Empire‘s second episode of its second season, “Without a Country,” picked up with Cookie, Andre and Hakeem unsure of what to do now that their plan for a hostile takeover has been foiled.

Empire Recap

Now that Lucious (Terrence Howard) and Jamal (Jussie Smollett) are firmly in power at Empire HQ, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and sons Andre (Trai Byers) and Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) pack up their cardboard boxes and head out. Determined not to let the setback keep them down, the trio decide it’s time to start their own record label. Their first artists, if Cookie has her way, will be Hakeem and Tiana (Serayah). Hakeem also has ideas for a new signee, a multi-racial girl group that he’ll put together.

One of the female singers he has in mind is Valentina (Becky G.), who sees herself as more of a solo artist than the front woman of a girl band. Whether or not she’ll join the group remains to be seen, but she was content to go to bed with Hakeem, who is falling for her fast. In addition to Valentina, Hakeem manages to sign another Latina singer, which is crushing his dreams for Rainbow Sensation.

In prison, Lucious’ medication goes missing. If he wants it back, Officer M. Knight (Ludacris) tells him he has to cooperate with the prosecutor. However, in the visiting room, Thirsty Rawlings (Andre Royo) shows up to represent Lucious and gets him his meds back. He also provides him with recording equipment so that he can record his behind bars rap “Snitch Bitch.” When Knight walks in on the recording session, he sends Lucious to solitary. But it’s him who gets beaten up in the parking lot, making it possible for Thirty to leak Lucious’ “Snitch Bitch” demo to the radio. Thirsty’s final move is getting Lucious out on $1 million bail.

Lucious’ eyes at Empire, Jamal, continues to struggle running the label in his absence. He’s making questionable A&R decisions and isn’t making friends of the press. Things get worse for him when he gets a visit from him mother, who tries to convince him to hand over Hakeem’s music. Cookie then reminds him that as much as Lucious has been kissing up to him, they’re different people. And finally she drops the bomb that she’s starting a record label with his brothers – Lyon Dynasty.

Jamal and Lucious talk about what handing over Hakeem’s music would mean for Empire and decide that they can’t afford to lose it. Jamal tries to win Hakeem over, but his little brother isn’t having any of it. Breaking the rules, he leaks the demos of his Empire-owned album onto the Internet. Jamal threatens to sue Hakeem, but Hakeem is confident that his brother won’t muster the energy to go through with the threat.

Andre continues to remain somewhat in the background, despite his talents. Unsure of what the future means for their growing family, a pregnant Rhonda goes to meet with Jamal by herself. After telling him that she’s pregnant with his new niece or nephew, she encourages Jamal to forgive Andre. Meanwhile, Andre told his mother Ghetto-Ass Studios isn’t his thing and then headed to prison to get his father’s forgiveness. While Andre might be able to receive Jamal’s forgiveness, Lucious makes it clear he’s far from forgiving.

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