“Empire” continues its convoluted series of storylines this week, and it just doesn’t feel right. In particular, Anika has become a kind of sad stalker who dresses in blonde wigs to chauffeur Lauren from Hakeem’s celebration party. Yea, he wins the battle between Freda, which was probably the best part of the 45 minutes.
Cookie and Lucious still go at it as daddy Lyon didn’t know that his prized artist Jamal is working with is arch nemesis/ex-wife/love of his life. Jamal has an opportunity to get a Pepsi endorsement, which is huge and will change things for both him and Empire, but he is torn submitting Cookie’s song or his dad’s song to Pepsi to help them make their final decision. So, in an effort to bring his parents together, he invites both of them to the studio to let them hear the mashup of both songs. They hate it, they love it, they hate it, and Jamal fed up and embarrassed, walks out. It is during this scene that a) they make a bet that if Hakeem wins the rap battle, Cookie, and Lyon Dynasty gets Jamal’s album, and if Freda wins, Lu gets Hakeem’s and b) we see that Terrance Howard and Taraji P. Henson’s are a dynamic duo.
Speaking of the rap beef between Freda and Keem, it is instigated by Lucious. In fact, he proudly creates it pitting the Philly rapper against his son. So much so that they write a song in which she calls him a momma’s boy and “daddy’s little girl.” Of course this infuriates Hakeem and thus the rap battle, open mic is born. And is it a wonder who wins? Hakeem does because really, they can’t have Freda beat him. Even though her rhymes did sting more, Keem’s overall presence and performance hit harder. And hit he did as while he raps, he disavows his last name, takes a mic stand and knocks out “Lyon” in a light fixture with his name on it. The crowd cheers and he is crowned the winner, to Lucious’ disappointment.
And can we talk about Lu for a second? I don’t know if Lee Daniel and the writers are trying to set up a bi-polar storyline for him, but it is clear that he has some uncharacteristic issues. Not only does he go extra hard to see Hakeem fail, but he ignores every piece of advice Dre gives him about acquiring Swift Stream. He tells his dad that he doesn’t have a good feeling about it, but Lu goes ahead with the deal anyway. His relationship with Mimi is clearly going south as they continually fight (why you should never mix business with pleasure) and we know something is up by the look she shoots Jaygo when Lu signs paperwork during a very important meeting. I don’t know how many other people caught it, but I’m pretty sure whatever he signed is not the deal he was looking for.
There is a lot of searching on this episode, and no one is more lost that Anika. She takes a series of pregnancy tests and, surprise, she is with child, and we are lead to believe that it is Hakeem’s baby. She goes through the denial, the crying and tries to tell him. She shows up at his house unannounced and is all over him. He pushes her off, gently, and tells her, “I think I’m in love.” Now, right here I don’t know if she thinks it’s her or knows it’s Laura, all I know is that she is the one in the car that picks Laura up from Hakeem’s victory party.
Ah, yes the party. Cookie is overjoyed to have her boys together again, “even if it is just for one night.” Lucious crashes but that doesn’t stop them from celebrating. As he takes his seat, a security guard whispers in his ear, and he gets a glee in his eye. That glee is Cookie’s crazy sister Candace, played by Vivica Fox, who gives her sister the news that Carol dropped her kids off and has gone on a bender. She also left a note saying that Cookie is the one to blame. Candace wants answers, but all the former Mrs. Lucious tells her is, “we got to go to Philly,” something that Candace did not want to hear.
The other noteworthy thing that happens this week is that after getting his parents out of the way, Jamal’s mashup of their songs is a hit. So much so that after performing for the Pepsi folks, he lands the endorsement and it’s smiles, hugs and laughs between him and his parents.
I am patiently waiting to see where all of this goes as the fall finale is on a few more episodes away.