Empire Recap: Kiss From a Rose

She can turn the world on with her smile. But the comparisons between Empire‘s Cookie Lyon and The Mary Tyler Moore Show‘s Mary Richards end right there.

OK, so minus the recently completed 17-year prison sentence, Taraji P. Henson’s glorious alter-ego is a real go-getter with a penchant for multitasking, dropping quotable zingers and overcoming whatever obstacles the universe throws in her path.

But this week’s episode, “Dangerous Bonds,” reminds us there’s a big difference between Mary cracking up during a clown’s funeral and Cookie using a young diva’s bisexuality as leverage, blackmailing her eldest son for a slot on Empire Entertainment’s secret board and, oh, paying $5,000 to a family friend to snuff a rival’s life (albeit to seemingly save her own).

Yeah, in other words, a big week for She Who Cannot Say No to Leopard Print. All this, plus Lucious proposing to Anika (and then twisting her doctor dad’s arm for a favor); Jamal sending his brat younger brother to the ground with a punch to the gut (not quite a beat-down with a broom, but…); and the continued misadventures of spinoff-worthy Porsha. Let’s get to it!

EmpireTHAT’S THE WAY OUR COOKIE CRUMBLES | Cookie, all dressed up and ready to raise hell at Jamal’s latest recording session, gets tracked down by Agent Carter to testify in a grand-jury proceeding against extra-scary drug dealer Frank Gathers — who might have found a way to appeal his case and get out of jail. At the end of her testimony, Cookie learns that the man she saw get gunned down by Frank was an FBI agent — and she realizes the situation is twice as scary, labeling herself a “dead bitch walkin’.” When she finds a red rose outside her door — the same flower that used to be Frank’s symbol — she assumes it’s a warning from Frank’s twisted henchman Teddy — and she hails a cab to Philly to dish with her sister what she should do. They wind up paying $5,000 to a family friend — “you do know what I mean by handle this bastard, right?” Cookie asks ominously — and her murderous fate it sealed. But then who shows up at her place but Lucious — noting how he’d never forget their anniversary, not after that time back when they were broke and poor and Cookie attacked him with a stiletto. Cookie’s face softens as she remembers how Lucious stole her a single rose — and then the realization hits her. That doorstep gift was from her ex, not her executioner, but she’s too late to stop Teddy from getting gunned down at an intersection. Just like the blood of the agent splattered her face back in that deal gone wrong, our protagonist is once again in the midst of the horror — only this time, she’s the (unexpectedly) guilty party. Will this terrible, homicidal misstep somehow mute the spring in Cookie’s step? Time will tell!

BOO BOO BRIDEY | Lucious gives Anika an 18-karat ring — same as the one Richard Burton gave to Liz Taylor — and even has Anthony Hamilton on hand to provide musical accompaniment to his proposal. But when the happy couple visits Boo Boo Kitty’s disapproving parents to break the news, there’s a little twist. Lucious needs a physician to sign a clean bill of health — and ignore his ALS diagnosis — so that Empire can continue with its IPO. Anika’s doctor daddy is appalled — using the words “criminal” and “thug” to denigrate his future son-in-law — but then Lucious plays his trump card. When he dies, Anika will “be a billionaire in her own right.” Suddenly, dude’s not so aghast about committing medical fraud, and his Hippocratic Oath gets twisted into, “First do no harm — to the family’s financial future.”

BI, GURL | The hour opens with Tiana and Hakeem rocking the red carpet as a new power couple — although the latter artist struggles to remind the interviewer he’s more than a mogul’s son and that he’s got a new single dropping. Turns out, though, his vision for a video for “Drip Drop” (a song that’s kinda icky to this old man’s ears) is going to cost three times the budgeted amount. “If you can’t find money for this, I really don’t know what purpose you serve,” Lucious says blithely to Andre — and so the eldest Lyon devises a plan: Find a way to put Tiana in the video, too, and use her promo money to close the gap. Rhonda helps make the plan a reality when she captures footage of Tiana canoodling with her female lover India — I didn’t see that one coming, did you?! — which she eventually uploads to Perez Hilton. Hakeem gets outraged by this newsflash — til Tiana reminds him that he, too, has a “side piece.” Cookie, on the other hand, takes a more pragmatic approach: “All right, look, girl — I don’t judge. But yous a freak — and that’s a good thing. We can sell that.” The video shoot winds up being successful, after Lucious intervenes with some outdated 1980s logic that Tiana + India = two girlfriends for Hakeem. “It’s a mathematician’s dream — it’s trigonometry,” dad says, showing a fundamental lack of understanding about mathematics and same-sex attraction. (If Woman A is dating Woman B as well as Man C, does it automatically mean Woman B will want to have sex with Man C? Pick up your No. 2 pencils and begin the test…)

EmpireWELCOME TO “GHETTO-ASS STUDIO” | Jamal winds up at a studio so ratchet and bullet-riddled, Cookie has to warn the producer that she’s packing heat — should anything happen to her baby. He’s there to record “Dollar Bill” — his song inspired by his foray into low-budget living — and via phone, Cookie is able to clue him in that “talkin’ before the record starts is so dated.” Alas, though, a fruitful day at the studio is interrupted when some of Hakeems’ hangers-on come in — guns in hand — to rob Jamal (the seed deliberately planted in their heads by a scheming Andre). Jamal lets ’em know, though, that Hakeem’s “sissy brother” isn’t scared, but while the thugs go running after the studio owner brings out his own weaponry, Jamal is forced to gather together a new band of newbie musicians to get the most out of his single day of studio time. When Cookie arrives, the studio is packed with folks bobbing their heads to a sick beat, but despite her huge grin of motherly pride, she determines Jamal’s voice is too buried in the mix. “If you had it we wouldn’t need to be fixin’ it!” she howls to the producer, and it turns out, she’s right.

It’s not a storybook ending, though. Jamal goes to visit Hakeem — blaming him for the robbery and for ultimately trying to destroy his recording session with gun violence. “You always come to me for advice — I’m gonna give you some advice,” Jamal says, leveling Hakeem with a punch to the gut, “Don’t ever underestimate me, little brother.” Instead of begging for forgiveness, though Hakeem calls Andre — and asks for the release date of his video to be pushed up, the better to outshine Jamal’s future single. When is this kid gonna grow up?! I mean, he’s already riding fake jet-skis, so it’s time, no?

EmpireOn that note, I turn the discussion — including Portia subbing for Cookie at Tiana’s shoot — to you. 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. abz says:

    “And what you mean you people, you black like me.” –> Best line of the night. Had me cracking up.
    Loved the scene where Cookie was handling all the problems in the car.
    Not a fan of Andre and his evil wife. The guy clearly has daddy issues (as do all the Lyon brothers) but there seems to be a lot of neglect there probably and I’m thinking maybe the wife is exploiting it and his mental illness.
    Still rooting for Jamal. Want him to do good. Also Wish they’d have Veronika Bozeman back to sing on the show. She’s had the best voice of all the performances so far.
    I don’t think Luscious will marry Anika.

    • TigerLIL says:

      Oh Cookie had a few classic lines tonight and yeah she was multitasking on panic mode that’s that street game, thinking too fast on the feet. Yeah I kinda miss Veronika Bozeman too she should have more of a role. Big brother is a ivy league grad who is not the brightest bulb on the light pole either. The music business is 10% artistry and 90% business all he need to do is gather his brothers and let dad know the contest is over the triple threat is here your legacy is already in hand the sons are his legacy. What Lucious care he is on his way out the flick, he tripping. Yeah Andre wife has some major greed issues. No need to fight just do what’s right turn over your company to the rightfully owners and enjoy the last part of the movie…hmmm guess that would kill the drama huh…LOL

  2. Yoki says:

    Everyone is oblivious how the older brother is playing puppetmaster to them all.

  3. shilohlyric says:

    Great recap. :) I think Cookie is one of my all time favorite characters. It will be interesting to see how she deals with the huge mistake she just made. I can’t remember…did Lucious find out about needing the medical exam before or after he proposed to Anika?

    • relaxxx says:

      I think he came up with the plan after he needed a doctor to sign off on the insurance paperwork. I don’t think he loves Anika like that. Anika n her mom were talking about how many times Luscious cheated on her. Plus he’s leaving roses by Cookies doorstep for their anniversary even though they r divorced….He still loves Cookie. I wonder if he even signed any divorce papers.

      • shilohlyric says:

        Yeah, I figured, too, that he only proposed to Anika so that he would have leverage to get her father to agree to signing for the policy.

      • TigerLIL says:

        Now that would be the sin that did Jezebel in. Cause I’m like if he wanted to be married why 17 years later no wife. Of course I don’t think he has been dating Ankia that long she looks every bit of 30 but that would be funny as hell if it came out he never divorced Cookie as crazy as it sounds, but that would truly stop him in the tracks. Maybe Berillie never filed the paper seeing how he wanted to name the club Cookie’s what’s up with that.

      • TigerLIL says:

        That guy cannot handle Cookie, for them not to be together, they are so in love they really can’t handle it. They are constantly throwing punches and she is no punk she is not in fear of that dude at all. I think if Cookie jumped up one day told Lucious to just cut her a check and she would get ghost, he would have a fit. He likes battling with her it seems to really turn him on, I think he gets a sexual charge from amping her up he knows the girl is crazy, he likes to drive her. Ankia is so refined that she doesn’t seem to challenge him at all she is very cooperative it’s like he is an arm piece to her. Cookie be bucking up every time you turn around I mean they are serious. but funny has hell. I know every Wednesday I’m going to be cracking up this show is like a comedy these people are really out of their collective minds.

  4. BTM says:

    I *do* *not* *like* that Jamal and Hakeem are falling for it and fighting each other. Their devotion has been my favorite part of the show, even more than Cookie.

    I hate watching shows about good people being corrupted.

    • bigdede says:

      I so agree. Their devotion to each other was the one thing that kept part of that family together. They love for each other was so cute and I hate that it’s messed up. Even though Lucious and Cookie still love each other, they are still at each other’s throats over business. Hakeem and Jamal were the only family members not at each others’ throats

  5. laurelnev says:

    I’m kind of surprised that Doc sold out so quickly. He seems to be set enough his daughter will never have to worry, and he seemed too quick to become a part of the thug life. And who is to say Lucious will actually go through with the ceremony after he gets his insurance? I hope Doc turns on him sooner rather than later, but my guess is that this show will portray the white collar characters as bigger crimials than the thugs. Guess we know what (besides ass) Lucious needs from Anika now anyway.

    • TigerLIL says:

      For real soon as daddy heard them 8 figures all his morals went out the window. I was like please, wonder if momma gonna get on board. Ah, that’s going to be a disaster if the boy loved the girl he would just marry her and pass her his wealth and be done with it. I was shock they were not married when the show came on I’m like why was he still single anyway girl already in your house and working with you everyday no Cookie around what was the hold up he seems to love the girl. I would have approached her daddy to turn me on to someone who could prolong the deal or who would give him a clean bill of health but not made it with him, now you gonna be set up for a possible extortion . Cookie gonna peep that game real quick when she finds out though Becky that dude is sick then the gig gonna be up cause you know she gonna whoop Anika with that one..ooh child things aren’t going to get easier…cracking up…and LOL

    • relaxxx says:

      It was that magical word, billionaire that got his attention, greed I tell ya!

  6. meresger says:

    I assume Hakeem’s jet ski video was supposed to be a nod to/spoof of Kim and Kanye on a motorcycle? It made me think of “Redman’s Potty Fresh” from Chappelle Show, though. Poor Hakeem. He is so easily manipulated.

  7. GregW says:

    This show is so delicious!! How could they do that at the end of the episode??.

  8. TigerLIL says:

    Now this episode was crazy, ah it was like calm everybody kinda humming along with their bull and then dam everybody is acting nutty especially Cookie. I mean she in full panic and eliminating a threat without a strategic plan all the way in Philly I’m like, that’s crazy. Ah news flash don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing and girl friend that’s Biblical. You ain’t dropping no ends on your sister and you got her knowing all your business I see a extortion coming down the pipe. Forget about the IPO these people gonna implode the Empire all by themselves. The best move of the night my girl Tiana, freak of the week saw that coming too clean to be mean so she living a dream. She put baby boy on front closed that mouth with the quickness. Best quote of the night “dead bitch walking” that’s a classic. Best move of the night and the winner is Lucious. Dude pulled off the fake, bake, shake and take. He faked out Cookie, single rose had her thinking she might be back in pocket, that would be a no, put Anika in the oven to bake, not fooling mom though, he put the shake on the dad, ears perk up when the billion dollar pay day was announced, where do I sign please… and when its said and done he gonna take everybody to the bank and the Empires falls. For what he is not going to live to enjoy the money why not just divvy it up now. A 75-25 split would do the trick. Give 25% to the new wife and congrats and give 75% to Cookie and the boys and be done with it. Dude gonna mess around and let death do him part quicker than the the ALS he is dealing with which is where he is heading, that dude tripping….LOL

  9. Et Al says:

    Best episode yet. This show is really hitting a stride. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  10. TigerLIL says:

    I got to say this the recaps are classics themselves great job and very creative writing…

  11. relaxxx says:

    Really great episode. So many different plots going on. Loved seeing more Jamal n of course Cookie multi tasking like a boss. Hakeem poor thing I’d just looking for love in all the wrong places. Andres a mess. Portia was amazing with her few lines. Luscious is just a little devil. Soooooo looking forward to the next episode. Oh n Anthony Hamilton….that man can sanggggg but boo to the engagement of Anika n Luscious.

  12. Empire Fan says:

    I was riding Cookie for being MIA while everything was falling apart due to Andre and his wife being completely out of control but the scene where she saves the day from the back of a taxi just made me fall in love with her. I for one don’t have an issue with her and Lucious’ murderous ways. They only kill out of self preservation. Loved this episode.

  13. Lorena says:

    I enjoyed it for pure entertainment. The music was cool, and it is my Wednesday evening escape. I’m a fan.

  14. evababy says:

    “My name is Cookie. Ask about me.” Cookie is the best! And she has wonderful hustle.

    Also, I hated that DripDrop song. But I loved Jamal’s song.

  15. LaLa says:

    It seems like a slow build, doesn’t it? But it’s not. I’ve really enjoyed this great character and plot development. I cannot stand Hakeem’s music. “Drip Drop” – horrible.
    So, now both Lucious and Cookie have bodies. Yep, made for each other. Boo Boo Kitty has no clue.

  16. DAG says:

    I tell myself I hate that Drip Drop song, but why can’t I get it out of my head today? Ear worm…

  17. The Beach says:

    “Drip Drop” was absolutely awful. Gangsta it ain’t. But I loved Jamal’s song.

  18. Mary says:

    Love this show. I actually talked a couple of my friends into watching and now they are hooked.
    Boy that Cookie is a tough Mama, wouldn’t want to cross her a bad day.

  19. sladewilson says:

    Michael, your recaps are the best!!! Okay, with that out of the way, what I love about this show (besides Taraji P Henson literally tearing up scenes and that Lawd Have Mercy walk) is that they don’t rest on something. Just when you think they might go conventional and keep a major secret here and there, they spill it and then amp it. BTW – Hakeem really needs to up his game. You didn’t think anything was up when the LAST thing she cared about was you having another woman? Ugh. I was waiting for the brothers to thump a lil’ something. The star of this episode was Jamal. This eppy showed his journey and none of them except Cookie is ready. I just want to see how he handles fame as an outed gay man. His father isn’t totally wrong saying there will be backlash but when you can get hardcore cats (like those in the studio) to still give you your respect, that’s saying something. I love this show – certified hit….

  20. christopher bee says:

    “Dead Bitch walking…” Love the Cookie oneliner snots.

  21. Michelle says:

    as many good lines as this show had personal favorite was “We can call this a standoff, or a multiple homicide!”

  22. Did Lucious Lyon give Boo Boo kitty the same ring he gave to Cookie? When Cookie had the flashback of the drug bust, she was wearing a ring that looks exactly like the one Lucious gave to Boo Boo Kitty…