From its King Lear-inspired beginnings, Empire has always leaned toward the Shakespearean — but this episode might be its most Bard-centric yet. Among the plays referenced: Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, King Richard II — and those are just the overt nods. A case could probably be made for Andre experiencing some Othello-like tendencies as well. Any students in need of an English thesis? This week’s show might be one to consider.
We start with the new king, Hakeem Lyon, giving a press conference from his gold lion-adorned office. He announces Cookie’s new role as head of A&R for all of Empire, Andre’s continued position as CFO of Empire and president of Gutter Life Records, and Jamal’s decision to step aside as vice chairman to focus on his album (and his ASA nominations… Do Grammy nominees take time off to “focus” on their nominations?). Hakeem gives an impassioned speech about continuing to make Empire the most relevant, most innovative company on the planet — all with a red lollipop in his mouth.
When a reporter notes that Hakeem hasn’t mentioned Lucious, Cookie jumps in and reminds the press that Lucious is producing half of Jamal’s Black and White album and working on the video for his no. 1 hit, “Boom Boom Boom Boom.” Hakeem adds that Empire “will always support Lucious Lyon.” It’s a convincing show — but once the press leaves, Cookie smacks Hakeem on the back of the head and reminds him that he has to do what they discussed — get Camilla out — if he wants to stay CEO. And alive. Shortly after, Hakeem debuts a new song about “Power”… and a new logo, replacing Lucious’ face in the Empire record with his own. Bold move, young Lyon.
One of the reporters from the press conference — Harper Scott from the creatively named Q&A News — ends up covering Lucious’ video shoot, where he’s working with a King Richard II theme. He’s Richard (obviously), and protégé Freda Gatz is Bolingbroke. But Harper Scott has an ulterior motive: “How are you going to get Empire back from Hakeem?” she asks. Lucious predicts they’ll come crawling back to him in three months, the way Apple crawled back to Steve Jobs (Kanye, is that you?). When Harper remarks that Mimi and Camilla’s plan seemed a bit personal and asks if Lucious saw it coming, she gets escorted out. Later, Cookie shows up at the shoot and works her usual “Get rid of this, add this” magic on Lucious’ concept to make it better. Unfortunately, Andre brings word that a vindictive Camilla has slashed the budget for Lucious’ video — so the Lyons’ plan to depose her becomes even more urgent.
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Meanwhile, Andre and Rhonda are dealing with the fallout from Rhonda’s “accident.” Rhonda wants to go back to work, and asks Andre if he can get her in with Camilla’s new high-end clothing line, Antony & Cleopatra (so-named, supposedly, for Camilla’s relationship with Hakeem). Rhonda’s also worried because Andre seems to be acting paranoid — he’s had visions that Rhonda’s fall down the stairs wasn’t an accident — but Rhonda sees it as a sign of an impending mental break. Andre swears he’s been taking his meds but asks Rhonda to come with him to see his pastor.
NEXT: Jamal fires back at Lucious