for 21 years, but perhaps she doesn’t realize that she’d be better off out of Lucious’ sight altogether.

Now, a few thoughts from EP Sanaa Hamri, who directed the Season 2 finale…

TVLINE | Should we be at all suspicious of Lucious’ intentions with Cookie? He seems to be really getting her guard down.
The Cookie and Lucious rekindling is something we see them struggle with as they try to keep their family and their company together. And we’ll see as we come toward the season finale, as they get closer together, what that means. There will be certain situations that will test whether they can make it or not. Lucious is a mastermind of thinking way ahead — and some of the moves he makes for the empire may seem heinous at the time. But with that said, I don’t think he can fake the emotion of love.

TVLINE | Kaitlin Doubleday teased to us last month to expect a “dynamic, scary, insane, crazy” finale reveal regarding the identity of the person who pushed Rhonda down the stairs. What can you tease about that?
Directing the finale was completely, as Kaitlyn described, crazy, insane and utterly unbelievable. The storylines are so twisted and intricate and well thought-out by [showrunner] Ilene Chaiken that we were able to, in directing these scenes, bring out the truth of the situations. We’re going to find out a lot of things, and they’re not what you’d expect. And that’s what I love about Empire – those twists and turns.

TVLINE | Earlier in the season, we saw Anika in blonde wig, pretending to be Laura’s Uber driver, acting crazy. But given all we’ve seen of her, is it too obvious that she turns out to be the person who pushed Rhonda?
Anika is a very complex character who is, at times, a villain. But she has to fight for her own life. She is pregnant, she has to win in the midst of all the Lyons. She’s literally in the lion’s den, but carrying something they all covet. Anika has so much up her sleeve and she is a very intricate character. Everybody’s gonna have a really fun ride.

empire tiana hakeem duetTVLINE | And we saw tonight Hakeem choosing Tiana as a duet partner – much to Laura’s chagrin. Did he propose to Laura prematurely?
Hakeem’s trying to be a man, trying to step up his game, against all odds. He has all these bad habits he inherited, being born with a silver spoon in his mouth. But he’s making a mistake all of us have seen our friends make. People marry too young. Who can’t relate to that? As humans we make those mistakes, and we see why he wants to do this. Laura seems like a sweet girl. But will it work out? Will he be able to get away from the clutches of the empire — and Lucious?

What did you think of this week’s Empire? Are you shipping Jamal and Derek? Do you think Harper is dead-dead? And is Leah destined to die?

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. Robert says:

    best episode of the season hands down !

  2. GregJ. says:

    Great episode. The scene with Lucious and his mother., just wow. Enough said.

    • I think that the show has become very predictable and that they don’t know where they are going with the story anymore. I mean first Sam dies than Dean is like ill die so that you can come back to life and it just keeps happening, I mean they started out the whole thing trying to find their mothers killer. So long live Hitler and hail the Reich.

  3. Tracee says:

    Really good episode! I agree, the season has felt a bit “off” – sophomore slump? Or is 18 episodes too many for a show like Empire to tell a clear, concise story? Anyway, very enjoyable hour of television, I’ve been worried about this show.

  4. Bigdede says:

    Funny how Lucious is so scared of his mama. He can easily ship her butt back

  5. sladewilson says:

    I got the strangest feeling that Jamal is the “Lyon who will fall” but I’m hoping I’m wrong. And is it me or is Tiana still carrying that torch for Hakeem? Plus for whatever reason, I’ve always felt that it was Anika’s mom who pushed Rhonda. I don’t know why, I just have that crazy feeling. If it was Anika, talk about no originality.

    • Millie says:

      OMG!! I thought the same thing that it’s Anika’s mom who pushed Rhonda. The way Anika was talking about how her mom is pampering her. Her mother is still very angry at Lucious, so I think it was her.

      • NM says:

        I also had this thought to myself earlier this week. Definitely think it was Anika’s crazy ass mama.

  6. sladewilson says:

    BTW – Michael – the song is called “Chasing the Sky”… You might wanna change that…

  7. Dwight says:

    Just to much to handle but it keeps you on the edge of your seat and it keeps getting better and better

  8. Brooke Harris says:

    I think Leah is a big threat to lucious at this point , I’m not surprised she went on a bake run and where’s Junita I think Leah did something to her , it’s kinda funky that Tariq the FBI agent shows up in newyork smelling around is Candace intentions good ?. Although Andre seems well but why bring Leah back the look lucious had in eyes epic! But even the shows a little compassion he knows Leah wants him buried but will she be able to take what luscious will give back , he is really freaked by the whole thing, but how will Rhonda react to figuring out that Anika pushed her and she lost the baby , will this end good for the debutante . How does tiana really feel about Hakeem , did you see the look in Laura and Hakeem’s eyes when they hugged?, and the Acas who will fall my guess is Jamal because I see him trying to stop the shooter but who is the shooter? My guess Bre z why because I think she figured lucious killed her father (Frank Gathers) and the rejection from Jamal and luscious and Boom boom didn’t run .,,a pot of trouble but we will see next week !

  9. ivy says:

    I think the deputy mayor pushed Rhonda down the stairs. She was upset when her affair ended with Andre.

  10. Ted says:

    Did we ever determine whether it was men’s or women’s shoes that were walking away after pushing Rhonda down the stairs? Given Lucious’s issues in the past with Rhonda being white, and seeing’s how the child was going to be a girl, it wouldn’t surprise me if Lucious had Thirsty do the deed, so the empire isn’t passes to a woman of mixed racial makeup.

  11. 1lear says:

    I don’t know if it’s chemicals or not but some mothers have a hold over their children, that can make them little kids again, even if they are 80 years old. That’s the power that Leah has over “Dwight” no matter what he calls himself. If Anika did push Rhonda down the stairs, she has more sociopathic tendencies than Lucious and Leah put together, because she genuinely seems innocent, never having displayed anything remotely guilty in her behavior. it would be easier for a lot of people if individuals on the Down-low would just come out, it would cause a lot less drama down the road (the truth shall set you free). Thirsty has come a long way since The Wire. Juanita is probably from the Old Skool where no matter what, you don’t get inbetween family issues, and knew it was just best to leave and let Lucious call her back.Leah may be crazy but she did give inspiration for a great song this episode. That’s my quick 2 cents…Boom Boom Boom Boom Bang……

  12. Loved the episode. Cookie teasing Lucious about his cleanse was hilarious.
    Jamal, stay away from that new guy. He’s displaying all kinds of abusive tendencies. You need a gentle soul like Michael. I’m so mad at him for cheating. He and Jamal are perfect together.
    I can’t wait for Keem to break up with boring Laura and I hope Tiana precipitates the break up.
    Still hate the baby story. How pathetic of classy socialite Anika to get knocked up by Lucious Lyon’s messy, barely out of his diapers, baby boy. I suppose it’s fine that he’s barely legal since he’s heir to a billion dollar empire.

  13. b. S farhat says:

    I feel the d major relationship with Jamal should be giving a lot of room to grow. I’m tried of see every body in the Lyon family marrying to other races. Let one family member say yes to the African-American community. Jamal needed some one like daddy to receive and give him love. Yes, I am talking marriage not sex,living together or filing. Gay can and do marry today.

  14. Gloria says:

    after theepisode that hakeem got voted out as CEO, i din’t see much more action and drama to keep me going…… until the finale episode. it’s wow!!!!!!
    i really loved leah waking lucious up in the middle of the night, i really thought she was going to charge that knife at him, anyway he may still die with or without gettin stabed, all that sugar in his system at once!!!!!!!!. let me guess, not gud