empire recap

Empire Recap: Don't Desk, Don't Tell

Um, excuse me? Has anyone seen an updated copy of the Empire Entertainment HR Manual?

I mean, far be it from me to encourage another frivolous lawsuit in this economy, but with executive assistants “multitasking” under Lucious’ desk, random delivery guys showing what Brown can do for Anika, and Shyne using artistic differences as an excuse to choke out Nessa in the studio, it’s only a matter of time before a lesser power in the Lyon family melodrama lawyers up, channels Rihanna and declares, “Pay me what you owe me!”

Don’t act like you forgot, Empire fans. I know, I know, you spent the last 57 minutes curled up in a fetal position on the living room couch after Lucious had/received that “stroke” in the middle of a conversation with Anika. But that was hardly the climax (sorry) of Season 3, Episode 3, “What Remains Is Bestial.”

Empire Mariah CareySome genuine stakes in the ongoing Cookie-Lucious showdown? Check. Andre facing an unexpected threat to his very freedom? Uh-huh. Mariah Carey’s cleavage playing the part of a CW superhero? Girl, you know it’s true. Leah allowed to roam the Lyon estate with a functional paring knife? Oh, honey, you better keep your knees to your chest as we recap the action.

NO I DON’T LIKE IT THAT THIS DUO PUT A RING ON IT | Lucious is so obsessed with streaming numbers that he’s apparently bought the lab set from CSI: Miami and is following subscriptions to Empire Extreme on a see-through screen in his office. He needs to hit 10 million by Thursday or face the shutdown of his Tidal-esque business. Anika pops in to ask for the gig as Empire’s new head of A&R — side note: Where Becky? — when suddenly Lucious appears to be in stress, possibly suffering from an aneurysm. “Do you need me to call a doctor?” Anika asks, doing her best to feign concern. But nah. From under Lucious’ desk comes Anika’s old assistant — and this is the exact moment that 15 million Americans taste bile rising in the backs of their throats. “Keep putting that back into that work of yours,” smiles Lucious, as his sexual conquest leaves the room. Soooooo nasty, dude. Not that it doesn’t make for great drama.

The Andre-Anika drama’s not done yet, though. Leah is following Boo-Boo Kitty around the mansion judging her mothering skills, and that leads to the following delicious exchange.

Leah: “Aren’t you supposed to be looking after [baby Bella]?”
Anika: “Aren’t you supposed to be sedated? Or dead?”
Leah: “My mama used to stick pins in a voodoo doll that looked just like you.”

Empire LuciousLater, Anika takes up residence in Lucious’ home office and finds herself all excited about Empire Extreme passing that 10 million hurdle. “YES! YES! YES!” (I’ll have what she’s having. #WhenHarryMetSally) But when the ultra-fine USP (not a typo) delivery guy pops his head up like a perfectly timed Whack-a-Mole, Lucious is enraged.Anika, however, reminds her “spouse” that she’s saved his butt twice (by marrying him and finding the teddycam) and she’s willing to play the game — but only to avoid “mutually assured destruction.” Ahhhh, yes, there’s the wig-rocking, punch-throwing crazylady who’s indispensible to the Empire narrative! #RIPRhonda

Empire AndreANDRE’S LIFE MATTERS | Following last week’s harrowing arrest — for the simple act of trying to move his possessions out of the home he shared with his late wife — Andre finds himself as the reluctant posterboy for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. No matter that he’s a Wharton grad and a Fortune 500 CFO, he still has to deal with media questions like, “Are you a gangster now, too?” To his shock, Andre gets to court and finds out he’s facing a felony battery charge — one that his old attorney pal advises him to cop a plea to. Lucious picks up Andre, Jamal and Hakeem from the courthouse and tries to shame them — “Y’all don’t know you’re black,” he hisses, kicking himself for letting his sons breathe “rarified air” — but Andre is having none of his dad’s unrighteous indignation. “I’d rather be in hell — I’d rather be dead,” he screams, than end up like Lucious. Still, will he have to turn to his dad now that Tariq is stalking him and promising him immunity — if he flips on his dad? #BadUncle

Empire TianaMONSTER MASHUP | Hakeem is in full tantrum mode after Tiana’s new boyfriend Graham makes a guest appearance at Leviticus and spits a verse that relentlessly mocks the youngest Lyon son. (And yet no one mentions Tiana is wearing a baffling DIY catastrophe involving boxing trunks, discarded beads and Pepto Bismol?!) Lucious suggests his son fight back with a dis track, and it’s all going well ’til ‘Keem’s new crush/artistic partner in crime Nessa expresses her reservations about providing the hook. “I get it: You’re mad at your ex,” she says. “But disrespecting her is not my jam.” Within seconds, Shyne has her by the throat, sending the terrifying message that her artisitic journey is not her own — and that he cares so little about her instrument that he’ll manhandle it without so much as a second thought. Meanwhile, Lucious plays to his son’s basest natures, wondering “What in the hell happened to that monster who tried to take his father out and rule his throne? Where he at?” He goes on to say that’s the kind of man he wants raising his actual granddaughter/publicly recognized daughter Bella. Ummmm… I can’t even comment on how jacked up this is. Is it a small sign of growth that Hakeem doesn’t have Nessa sing the hook, but rather flips and weaponizes the vocals from Tiana’s new single to communicate his message? Please discuss. (Also on the docket: Has Tiana’s story been completely exhausted at this point?)

Empire Mariah KittyHELLO, KITTY! | Jamal flees his PTSD support group — but not before a maybe/possibly meaningful exchange with the tall drink of water/veteran who serves as its moderator. Cookie hooks her son up with pop diva Kitty (Mariah Carey, playing herself, right down to the bathing-suit costumery and up-n-out décolletage) to record a duet, stream it on Empire Extreme and stop Lucious from releasing his middle son’s Black and White album. The end result is vocally pretty amazing — and ends with Kitty/Mariah’s “dog whistle over intrictate piano” fabulousness. “My boy is high as a kite, but damn that sounds good,” giggles the consistently heinous Lucious, who confirms Jamal’s suspicion that he’s an actual vampire. And then what does Daddy go and do? He cuts all of the Cookie-produced tracks from Jamal’s long-dormant project — and releases it as The Black Album.

Empire recap cookie luciousCOOKIE CRUMBLES | Did I mention Lucious didn’t need a new Jamal record to hit that 10 million milestone? That’s the kind of creepy he’s bringing up in here. But while Cookie tries to keep the situation light — “Do you ever not mention Empire Extreme?” — by the end of the episode, she realizes her latest struggle with her ex has become deeply personal. That’s because she stops one of her new love interest Angelo’s proteges at the “Woke” project from shunting his MIT scholarship and signing a rap deal with Empire — even repeating Angelo’s remark that “the world has enough rappers.” Lucious strikes back, reneging on their deal to let Cookie run Empire’s music biz. The board of directors is on her side, though, Cookie reminds him — and her Alexis Carrington-on-steroids wardrobe carries its own undercurrent of hypnosis, too, K? “You wanna play? Let’s play,” Cookie seethes, and suddenly, the prior two weeks of “Lucious, we’re done” threats seem to be displayed in all caps, in neon lights, against a darkening sky.

What did you think of this week’s Empire? 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. Annie says:

    Great recap

    • Sally McLinn says:

      Empire is getting better writers. And isn’t Terrence Howard acting his butt off? He’s a joy to watch as the conniving, evil patriach.

      • Crys says:

        ITA. I commented last week and said I hope Empire does not get on the social justice wagon because their writers would ruin it. I come back eating crow. Terrence Howard’s privilege speech was on point and well executed. The show is upgrading their writing room and things are looking better. Hope it continues.

  2. Florence+TheMachineRulez!!! #TeamMariah says:


  3. GregJ. says:

    OK episode, not the best or not the worst, just ok. I loved the spar between Lucious and Cookie. Can’t wait to see how the story line will play out.

  4. Melanie M says:

    Empire totally has its groove back this season. The story-telling is much tighter with full focus on the Lyon family and I am mesmerized. Gotta say, though, the Lucious character has always been reprehensible but they may be taking him too far this season. Terrence Howard no longer looks like he is just playing crazy and ruthless.

    • laurelnev says:

      I really didn’t see your comment before writing mine…so I find it funny our 1st sentences are almost identical. ;) Wasn’t trying to sample you to get revenge like a Lyon would or anything. And I agree 100% with everything you said. I too have wondered if art is imitating life or vice versa when it comes to Terrence.

  5. laurelnev says:

    Empire is finding its groove again, but Anika is proving she’s just as disgusting as Lucious. The fact she’s a murderess doesn’t seem to faze her at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. Anika seems to thrive on skeeviness as much as Lucious does. They deserve each other. But poor Andre and Jamal. BOTH deserve much better. And Tariq preying on the weakest Lyon just proves he’s as bad as his half bro.

  6. Eran says:

    I actually disagree with the other two readers who feel the show has its groove back. I just finished watching the episode and it saddens me to say this, but my levels of disinterest were off the chart. There seems to be this intense disconnect between storylines and when the family does come together, it just doesn’t feel organic or real anymore.
    Cookie and Lucious at war again? Weren’t we at the exact, identical place this time last year with Lyon Dynasty? And Anika? Sorry but but for all of her epic one liners, how has Rhonda’s death been relegated to a footnote in everyone else’s interactions with her?!
    I agree, there is no escaping the political tone of the show – writers can’t bury their heads in the sand with everything going on right now week in week out – but something isn’t clicking…at least not for me. The cohesion is gone and with it, a lot of the chemistry too, and I am actually thinking I’m going to start reading recaps ahead of watching, which is never a good sign.

    Such a shame. Used to wait for it every week.

    • Sally McLinn says:

      Empire is getting better writers. And isn’t Terrence Howard acting his butt off? He’s a joy to watch as the conniving, evil patriach.

      • Eran says:

        I have no qualms whatsoever about the acting. The cast in itself is stellar. And don’t get me wrong, I love a deliciously scandalous prime time soap like the next guy, but quality acting needs to be complemented with quality storytelling and if it’s not on the page, then there’s only so much an actor can do… Seeing as it started off as a family soap, I guess what I am missing is the family part really, which for me has been MIA for too long.

  7. TV Gord says:

    I was told that there’d be an exam today on last night’s Empire. Fortunately, it was an oral. ;-)

  8. shadester says:

    I dont like terrible Lucious is being, Just awful, I hope everything turns out good for Andre. That poor guy. How many hits can he take, And how much cleavage can Mariah show? But I guess if u got it flaunt it. I just love Jamal.