Empire Season 2 Episode 11 Recap
In tonight’s spring premiere, the family reacts to Hakeem’s betrayal. Cookie puts a plan in motion to get Empire back from the clutches of the revenge-filled Camilla Marks (Naomi Campbell) all while keeping Lucious from doing something he’ll regret for the rest of his life.
Rhonda lays at the bottom of the steps going in and out of consciousness . She watches a shadowy figure leave the house. She turns over on her back and she’s covered in blood. That baby is gone. She finds her iPhone, but it’s cracked. She manages to throw it at the glass door, setting off the alarm. She prays to God to save her baby. All this is set to a soundtrack of Jamal singing “Heavy” at an industry celebration for his award nomination.
Remember that? Jamal and Lucious are both nominated for ASAs in the record of the year category. It’s Lucious’ first nom, and he’s determined to win. Sorry son
Lucious refuses to leave the Empire building after the board votes to kick him out. The police are on the way but he doesn’t care. His shady lawyer is sure what just happened is actually illegal, declaring such as he loads up some guns. Andre tries to persuade pops to leave, but he’s CRAZED.
In the meantime, Hakeem arrives home to Cookie waiting for him with her trusty broom. When Cookie asks why he’d stab the family in the back, Hakeem insists he only hurt Lucious, who deserves everything that’s coming to him. “Boy…you gave our business away to that half lesbian bitch! You just threw away our legacy!” When Hakeem refuses to take his vote back at an emergency meeting Cookie wants to call, she beats him upside his head. That broom handle breaks in half.
When the police bust into the Empire offices, Thirsty keeps Lucious from pulling a gun. “Bitch, you gonna have to drag me out of here,” he says. But just as Camilla and Lucious are about to throw down, Becky bursts through the door with the bad news that Rhonda is in the hospital and might not make it.
When Hakeem arrives at the hospital worried about Andre. Cookie demands he stay away. Cookie gently breaks the news to Andre that Rhonda is OK but the baby didn’t make it. Hakeem watches helplessly as the family circles to comfort Andre who collapses screaming on the floor. Later, Rhonda confesses to her husband that she doesn’t remember what happened. She blames herself. She’s angry at God, who couldn’t be real if he let her baby die.
Cookie comforts Lucious back home. Everything that’s happened–Hakeem giving the company away, Rhonda losing the baby–has brought them back together again. The next morning, Cookie finds Lucious loading a gun. “I’m going to take my company back,” he declares. He threatens if Hakeem tries to be CEO “It ain’t going to turn out good for him.” Cookie attempts to calm her ex-husband down. She’s got a plan. She’s going to take Camilla out from the inside. Lucious promises he’ll hold off on doing something crazy for 48 hours. But if her plan doesn’t work…Lucious threatens to do something unthinkable. Could he take out his own son?
Camilla has “big plans” for Hakeem, but not until he gets rid of his “little Mexican girlfriend.” He admits he’s in love with her. Camilla dangles the CEO position in front of him as incentive just as Cookie blows through the door. She’s prepared to make Hakeem “the deal of a lifetime.” Cookie offers Empire her company, Lyon Dynasty. If Camilla doesn’t take the deal, Cookie still has Hakeem and his music under contract. She won’t let him go. “You can’t have Hakeem, bitch.” Camilla is unconcerned. She’ll just crush Cookie with Empire legal bills.
Jago Locke, head of the streaming service that merged with Empire, is the board favorite to be CEO. Cookie is sure she can push him out. “You really going to choose this bitch over your own family Hakeem?” Cookie asks. “At least she don’t beat me with her purse,” he snaps. “Not unless you want me to,” coos Camilla. Well, then.
At the club, Thirsty and Lucious meet with his prison gang. Somehow everybody got paroled at the same time. Imagine that. They each get assigned a board member to terrorize into submission. Don’t do anything illegal, instructs Thirsty, just throw down some major intimidation. Lucious picks up a gun. “I’ll handle Hakeem,” he says.
Anika pays Rhonda a visit in the hospital, with a HUGE bouquet of flowers and a boatload of fake concern. “Maybe everything happens for a reason,” Anika says to Rhonda. She assures Rhonda there will be another heir. But doesn’t add, “Because I’m pregnant too. Hoo boy.
Hakeem confesses to Jamal that he might run for CEO, who admits he HATED running Empire. It got in the way of making music and turned him into somebody he didn’t even know. As Hakeem proceeds to empty a bottle of whisky, his mixed feelings about betraying his family, ditching the girl who could possibly be “the one” rise to the surface.
Pushing the conflict in his head and heart aside, Hakeem stops by Lyon Dynasty to split up with Laura. Instead of making a clean honest break, though, he proceeds to act like a dick. He interrupts the girl group rehearsal, yells to cut the music, calls Laura lazy and unwilling to step out in front. She calls him an ass for walking in drunk. He calls her a bitch. She threatens to leave. He claims he was going to walk out on her virgin ass anyway. She breaks up with HIM. See what he did there?
Back at the club, Jamal meets with Jamieson, the gay activist who is assisting his career. It doesn’t go well. Jamieson says he heard about his rendezvous with Skye and is disappointed. He DOESN’T say it was Lucious who told him. The activist’s concern is, if news of the romance got out, wingnut politicians would use it to their own ends–holding it up as proof that sexuality is a choice. Jamal insists he’s GAY and he’s not in a “relationship.” Sleeping with Skye was just one of those things. After Jamieson gives a lecture about how LBGT folk are literally in peril all over the world, he wishes Jamal good luck with his music career and walks away.
Cookie insists Jamal not back away from campaigning for his award. If he beats out Lucious, he will become legendary. “Don’t you want that stupid!” Cookie insists he “choose a side” regarding his sexuality. When Jamal asks her if she ever slept with a woman, that shuts her right up. The point is, sexuality is fluid, and nobody is going to tell him who to sleep with. The irony of gay men denying him the right to love whom he wants is kind of delicious.
Cookie admonishes him. He can’t piss people like Jamieson off because “awards are like politics.” She lectures Jamal, “Think of this like a campaign. You’re running for office,” she says. “Get your gay back and get that ASA award!” she insists with a sharp playful little slap to his face.
As Lucious plays the piano, we see his thugs intimidate the board members. It’s literally like something out of The Godfather. One hits his car alarm and it explodes into a fiery ball. Another finds her cat, dead, swinging from the ceiling. Jago gets the crap beat out of him. Back at Empire, Camilla announces that everyone who was considering the CEO position has bowed out. “This sinking ship is going down with or without Lucious Lyon,” declares Jago, passing the message as he walks out that “Lucious can go to hell.”
Sufficiently intimidated, none of the others dare run for CEO, clearing the way for Hakeem, who jumps on the conference room table to declare his candidacy. “I ain’t scared of no bitch ass Lucious Lyon,” he says. After announcing that he has the swag and the looks to run the company, he promises to take Empire into the future. The board members clap. Hakeem raises his hands as if he were acknowledging his disciples. It’s the new era of Hakeem Lyon!
Jamal hits an ASA industry event where he debuts a new song for the benefit of Jamieson, who is sitting in the crowd. “It’s a new generation welcome to my love,” he sings. “Nobody is going to tell me how to love,” Jamal continues as he grinds up against both men and women on stage. Jamieson is looking real uncomfortable as he watches. His ex Michael is there too.
Freedom (Audio) ft. Jussie Smollett
When Andre confesses to Cookie that Rhonda is scared she won’t be able to have kids again, she reveals her own miscarriage that tour her apart. It happened before the others were born. A little girl, she says tearfully. “Lucious and I were devastated…We pretended it didn’t happen.” But the point is that there is hope the two can go on to have a beautiful family.
Andre brings Rhonda back home. She’s so traumatized, she afraid to sleep in their bedroom. She tries to make her way up the stairs on her own, on a broken leg, and stumbles. At that moment, as she peers at the front door, she has a little flashback. It’s hazy and she’s still not sure. But you know her memory is on the way back. Remember, she saw that shadowy figure as it exited the house.
Cookie, Andre and Jamal bust in on Camilla and Hakeem lounging in the Empire executive suite. “Would you look at this,” Cookie snarks, “If this isn’t the saddest sight I’ve ever seen. And I’m not just talking about your face, Yoko.” It’s even funnier when Cookie switches to “Yoho” for the rest of the conversation.
Hakeem warns Jamal the release of his album is at Empire’s discretion. Not so fast, says Jamal, who has formulated a plan to get Empire back. The disc is a JOINT venture between Empire and Lyon Dynasty. In actuality, Empire has no control. Legally, there were no stipulations over which label could release it. If Camilla tries to sue them? Jamal will leak the whole thing online. It’s a tactic he learned from baby brother. In order to avoid a an inevitable wave of bad press if he loses his biggest artist, Hakeem suggests bringing Lyon Dynasty to Empire. Cookie agrees IF she gets full autonomy via a distribution only deal, and is installed as head of A&R for both companies. Camilla keeps repeating “It will be a disaster! They are going to dethrone you.” But Hakeem goes for it because, when it comes down to it, he misses his family.
While Lucious is exiled from Empire, Cookie gives him the run of the Lyon Dynasty offices. Cookie orders him to write a song and leave the dirty work to her. They flirt shamelessly with each other. When Lucious concedes that she’s the boss, Cookie slaps him playfully in the ass. ‘You like it, don’t you!” They’re getting back together again. You know it.
In the middle of packing up the nursery, Andre loses it. He cries into the empty bassinet, apologizing over and over again. “God help me,” he sobs, “Please.” He collapses to the floor. Heartbreaking.
Hakeem can’t forget Laura. He watches her perform “Crown” on his computer. He’s on her stoop waiting for her when she arrives home. He apologizes. He knows he was an ass. “I broke up with you to get my Empire back. But now that I got what’s mine, all I want is you.” He kisses her. She forgives him pretty fast. She’s ready to bed him, but only if they can be together. He promises. Which is probably a bad move. He hesitates in the middle of it. Maybe he’s afraid there are promises he won’t keep. She begs him not to stop. They exchange I love yous. She says it first. Consummated.
Crown (Audio) ft. Jamila Velazquez, Raquel Castro, Yani Marin
The episode ends with Lucious and Hakeem facing off by the water. The father confesses he shot Bunkie in the face–killed him–in the very spot where they are standing. It’s an intimidation tactic to be sure–an illustration of the lengths he’ll go to hold on to the Empire. He hands Hakeem the gun and tells him to shoot. “You want to be king? Kill your father and sit on his throne.” Hello Shakespeare. “It’s life or death. If you don’t shoot me right here. I promise you the next time I see you I will do my best to take your life. Shoot me so I don’t have to do it to you.”
Hakeem raises the gun and holds it to Lucious’ forehead. The father turns around to make it easier for his son. “You like stabbing people in the back. Shoot me in the back…Pull the damn trigger!” Instead, Hakeem walks away. “I ain’t got to do what you want,” he says, throwing the gun down. “Watch your back baby boy,” warns Lucious. “I keep my promises.” And the episode fades to black.
A look at next week