Empire Recap: Hakeem & Cleopatra


A Rose by Any Other Name
Season 2 Episode 12
Editor’s Rating *****
EMPIRE: Taraji P. Henson in the
Taraji P. Henson as Cookie. Photo: Chuck Hodes/FOX

There’s a new CEO in town and his name is Hakeem Lyon. Wait, wasn’t Hakeem already the CEO last episode? Well, he’s just now announcing his reign to a gaggle of press. He does this while kicking his feet up on his big black desk and — oh, for Christ’s sake — holding a scepter in his hand. I swear, everything on Empire is either a Shakespearean metaphor or a thinly veiled dick allusion. Oh! “Thinly Veiled Dick Allusion” would be a great memoir title.

With Cookie and Andre by his side, King Joffrey — er, Hakeem — sets out his plan for the new Empire: Cookie as the head of A&R, Andre as CFO, and Jamal as chair of sensitive, light-skinned brothas. And Lucious? He’s holed up in Cookie’s old office, working on his album and video for “Boom Boom Boom Boom.” That’s the actual title, and everyone repeats it in this episode with straight faces. After the press conference, Cookie warns Hakeem to hold up his part of the deal if he wants to stay alive. Blah blah blah.

Lucious works on his music video in a 12-year-old’s “fierce knight” costume, while sitting on the throne from Medieval Times. The video for “Boom Times Four” is going to be a dramatic retelling of Richard II set in Madison Square Garden. Oh my God, did the writers just Google “kings + Shakespeare – fairies” to get references for this season? Freda Gatz is there, too. Guess we’re never going to deal with her in any real way this season. Okay. A fine lady journalist asks Lucious if he might try to take his company back violently. Buckle up! She’s going to ask that question about four more times, but with the words arranged in a slightly different order each time. Lucious kicks her out because she suggests he didn’t anticipate Mimi and Camilla’s takeover. “Bitch, I’m from South Philly!” he screams. Can Amber Rose play Lucious’s sister? I would appreciate that very much.

To celebrate his own achievements, Hakeem is performing at the company field day in a Jesus tunic. Although the mic is nowhere near his mouth, the words still play through the speakers. The chorus goes, “If money is the root of all evil, you can see me ball, never see me fall,” and the song is all about the power of Empire. When did he have time to write this? When does anyone have time to write songs with so much thematic resonance? Is that what they do instead of journaling or adult-coloring books? Anyway, Hakeem reveals the new Empire logo, which is his own damn face. It’s in the credits, too. I can only imagine how Wolfgang in the art department at Empire reacted to that.

Meanwhile, Rhonda and Andre argue about theism again. Rhonda accuses Andre of being paranoid, so get ready to hear that line 14 more times. Empire doesn’t even rearrange the words for Rhonda, though. She just straight-up repeats herself. She also wants to get out of the house, so Andre helps her get a job at Camilla’s new clothing line, Antony & Cleopatra.

Cookie floats into Lyon Dynasty in a jacket with curtain ties on the front and floral bell bottoms just to hang out with Lucious. Y’know, they’re cute together. She looks at his storyboard and tells him to get rid of all the dream sequences. He plays her a piano track he’s been working on. Cookie tells Lucious to wait until Hakeem has all the dirt on Camilla before doing anything rash. Y’know, like murder.

As Becky and Jamal are leaving Empire, Jamal is handed some flip-flops and a flash mob of gay activists start performing a rap to the tune of “Drip Drop” about how Jamal is flip-flopping his sexuality. Is this a thing? All Jamal did was bang Alicia Keys. I mean, she’s flawless. It’s not like he did a commercial for Chick-fil-A, but maybe I’m wrong. Is this really that big of a deal? He banged a lady one time. Becky points out that it’s not even his song. Jamal confronts Jameson and he realizes that, of course, Lucious is behind this whole thing. Everyone is trying to sabotage everyone else, except for when family is the most important thing.

Cookie can’t get anything done for Tiana’s tour because Camilla is locking everything up. Hakeem is still pretending that he’s in love with Camilla, even though he’s holding hands with Guadalupe and looking out windows over the city. Cookie goes to tell Tiana that they don’t have any money for her tour. When she arrives, Tiana takes a break from practicing a song that is literally called “LOOK AT MY BODY.” Tiana threatens to walk, so Cookie tells Camilla that they should send the Latina Destiny’s Child on the road with her. Camilla is only motivated to keep a twentysomething interested in her, so she agrees. At her day job, Rhonda pulls an Ellis Boyd and listens at the door to Camilla arguing with Mimi about Camilla not being excited that Mimi isn’t dead yet. I’m sure that will come in handy later.

Elsewhere, Jamal wants to get revenge on Lucious in the only way he knows how … through song. Seriously! WHEN did he have time to write this song? He found out his father betrayed him like 20 minutes ago. Jamal reveals that Lucious Lyon isn’t his real name and calls him “inauthentic.” That’s the shocker? I don’t trust the veracity of anyone with an alliterative name. The hot lady journalist asks Lucious about if he’s going to retaliate, and Lucious says he wants to tell the story of Dwight Walker. I guess this story had never been told. No one tried to edit Lucious Lyon’s Wikipedia page, I guess.

Andre and Rhonda go see Reverend Ain’t-Nobody-Coming-to See-You Otis. Andre asks Rhonda more paranoid-ass questions and Reverend Otis says that God’s care is better than any doctor’s medicine. Oooooookay.

Cookie is wearing a blouse made out of a ruler when she sits down with her sons to go over the plan. One. More. Time. Hakeem does his best Miranda Priestly impression. He’s ready to prove himself to the family.

How does he prove himself? By seducing Camilla. One. More. Time. They immediately start making out and congratulating each other and calling each other queen and mama and the whole thing is revolting.

I have a real question for the public: Is Hakeem good in bed? Most of the Empire staff has bed him at some point. Is the D even worth the potential HR nightmare?

A little while later, he lets Camilla out in his Versace underwear and turns off a nanny cam that’s hidden in the tiny plasma-screen TV over his bathtub. After that, Hakeem storms into Empire to tell his family about the new plan: He sent a copy of the sex tape to Mimi’s hotel room. Not only was Camilla cheating — with a man, which is probably a big deal in this universe — but she admitted to using Mimi. Yes, Hakeem came up with the same plan that Samantha Jones used to prove she wasn’t a beard for Smith Jerrod. What? I just watched that episode.

Andre rushes in on the phone, saying that Mimi is dumping her Empire shares. It might be enough for the family to reclaim their foothold. Andre tells his broker to buy up everything in everyone’s name … including the name of his departed son. Andre created a trust for his unborn son and they have to use that money to buy everything up. Andre is torn up inside and smashes his phone. Cookie calms him down and the family goes to the studio where Hakeem and Jamal wrote another new song for Andre. This is an incredibly sweet and touching moment but when the fuck did they have time to write this faux-neo-gospel, slow-jam whisper jam? Everyone is crying. I’m crying. You’re crying. It’s actually beautiful and pretty well-acted. (You tried, Bryshere. I ain’t mad at you for trying, boo.)

While the rest of the family weeps in each other’s arms, Lucious decides to go see Camilla. Why? Who knows, but he catches Camilla wiping her fingerprints off the tub where Mimi’s lying dead. Ruh roh. Instead of leaving, Lucious starts filming. He’s going to use the footage to either force Camilla to commit suicide or turn herself over to the police. He starts listing the bad things about prison. One is, AND I QUOTE, “the general unsanitary conditions.” Did they copy that off Wikipedia?

Lucious tells her that Hakeem sent the video, so she’s got nothing to live for anymore. Camilla says that she poisoned Mimi and Lucious tells her to do the same. This part is Romeo and Juliet. I know that one. Camilla downs a bottle of pills. Lucious starts to laugh as he leaves, then tells her to rot in hell.

Well. That was a lot, wasn’t it?

Empire Recap: Hakeem & Cleopatra