Empire Recap: The Devil’s Chord


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Season 3 Episode 11
Editor’s Rating *****
Taraji P. Henson as Cookie. Photo: FOX

How many guest stars can Empire throw at us? At this point, the “guest starring” credits are almost as long as the cast list. With the last-minute ridiculous shootout and addition of megababe Nia Long, this episode is fun and clips along with a few preposterous songs. It’s pretty damn close to what Empire should be in a perfect world.

Cookie is taking her “post-traumatic event” shower that seems to happen so often in TV and film after destroying Empire. I’m surprised she didn’t splash any water on her face and stare at herself in the mirror and really see herself. The blood gets washed away from the floors and walls of Empire and it’s back to business as usual. Candace stops by Cookie’s apartment to bring her some tea and remind her that just because she lost her virginity to Lucious doesn’t mean their kiss means anything. It also doesn’t mean she has to tell Angelo anything. We then suffer through some useless flashbacks to Lil’ Cookie and Lil’ Lucious. Each flashback basically shows you exactly what a character said in the previous scene. I’m pretty sure the saying is “show, don’t tell” and not “tell, then also show, then tell again just to make sure.”

Boo Boo Kitty arrives to her first full day of work in an all-white power suit. I think she has an actual cape. Lucious is doing everything he can to cover up the fact that Cookie smashed everything to shit. He also assigns a new security guard to Grandma Walker. Grandma Walker decides that a completely hilarious and reasonable thing to ask is if the new security guard is a man or a woman. Every time Grandma Walker opens her mouth, she makes this “joke” and even goes so far to use a really gross phrase to describe people whose gender you can’t figure out. Empire, do better.

Hakeem is auditioning dancers because he’s directing Tiana’s newest video. He thinks running an audition is picking one dancer. For a whole video. Hakeem thinks that Tiana should get to know Bella better and Tiana’s objection isn’t that it’s really weird that his father is pretending Bella is his daughter, but that she just doesn’t want to. Okay, Tiana. Grandma Walker comes in and asks a hot dancer to bend over in front of her new security guard BECAUSE SHE WANTS TO FIND OUT IF THE SECURITY GUARD LIKES WOMEN OR NOT and she sneaks away while her security guard is distracted.

Jamal is in the studio with special guest star Rumer Willis as Tori Ash. This is definitely not playing as an Amy Winehouse allegory. Jamal is decorating the studio with portraits of old jazz singers and Tori is putting up reminders of death. Jamal starts playing a new song and whisper-singing some nonsense words to inspire him. Boy, we’re gonna be sick of this song by the end, aren’t we? Meanwhile, Andre is planning to have special guest star, Xzibit, introduce him to some nefarious characters (who will be killed off by the end of the episode). Long story short, Andre is going to use Xzibit’s contacts to arrange for Empire artists to perform at (strip) clubs in Las Vegas. Once a huge deal like that is secured, they can kill Lucious. Andre keeps saying all of this out loud in public. Andre should be arrested.

Cookie is at home in an a-mah-zing kimono when Angelo comes over. He’s relieved that his DUI ordeal is over and it’s time to really take the gloves off. After he notices Cookie’s bruises and decides to bang her pain away, he’s going to deal with Lucious. Cookie goes to warn him first to not say anything to Angelo and to call Lucious’s album corny. She’s doing the Lord’s work. Boo Boo Kitty goes to visit the music-video set and tells Becky that even though she snatched this job from under Becky’s nose, she wants Becky to succeed. Becky softens and gives Boo Boo Kitty a rundown of the day’s events and hugs her.

Meanwhile, Jamal and Tori put some lyrics and more music into his new song and Tori keeps pushing Jamal to get grittier and dirtier. She even tempts him with … The Devil’s Chord. Jamal rejects it as being too dark, but Cookie storms in and helps them compromise and sashays back out. Cookie tells them on her way out not to let Lucious know about any of their work and to erase the hard drive each night. Jamal immediately ignores her advice and doesn’t erase the hard drive that night. So … we all know what happens, right?

Grandma Walker goes to meet with Duke Page to try to get rid of Boo Boo Kitty and Duke Page is excited to get the details. Duke Page goes to visit Boo Boo Kitty and reminds her that there’s nothing stopping her from testifying, say, if she knew something about Cookie. He serves her with a subpoena that forces her hand to testify about someone who got killed in Philly that might have involved Lucious or Cookie. Even if she doesn’t testify, Lucious will get wind of it and she’ll probably go missing. He offers to protect Boo Boo Kitty by immediately putting her in witness protection. Like tomorrow.

Because Jamal didn’t listen to Cookie and WE SHOULD ALL BE LISTENING TO COOKIE, Lucious goes to the studio and promptly steals Jamal’s song because he’s trash.

Xzibit sits down with Andre to ask him about “those pills he takes” and another person on Empire doesn’t understand what mental illness is or how it works. “I’m just supposed to trust you … even though you’re on mood stabilizers?” Yeah, Xzibit because Andre is still a person. Maybe don’t trust him because he keeps talking loudly about murdering his father in public.

Boo Boo Kitty just hands Bella to Hakeem before she skips town and that’s that, I guess. Hakeem takes Bella to the music video set where Tiana is straight-up dressed like Christina Aguilera in the “Lady Marmalade” video.

Cookie has to sneak out of the Empire offices because “someone” tipped off her parole officer that she associates with felons. Angelo is tired of Lucious messing with Cookie, so he picks her up and drives over to Lucious’s house. Angelo tells Lucious that he was born with power and if he tries to mess with Cookie again, he’ll cause pain Lucious has never experienced before. I’m not someone who says “daddy” to express attraction but … DADDY.

Jamal goes to see Lucious after telling D. Major that he’s not going to work with him anymore, but he sees Tori Ash using The Devil’s Chord on Lucious’s new song. Lucious ain’t shit and neither is Tori Ash apparently. Jamal’s sponsor from the PTSD support group comes to see him and their meeting starts out with Jamal is ranting and raving and ends with them making out! TWIST!

Andre goes with Xzibit’s contacts to meet the club owner from Vegas, where he brings out his wife, special guest star (and subject of a future season of Feud: Nia & Taraji) Nia Long. The husband spends most of the scene abusing Nia Long, so she ends up shooting him, then she decides that she’s still going to go through with the deal with Andre and Xzibit. Am I here for a possible affair between Nia Long and Andre? Yes. Am I here hoping that they will repeat Nia Long’s character name again? Also, yes.

Empire Recap: The Devil’s Chord