Empire Season 2 Episode 3 Recap – Fires from Heaven
After Thirsty presented the judge with photos of his honor in a compromising position last week, Lucious’ bail was quickly granted. This week’s episode opens with prosecutor Roxanne Ford speaking with the press outside the courtroom, calling Lucious a socio-path, and vowing to put him behind bars where he belongs.
A reporter wonders if she’s using Lucious’ case to launch her bid to be District Attorney. You think? Miss Ford is already planning the office decor. Lucious exits the building, and the press flock to his side to aske what he thinks. He’s flattered to be used in such a way and offers to donate to her campaign. The prosecutor stuck it to Lucious in one way–she made it a condition of his bail that he not be allowed inside the Empire building, lest he taint the employees who could be called as witnesses at Lucious’ murder trial. Being in prison didn’t stop King Lyon from running his company. Surely Roxanne’s little twist won’t. He and thirsty are also catching on that perhaps Vernon isn’t “sequestered” as she keeps claiming. More like 6 feet under.
Cookie drops by Hakeem’s place and catches Valentina running around half naked. He’s got to appear on Sway the next morning. If it were Jamal, she says, he’d be in bed already. Sleeping with the leader of his girl band is “an Unsung episode waiting to happen,” mama warns. Valentina unwisely backtalks Cookie, who snaps, all un-PC like, “I’m not talking to you Guadalupe, you need to find your drawers!” Cookie just dropped by to inform Hakeem that his daddy is out of jail.
The girl group finally has a name: Ménage Trois. Well, at least it’s better than “Rainbow Sensation.” Hakeem, as arrogant as ever, isn’t worried a bit. “We gonna put Lyon Dynasty on the map,” he says. Cookie slaps him, “You shouldn’t have slept with that girl.” The ever-ambitious Valentina reminds him to mention her socials during his interview.
Roxanne follows Lucious all the way to the Empire offices. She sits in her car and glares while the waiting crowd cheers for him. “To the Empire!” he shouts with his fist raised. His company is going to take over the world, Lucious promises.
Cut to Hakeem performing “Bout 2 Blow” for Sway on his radio show. Cookie stands by recording with her phone. She’s a proud mama. During the interview, Sway gets Lucious on the phone to ask about Hakeem leaking his album. It’s news to Lucious. Irritated, he calls Hakeem immature and rings off. Hakeem promises Sway and his radio audience that he’ll run circles around Lucious. He hints about the girl group he’s about to launch and promises to bring them by in a few days. Cookie gives Hakeem a death stair. The girls are nowhere near ready.
Later, Lucious assembles the entire family for a sumptuous dinner at his house. Before he arrives, the family chit chats. Cookie smirks when she learns Lucious wouldn’t be personally producing Jamal’s album, now that he’s out of prison. When Lucious enters the room he encourages his skeptical family tto “eat drink and be merry.” But don’t get too comfortable. “…for tomorrow we war.” When Lucious doesn’t pick up his fork, Cookie wonders, “You trying to poison us?”
The real reason for the family dinner: Lucious wants to put an end to Cookie’s record company and the family back at Empire. He’s willing to forgive those who tried to hijack his company while he was in prison, Hakeem for the leaked album, and Cookie for trying to kill him. Andre is more than willing to rejoin his father at Empire. He’s SO willing. But Cookie is not. “I doubt Jesus Christ himself could save you without burning his hands.” She’s going to build something nice for his sons, so Lucious can basically stick his Empire. He calls them all failures. He laughs at the notion they are betting the farm on a girl group. “Tell that to Barry Gordy and the Supremes,” says Cookie. “THEY WISH THEY WERE ME,” Lucious fires back, ever the megalomaniac. He’s extending his family a break, or they will suffer his wrath. One last chance. Lucious says he knows “y’all can’t eat without me…all you got is pride, and it’s chewy and it’s hard to swallow.” Cookie grabs her purse. She’s always going to eat , “just not with you.” As she leaves, she takes the tablecloth with her. The dishes, laden with the evening’s fancy feast, clatter to the floor. What an exit.
Anika is summoned to club Leviticus, where Lucious is holding court and doing business. Staff is getting ready for a big party in Lucious honor later that night. “If you wanted to go with my boy you should have asked,” says Lucious. “I would have let it happen.” He’s letting her know she’s just a piece of ass to him. Anika sniffs that Hakeem isn’t her type. “You had it coming,” she tells him. Anika, by her presence, is signaling to Lucious that she’s not happy at Lyon Dynasty. He figures she’ll help him take Cookie down. He intimates he’s bringing Hakeem back to Empire. After that, Lyon Dynasty will be nothing. Of course, what he doesn’t know is that Anika is on the outs with Cookie, and is in no position to help him. But, she does not tell him this. He promises a reward if Anika does something “dirty” for him. “You’ve always been a little dirty,” he says.
Back at Cookie’s studio, the trio records “Do it” with Hakeem at the board. Cookie is not happy with what she’s hearing, and is annoyed Hakeem promised Sway something they may not be able to deliver. The two wrestle for control of the session. He accuses Cookie of trusting Jamal more. She gives in and lets him take over. It’s a good thing. Cookie demands another take and is all “Bitch sing the song!” when Valentina doesn’t budge. Hakeem is able to sweet talk her into delivering a good take.
In the meantime, Andre asks Lucious to meet for lunch. Still trying to worm his way back into Empire, he’s got an idea. Originally, he was exploring the possibility of merging with Apex, a huge radio conglomerate. But after doing some homework, he figures the time is right to take them over all together. That way, Empire would have significant control of urban radio in the US. It could be huge. He promises Luscious he can deliver, so why not let him back into Empire? Nope, says Lucious. Not even a possibility. Andre is so desperate, it’s sad. Lucious reasons that talent like Hakeem is one in a million. A brilliant MBA is a dime a dozen. He could hire “fifty other mugs that could do exactly what you do.” SO COLD. Poor Andre. In order to prove his worth, says Lucious, Andre is going to have to bring him something mind-blowingly unique.
A phone call from Jamal interrupts their meeting. A girl and her gang of thugs showed up. It’s Freda Gatz, Frank Gathers talented daughter. Lucious orders Jamal, “she means everything to me musically…keep her there! Sign her…whatever it takes!” This, coming from the guy who won’t even take the time to produce his own son. Jamal is pissed.
Jamal offers Freda a deal. He pushes a contract across the table for her to sign. Her posse is unconvinced. Mostly because they are confused by the fine print, and suspicious that Luscious isn’t there in person to sign her. IT’S TIME TO GET YOURSELF AN ENTERTAINMENT LAWYER, GIRL. Becky says it will change Freda’s life, and tells the story of how Lucious rescued her from the projects in Brownsville–just like he could do for her. “My daddy said don’t trust him anyway,” says Freda, before she signals her crew to get out of there. Jamal doesn’t try to stop her. He’s jealous, and happy to see her go.
“How could you let her go!” Lucious wants to know, as they watch Freda on Youtube. ‘Keem would have signed her!” It’s the never ending Lyon way of using family members against each other. “Don’t make me regret putting you in charge,” warns Lucious. Jamal reminds him that he held the company down single-handedly while he was away in jail. “Now you’re going to jump down my throat because I couldn’t sign some random hood rat.” Lucious explains that Freda was going to mark the resurgence of Empire’s now dormant Gutter Life Records. “They want to take Lucious Lyon to the gutter…I’m going to show them what the streets is about.”
Thirsty–who never seems to leave Lucious’ side–recognizes the park where she’s hanging in the video. It would probably be a bad idea for him to head to a bad part of town, but Lucious does what he wants, Thirsty notes. If Jamal can’t handle the streets, says Lucious, maybe he should concentrate on getting Hakeem back. Poor Jamal, in charge of Empire, but he’s still Jan Brady. “You’re forgetting what I need!”cries Jamal. “As your artist, and your son.” Then he does that Lyon family thing I was talking about. “You can say what you want about Cookie, but she was always there when I needed her.”
Cookie enters her office and is met by a waiting Anika. “Let me guess,” says Cookie. “Those five job offers never happened. Are your knees sore? Did you run out of lubricant?” Anika sarcastically cries uncle, “I get it…you are the baddest bitch ever, badder than all the animals whose prints populate your wardrobe…” When Cookie learns Anika met with Lucious, she wants to know what he said that made her “slither your way back to the ghetto?” She’s also curious about whether Anika met him at the house, alone. (Feelings for Lucious. Cookie’s still got them!) She spills everything to Cookie. How Lucious arranged a meeting with her, thinking she was still working for Cookie. He wants Anika to steal all of Lyon Dynasty’s music and bring it to him. It’s an old trick, explains Cookie “Jack a track.” He’d change a few notes and put it out so she couldn’t release it. “Speaking of tricks,” Cookie says, “Why are you telling me this?” It turns out Anika hates him worse than she hates anybody. She’s got her own revenge agenda. Anika spills the details about Lucious’ party.
Cut to Leviticus, where the soiree is in full swing. Pitbull is on stage, performing “No Doubt About it” with Jamal. “If you came here to party…let’s turn the music way up,” he sings. Quietly, Cookie, Hakeem and his crew creep up to the stage/ (How’d they get past the doorman?) The DJ grabs the headphones off the guy manning the booth and takes over. Cookie takes the stage. “Welcome home Lucious! I wouldn’t miss this celebration for the world.” Thirsty signals security, but Lucious stops them. She introduces Hakeem, as an ex-Empire artist who is coming out of his father’s shadow to create his own sound. “Give it up for the NEW Label, Lyon Dynasty’s #1 artist,” she boasts. Hakeem raps “I’m yellin’ Empire’s over, Dynasty taking over, got the game in my palm…no more sittin’ on benches…now I’m calling the plays, you can sit down and listen…” Empire music producer, Timbaland, makes his on-screen debut, rapping parts of the song. Despite the takeover of enemy territory, Jamal smiles and winks at Hakeem. “I know she used to be yours, but I took her to Mars.” Hakeem is laying it on thick for dad. “I’m the Lyon you the cub, there ain’t no topping me.” Lucious has had enough he gives the signal to security to shut it down. They throw everybody out. But not before Pitbull stops Cookie. “Now that’s a move.”
Back at Lyon Dynasty, Cookie gets a congratulatory phone call from Sway, who is impressed with the takeover. “We’re bringing that real hip hop back,” she says, “That’s what the Lyon Dynasty is all about.” Meanwhile, Ménage Trois is off in a corner, bickering amongst themselves, and Hakeem doesn’t have a clue what to do with them. “You couldn’t find a C major if it was right between your legs,” spits Valentina. “WHICH IT AIN’T.”
Andre drops in for advice from Cookie on how to get back into Empire and reveals the news that Rhonda is pregnant. Cookie squeals and gives Andre a big hug. She can’t believe he hasn’t told Lucious yet. “Nothing says legacy like a grandchild,” she reminds him. Andre does not want to use his unborn child as leverage with Lucious. Cookie advises, “Sometimes, you got to pull at those heartstrings to get paid. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.” That Cookie is shameless. But we already knew that.
Lucious can’t believe Andre’s persistence when he comes by the house to push, once again, for his return to Empire. “I hope you got something better than last time,” he warns. Andre drops the news that Rhonda is pregnant with a boy. Lucious’ gut reaction is to be horrified. Isn’t Andre worried the child will inherit Andre’s mental illness? Andre is under the assumption that bi-polar doesn’t run in the family. Lucious flashes back to his mother (played by Kelly Rowland), in the grips of a manic episode, with piles of boxes around her, little Lucious pleading she take the stuff back so they can eat.
Lucious snaps out of his sad reverie. He’s honestly really happy for Andre. With a child on the way, a new path has become clear. Andre envisions a second phase for Empire. Lucious gives his son a huge hug. He’s always wanted a grandson. But just as Andre feels he’s got a foothold, the other shoe drops. Lucious’ demeanor changes. He’s disappointed that Andre would use his unborn son to manipulate his way back to Empire. Once again, Andre is devastated. What can he do to please his pop? Heartbreakingly, nothing. Andre’s mental illness means he will never, ever rule the Empire. Lucious is as determined as ever to keep him out.
It’s night time in Freda’s hood, where she’s destroying another rapper in a battle. Lucious, Thirsty and associates roll up just as she gets going. He’s got nothing, and resorts to dissing her dad. She flips out and pulls a gun on him. As the crowd freaks out, Lucious grabs her. He talks her down. “Your father didn’t want this for you. Baby you got it, let me help you do something.” With sirens blaring, Thirsty tries to pull him out, but Lucious stays. “My daddy was a crazy man,” she says (not lying!) “You don’t know a damn thing about me.” Lucious pleads with her not to do something she can’t come back from. “Let me help you.” She nods, and runs off with her crew.
And wouldn’t you know it. Freaking Roxanne Ford pulls up. Obsessed much? Thirsty calls it “borderline harassment” and “a bit desperate.” Lucious wonders if “Miss Ford” isn’t a little sweet on him. “Why don’t you come by and we’ll take care of all this tension we’ve been building up.” She warns that they’re never going to find Vernon Turner. She got that right. She isn’t either. Just wait till they dig up the body. I can’t imagine Andre and Rhonda did that great a job burying him.
Lucious wonders why, if she’s got such a slam dunk witness sequestered away, she keeps bothering him. Maybe he’s not cooperating. Kinda hard to do when you’re, you know, dead. Roxanne promises that as long as the case is open, she’ll continue to dig. Lucious gets right into her face. He’s not scared. “Wait till you see what I got planned for you Miss Ford,” Lucious says menacingly. “You’re gonna like it.”
Back at Empire, Becky calls out Jamal for blowing off every world class producer Lucious has set up for him. “Why don’t you just call her, yo?” Jamal plays dumb. But he knows. Cookie was the only one who could really handle him. Don’t allow his parents beef to keep him separated from Cookie. “You need her,” Becky says. More importantly, “she loves you.”
Meanwhile, Cookie is rehearsing Ménage Trois for their big debut on the Sway show. In a cool little nod to Debbie Allen on Fame, Cookie wields a cane as she leads them through their choreography. MORE ATTITUDE Cookie demands. When they biff some steps, she orders them to drop and do push-ups “I want push-ups with your knees up! You ain’t no punk!” Valentina bitches, “I’m not doing this. I’m a singer, not a soldier.” Cookie points her cane at Valentina. Just because she slept with Hakeem doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to work for it. Valentina insists she has worked her ass off, and doesn’t need to sleep with anybody. Cookie tells her to PROVE IT. That’s not what the rest of the world will be saying if she blows the Sway gig. She gets back down on the floor and finishes her push-ups. “Ya’ll want FAME,” says Cookie “But you don’t want to put in the work. FAME COSTS Y’ALL. Less Lip. More Work. Later, we see the girls. They’re looking good. Cookie is pleased. Hakeem asks where she learned all that. “Prison,” she answers.
Lucious pulls up to Cookie’s studio, catching Jamal as he is about to enter. Guiltily, Jamal takes a seat next to his pop. Lucious talked to Becky and knows why Jamal is upset, but he can’t understand WHY Jamal wants a relationship with the woman who plotted to take the company away from them. Jamal explains that he needs Cookie because she can lead his career. Jamal has been through “dark corridors of humanity,” Lucious explains. There isn’t a woman OR man who can understand and relate it in his music. Jamal doesn’t need Cookie. He NEEDS A GOD. Yes, Lucious actually said that. God being, of course, Lucious, who promises produce Jamal’s album. “No Freda Gatz, no shuggy duggy, quack quack or whoever else you want to bring on board,” Jamal makes Lucious pledge, down with the streets, yo. “Superstar status,” insists Lucious. He thanks Jamal “for pushing me.”
Back in the city, Hakeem, Cookie and two of Ménage Trois are waiting for Valentina. She’s late. The door opens…and it’s Lucious. He informs a shocked Cookie that he’s crashing her party just like she did at Leviticus. “Except when I crash a party, I own it,” he says. Lucious took Andre’s advice and bought up those radio stations, including the one that hosts Sway’s show. The stations will play the music that Lucious dictates, meaning Cookie’s label is effectively shut out of more than 200 urban radio stations. And what’s more….Valentina finally shows up for her interview. But she’s going solo as one of Empire’s brand new acts. Lucious signed her that morning. CHECKMATE! Except, maybe not. “You keep forgetting Lucious, you can’t keep Cookie down,” she says, unfazed. Lucious extends a hand to his “baby lion cub” Hakeem, who refuses it, to follow his mother out the door.
And that’s another drama-filled episode of Empire. What did you think of tonight’s developments? Will Cookie prevail? Or is she and her Dynasty toast?