In tonight’s episode of Empire, we find out a little bit more about the silent, scowling and mysterious Uncle Vernon (Malik Yoba), Lucious starts a risky ALS drug and Cookie shows Anika what a real ass looks like.
With Queen Bee Lil Kim’s “Jump Off” playing in the background, Cookie is trying on different outfits getting ready for a hot and sexy date with Lucious — or so she thinks. Lucious meets her at an upscale restaurant but it turns out, Lucious was not planning a romantic reunion dinner for two, but a gathering of the entire fam to announce his engagement to Anika. Of course, Anika does the ice queen gloat and is all too eager to flash the Liz Taylor bling.
When Cookie realizes that she was misled by Lucious’s token gift — the rose from last week — she rips open her full length sable to reveal Queen Bey worthy lingerie and a body to match. Strutting out with a smack on her ass, she tells Anika — “THIS is an ass.” [Anika is no slouch herself.]
Next we see Jamal focused on achieving his stardom and his boyfriend, Michael, feeling like the neglected house husband. Michael approaches Cookie on the side for advice and she tells him that Jamaal is a TOP about to be on TOP. [Take that how you want.] Cookie suggests Michael should work to get his own career because fame will definitely affect his relationship with Jamaal.
At the office, Lucious watches a video of Detective Walker rummaging through his trash — evidence that Lucious is now a suspect in Bunkie’s murder. Sweating and in pain from an ALS attack, Lucious tells Vernon that something has to be done at which point Vernon asks Lucious if he killed Bunkie. Lucious breaks down and admits to Vernon that, yes, he killed Bunkie. Vernon gets angry that Lucious didn’t tell him sooner and begins barking orders for the plan to beef up security and act like everything is normal. Vernon swaggers out of the office, clear of his new upper-hand advantage over Lucious. He then runs up into Andre’s office and chokes him out Latrell Sprewell style, while spitting accusations that Andre knew Lucious killed Bunkie and withheld it from him. While Andre didn’t know this fact, he calls his wife, Rhonda, with the new revelation. The two-way scheming continues.
Clearly stressed over Lucious’ murder confession, Vernon seeks advice from his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor over coffee in park. We learn that Vernon is a recovering alcoholic (Didn’t we see Vernon drinking what appeared to be alcohol with Lucious at Club Leviticus in a past episode?).
Budget cuts at Empire Records means that some dead weight must go and one of the artists to get the ax is the washed up train wreck Elle Dallas, played effortlessly by Courtney Love. Cookie fights to keep Elle because Elle’s music gave her inspiration during her prison days. (Who else would have liked to have seen Taraji on OTNB?). Anika pulls rank on Cookie and reminds her that she’s the head of A&R but Cookie, as always, has other plans. Lucious agrees to setup a meeting with Elle, who doesn’t seem to want Cookie’s support. Elle says she wants “a real producer” like Timbaland or Hit-Boy because she is the artists that kept the Empire “black shack” afloat (yes, she said it).
Cookie find Elle at a flea bag motel and interrupts Elle from her night of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Cookie flushes all of Elle’s drugs down the toilet in an effort to get her clean and vows to fight for her career.
“He gon’ be upset if he keep scrollin’ to the left / he gon’ see some #$@% that he don’t wanna see / he ain’t ready for it.” – Drake
Hakim jealously looks at online pictures of Tiana’s lesbian romps and avoids her calls. He calls his middle aged side-piece “Mama Camilla,” who doesn’t pick up. Feeling neglected by yet another woman, he does the only thing Hakim can do at times like these – get high.
Cookie arranges for Jamal’s song, Keep Your Money, to be played in the club. She also meets up with Vince Boyd, a famous athlete with 5 million Twitter followers. Her goal is to get Vince to tweet about how good Jamal’s song is. Her tactics to accomplish this have to be seen to believed but it involves two groupies. Fritz tweets that he loves the song and now Jamal has a career.
As per “the plan”, Vernon brings in the fresh security. The new guy, Malcolm (Derek Luke) is eager, prepared and determined to win over Lucious. Malcolm did a pre-meeting audit to identify the weak spots in Lucious’ office and home security and gets the job. Also, Vernon finds someone a man to cop to killing Bunkie, in exchange for hard cash for his family.
Jamal’s troubles at home continue as he and Michael fight about Jamal interrupting their Fire Island plans to do a performance on satellite radio to promote his song. After Jamal’s performance of his new song, I Wanna Love You, the radio host, played by Sway of MTV fame, asks Jamal about his “special lady”, to which Jamal states that he has no one special in his life. This devastates Michael.
Hakeem is back in the studio – struggling to get his song right. [Will he ever get it together?] Lucious says his work is “really nice – for some Girl Scouts.” Hakeem brings out the monster, fuel by his anger with Tiana, and nails the recording. Seems that Hakim puts his woman issues into his music and the outcome pleases his father.
Lucious brings in a new doctor who claims offers him a expensive, new treatment for ALS available on the Russian black market. He claims that all the patients who have tried it are still above ground. [So, maybe Lucious has a change to prolong his time as head of Empire?]
While in the studio, Cookie reminds Elle that she is the the only one on her team. Elle’s recordings are so bad that not even auto-tune can help them. Always being an inspiration, Cookie convinces the drug-riddled, fading star to shed her fake materials and get real and gritty again. Elle does so and bangs the songs out.
After the police commissioner tells Lucious they’ve found Bunkie’s killer, Lucious thanks Vernon for “taking care of things.” Vernon just gives him a stare and walks out. In the company bathroom, Vernon apologizes to Andre. Andre accepts his apology and states “one more thing. You put your hands on me again, I will slit your throat.” Vernon, who doesn’t wash his hands after using the bathroom, tells Andre to “stay on your meds” — making Vernon the second person, aside from Rhonda, to know that Andre is bi-polar.
The episode ends with a ratchet woman (played by Raven Symone) making a scene at the front security gate. She wants to see “the family” because she heard Jamal’s song on the radio. And, the most adorable little girl at her side just wants to say “hi” to her daddy. Jamal is stunned.
Other Noteworthy Scenes
- Anika tries to turn Porsche against Cookie with an offer of double pay.
- Did anyone else notice Vernon’s face when Lucious claimed Bunkie destroyed all that “I” built before he corrected himself to say we?
- Did you see Cookie flirting with the new head of security Malcolm? Is something going to happen with them? Velvety smooth Malcolm is a good alternative to the cold-then-hot-then cold again Luscious.