Empire Season 2 Episode 2 Recap – Without a Country
Hakeem, fancying himself a record mogul, wants to develop a girl group like Destiny’s Child. Andre is appalled when he pulls up to the Bronx dive studio where Cookie recorded Jamal’s album. A dump in a bad Bronx neighborhood is where she plans to cultivate her own Empire. She’s thinking about how she and Lucious recorded music in her sister Carol’s living room. But the boys don’t recall that kind of hardship.
The producer who runs the joint, giant cereal bowl in hand, tells Cookie she’s crazy. But he already knew that. It turns out Anika is already in one of the studios, cutting a song , “Hourglass,” with V. Cookie stomps in to take over at a moment of frustration between the two, leaving a bewildered Anika out in the hallway.
Meanwhile, back at the prison, Lucious mysteriously and suddenly can’t get the medication he needs to control his myasthenia gravis. Could it be ambitious prosecutor, Roxanne Ford, that black republican bitch (as Lucious so lovingly called her) is playing games?
Cookie interrupts Jamal in the middle of a home interview, with a dishy entertainment show called “Spilling the Tea.” Boyfriend Michael cooks for the crew like a good wifey, while the female interviewer coos over Jamal, like he’s the second coming of Usher. Jamal sings “Born To Love You” at the piano and it’s really awesome. Cookie has come by to talk Jamal into giving Hakeem his nearly finished album, which Jamal wasn’t planning to release anyway. She plays on sibling affections for his little brother. Jamal won the battle of the brothers. Music is all Hakeem has left, she says. Handing over the album is the least he could do. Oh. And she also drops the news that the banished family members are starting their own company. Jamal is stunned, but doesn’t outright deny Cookie’s request.
Out in the prison yard, Lucious hangs out with his new prison peeps. You know–the dudes he bought off to kill Gathers last time. They’re working on a new song that Lucious wants to release from prison. He begins spitting, but coughing and winded without his medication, he can barely get through it. A prison guard approaches (played by Ludacris) and he’s a real prick. He’s obviously working with prosecutor Ford to break Lucious so that he’ll plead guilty, cop a plea, and hand over career boosting info to her. The guard, McKnight, gets into a little scuffle with the crew after he condescendingly calls them “boys.” One of them gets pulled away, probably to be thrown in solitary. But Lucious will not be intimidated.
Back at the studio, Hakeem auditions sweet young things for his girl group. Valentina (played by Becky G.) arrives and she’s full of swagger and confidence. She can sing, she can rap. When she hears she just auditioned for a girl group, she’s all I DON’T DO GROUPS. “With or without, you,” she huffs before leaving the room, “I shine.” Of course, Hakeem is totally smitten. “She’s crazy,” he says, “I love her.”
Andre storms in, irritated that Hakeem is off doing his own thing without checking in with the rest. Big brother is used to the corporate way. He is not feeling this “fly by the seat of your pants” deal. Cookie likes little brother’s hustle. Andre reminds her that Hakeem needs to be recording new music, or they’ll have nothing to release. He’s not banking on Jamal letting Hakeem’s album go.
Lucious confronts McKnight, who hints that a little cooperation with Miss Ford will result in the sudden reappearance of his medication order. Lucious would rather suffer.
Hakeem can’t decide between two Latinas for his girl group. “There ain’t nothin wrong with a couple of Jlos,” says Cookie. Hakeem thinks it would be cool to have a white, black and Latina in his girl group and call it “Rainbow Sensation.” Oy. ‘That’s the dumbest name I ever heard,” says Cookie, who speaks the truth. “That might be the dumbest name known to man. Did your daddy drop you on your head?” Cookie Lyon. MOTHER OF THE YEAR!
Anika believes it’s a marketable concept. The name, not so much. “Anika knows marketing,” snipes Cookie, “She made a whole career selling her ass.” Anika shoots back, “As opposed to your stellar career in pharmaceuticals?”
“Let me tell you something ho,” Cookie sneers, ‘If it weren’t for women like me, bitches like you would spend a lifetime on your knees…or underneath my 20 year old son.” Cookie wins again.
Anika had stopped by to bitch about V. But instead she just gives Cookie a steely look and a “good luck” before walking out. “I don’t understand what part of ‘I don’t want you here you don’t get.” The part where Hakeem and Andre wanted her on board. They don’t look pleased.
Back at the prison visiting room, Jamal runs giving Hakeem his album back by Lucious. Unsurprising, he thinks it’s a terrible idea. The stock is plummeting while he’s in jail. What kind of message does that send? Jamal is completely unthreatened by Cookie and her start up. That’s not the point. Hakeem belongs at Empire, says Lucious. If he wants his album, he’s going to have to come back to the company. “You’ve got to make that happen,” he insists.
Lucious is still not feeling well, and Jamal notices. He plays it off. They plot how Lucious will record the new song he’s working on from jail. In the middle of all that, a man sitting at another table introduces himself. Thirsty Rawlings, a lawyer, hands Lucious his business card. Jamal laughs in his face when he learns he earned his law degree at the University of Guam. But he’s got hustle those other folks do not. When Thirsty name checks Roxanne Ford, Lucious perks up. Thirsty knows she’s withholding Lucious’ medication. It’s one of her stunts, he says. “Mama plays dirty, but I got no qualms getting in the mud with her.” Lucious wants to set up a meeting.
Back at the studio, Tiana is rehearsing with her backup dancers. She sings “Get No Better” all sexy and sultry like. Hakeem drops by to ask her to join his girl group. She’s appalled and insulted and wondering if leaving Empire was the right decision, a situation that requires Cookie’s immediate intervention. Hakeem is delusional. Let’s just say he’s lucky Cookie wasn’t sweeping up.
Jamal pulls up to the curb as Hakeem exits the building, and asks him to get into the car. He does. Here’s the thing. Despite all the hurt and the bad blood, familial ties can never be broken. These two knuckleheads really miss each other. Jamal pleads his case for bringing Hakeem back to Empire. He’s ready to move past the fact his family stabbed him in the back. Well, not completely. He’s ready to bring back only Hakeem. Jamal promises not only to release his album, but to give it the full blown media and radio push. Cookie sees them as she comes out of the building. Stink eye commences as Jamal rolls up the window.
Later, Hakeem and Valentina are taking a sexy bubble bath. You knew that was coming. Becky G is a little spitfire! Perfect in the role. He reveals his plans to head back to Empire. The girl group is off. If the girl group was a part of Empire she’d definitely do it. “Empire is legendary,” she says, “Empire is hip hop.” Whatever wheels Hakeem’s got up there in his head, they begin to turn. “Don’t you want to be legendary?” she asks him.
Rhonda pays Jamal a visit. She’s gone behind Andre’s back to beg for his job back at Empire. He’s miserable working for Cookie’s crappy little startup. It’s not his style. Empire is his life. Without it, he’s lost. She admits that Andre messed up, and tearfully asks Jamal to forgive and take him back. Jamal admits that he misses Andre too, and realizes he needs his brother’s business savvy. When Jamal remains uncertain, she confides that she’s pregnant with a boy. That does the trick. He promises to speak with Lucious.
Back at the prison, a guard slips Lucious his medication. “A little something from your lawyer, Thirsty Rawlings.” The guard brings him to a room where his crew is waiting with recording equipment. “Thirsty’s got a lot of friends in here,” the guard remarks. “You’ve got 65 minutes before the shift change.” Lucious spits a nasty tune, “Snitch Bitch” obviously a poison diss dart aimed directly at Cookie. “Now the pictures faded and I’m done with ya…you ain’t nothin’ but a snitch bitch…snitchin ass bitch.” Just as they finish up, Mcknight bursts through the door and busts them. They end up in cuffs, equipment confiscated.
McKnight gloats outside of Lucious’ solitary confinement cell. “In here you’re just another prisoner,” he says, “Right now I could kill you. There’d be no consequences.” Lucious dishes a few vague threats before vowing he won’t be convicted. “You and that bitch Miss Ford. Ya’ll make mistakes. I don’t.” Preach, Lucious.
Cut to McKnight heading to his car in a parking garage. He’s ambushed by two dudes who pistol whip him until he forks over the laptop he took from Lucious. Next, Thirsty pulls up in his vintage caddy to collect the goods and hand over the fee. They made sure everything was on there. “I double checked before I cracked his ribs,” said one.
Just as Andre was about to have a heart to heart with Cookie, Hakeem interrupts. She knows Lucious is trying to woo him back. “It’s breaking my heart,” she says, “but I can’t stop you.” Hakeem says Rainbow Sensation ain’t happening, because he’s found three feisty Latina women, and that’s not going to work. Andre reminds him that the English speaking Latino market is the fastest growing untapped market in the country. He went to Penn. Andre has statistics at his fingertips!
Now, Hakeem figures he’s on to something. Besides, he’s decided he’s not going back to Empire to work for his father or “punk ass Jamal.” He’s going to be hip hop legendary in his own right. He’s not giving up on his album, either. During the conversation, his MC tools around on her laptop. With one click, she leaks his unfinished Empire album online. SURPRISE! Hakeem doesn’t care if it’s illegal. Andre calls him stupid. “Empire’s going to sue the hell out of you,” Andre warns Cookie. “And they’d be right to.”
“That’s it,” he says. “I’m done.” Cookie chases after Andre. He worries too much, she says. Jamal won’t sue his own brother. “You don’t worry enough, Cookie.” He goes on to say that it’s not her, it’s not Hakeem. “This isn’t me,” he says. “This scrappy little setup isn’t what I’ve been working for all these years.” He begs Cookie to let him go. She realizes she has no choice.
Meanwhile, cereal eating studio guy finds Cookie a brand new space in a huge warehouse that he copped from some neighborhood Hassidic dudes. A dynasty, he says. Cookie likes that. The place is a fixer-upper, but Cookie is pleased.
Andre visits Lucious in jail to plead for his job back. He should have never been part of the hostile takeover, he admits. “I messed up big time pop, and I know it.” Lucious says it hurt him to his core to watch Andre take sides against him. “I bleed Empire,” Andre pleads. “I’m praying that you’ll forgive me, pop.”
“You pray to God that he forgives you,” says Lucious. “Because I don’t.” COLD. Andre can’t understand how Lucious gave the company away to a son he didn’t get along with and forgives Hakeem, who slept with his girlfriend. Andre has completely humbled himself. Why can’t Lucious forgive him? Why does he treat Andre “like some kind of mutant”?
Flash back to Lucious as a little boy in his mother’s arms (played by singer, Kelly Rowland). As she sings “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to her little boy, her behavior turns erratic. BIG REVEAL–just like Andre, she’s bi-polar too! “I don’t hate you,” says Lucious, as he walks away, clearly unable to deal with a son that reminds him so much of a painful past.
Back at Jamal’s place, Hakeem noodles on a guitar, while big brother pens a song about apology and forgiveness. He confesses he’s writing it for Hakeem, and looks forward to them jamming together like the old days. Hakeem confesses he misses Jamal too, but breaks the news that he’s not coming back to Empire. Weirdly, Jamal had no ideal Hakeem leaked his album online. But now he does! “You’ll never see a penny!” says Jamal. “That’s why I’m not coming back to your stupid ass Empire, says Hakeem. “Tell father when I make it to Madison Square Garden, I’ll comp ya’ll some VIP tickets.”
Hakeem reveals the name of the Cookie’s company. Lyon Dynasty (see what she did there?) Jamal calls it corny, as he kicks Hakeem out. “You think you’re on top now?” he says. “Our little dynasty is going to crush your Empire.” Back at the warehouse, Cookie hands Hakeem a broom and orders him to help clean up. He knows he better sweep or get beat. The radio is playing and out comes Lucious’ new joint. Hakeem is shocked he dropped a song from prison. Cookie is not. “That’s your daddy,” she says. “He has his ways.” She adds,”Damn. That’s hot,” completely unaffected by the obvious diss. Hakeem realizes that Lucious will come after them hard. DUH. She says that’s why they’ve got to get to work, before he gets out of jail.
Cut to Lucious’ bail hearing. Jamal is there as support. Thirsty is late. The “free Lucious” protesters can be heard faintly outside the window. Just as Roxanne is ready to bail, Thirsty bursts through the doors. He hands over “new evidence” to the judge–a doughy, middle aged white guy. He’s got an envelope for Miss Bitch too.
When the judge pulls the “evidence” out of the envelope, his face goes even whiter. Photos of the judge engaged in leather BDSM–tied up with a ball in his mouth–results in a quick decision to FREE LUCIOUS! Oh that Thirsty! Lucious is out on bail in about 2 seconds. The cameras flash as the prosecutor protests. “This is a travesty!” she cries. “That is my ruling Miss Ford,” the judge says. She is so confused. Off come the cuffs. Lucious is a free man, ready to claim his kingdom.
Watch out, Cookie.