In this week’s episode of Empire, Hakeem leaks his unreleased album, Cookie insults Anika for the last time and Andre begs Lucious for forgiveness.

Andre, Cookie and Hakeem are seen cleaning out their desk and trudging through the lobby at Empire with their box of belongings — they’ve all been given the boot by Jamal who considers them traitors. They decide to partner to start their own record label with Hakeem, Veronica, Tianna and other artist poached from Empire. Cookie looks to move the new label into a space that’s in middle of the ‘hood and show her sons how she “started from the bottom.” The boys seem apprehensive about being in the hood, but Cookie helps them see the bigger picture.

The prison has conveniently ‘misplaced’ Lucious’ paperwork to administer his ALS meds. No paperwork, no meds. As a result, during a impromptu performance for his new-found crew in the prison yard, Lucious begins to wheeze and cough. Officer McKnight, a dirty corrections officer (played by Ludacris), breaks up the gathering and mocks Lucious’ sickness. Later, we discover Officer McKnight is affiliated with Roxanne Ford — the hardball prosecutor — who has been holding Lucious’ meds to get him to cooperate.

Jamal is being interviewed by a talk show called Spilling The Tea in his house. While the host is doing the interview, Cookie Lyon walks onto the set and corners Jamaal privately to persuade him into giving Hakeem back his album. On the way out of his house, Cookie tells Jamal that she, Hakeem and Andre are starting their own label.

Anika, who is still living with Hakeem, has been coaxed by Hakeem into joining Cookie’s new label — without Cookie’s knowledge. As soon as she steps on the scene, Cookie slams her and forces her out.

While Jamaal talks with his father in the visiting room about holding back Hakeem’s album, a lawyer by the name of Thirsty Rawlings sitting at the next table approaches Lucious about representing him. Rawlings says he’s familiar with Roxanne Ford who uses tricks like withholding meds to get prisoners to confess to crimes. Lucious tells Jamal to setup a meeting with Thirsty and also advises Jamal not to give Hakeem the rights to his album but to bring him back to The Empire. [Sounds very Star Wars-ish.]

Determined to be a mogul and not just an artist, Hakeem approaches Tianna about his new girl group he’s starting and asks her to join as the lead singer. Tianna flips out, offended that he would attempt to put her in a girl group when she’s already a successful solo artist. As Hakeem is leaving the offices of his new label, Jamal pulls up in a dark Maybach and makes him an offer to come back to Empire. Cookie watches in disappointment as Jamal AND Hakeem drive off.

Next Page: Andre Wants To Go Back To The Empire

Rhonda visits with Jamal “in confidence.” Rhonda explains that Andre loves Empire and wants to be back with the Empire. To garner more empathy, she tells Jamal that she’s pregnant — Jamal is excited to be an uncle and promises Rhonda he’ll talk to Lucious about bringing Andre back.

Lucious’ new lawyer, Thirsty, proves he’s well-connected in the prison. First, he comes through with Lucious’ meds on the low. Then he sets up a private room with a slew of studio equipment for Lucious to record with his crew. As Lucious and his boys lay down a raw diss track aimed at Cookie and “snitch bitches”, Officer McKnight bursts in with a gang of corrections officers, confiscates Lucious laptop and puts him in the hole. Later that day, Thirsty strikes back with an attack on McKnight in the parking lot breaking his ribs and taking back the laptop in the process.

In an act of defiance, Hakeem leaks his album to the internet. Andre, fed up with Hakeem’s latest un thought-out “power move” and thugging it out from the bottom — he tells Cookie to “let him go” – so he can go back to Empire. Andre visits Lucious in prison, contrite, remorseful and practically begging to come back to Empire. Lucious tells Andre to ask God for forgiveness because he refuses to forgive Andre for his betrayal. Andre asks Lucious why he treats him like he’s “some kind of mutant” — in a flashback sequence, we see a young Lucious being cradled by his mother (played by Kelly Rowland) who apparently suffered with a similar mental “mutation” as Andre.

[NOTE: Comic book heads will see this as Fox’s nod to their recent takeover of the term “mutant”.]

Hakeem and Jamaal are hanging out at Jamaal’s crib when Hakeem informs Jamal he’s not coming back to Empire and that he’s leaked his album on the internet. Infuriated, Jamal promises to bury Hakeem. Hakeem strides out and meets up with Cookie at the office office of the new label, dubbed Lyon’s Dynasty. Cookie hands Jamaal a broom juxtaposed with the infamous scene last season when Cookie violently beat Hakeem with a broom) and they both begin to clean their new space. In the background, Lucious’ new single is being played on the radio and they both realize that Lucious has targets on their heads and they must grind hard to win.

With a loud crowd protesting outside, Thristy Rawlings bursts into the courtroom late for Lucious’ bail hearing. Thirsty states he has new evidence to present in support of Lucious’ release to the protest of Roxanne Ford. Rawlings hands the judge an envelope — inside are several pictures of the judge in “compromising positions.” The judge looks up clearly embarrassed and announces that this new evidence dictates that Lucious be released on bail as Roxanne Ford screams bloody murder – wearing her cheap shoes.

SOHH, What did you think of the second episode of Empire?

What did you think of Ludacris’ performance as Office McKnight?

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