‘Empire’ Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: ‘The Devils Are Here’
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m beyond thrilled Empire has returned to television. No television show can currently get away with all the s--t Empire can, and honestly, I’m tired of watching shows about families who are only “sort of” dysfunctional, and only “kind of” want to kill each other. Empire is the real deal: you’ve got music, you’ve got Shakespearean undertones, and you have Taraji P. Henson. Need I say more?
Yes, yes I do. Here’s one thing I just can’t get over: Besides all of the glory that is Empire, remember when Lucious’ *devastating* and *plot perpetuating* diagnosis of ALS in the series premiere episode was dispelled at the end of last season? Like, we spend all of the first season waiting for Lucious to kick it, and then — whoops, never mind! He’s going to be okay?! I’m all for keeping Lucious around, because even though Terrence Howard is a certifiably crazy person, Lucious is a certifiably crazy person who I want to keep watching on my television. Okay. I just had to get that out.
The episode kicks off three months after the Season One finale at a #FreeLucious concert Cookie has thrown in hopes of 1.) raising awareness of Lucious’ plight behind bars and 2.) raising $250 million dollars to take over Empire by wooing millionaire investor Mimi Whiteman (Marissa Tomei). The concert is *lush* with guest stars, including Sean Cross and Swizz Beats and, of course, Al Sharpton. During the concert, which has drawn a substantial crowd and is clearly a representation of the #BlackLivesMatter movement — which in itself is a testament to how incredible the Empire showrunners are — Cookie descends from the sky, clad in a gorilla suit (don’t worry, she’s wearing mesh and python underneath), and incites the crowd to rally behind the exploitation of black men in the US prison system. After Cookie makes her point and subsequently takes off the gorilla costume, Whiteman appears and is *clearly* flirting with Cookie. What’s that saying again? "By any means necessary"?
This show is amazing, you guys.
Meanwhile, in prison, Lucious Lyon is living his life, very similarly to how he did before being incarcerated — aside from the whole jail thing. He’s the boss behind bars, and is told Frank Gathers, a drug lord from Lucious’ old drug-runner days, has returned to jail. Gathers is played by a deeply unconvincing Chris Rock, and although it’s a little painful watching his performance, you find out his character was ratted out to the feds by Cookie, so you know he’s important, and you just have to get over it like I did.
While Anika and the remainder of the Lyon family are planning a #hostiletakeover of the company, Jamal is running it in his father’s place, and it’s clearly taken his toll on him. Jamal has become blunt, decisive and a lot like Lucious during his time as HBIC (head bitch in charge), and his music has suffered as a result. He tells Lucious during a visit his album slid to No. 22 on the charts, and he’s not sure how he’s going to stay in the game while running the company full time. Lucious gives him the most Lucious parenting advice ever by ignoring his son’s problems, and instead inquires about who that “lesbo bitch” Cookie was cozying up to at the concert. The plot thickens.
Cookie, Anika, Andre and Hakeem throw a quasi-full blown lesbian orgy at their penthouse in honor of both “the children” and Mimi Whiteman, once again in hopes of solidifying her millions as a means of taking over the company. Apparently the only thing one has to do to get a donation from a lesbian is surround her with naked women and flirt the check out of her, which on some level I find offensive, but then again, this is the same show that legitimately changed the central plot just before the first season wrapped (I still can’t get over the misdiagnosis) and is somehow still powerhouse television, so I’ll let the lesbian overkill slide. Also, Anika starts dancing with Whiteman after it becomes clear Whiteman is interested in her, and Cookie commands her to get her to sign the deal.
Great golddigger, that Anika. Great golddigger. Awful woman. #hostiletakeover
Lucious briefly meets with the head prosecutor on his case, and says to her: “You think that being a black bitch in cheap shoes who took down hip-hop, that’s your way to victory? Well, let me share something with you, Mrs. Clarence Thomas: You ain’t never gonna be nothin’ but a black bitch in cheap shoes to me," which is just a long winded way of saying “f--k you," and sends her on her way — but not before mentioning that her shoes are Tom Ford.
After becoming partners with Whiteman, Cookie and the remainder of the #hostiletakeover squad saunter into a board meeting that Jamal is leading. Well, Hakeem rides in on a hoverboard because he’s a dick. It's amazing characterization, and I love this show. Cookie tells Jamal she met with an investor, Mimi Whiteman, and has purchased majority stock in the company and will be removing Lucious Lyon as CEO immediately. All seems to be going according to plan, until WHAT HAPPENS? MIMI IS ALREADY IN THE BOARDROOM AND MADE A BETTER DEAL WITH LUCIOUS EARLIER THAT SAME MORNING? Yep, that’s right.
Mimi, the lesbian, is also just as much of a shark as the Lyons are. Lucious then Skypes into the meeting from prison, because he’s at a prison which accommodates his busy schedule, so he can deliver the line “game over, bitches” and laugh as the majority of his family realizes they’ve been double crossed. Also, Anika slept with Mimi and still didn’t get her on their side. F--k you, Anika.
In prison, Frank learns Cookie is the one who ratted him out to the feds. As a result, he sends her some roses and a severed head in a box, which is mostly amazing because the severed head plot gets less than ten seconds of airtime over the course of the entire episode, when in reality, it’s a severed head in a box.
Cookie visits Lucious in jail to alert him of the situation, because even though everyone in the Lyon family wants to kill each other and plot to destroy each other, they’re still a family. Lucious tells Frank his daughter has a place at his record label in hopes of defusing the situation with Cookie. Frank declines, as Cookie is a snitch, and something has to be done about it: He orders the guards to kill Lucious, but in pure Lucious style, he has earned the loyalty of the prison goons and has Frank killed instead.
While their father is supervising a hit in prison, Hakeem and Jamal are fighting over who "deserves to be the king” back at the Lyon mansion. Andre, Rhonda, and Carol are all there as well, and Cookie returns home to tell them everything has been taken care of and that their father is “a son of a bitch” — but is still their father. Jamal, having totally changed over the past three months, kicks everyone out of the house because they betrayed Lucious and don’t deserve to be under his roof. And after a few good, Christian slaps, Cookie leaves the house, thus ending the episode.
WHO’S EXCITED FOR NEXT WEEK? Watch Season 2 Episode 1 of Empire on FOX.
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