Empire ended so good last season, I wasn’t sure they could keep the business-inspired musical drama going. But, not to worry season 2 returned not with a whimper, but with a roar. It was so loud, so over the top, so unbelievable that it made General Hospital, The Young and The Restless and Days of Our Lives do one collective gasp. Somewhere Susan Luccie was jumping on a chair screaming at the TV, “YAAAASSS. THAT IS HOW IT IS DONE”. Long live Erika Kane;).
But back to the show. I have a lot of juice to share on the first episode of the season, so if you haven’t watched, grab some Skinny Pop, log onto Hulu now, prepared to be cussed out by your neighbors for disturbing them with your loud yelling at the TV and watch. Then after you drift down from the high the episode gives you, come back here to relive the thrills.
Spoilers are ahead. You’ve been warned.
Free Lucious: At a Free Lucious Rally in what appears to be Central Park, we find out quickly that the Lyon clan has been busy in the three months since the Empire king has been locked up without bail. Cookie, Hakeem and Andre are thick as thieves and busy plotting a hostile takeover, totally keeping Jamal in the dark on their intentions. Since he became daddy’s heir to the Empire last season, things haven’t quite been the same between him and the rest of the clan.
No worries, because Cookie just needs to impress a lesbian business tycoon by the name of Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei), get her to invest a miserly $250 million dollars in the company and she’ll get all her baby boys playing nice again. So at the Rally, Cookie is laying it on Mimi thick and acting like she’ll play ball in more ways than one to get that investment. She wants to be the Queen of Empire by any means necessary. And, if that means donning an ape suit and beating her chest in cage, well she’ll do it.
As Cookie is getting familiar with Mini, we catch our first glimpse of Lucious behind bars. If it wasn’t for the orange jumpsuit you might have thought he was on vacation somewhere exotic. I mean he just swaggered into the room. We see him beam with pride as he watches his sons Hakeem and Jamal perform on TV at the Free Lucious Rally. He is all smiles until he sees Cookie and Mimi on the screen at the Rally. His entire attitude shifts and we know the war is far from over.
Club Fed: Lucious may be behind bars, but that doesn’t mean you can count him out. The man seems to be running things in prison with a hired crew of prison inmates at his beck and call. He’s out playing basketball in the yard when he learns that the drug kingpin, Frank Gathers (Chris Rock), who he and Cookie use to run drugs for back in the day is arriving for a stint. For a hot moment, there is tension around who will be the head-cheerleader around the cellblock, but it turns out Lucious and Frank are cool as cucumbers with each other.
This is great for Lucious Lyon because he’s got bigger cubs to tame. Jamal visits Lucious in jail and does a bit of whining about how he can’t tour and promote his album since, you know, he’s the running Empire. Lucious does his fatherly part by telling him, “Well, get me the hell out of here and you can tour the world.” He also follows up by complaining that Cookie hasn’t come to see him once in prison. “Not once” in three month. Jamal gave him the side-eye that made me laugh out loud. How quickly he forgot that he didn’t visit Cookie in prison not once in the 17 years she was locked up.
After that man in the mirror moment, Lucious tells Jamal to “handle” Vernon and find out who the woman was that he spotted with Cookie at the rally. Doing the first task will be pretty difficult, since Vernon – who gave Lucious up to the feds – is dead; but neither of them knows that.
It’s Just Business: Speaking of Vernon, Andre is having sweaty
flashbacks nightmares about his pregnant wife burying Vernon’s body after she killed him. Always leveled headed and strategic, Rhonda tells him not to worry because they would already know if the cops suspected them in the murder. She also asks him if he talked about the dastardly deed with his pastor (cause remember Andre found religion last season). Andre after a long-awkward pause, says, “no” and asks how his baby boy is doing.
So, we know Rhonda is having a boy, which will do nothing to aide all the testosterone fueled spats in the Lyon clan. Truth be told, the women in this crew are no better, so really they should get a jump on a therapist appointment for that kid now.
At a playboy-esq party for Mimi, being thrown by Cookie, Andre and Hakeem; we see Boo-Boo Kitty is still part of the take down Lucious team. Apparently, she and Hakeem are an item, she lives with him now and her business savvy can help close the deal with Mimi. Cookie has to swallow her pride and play nice for the evening. Mimi takes a shine to Anika (Boo-Boo Kitty) and we learn our debutant can twerk with the best of them.
When the gang is back in the office, it looks like their efforts have paid off and the Mimi deal is closed. Cookie, Andre, Anika and Hakeem bad-ass style, slow walk triumphantly into a board meeting being led by Jamal to tell the board that they (with Mimi’s money), have bought a controlling share of Empire and will be running things moving forward. Cookie is making all types of reassurances to Jamal that he will remain part of the team/family, when he drops the mic on them. Turns out Mimi, made a deal directly with Lucious and decided to back him instead of the crew of wannabes. Lucious even Skypes into the meeting from
Club Fed prison to say, “game over b******.”
That Family Bond: Cookie barely makes through her front door, before she learns she has another crisis is on her hands. Her sister, Carol has come to town to tell her that Frank Gathers is on to them. See, Cookie ratted out Frank to get out of jail early and had a hit put out on one of his friends by mistake. Frank is not too pleased and send her a head in a box, godfather style. Cookie ships the entire Lyon clan to Lucious’ mansion and goes to seek help.
She beelined it straight to Club Fed to talk with Lucious. After some witty love you/hate you banter, he asks her why she’s there. She spills the beans that their old boss is out to get the family. Lucious does what any family patriarch would do; he sets up a talk with Frank.
The oddly guard-less prison meeting starts off pretty respectful, but Frank tells Lucious he has no plans to let Cookie live. This doesn’t sit well with Lucious, who is clear that he will have Cookie’s back. Frank orders his prison henchmen to kill Lucious, but it turns out that they are all team Lucious now thanks to some recent investments that have come their way. So, they kill Frank instead.
Back at the mansion, Cookie tells the clan that the threat is over and they can all go home. She tries to make amends with Jamal, but he kicks everyone out of the house instead for trying to betray Lucious with the failed hostile takeover. He even slams the door in Cookies’ face. Turns out the boy is loyalist of the bunch to his dear old dad.
So that was the first episode of the season. It was amazing, but I have so many questions:
How long will they continue to hold Lucious in prison with their key witness dead? Why is Lucious prison the nicest prison in America? What’s instore for Cookie, Andre, Hakeem and Boo Boo Kitty now that Jamal has shut the door? Who thought Chris Rock would make a convincing drug kingpin? I mean, I love the man, but kept waiting for him to say,“OJ, I understand.” What will Mimi do next now that she is a majority investor in Empire?
Guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out.
– à bientôt
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