Empire Recap: Church and Destroy

Lucious Lyon may dismiss baptism as nothing more than the art of getting dunked in tap water, but heaven knows he and his family could use some type of divine intervention by the end of this week’s Empire.

Rhonda can’t get no satisfaction — yes, we mean that kind of satisfaction — while Jamal is grappling with his boo Michael getting way too much of the stuff on their apartment balcony (and from a freaky-deaky, tunic-wearing hipster who says “a mouth is a mouth” as casually as Cookie grabbing a sidearm).

Salvation may have dropped into Andre’s lap, but so have half a dozen sequined-clad hoochies whose paychecks from Gutter Life Records guarantee that Miley Cyrus has some competition for the title of America’s Next Top Twerker.

Meanwhile, Cookie’s fledgling label is under siege by local gangs (and a yapping canine, to boot); Lucious is having traumatic childhood flashbacks; Porsha’s on probation at work; and Hakeem — despite his commitment to living la vida mogul — winds up getting a hood thrown over his head and kidnapped in broad daylight like he’s fallen into Showtime’s Homeland and switched places with Carrie Mathison.

As Hakeem’s girl group would put it, the whole situation is “No bueno!” But despite no easy solutions to our protagonists’ dilemmas, let’s recap the action from “Be True”:

Empire_205_8-20-15_0656r_hires1TAKE THEE TO CHURCH | The big tentpole of Wednesday’s episode is Andre’s baptism, and his need to confess his sins — no, not his murder-type sins — to his family. Who can blame him? His pastor spends his free time harvesting succulent-looking tomatoes somewhere in the middle of New York City — so clearly God is on his side. Nobody’s all that excited about the idea — poor Rhonda doesn’t get so much as an ass-grab for leaving her panties at home, while Jamal has no idea if the pastor in question wants him to “pray the gay away” — but every significant Lyon shows except Lucious. (We also get a beautiful and long-overdue moment of brotherly love with Andre, Jamal and Hakeem that comes thisclose to making me tear up.)

“That devil walk in here, this whole place might catch fire,” says Cookie, pointing out the benefits of Lucious’ absence. But as soon as she says it, the Lyon patriarch shows up, too — prompting her to shift hard to the right and make some space, in case a lightning bolt hits her ex. Andre is clearly exhilarated by the ritual, but just as quickly gobsmacked by the sight of Lucious bolting. Little does he know, his submersion into the water has triggered his dad’s childhood flashback to a time when his own mother attempted to drown him in a bathtub. “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” Andre! Or, to put it in 2015 terms, you do you! Just keep mouth shut — as an almost prescient Cookie tells Andre when he starts rambling about being a bad person and having committed bad acts. (She knows who ended Vernon, doesn’t she?! She’s that kind of mom, I suspect.)

EMP205_sc18_0723_hires1-2PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A STANK HO | Lucious doesn’t want Jamal to take Michael on tour because he needs to “be in seduction mode,” but their studio buddy Ne-Yo points out that maybe Papa Lyon isn’t the best person to be giving out relationship advice. (Lucious’ last two paramours respectively tried to smother him with a pillow and slept with his son, after all.) Painter Guy With Terrible, Scraggly Beard (aka Chase One) complicates matters during a night of drinks with Jamal and Michael, scoffing at the “heteronormative shackles” keeping them together (pro tip: never trust someone who huffs “heteronormative” in the club) and tries to go down on Jamal in a public hallway. Jamal is all, “creeper, please!” but Chase isn’t even embarrassed, declaring his attempted sex act another “form of artistic expression.” Later, though, when Jamal catches Michael receiving a “masterwork” from Chase, he blows his lid (not a euphemism) and threatens to hurl the artist off his balcony. Becky throws an arm at Chase for good measure, ’cause she’s a boss, but I’m not sure even Iyanla: Fix My Life could salvage the Jamal-Michael romance.

EMP205_sc12_0829r_hires1WHAT DOES COOKIE MEAN BY “PACKIN”? | Tiana gets mugged in the Lyon Dynasty “lobby” — and Cookie comes to learn it’s a local gang demanding payment from her supposed deep pockets. A super duper sexy concert promoter (Adam Rodriguez) comes by to interview and promises he’ll get his hands dirty to protect the label. “No promoters are gonna touch you — except me,” he says, assessing the threats against Lyon Dynasty while psychically singing Brandy’s “I Wanna Be Down” in Cookie’s ear. Later, when thugs hired by Lucious come to steal the Lyon Dynasty masters, he and Cookie pull their guns and shut that s— down — and all that’s left is love (or its close cousin lust) in the air.

EMP205_sc12_0813_hires1HOW PORSHA GOT HER JOB BACK | When the hour starts, Cookie maintains Porsha’s been fired for giving her identity to NYPD officers for turnstile jumping. But the Assistant Most Likely to [Insert Act of Foolery Here] shows up with her grandma’s fluffy white dog Whoopty-Woo, and Cookie can’t help but hire her back — on probation, natch.

WRONG KIND OF HOOD-IE | Hakeem macks on Mirage a Trois’ new lead singer Laura, but she’s not about that life! She just wants to sing for the people, not be one of her boss’s conquests. He makes it up to her with a display of “Here, take my car service” — proving that he’s on his “mogul swag.” But the next day, as he jogs in the park, he’s kidnapped by a band of thugs and thrown in a van, making us all think, “LUCIOUS IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS, COOKIE WILL KILL YOU WITH A BROOM!”

EMP205_sc31_0678r_hires1ETC | The feds drop their case against Lucious — and declare Vernon’s death a suicide (LOL!) to save face about their star witness’s decomposed corpse showing up in the passenger seat of their prosecutor. (Speaking of that, Roxanne Ford and Her Mighty Bosoms have taken a leave of absence.) Freda Gatz is working through her daddy issues during epic studio sessions — and, in the process, inspiring Lucious to be a better human being. And th-th-th-that’s all, folks!

What did you think of this week’s Empire? Is Lucious involved with Hakeem’s kidnapping? Do Jamal and Michael stand a chance? And could we have used a little more Adam Rodriguez? 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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  1. Annie says:

    I like this episode. It was better than last week’s, and has me wondering what will happen in the next one. My favorite part was seeing Andre stand up to Thirsty. All of the sons lacking a backbone, and letting everyone walk over them is a big problem for this show. I was worried about Andre’s religious conversion, but I’m okay with it, if the result is that he will start standing up for himself.

    I also loved Cookie telling Andre to keep his moth shut. It was a very Cookie thing to say, and she did realize that he has done some bad things. I like seeing the love that she is showing Hakeem and Andre, but I wish that she would send some of it Jamal’s way.

    I’m upset that we didn’t get to see more of Michael and Jamal together this season. It’s something that would have helped the first three episodes, but I’m glad that it was Michael, and not Jamal who cheated. I wonder where are they going with this. Is Jamal’s drinking a sign that he is going to develop a problem.

  2. laurelnev says:

    Figures Lucious hooked up with a lawyer who makes HIM look like a human in the clink! I think we all know who is behind extorting Cookie. I LOVED seeing Andre put him in his place, but I fear there will be repercussions, and even that Hakeem is one of them. (Speaking of which, who would have THOUGHT Andre was behind the original studio robbery, back when Jamal was Team Cookie and Hakeem was Team Empire.) Why do I get a feeling Cookie’s new promoter will be able to handle Shady Lawyer?

    And I’m sorry, but painter dude has GOT to go! What, he’s so desperate for some, he’ll take Jamal or his BF, whomever will have him? If a mouth is a mouth, does that mean a d–k is a d**k? So glad Jamal confided in Ne-Yo, ‘cuz it’s not like he has any appropriate relationship role models in his life.

    Loved the family starting to rebond over Jamal’s baptism. Looking forward to seeing how they handle Hakeem’s abduction. And whomever is behind it? Well, I think we can safely say they won’t be around for Season 2B, and there’s probably SOME form of head trauma in their future..

  3. Jazz73 says:

    “As Hakeem’s girl group would say it, the whole situation is “No bueno!””

    What the he’ll is that?

  4. Allison says:

    Even though I enjoyed this week’s episode, I am so looking forward to the next episode. I don’t know who thought of the idea of kidnapping Hakeem, but I do know that the last scene of tonight’s episode and the sneak peak of the upcoming episode had me on the edge of my seat and that feeling was the feeling I had while watching the first season of Empire. I mean even the sad and heartbreaking song Jamal was singing in the promo had me wanting more and that is a feeling I have not had with the past several episodes. I so hope that Luscious did not have a hand in the kidnapping of his son because that is just low even for him. By the by, call me crazy but am I wrong in thinking that the son of a former drug dealer now multimillionaire business mogul would have security with him at all times? I would think so, but apparently that would have been inconvenient for the plot. Well enough about that, I will comment about tonight’s episode. I thought Cookie’s and Hakeem’s comments about Luscious entering a church and the whole church catching fire and the angels running for cover were very funny. The flashback scene of Luscious’s mother putting him underwater was hard to watch. I am glad that Andre has gotten help and will continue on his path, but with Luscious and his non-stop antics and shenanigans, I don’t hold out too much hope for Andre’s sanity. It was nice to see Andre confess his past sins against his brothers and to have the brothers forgive him and attend his baptism. There was not enough Adam Rodriguez, not nearly enough. It was nice to see that he will be back. It will be nice if that painter dude is not back – ever. What is wrong with that dude, seriously? I loved that Becky slugged him or rather it looked like she did, I couldn’t really tell, but slug or attempted slug, I loved her in that moment! Ne-yo’s appearance was just kind of blah. It was funny the way he took Jamal’s phone, but other than that, meh. That’s just my opinion. Someone else might have loved his appearance and squealed and carried on, but he was no Chris Rock or Ludacris. Again, that’s just me. No matter because it was a great episode and I am so so so so so so so looking forward to the next one…yes sir buddy!

    • Jasmine garner says:

      It’s not coming on next week

    • Adrienne Brooks says:

      What a pleasant surprise to see Taraji and Adam hook up again after their former life together in the Tyler Perry movie! He has that gorgeous (Magic Mike), “bad boy” swag…how could Cookie resist? It looks like Hakeem has finally met his match with Laura; but I suspect that Cookie may not want that “real deal” distraction for her son. And speaking of what’s real, you can only applaud Andre trying to get his life right. His Dad on the other hand, may indeed, be a hopeless case.

      • AB says:

        Isn’t it time for something to happen that doesn’t involve Jamal as the central character? He got big time play last season. His personal life isn’t especially interesting to tell the truth.

  5. dancmh says:

    Apparently the only way to make Jamal look sympathetic this year is to make Michael an even bigger ass. it’s lazy writing and disappointing.

    • Annie says:

      Michael has always been insecure. We needed to see more of that relationship, but from the little that we saw, even though Jamal did not cheat, he was not treating Michael as well as he could have.

    • Annie says:

      I just wanted to clarify, I think it only comes across as lazy writing, because Jamal really hasn’t had a storyline this season. He’s been the weakest part of the show, so it would have been nice to have more build up to this betrayal, or get some explanation form Michael.

  6. Relaxx says:

    Really great episode last night. There were so many great moments! The whole cast was great. I loved Porsha and her grandmothers dog. Cookie and her new bae both packing heat and taking care of business, nice! I liked everything in the church scene even the sad flashback of Young Lucious almost being killed by his mother. It makes me so happy that the family is getting closer. They’re still dysfunctional but it’s getting better. I guess Michael isn’t going on the road with Jamal after all😂! I’m so happy Laura didn’t fall for Hakeems charms. He needs a challenge. I was getting tired of all his random hook ups. Sadly Hakeem got kidnapped and we have to wait a few weeks to find out who did it! 😕

  7. Sam says:

    How long is this sophomore slump going to last? This ep was beyond ridiculous.

    • Sarah T says:

      i agree, I think it’s in large part due to the fact that there’s not a cohesive objective to this season. Last year it was the fact that Lucius thought he was dying and wanted to pick an heir to the thrown. That made all parties interested try to make a play for said thrown and bounce off of each other. This year, he’s apparently freed from jail rather quickly and seemingly absolved of any involvement of Bucky and Vernon’s death. Now, I get that Vernon was a key witness in the case about Lucius killing Bucky but still, I think it would help if we could see that the police are still trying to find more evidence or something. Those plot points aren’t sticking otherwise. Plus, Lucius is intent on taking out Cookie’s fledgling record label when she hasn’t even released any music yet? I get that he knows she has talent so he likely wants to derail her before she catches on but that’s just not a good enough conflict this year (imo). Plus, the higher episode count means the plots they do have drag a bit more.