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Empire recap: More Than Kin

Empire’s board searches for a new CEO (again), and Hakeem plans for the future

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Chuck Hodes/Fox

Empire

type:
TV Show
genre:
Drama
run date:
01/07/15
performer:
Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett
broadcaster:
Fox
seasons:
2
Current Status:
In Season

This week’s episode opens in a strip club, where Hakeem is rapping a woozy party track. It looks like a video shoot, but it’s not — it’s just Baby Lyon blowing off steam after being ousted as CEO and finding out about Anika carrying his baby just after he and Laura got engaged. Sure, it’s a lot to deal with, but when Laura finally storms into the strip club after seeing Hakeem’s location on his new app, she tells it to him straight: “If you take an ‘L,’ you’re supposed to come to me, not this thirst trap.” But of course, Hakeem is self-destructive and self-loathing as usual, and after saying he just assumed Laura would bail like everyone else, he eventually says, “You don’t care that I got Anika pregnant?” Way to break that news gently, buddy. (What is this app, by the way? Something for secret concerts? Is this related to Swift Stream?)

The rest of the Lyons, as usual, are dealing with their other various problems: Lucious continues to taunt Jamal in the press over this ASA nonsense, though Jamal refuses to play dirty. All the while, the family is supposed to be presenting a united front so Empire’s board doesn’t act on its desire to install a white, non-Lyon businessman as CEO. Cookie asks Andre to talk to his brothers about the whole image thing, but Andre takes her request one step further. He suggests that Empire gets behind bipolar disorder in a big, public way — Andre will become a spokesperson for it, while the rest of the family, especially Lucious, can show their support as a family. Especially after everyone saw Lucious’s mother portrayed in his video, the timing couldn’t be more apt.

Jamal opens a brotherly bonding session beautifully, telling Hakeem: “You smell like stripper a–.” Hakeem tells Jamal and Andre that Laura broke off the engagement, but Jamal asks if she actually said “it’s over” or if maybe there’s still a chance to work things out. “Every time I do everything right, everything goes wrong!” Hakeem whines. Andre, refreshingly, gives him a little sense: “You think you did everything right?” When Jamal tries to defend Hakeem, Andre stands firm: “I lost my kid. But sure, let’s just pamper Hakeem because he’s the baby!” Jamal and Andre tell Hakeem he actually was becoming a great CEO — “a mash-up between DMX and Bill Gates” — and Andre uses this opportunity to bring up the bipolar event. Jamal worries that Cookie is just doing it for Lucious and confides that he thinks she’s falling for him again. “You saying mom is falling for Lucious?” an incredulous Hakeem asks. “I ain’t getting King Kong and Godzilla back together!” Andre also reminds Jamal he’s not the boy he used to be, where Lucious would call him a sissy and he’d go crying to Mom. He’s tougher now.

Jamal takes this to heart, and goes with his tragically beautiful ex, Michael, to the intimate, indie venue where they met (after running into Michael catering an event). As Fantastic Negrito takes the stage, Jamal clearly envies their gritty, bluesy sound, and when they invite him onstage, he obviously goes because if there’s one thing Jamal Lyon never says no to, it’s the spotlight! He sounds great and raw — like Season 1 Jamal, plus a little something more ferocious and experienced.

Hakeem, meanwhile, is trying to right his wrongs one at a time — starting by tricking out his apartment as “Baby Wonderland,” where 10-foot teddy bears rest in a fully baby-proofed room. Anika is skeptical: “What about your fiancée?” Hakeem says he needs to get things straight with Anika and the baby first; then he’ll talk to Laura — but the good thing about being a Lyon is he already knows everything not to do when raising a family. Anika, for her part, isn’t so excited to step back into the den. “Your father threatened my life on the day the baby is born,” she tells him. “So, forgive me if I’m not feeling the whole concept of being a Lyon.”

There’s no way Hakeem is letting this stand, so he and Cookie interrupt Lucious, who is meeting up again with suspicious blog lady, Harper. The only reason she’s fun to have around is because Cookie no longer has Anika as a punching bag (though we did get a nice “Boo Boo Kitty” mention this week), so we finally get some of the zingers we’ve been missing, like “I need to disinfect this seat,” as Cookie perches where Harper sat minutes before. Once Harper leaves, Hakeem lays it on Lucious. “So you threatened to kill her? The mother of my child?” Anika is saying she’s going to leave New York — and Hakeem makes it clear that if Anika does leave, Lucious won’t see him or his little heir, ever. When Hakeem storms out, Lucious says, “Ooo, he’s upset!” But Cookie reminds him why he should care: “You know we need the boy to show up to our event, or you can get used to answering to whitey.” This, Lucious takes seriously. “I should have never went public,” he says.

Cookie, always the mediator, goes to Anika’s house to have a chat, but when she gets there, she finds the door hanging open — and then Anika is carried out on a stretcher by EMTs.

NEXT: What happened to Anika?!