As Lucious gets out of the courthouse (which looked suspiciously like The Art Institute in Chicago) on bail, he goes on his “I am a God” Delusion tour speaking to a group of about 60 people, a far cry from the #FreeLucious rally, outside Empire because Thirsty lets him know that a condition of his bail is that he can’t enter Empire’s headquarters. It doesn’t matter because Lucious is the empire. He leads the crowd in a Roman salute. Now this is a Julius Caesar thing? I can’t keep all these homages and references straight. So this season, we have Julius Caesar leaving his business to his son, Michael Corleone, while his ex-wife, a gorilla, plots with his two other sons, Happy and Biff, to take over the Elephant Graveyard. Did I get it all?
Cookie goes to pick up Hakeem for his interview with Sway. This is where Empire tends to fail: When they bring in real people…in not their real jobs. Instead of just setting it up that Empire is going to buy Sirius or creating a fake radio DJ who is like Sway or Charlemagne Tha God, they six of one the whole damn thing and make Apex Radio. This is like when Hakeem uploaded his album to the internet. Be specific and deliberate, Empire! Hakeem is still banging Valentina or as Cookie calls her Guadalupe, which is her new name, and promises to say her name on the radio. After his performance on Apex Radio with Sway, Hakeem says he’s going to a deliver a new single from MIRAGE A TROIS. Stop. Everyone stop. That’s the single worst girl group name on earth today and we live in a world with Fifth Harmony.
Lucious sets up a dinner party for menacing purposes. It’s the most awkward dinner party in history and nothing revolutionary happens plotwise. Lucious tells his family that he’s going to destroy them. He couldn’t send a Paperless Post? Andre continues to apologize to Lucious and beg to be brought back to Empire. Andre, you’re becoming pathetic. Cookie ends the dinner in the most spectacular way possible by dragging all the dishes off the table by the runner. Cookie continues to be goddamn flawless.
Frida or Female Chief Keef barges into Empire with a crew of wannabe Suge Knights and Jamal tries to get her to sign a contract. She refuses because Lucious isn’t there, and one of her goons can’t read the contract. What did you think contracts were written in? That language that’s half pictures and half words in the back of Highlights Magazine? Also, why not just have the meeting somewhere Lucious could attend? Like that al fresco restaurant where he had martinis with Andre? In this scene, Jamal does an evil office chair turn. Was there a deal at OfficeMax on swivel chairs?
What universe is this show set in? I’m serious. Does Chief Keef exist? I feel like no hip-hop producer would watch Frida’s video without going “She’s our Chief Keef. Think about how huge he was.” Who exists in this universe and who doesn’t? I read a fan theory that Veep is set in an America where Obama was a one-term president. Is Empire set in a universe where the majority of hip-hop artists exist but also somehow don’t? I’m confused.
Lucious throws himself a giant party because of course he – OH MY GOD PITBULL IS HERE. PITBULL IS ACTUALLY HERE. I’m really upset there wasn’t a scene between Pitbull and Ludacris, America’s two most featured rappers on feel-good dance songs. (I’m planning on creating an anthology album called “Feat. Pitbull” and it’s just every track he’s featured on.) This Pitbull and Jamal song is actually one of the more of-the-moment tracks Empire has done. I think putting Jamal in a Jason Derulo mold would work better for him than the John Legend one they’re always trying. Jamal could even sing his name like Jason does “JA-MAAAL-uh-LYYY-ON.” During their performance, Cookie in the worst wig I’ve ever seen and a gold rope corset busts in with stunt doubles from Straight Outta Compton and puts Hakeem on the mic where he performs a diss track about his dad and screwing his dad’s girlfriend. Timbaland is also there. How long did this take to record? I guess Timbaland was free. Pitbull hits on Cookie and the Hostile Takeover Gang get out of there.
Andre is still moping around like a fine light-skinned Eeyore and complains to Cookie that Lucious won’t take him back to Empire. What Andre doesn’t know is that Kelly Rowland is haunting Lucious’ dreams, but Cookie still suggests that he tell Lucious he’s going to be a grandfather and all will be resolved. So Andre tries to fix everything by telling Lucious he’s going to be a granddaddy and Lucious has another flashback to Kelly Rowland who has TV Mental Illness. TV mental illness is usually characterized by alternating between catatonic states and extreme giddiness within minutes. Tiny Baby Lucious has to sing at Kelly Rowland to cure her. So yes, this is why Lucious is rejecting Andre right now. Despite knowing that Andre has had bipolar disorder diagnosed since college (when he had a manic episode where he did a lot of shopping), Lucious is only now not okay with it. He pushes Andre away again.
At some point between breaking up a rap battle/gunfight and acquiring Apex Radio, Lucious is threatened again by the very booby prosecutor. She claims to have Vernon hidden away somewhere ready to testify and that a murder rap is only the beginning. Thirsty wears a very colorful suit in the face of this legal trouble.
Cookie has apparently learned choreography while in the joint and is whipping Mirage a Trois into shape. Jamal has come to ask Cookie to produce his record. Is there anything Cookie can’t do? Well, one thing – enter a room quietly. Lucious is sitting outside Lyon Dynasty Records in a limo and ambushes Jamal to say that no man, woman, or child, or particularly determined raccoon could produce his album like Lucious could. All is right in the Empire (except for all the things absolutely wrong).
In a last ditch effort to keep some of Lyon Dynasty’s prestige, Cookie in her second solid gold outfit of the episode and Hakeem wait at Apex Radio for Guadalupe when Lucious shows up. He doesn’t crash a venue. He owns it. He’s bought controlling stake in Apex and signed Guadalupe, who clearly banged him. Cookie and Hakeem are out on their ass and Lucious is grinning like a Disney villain. How many times can Cookie get knocked down before she stays down? Because right now, we’re at about one million.