Empire Recap: In Which We Learn Why Cookie Was Released from Prison Early (and Why She May Soon Return)
Also, Jamal finally records his song and Hakeem shoots his ridiculous music video
Now that we know exactly how Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) managed to wrangle herself an early release, she jumps to a conclusion in Wednesday’s episode of Empire that causes her to react in a way that will almost certainly have her behind bars once again. (Unless, of course, she can get someone to take the fall for her – it worked for Lucious, after all)
In “Dangerous Bonds,” Jamal (Jussie Smollett) finally records a single, Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) shoots a music video, and Andre (Trai Byers) sets out to drive a wedge in between his younger brothers.
Also, Lucious (Terrence Howard) finds some common ground with Anika’s (Grace Gealey) “bougie debutante” parents after he proposes with an 18-cfarat diamond ring like the one Richard Burton gave Elizabeth Taylor. True love.
Hakeem Has a Song Called “Drip Drop” and Everyone Pretends It’s Good
It is literally impossible to get past the fact that the song behind Hakeem’s first music video, “Drip Drop,” is bonkers. “Drip drop drip drippity drop” are actual lyrics found in the chorus of that song, and at no point does anyone question the song’s validity.
With his video $1 million over budget, Lucious commands poor, off-his-meds Andre to find the money to continue financing it, despite the fact that the upcoming IPO has accountants questioning their every expenditure.
Also, we find out why Tiana (Serayah McNeill) didn’t particularly mind Hakeem’s transgressions with Camilla (Naomi Campbell) in last week’s episode – she’s got a side piece of her own in the form of a girlfriend named India (Elizabeth Whitson). Caught by Andre’s wife, Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday), making out in their studio, she uploads and sends the video to gossip blogs at Andre’s behest. Later, Cookie lets Tiana appear in Hakeem’s video, and Hakeem has no choice but to accept her there: With her promo money, Andre finds his financing.
While Hakeem initially gets upset, Lucious dispenses this outstanding piece of wisdom: “Get into it! Let’s look at it from a mathematical perspective. Your girlfriend has a girlfriend. Add that up.”
“Two?” responds Hakeem, math genius.
“Two girlfriends,” his father affirms. “It’s a mathematician’s dream! It’s trigonometry.”
Hakeem is soothed.
Jamal Records a Song in a “Ghetto” Studio, Is Easily Manipulated
With his scant funds, Jamal secures some studio time in a bad part of town. The absurdity and farce that is Hakeem’s overpriced music video and music in general is underscored by Jamal’s own time spent in his low-budget recording studio. In one day, Jamal manages to record a great, meaningful song that blows anything Hakeem has ever created right out of the water.
The recording session is almost thrown off the rails by Andre, who sends some of Hakeem’s friends after Andre to rob him of his $25,000 watch at the studio. Jamal wasn’t actually wearing the watch, but given that Hakeem has the same one from their father, Jamal accuses his little brother of sending his friends after him. They fight, and Jamal punches Hakeem in the stomach. When Hakeem calls up Andre after his scuffle with Jamal, he makes it clear that he is intent on delivering his music video before Jamal can release his own single.
It’s really too bad that these two are so easily manipulated by their big brother. Cookie and Lucious have been trying to force them into a sibling rivalry ever since Cookie was released from prison; however, they remained supportive of each other’s endeavors and appeared to genuinely love and respect each other. Not so much anymore.
Lucious Finds Common Ground with Some “Bougie Debutantes”
After proposing to Anika, Lucious goes to her father – a doctor – to break the news of the engagement and to ask a favor: Lucious wants the good doctor to sign papers declaring Lucious to be in good health, despite his ALS. Empire will never go public with its leader in poor health, and Anika’s father is simply aghast, calling Lucious a “thug” and a “criminal.”
He changes his tune pretty quickly when Lucious informs him that, if Empire goes public, his death would make Anika a billionaire. It’s promised that Anika will never find out.
Pretty funny how a billion or so dollars can make “thugs” of us all, hmm, Dr. Anika’s Father?
Queen Cookie Makes a Bad Call
In “Dangerous Bonds,” we learn more about how Cookie got sprung from prison earlier than expected. During the drug deal that got her arrested, her buyer was gunned down just as the FBI revealed themselves to bust up the deal. As Cookie finds out after pointing the finger at drug dealer Frank Gathers in a trial, she learns that the dead buyer in question was actually an undercover FBI agent. Incensed that the man on whom she just informed is a cop-killer, and therefore has no fear, she is convinced she’s a “dead bitch walking.”
When she gets home, she finds a single red rose on her doorstep – Frank’s symbol. (There was a rose stamped on the labels of the drugs she was arrested for selling.)
Sure that she’s being threatened, Cookie tries to stay one step ahead. During a visit with her sister, she orders a family friend to “handle” one of Frank’s men, the one she’s confident left the rose on her doorstep.
Unfortunately, Cookie finds out too late that she was wrong – Lucious left the rose on her doorstep for their anniversary as a gesture of goodwill and as a reminder of the good times. She tries to stop the hit, but it’s already over – not only has she almost surely landed herself back in prison if she gets caught, but she just started a war.
• Cookie keeps thousands of dollars and a gun in an unlocked box in her foyer. The box is in plain view. The gun is wrapped in a leopard-print scarf. Honestly? Bless her. This is the greatest show on television.
• Before leaving Jamal’s studio, Cookie tells the producer not to try anything because she’s “holding”: “My name’s Cookie. Ask about me.” Legend.
Empire airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on FOX.