‘Empire’ Season 4, Episode 2 Recap: Cookie Gains More Control; Rumer Willis & Demi Moore Guest Star
This episode began with a rude awakening for Lucious…almost quite literally.
Empire Season 4, Episode 2 Recap
The Lyon family patriarch (Terrence Howard) slips into this bathtub and his psychotic mother Leah (Leslie Uggams) attempts to drown him to “expel demons from him. Luckily, Lucious’s nurse Claudia (Demi Moore) stops her.
Claudia, of course, is still in the process of helping Lucious regain his memory. She even goes as far as to take him to a diner in Philadelphia he used to frequently eat at in order to help trigger some memories. After the waiter pleasantly greets Lucious, he walks out of the diner to go find an old Lyon family friend the waiter mentioned: a legendary singer and music producer named Eddie Barker (Forest Whitaker).
Lucious ultimately finds Eddie at his daughter’s wedding. There, Eddie and Lucious catch up and recall fond memories. Eddie then begins telling his friends one story in particular that Lucious seems to get flashbacks of and almost suffer a total nervous breakdown as a result of it: it is an anecdote that involves Lucious beating up a musical director after he refused to play a requested song.
Lucious returns home with Eddie while Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) is busy attempting to run Empire with financial advice from Andre (Trai Byers).
Jamal (Jussie Smollett), meanwhile, begins recording a new song that is intended to be recorded for a new movie. The song, an R&B/soul ballad, includes an orchestral portion and is so powerful that many of his friends, including Tori (Rumer Willis) and Empire’s interim A&R head Becky (Gabourey Sidibe) tell Jamal he could be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song.
However, a big-name producer seeking to market the song is not pleased with Jamal’s demo for the track, and asks him to make a series of changes the middle Lyon son is reluctant to make, citing fear over the loss of the song’s beauty. Becky attempts to convince him to give up his own desires so as to please the producer and when Jamal still refuses to alter the song, Becky ignores him and gives the producer what he wants anyway just to save her career at Empire. One can’t help but be mad at Becky for stabbing Jamal (who unsurprisingly becomes furious) in the back and letting Tori take over the vocals.
Cookie rewards Becky by promoting her to permanent head of A&R and giving her a 30 percent raise (damn, Cookie! What a bold move).
Also returning this episode is the case of Anika (Grace Byers), who has recently been released from prison and is appearing in court after being wrongfully accused of murdering Tariq (whom Leah Walker confesses to Cookie that she murdered!). Cookie, Lucious and Claudia all agree to have Leah sent to a special clinic following her confession (no surprise there, as Leah is still convinced Lucious is a monster, and even tries to choke Claudia to death).
Cookie meets with Anika in jail after Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) helps set up the encounter. There, Anika reveals to Cookie that she knows Lucious killed his own cousin Bunkie Williams two years prior (Bunkie was killed in the very first episode of the series). Thirsty (Andre Royo) continues to defend Anika, who returns home in hopes of re-claiming her daughter Bella, who has been kept under the care of Hakeem and Tiana (Serayah McNeill) in Anika’s absence.
In a separate case, two FBI agents show up to Empire and inquire about the whereabouts of Giuliana Green (Nia Long), who last season was revealed to have hurt Lucious in the past. Andre says he has no idea where she is, and sees that accompanying the two agents is a young woman who is an assistant detective and whom he happened to almost have sex with at a bar several nights prior after agreeing to a deal with sponsors for Empire! Andre puts on his usual imposing, threatening face and asks the woman if she was simply trying to set him up, which she denies, saying their encounter was entirely coincidental (hard to believe it was, honestly. Let’s be real.)
Finally, Cookie goes behind Andre’s back and announces a major new project Empire is developing: the release of 20 new records over the next year to celebrate the label’s 20th anniversary. Andre berates his mother — rightfully so — not only for thinking up such an insane venture that the company does not have the budget for, but also for not consulting with him about it. Cookie also becomes angry with her eldest son for being insolent and Andre walks out, refusing to believe Lucious would have ever approved of such a project if he were still co-CEO.
We did not see any of Mrs. Dubois in this episode, although we clearly see that the young man she hired to get close to Jamal, Warren (Terrell Carter), is indeed developing quite a strong rapport with the middle Lyon son.
Finally, Claudia tells Lucious she is abandoning her role as his caretaker because she feels he no longer trusts her.
What will happen next on Empire: will Lucious attempt to regain control of Empire? Will Hakeem let Anika take care of Bella? Will Andre do something drastic to spite his mother? Will Jamal develop a whole new song to get back at Becky? Will Leah Walker escape her clinic and try to kill Dwight, aka Lucious?
Tune in next Wednesday at 8 pm EST on FOX to find out!