Its hard to believe it’s been four months since we last visited the Lyon’s den, but it seems little has changed in the 118 days leading up to this moment. Lucious (Terrence Howard) is still reeling from being ousted from Empire’s board of directors, Hakeem (Gray) still thinks he’s God’s gift to Earth (and the empire), and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) is still reading folks for filth. Here are the key takeaways from the spring premiere.
1. RHONDA LOST THE BABY.
“Death Will Have His Day” opens where we last left off — with a bruised and bloodied Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) writhing on the floor as her (Boo Boo?) crazy assailant slinks out of the palatial estate in red-soled Louboutins, a clue which Rhonda hardly registers in her haze.
Upon her attacker’s exit, the expectant mother crawls toward her shattered phone, whispers a prayer for the safety of her unborn child and then hurls the phone at the front door, shattering the glass and setting off the alarm. Rhonda is later rushed to the hospital, where we learn that she miscarried.
2. COOKIE OPENS UP ABOUT HER MISCARRIAGE.
Speaking to Andre (Trai Byers), Cookie shares, “I had a miscarriage too. Before the three of y’all. Me and Lucious were devastated. We pretended it didn’t happen. It was a little girl, too. I thought it was the end of the world. But then God blessed me with three of the most beautiful boys I ever seen in my life.”
For her part, Rhonda appears to have lost any vestige of faith she had. In a crestfallen exchange with Andre, she proclaims, “God doesn’t exist.” “If he did,” she says to the motionless Lyon, “then the baby would still be here. He didn’t do anything to anyone. There really is no God, Andre.”
There is, however, a devil and her name is Anika Calhoun (Grace Gealey). Yes, the Lyon family reject actually had the audacity to pay Rhonda a visit, bearing flowers and insincere maxims like, “Maybe everything happened for a reason” and “There will be another heir.”
While the Lyon family wrestles with that demon and contemplates whether or not God exists, they continue to place their faith in restoring the empire. Cookie once again affirms that she will defend the company at virtually all costs, even if it means beating the black off Hakeem.
Which brings us to our third point…
3. COOKIE IS NOT HAVING IT WITH HER YOUNGEST SON.
After Hakeem’s vote ejects Lucious from his seat on Empire’s board of directors, Cookie appears at his apartment like…
When the traitor refuses to take back his vote, Cookie then reminds him — with a broom and a purse — that she is not one of his little friends on the street (despite what the intercut of their happier mother-son moments might suggest).
If beat-downs were the Olympics, Cookie would have taken home the gold. And if Hakeem left still smelling himself, it’s probably because Cookie left him raw.
Hakeem wasn’t the only getting his… assets handed to him though.
4. LUCIOUS ALSO SET HIS LOYAL BAND OF EX-CONVICTS ON EMPIRE’S BOARD MEMBERS.
Thirsty (Andre Royo) warns the purportedly rehabilitated group not to do anything illegal, but this is Empire. Since when do legalities mean anything? If you had to mull over that answer, please note that blowing up cars, hanging cats and mercilessly jumping people to force their compliance are all illegal acts — and, apparently, all in a day’s work for Lucious’ ruthless mob. Their relentless coercion paid off, however, as all of the affected board members withdraw their bids for Lucious’ contested position.
“It has come to my attention that all CEO candidates have withdrawn their nominations due to personal reasons,” Camilla (Campbell) notes at a meeting, visibly stewing over her short-lived victory in which she — alongside armed police —forced Lucious out of his building.
“No, it’s more than personal,” A battered member mutters before condemning Lucious’ “goons,” calling Empire a sinking ship and storming out.
After his departure, Hakeem hops on the table to claim his “birthright,” calling for all the board members to “Make some noise for the new era of Hakeem Lyon, y’all!” because, apparently, Hakeem misses his last name now.
The young Lyon also clearly misses Laura (Jamila Velazquez), whom Camilla demanded he break up with in order to advance within the empire.
5. CAMILLA TOLD HAKEEM TO LEAVE JENNY ON THE BLOCK.
And for some reason, which transcends all human understanding, he actually entertained the idea. He told Camilla it was complicated. He drowned his sorrows in Hennessy. He blubbered to Jamal that he might be in love, but BRUH, THE EMPIRE. M.O.B.
Except Hakeem isn’t Tupac or Too $hort, and no amount of liquid couragestupidity could bring him to break up with Laura. So, instead, he interrupted her Tiny Desk rehearsal, called her a virgin who can’t drive and, later, apologized for it. Not with flowers or other cliché tokens, but with his body. Yes, they had intercourse — right underneath Laura’s looming crucifix.
Annnd speaking of questionable choices, Jamal’s tryst with Skye Summers is dredged up once again.
Admittedly, Jamal’s fling with Skye was wrong — but ONLY because he was still completely in love with his ex, Michael (and Alicia Keys deserves to be more than just a rebound). Still, some folks just had to make this about Jamal’s sexuality. Cookie teases Jamal to “choose a side” and gay marketing exec Jameson Henthrop (William Fichtner) tells him conservatives will only use this to reinforce their argument that being gay is a choice. Jamal gently tries to remind everyone that sexuality is fluid and then really unleashes on his new single. The gist of the track? He kissed a girl, he liked it and y’all will deal. Here’s hoping that song lands on his next album… which Cookie leverages… to get back with Empire.
Yes. You read that right.
6. COOKIE IS BACK ON EMPIRE… AS THE NEW HEAD OF A&R.
After discovering a legal loophole in Jamal’s contract — his album was jointly produced by Empire and Lyon Dynasty and didn’t stipulate which label had the rights to release it — Cookie leverages the album to persuade Camilla and Hakeem to buy Lyon Dynasty for $20 million. To force Hakeem’s hand, Cookie threatens to either release the album on Lyon Dynasty or leak it online, thus humiliating the young CEO. Seemingly backed into a corner, Hakeem asks, “Can’t we just be a real family again?” and promptly acquiesces to Cookie’s demands, agreeing to acquire Lyon Dynasty under two conditions: 1) The label retains full autonomy, and 2) Cookie takes over as head of Empire’s A&R.
Unfortunately, Cookie’s deal still isn’t sweet enough for Lucious, which leads up to…
7. LUCIOUS V. HAKEEM
In the tense final scene, the jolted mogul takes Hakeem to the same riverbank where he shot Bunkie (Antoine McKay). He tells his son he will stop at nothing to reclaim his throne and then produces a handgun. He gives it to Hakeem and says, “If you don’t shoot me, I promise you I will do my best to take your life.”
“This what you want?” Hakeem responds, taking aim at his father before chucking the weapon. “I ain’t gotta do what you want.”
“Watch your back, baby boy,” Lucious warns. “I keep my promises.”
And, knowing Lucious, he’s not bluffing.
Source Cowan: USA Today