Empire Season 2 Episode 10 Recap – Et Tu Brute
Naomi Campbell returns as Hakeem’s old flame, Camilla. Alicia Keys makes another appearance as Jamal’s new love interest, Skye Summer and Marisa Tomei is up to no good as Mimi Whiteman.
It was the Empire winter finale, and as such the episode was chock full of bombshells. The biggest: Hakeem’s secret girlfriend, Camilla, the one Lucious tried to pay off to leave the country, comes back for revenge. And boy does she get it. Turns out, Camilla is Mimi’s WIFE and the two had been plotting all along to oust Lucious from Empire. They succeed.
The second big moment comes at the end of the episode. SOMEONE breaks into Andre’s mansion and pushes pregnant Rhonda down that incredible winding staircase. The last shot was her out cold on the floor. That I saw coming. Several weeks ago, TV Line signalled a death in the storyline, spoiling a grief counselor cast for episode 11. I figured they wouldn’t kill off a main character. I thought it would be either Cookie’s sister Carol, or Andre and Rhonda’s baby. Now we know it’s at least the latter, and perhaps Rhonda too. The writers haven’t really figured out what to do with Rhonda this season. Her complete demise wouldn’t be entirely surprising.
The next question is…who did it? The obvious suspect is crazy ass Anika, who had been visiting Rhonda at the house and is also pregnant with a Lyon baby. Earlier in the episode, she dropped off a baby gift, and her skin almost literally turned green as Rhonda described how Lucious had transformed her family into royalty, calling their baby the next heir. Anika as the culprit is too obvious an answer. It could be an enemy who knows what they did to Vernon and is seeking their own revenge. I always wondered what happened to Vernon’s AA sponsor.
The events of the episode take place in a day, weaving in and out of day long nomination announcements for a fictitious awards show called the ASAs. Jason Derulo plays himself, popping in on the telly and streaming devices to deliver good news, and bad. Jamal receives 8 or 9 nominations, while his brother Hakeem garners a big fat zero. In the Best Rapper category, Freda Gatz is nominated instead. Ouch. He’s not happy.
Maybe that’s why he’s so vulnerable when Camilla comes calling. She tells him that she married Mimi in order to manipulate her into investing in Empire. She did it all for Hakeem. She wants to pick up where they left off—she as Hakeem’s Svengali. And we eventually learn that her hold on him is still alive. Mimi secretly films Lucious declaring that he won’t be discussing his big moves with Empire’s board. He sold off the company’s assets in order to complete the big Slip Stream deal without telling them. Eventually, he plans to ditch all of those who have gotten in his way, he says, Mimi’s pen picking up all. She plays the video at a board meeting, convincing most of them to vote to remove Lucious as CEO. Andre and Lucious’ sleazy lawyer, Thirsty attempt to convince board members to vote their way. Thirsty even provides sexual favors to one of the female board members, but after she’s satisfied, she says, “That was good, but not 10M dollars good.” The only hope is to get Cookie and the kids to vote Lucious’ way.
Cookie has been at odds with Lucious all season, and for all intents and purposes, became his enemy when she started Lyon Dynasty. But an outsider threatening to steal Empire? NO WAY. She explains to Hakeem that Lyon Dynasty is their company, but Empire is their legacy. Cookie has spent the day visiting the prison where she was incarcerated for 17 years and can’t leave to vote. She signs a proxy over to Hakeem trusting he’ll do the right thing. But does he? At the emergency meeting, when it’s his time to vote, he flashed back to every terrible thing Lucious has done to him. Camilla is across the room beckoning to him. Cookie shows up. She screams at Hakeem not to do it. But when it’s his turn, he becomes the swing vote to oust Lucious. Immediately after, Mimi announces she’s going away for more breast cancer treatment, and makes Camille the proxy CEO. OMG indeed. Damn. Good thing Cookie said NO to selling the publishing rights off to purchase Slip Stream. At least they still own the music.
Later, at home, the family is gathered to watch the rest of the ASA nominations. A shotgun blast rings through the house. Cookie rushes to the den to find Lucious shooting up gold records. He points the gun at her. She eventually talks him out of killing himself, insisting that he’s got more to live for–a majority stake in Empire still, not to mention their children who need him. She takes his hand to pull him out of the room. They look at each other for a moment, and they embrace. “I want to kill Hakeem,” he says, “You don’t mean that,” Cookie says.
After Cookie coaxes Lucious back to the living room, they watch Jason Derulo announce the last ASA category, Song of the Year, for which both Jamal and Lucious are nominated. Most normal parents would be thrilled to step back and allow their kid to take the spotlight. Not Lucious. He’s been nominated for 19 awards and has never won. He’s NEVER been nominated for Song of the Year. Hell no he’s not letting go. And you can see the competition in his eyes as he mutters to Jamal, “Ain’t it a bitch.” Meanwhile, Andre rings Rhonda with the good news about Song of the Year and the phone rings and rings and rings…and there she is on the floor. Maybe dead. Or not.
In a secondary plot line, Cookie goes back to prison for “Family Day” and almost walks out. But once she sees her “girls” she feels empowered to remain and give them encouragement. It’s like Orange is the New Black up in here. Watch Porsha in this clip. She is hilarious.
During a rousing speech, she begins to share about the horrible day she’s had, losing Cookie’s picnic, and becomes teary thinking about Laz. But then, she says, “A broken heart does not compare to the struggles of a life in here.” Before Hakeem and Laura perform, he salutes his mom. “Creating Lyon Dynasty has been one of the greatest moments of my life.” Of his father, Hakeem says, “I can’t understand why my father didn’t bring me once to see her here. That’s messed up, right?” Rapper Da Brat plays a woman inside whom Cookie wanted to turn into a star once she got out, but she killed her bunkmate over toothpaste and is in for life now. She’s upset with Cookie for never visiting once she got out. It’s a storyline that feels truncated, and it turns out it was cut for time, including a rhyme from Da Brat.
Nobody will take a flyer on Cookie’s Cookout. The venues feel she’s a security risk. When she asks Lucious permission to use Leviticus for the concert, he takes real pleasure in telling her no.
Jamal debuts his Pepsi commercial. It’s treated like a true product tie in. The clips is introduced during the episode. Fade to black, and watch as FOX airs a real Pepsi commercial starring Jussie Smollett. After the break, everyone in the room is clapping and offering congratulations. Jameson, the gay activist who is assisting Jamal with his career, informs Lucious that he’s working out a cover story deal with a gay magazine. Jamison takes a swipe at Lucious, congratulating him on setting the bar for Jamal, but of course he’s cleared it. “Isn’t that every parent’s dream to have their children surpass them?” asks Jamison. “It’s not my dream,” Lucious replies deadpan. He follows up quickly, “I’m just kidding.” We find out later, hell no, he’s not. He declares to Jameson that the R&B Song of the Year is a crap category made up to placate black people. The only category that matters is Song of the Year.
Needling Jamison back, Lucious lets slip that Jamal is dating Skye and maybe not so gay after all. Jamison spies the two across the room looking all coupley and he grimaces. At the end of last episode, Skye (Alicia Keys) and Jamal kiss. This week, it’s apparent she’s smitten, but Jamal not so much. You know. BECAUSE HE’S GAY. They hooked up once, but that doesn’t change the fact that he prefers to sleep and be in relationships with men. It’s who he is. Skye and Jamal’s storyline this week is ALL about identity. After they debut their duet at the Pepsi commercial unveiling, a popular DJ, at Jamal’s invite, joins them onstage for an interview.
He congratulates the two on recording a socially conscious song, but then, ambushes Skye. “Are you black now? You usually don’t identify as black.” Skye is taken aback as he calls her out on being biracial, but avoiding her black heritage. Jamal sticks up for her “Why does Skye have to pick a side? We don’t have to be put into boxes.” The DJ uses the example of Jamal being gay and that if he suddenly started seeing a woman, people would look at him as if he were crazy. The DJ suggests he would be choosing a label as a matter of convenience. UNCOMFORTABLE.
Meanwhile, Lucious catches wind that something went down between Skye and Jamal. “Are you hitting that?” Lucious asks. Jamal insists that he’s still gay. “Don’t get weird,” he warns. “She fixed you!” Lucious says, actually believing that, feeling AOK to tell Jamison that Jamal is dating women now.
Jamal and Skye eventually have a heart to heart. Jamal adores Skye…she finishes the sentence, “But you’re into men.” He nods and apologizes. They hooked up and it was beautiful, but Skye doesn’t want to change him. “You’ll never feel about me the way you did about (old cheating boyfriend) Michael.” He admits that he wouldn’t. Thus, the end of that dubious storyline.
We’ve got four long months until we find out if Rhonda is dead or alive, who pushed her down the stairs, and if Lucious gets back his company and gets back at all the folks who have wronged him. And, will he FINALLY win an industry award?
What did YOU think of the Empire winter finale?