Empire Recap: Ocean’s Fifty-Eleven

Taraji P. Henson as Cookie. Photo: Chuck Hodes/FOX


Toil and Trouble, Part 1 Season 3 Episode 17
Editor's Rating 4 stars

Tonight is the big night. It’s the opening of Leviticus Vegas! If you sat down for this episode and thought we’d be sitting through a low-budget Ocean’s 11 remake starring Cookie and her sisters, then you are clairvoyant because I did not see this one coming but I was not disappointed. It was only a matter of time before Empire tried to pull off a legit heist.

Plus, we got to Tarantino it, seeing the end then flashing back to earlier to watch it all go down. Cookie, Candace, and Carol arrive at the casino in their finest sequins and shades. Cookie is prowling around through the showgirls and hot female DJ when she’s recognized on an iPad by a security guard. Considering she’s the owner’s ex-wife and the co-owner of the company and a minor celebrity, wouldn’t people know who she already is? Well, she gets kicked out and Lucious stares her down as she goes. Cookie throws chips in the air and knocks over people’s stacks on her way out.

Flashback to two weeks earlier: The family is meeting at Empire and they’re trying to come up with a plan to get baby Bella back. Hakeem sees a woman walking with a lil’ baby and he chases after her and accuses her of having his baby. That wouldn’t be a particularly efficient kidnapping if you walked the kidnapped baby through the family’s workplace. Apparently, this is the third time Hakeem has done that. Lucious has to run because he has a meeting with Nia Long and Eva Longoria. There’s a big reveal this episode that Eva Longoria is Mormon and it’s a big deal. Everyone is like, “Oh my God, you’re Mormon. What the fuck?!” Eva Longoria just reminds them she doesn’t want any “hip-hop hooligans” running around Vegas. Yeah, she’s Mormon. That’s something Mitt Romney would say. Nia Long consults her ledgers in her private safe and Thirsty asks if there’s anything he can do and Nia Long is bothered by him and makes Lucious fire him.

Jamal is rehearsing some songs for his When Cookie Met Lucious release party. I cannot wait for this album to be released. I feel like when it’s released, Jamal’s story can really move forw… wait? What? Of course, Lucious asks Jamal to push WCML back so it doesn’t compete with Inferno. His insistence that everyone is scrambling for an album from a 50-year-old rapper who hasn’t put out an album in years is preposterous. Cookie invites Thirsty and Jamal to a meeting at her house to discuss what to do about Lucious. Cookie’s solution isn’t to take Lucious out, but to get rid of Nia Long. Xzibit and Andre get in a scuffle and Xzibit walks and takes his guys with him. The Lyon children doubt that this is the best path to bringing the family back together and they walk out too. Thirsty is the only one left for Cookie.

Lucious has Duke Page over to his house to ask him to find baby Bella. Mama Walker stalks them and hides glass in their lunch because she doesn’t want Duke Page in her house. Duke Page proves to be helpful when he brings a DCFS employee who has been forging paperwork to get kids out of the system. Duke and Lucious kick his ass together and it’s a really bonding moment between brothers. Meanwhile, Cookie prepares her crack team to break into Leviticus Vegas and steal Nia Long’s ledgers. Carol is going to distract the security guards, Candace and her man are going to pose as high rollers, and Becky is going to crack the safe. Sure. This all makes sense. Becky can’t crack the safe so Thirsty walks her through a safe-cracking guided meditation until she finally gets it! It’s time for another B-roll of Vegas! Fountains! Casinos! Craps tables!

In the car on the way to the casino, Candace and Carol are freaking out and Carol keeps almost telling the drivers what they’re about to do. Porsha is posing as a waitress for some reason. Candace demands that her high-rolling husband get a tour of the vault and they get the security code and pass it off to Thirsty. Andre finds Eva Longoria and introduces himself while her jaw drops and she drools on herself. Thirsty is watching outside in a camper talking to everyone. It’s time for Carol to distract the security guard, but he’s not interested in her at all. Because he’s only got eyes for Becky. They almost play this for a laugh but … GET IT, BECKY. The gang decides at the last minute that they’re going to completely switch things around and let the woman who has no experience or training on cracking a safe try to open it. But I mean, Becky only successfully opened a safe once, so that isn’t much better. Becky seduces the guard and Carol just opens the safe, I guess? We never see it happen.

Cookie takes the ledgers back to Eva Longoria to hopefully get Nia Long arrested, but Lucious storms in and gives Eva Longoria another bribe. Sorry, Cookie. Fortunately for her, Andre slinks in and kisses Eva Longoria. This woman is getting it from all sides. Cookie is pouting with Hakeem and Jamal when Lucious comes in and Jamal says that he’s going to listen to Lucious and postpone WCML. Cookie flips out because this can’t be a clever idea for Jamal’s career. She runs out, hurt that her sons turned against her in her crusade against Lucious.

Finally, Duke Page sits down with Lucious to tell him that he found baby Bella at the DuBois family home. But before he gets a chance, they start talking about how they need to come together as a family and protect each other. Never mind that Lucious got Duke kicked out of the FBI. Before Duke Page can tell Lucious, “The person you 100 percent thought had your granddaughter totally does,” MAMA WALKER COMES IN AND STABS HIM IN THE NECK WITH A LETTER OPENER AND HE DIES RIGHT THERE.

Empire Recap: Ocean’s Fifty-Eleven