‘Empire’ recap: Jamal gets frisky (with a woman) while Cookie finds sister …

26 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Empire’ Season 2, Episode 9 recap: Jamal, Skye catch a groove; the search for Carol sparks sibling rivalry.

When we last left Cookie and Candace, they got into a family squabble about their missing sister Carol (played by the great Tasha Smith). While I would have liked to see the episode play off of America’s national day of gluttony (I’m sure the Lyons family would have a set a fabulous table), there was still enough fruit-cake activity (pun intended) from Anika to share.Cookie and Laz Delgado’s whirlwind romance reached its logical conclusion this week as a chance meeting with Lucious finally inspired someone to hit Google and figure out that he’s aligned with his girlfriend’s enemies and coolly playing Big Heavy’s goons against Lyon Dynasty.

This week’s main jaw-dropper arrived at the end of the episode, showing a smitten Jamal slowly leaning over a piano keyboard and landing a big wet one on Skye Summers, played by the glorious Alicia Keys. Kicking him out may do more harm than good, though, as no one knows how hard Laz has advocated for the dynasty or how anxious the neighborhood guys are for a bigger bite of their profits. You’re reading because you just watched the latest over-the-top episode and you thought, “What the hell was that?!?” as a billion GIFs exploded in your brain.

So every week, instead of a traditional recap, we’ll give you the latest edition of Empire: How Crazy/Awesome Was It?, in which we rate this week’s episode in terms of relative genius/insanity. Pepper (Rosie O’Donnell) was basically the Red of her and Cookie’s prison, and she somehow parlayed her prison kitchen stint into apparent entrepreneurship at a bakery that sells more than cupcakes. Lucious tries to do right by Andre and Rhonda by buying the soon-to-be parents a six-bedroom mansion in Long Island, telling them how proud and excited he is that they are carrying on the Lyon name and by explaining to a relieved Andre that he is done testing him. Andre then tells Lucious he has an idea on how to raise the captial to acquire SwiftStream: They can forfeit their future royalities to Lucious’ old music to make some cash, but that would mean getting the sign off from Cookie, who is listed as a publisher as well.

What’s more, it’s compelling seeing Cookie in her proper system of familial checks and balances, currying favor with Carol and butting heads with Candace. Carol and Cookie have a heart-to-heart talk where despite Cookie’s abrasive nature, she refuses to see drugs destroy Carol’s life, and pledges to stand by Carol and help.

Around Candace, who hilariously refuses to call Cookie anything but her born name Laretha, our matriarch’s slick tongue and boundless resourcefulness appear to be coping mechanisms, skills won leveraging Carol’s flawed free spirit and Candace’s materialistic careerism. Hakeem doesn’t share as much of his mother’s magnetism as he thinks he does, though he continues to barrel through women’s lives leaving them to clean up his messes. Big Heavy and his cronies pay an unexpected visit to Lyon Dynasty and Laz intervenes, trying to convince them he has everything under control, and patience on their part will result in a bigger payday. He swears he’s in love with Laura, although Anika is still very attached, suddenly pregnant — was it that ridiculous post-kidnapping tryst? — and very determined to keep the baby.

Jamal played a lovely song for Skye early on in the episode, but she said she was looking for something “edgier.” confessing that she wanted to work with Jamal and Lucious to take her sound to a different place. In preparation for the concert, which Hakeem will headline, he’s got a new duet with Laura called “Miracles.” While they rehearse, Chicken periscopes it. Hakeem’s dueling relationship woes are fusing into a suspense thriller subplot with Anika as predatory jilted ex losing touch with reality and Laura as unwitting mark.

I have clamored for a story for Anika in this space before, but her character’s path from fearless, educated businesswoman to psychotic, vengeful baby mama with a secret Hakeem shrine in her home is disheartening. She’s sitting on the floor with newspaper clippings, photos and maps presumably of Laura’s home as if she’s plotting something she shouldn’t be doing. As for finding more capital for the SwiftStream deal, Andre comes through, telling Lucious they can sell off the sports and liquor parts of their company to make the money back. This is not the first time Lucious has been told this, and Daniels comments hit Lucious right in the non-turkey-filled gut, encouraging Lucious to make what I believe are some risky business decisions (more on this below). At first Lucious disagrees, saying that breaking apart pieces of the Empire would not make it an empire, which is understandable, but all that changes after one little comment from Lee Daniels, who cameos as himself to direct Jamal’s Pepsi commercial. (Of course the co-creator of Empire would want to cameo on Empire.

After pulling their sister away, Carol makes the decision to get clean under the not-so-watchful eye of Cookie in New York while Candice watches her children. Who else would love to see Danny Strong also pop up as Doyle from Gilmore Girls or Jonathan from Buffy at some point?) After Daniels rebuffs Lucious’ father/son idea for the Pepsi music video, stating that Jamal is the future and deserves to have his own concept, Lucious gets jealous of being swept aside and agrees to Jamal’s deal in order to prove just how much success and fame and future he has left in him. He’s entrusted Andre, the son he long neglected as a powerless pawn, with handling the particulars in the thrust to push Empire into the streaming music business on a whim, as he assisted Jamal in pulling together his Pepsi ad campaign.

In Empire Entertainment news, on the heels of Jamal’s Pepsi contract, he’s set to record a new song with “girl power pop” artist Skye Summers (Alicia Keys in a purple wig). Before long the eldest Lyon will come calling on Hakeem to return to the fold, too, and it’s getting increasingly tricky to discern whether the patriarch is acting as a hip-hop King Lear looking to cede the reins of the kingdom to worthy successors or a tyrant taking stock of his puppets. Y’all making me sound neolithic or something,” is pretty impressive simply because Lucious uses the word “neolithic.” Most GIF-worthy moment: Lucious’ jealousy gets the best of him when seeing Cookie and Laz make out.

That said, without getting too into the Kinsey scale, we can allow that it’s totally plausible that Jamal, who identifies as gay, could be attracted to a woman. Failing to win Cookie’s approval, Andre tells Papa that another option is to sell off several of Empire’s business lines, such as their sports apparel or alcoholic beverage division. With Lucious grieving (but not really) over Hakeem’s rejection of the Lyon last name, he makes a play to get back in Andre’s good graces by buying his son and daughter-in-law (and grandbaby) a new six-bedroom mansion. Imagine Shonda Rhimes popping in on “Scandal” as royalty for a sense of how absurd it was. • Rosie O’Donnell appeared as Cookie’s jail buddy Pepper, a smart, tough chef who parlays a penitentiary cook position into a lucrative Philadelphia pastry business.

Isn’t personal agency all about being able to act on something in the moment and owning yourself and not having to explain it or justify it?” Freda Gatz was nowhere to be found this episode and Lucious spent time with his actual offspring, including the black sheep of the family, Andre. Telling the newly pregnant Kitty about tormenting a girl who tried to steal Andre away from her in college, Rhonda inspires Anika to go straight nice-nasty (and petty) on Laura.

I get what he’s doing, but what I do not like is how Lucious ultimately does whatever Mimi proposes, and in this scene in particular, we see a grinning and happy Jamal – and I’m not sure that grin was born of good intentions. Jamal, a self-professed “superfan” feels he has just the song for her, and throughout the episode they craft a duet called “Powerful,” which, hilariously, scans at surface level as more of the same sound she’s eager to escape. I think Andre and Mimi are in cahoots, directly or indirectly, and there’s about to be some big changes at Empire that Lucious will not be thrilled about. Regardless, it’s clear there’s a creative chemistry present between Jamal and Skye, but the episode ends by complicating that with a passionate kiss. During a meeting between Cookie, Laz and Hakeem regarding a new venue to host the Lyon Dynasty event, Lucious drops the bomb that the viewers all knew: Laz is in the same gang as Hakeem’s kidnappers and continuously runs an extortion ring.

After all of Carol’s normal drugged-up hotspots are a bust, Cookie turns to her old prison pal Pepper, played by Rosie O’Donnell, for assistance in the search. Pepper is now living in the suburbs and has a successful bakery, but she always has time to help out a dear friend and she still has the resources to find Carol without really breaking a sweat. (Her relationship with Cookie is best described with this line they chant together: “Baddest bitches on the block” as two hoity-toity customers frown.) Pepper learns that Carol is spending her time with a “little skinny bitch who likes to beat women” and she tags along with Candace and Cookie as they find Carol looking way worse for wear. Dre then suggested that Empire sell off some of its properties to get the money and Lucious was like “I’d rather die than do that.” We could tell where this was heading last week when Anika donned a blonde wig and posed as a limo driver to take Laura home.

It’s like the family music version of the Kardashians and their names all starting with the letter “K,” excepting Caitlin, because in real-talk, she just wanted to stick it to Kris. When Anika insisted that Hakeem was just scared to admit his feelings for her, he told her that he didn’t love her and added this for good measure. “You will never be one of us. Meanwhile, Laz tells Big Heavy that their deal to scam Cookie is off and pulls a gun on his Bull brother, but it’s too late to start doing the right thing. After Cookie decided to make out with Laz in front of Lucious for dramatic effect, Lucious made it his mission to uncover the truth about Cookie’s new boyfriend.

Skye gets some great advice from Jamal to let the music speak her truth (whatever that truth is because it doesn’t really get revealed…) and their collaboration proved to be fruitful. Laz’s secret identity is discovered by Lucious, who apparently is the only person in the Lyon family who thought to Google the people they’re getting into bed with at the moment. While Cookie steps away to the restroom, Candace takes the opportunity to remind Carol that she knows full well Cookie wouldn’t be in her corner if she knew what Carol did while Cookie was in jail.

It didn’t take him long to discover that Laz was a member of a group called the 125th Street Bulls and that they were trying to extort money from Lyon Dynasty. We learn Cookie and Pepper were the “baddest bitches in town” back in lock-up, but so do two slightly startled elderly white tennis players just trying to get their sugar fix in a delightfully pastel bakery shop — yoga mat and Hispanic nanny optional. Cookie then gave quite the performance, throwing glass and ugly crying about Laz, which led to a rather touching conversation with Carol about her drug addiction. Now, I’m all for bisexual visibility — and it is just as important as (though less common than) black gay visibility — but part of this feels gimmicky. So Rhonda cut the girl’s ponytail in her sleep, sent her a picture with a caption that said if the girl continued to pursue Andre, she would “keep cutting.” Moral of Rhonda’s insane story: Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from getting the man you want.

We’re given an opportunity to watch as Laz Delgado basically tells his fellow Hakeem kidnappers to bugger off and their deal is off, including the dramatics of waving a gun around. Anika takes this lesson to heart and crashes a party at Hakeem’s place, confronting Laura about how she’s actually from a not-so-great upbringing (who cares?!), insulting her talent, and telling Hakeem that he deserves so much better.

But in a world where folks who believe being gay is a choice continue to contribute to the deaths of so many queer people, we could do without this story line. With a pissed off crew, they’ve now lost the location of the original venue, and Laz is scrambling to fix the situation before Cookie and Co. discover it. It really is heartbreaking to watch Cookie find out the man she has been sleeping with and maybe falling into love with orchestrated her son’s kidnapping and beating.

He tries to make peace with Laz as long as Laz is willing to realize how hard Hakeem is looking to work to become a legend in his own right. (Seriously, who would have thought that Hakeem Lyon would end up becoming to Laz vs. We see her eating ice cream on her bedroom floor (preggers) while drawing hearts on photos of Hakeem, and blacking out the name of Laura on all music related materials. Most Tweetable Quote: His most tweetable quote might actually come from a line from his track with Laura, “With you around it’s easy, not hard like Calculus.” How very Drake of him.

Cookie is in no mood to deal with Carol using kid gloves, so she comes right out and tells her she must go to rehab because everyone knows she’s an addict.

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