Empire Season 2 Premiere Recap: Hell Hath No Fury Like A Cookie Lyon Scorned

Photo: Chuck Hodes/FOX.
Tonight’s explosive season 2 premiere of Empire was many things, but it is perhaps best summed up by a phrase from Ilene Chaiken, one of the show’s executive producers. She had some choice words for Empire’s breakout star, Taraji P. Henson, once they began shooting episodes for the new season. According to Henson, Ilene told her very explicitly during a pep talk, “We’re here to fuck shit up!”

After waiting all summer for Empire’s return and finally sitting down to watch it, I can confidently say that that’s exactly what they did: FUCK. SHIT. UP. In such a delicious way! In Empire tradition, the sophomore season premiere bombards us with back-to-back drama — the good, juicy kind. They slow down the pace, but still tie up some lingering story lines while setting us up for what appears to be one hell of a season.

The season premiere does all of this and still delivers on those little mouthwatering scenes that keep us drooling for more. Like, can we just talk about Miss Anika, a.k.a. Boo Boo Kitty (Grace Gealey)? She's dressed in virgin white, but shows her ratchet side, booty poppin’ for a lusting Mimi Whiteman, brilliantly played by Marisa Tomei. There's also some well-placed 50 Cent shade, and a surprise performance from Miss Lawrence! And Cookie’s fashion game has definitely been stepped up. There are plenty of gold chains, feathers, and side boobage to behold.

Let’s not forget about those cameos. Prior to the premiere, exec-producer Lee Daniels implied that he was backing away from all the guest spots that created such a flurry of buzz last season.“I found out that the more celebrities, the more stars I put on this show, the more it takes away from the [Lyon] family… I gotta stick to the family. The family is what the show is about,” Daniels said during the Television Critics Association press tour in August.

However, did the show hear Lee Daniels? Because lord, there are cameos aplenty! Swizz Beatz, Al Sharpton, Andre Leon Talley, and Don Lemon are all introduced to us within a matter of minutes in the opening scene. We also finally get to see how Chris Rock’s character ties into the story line. So let’s just go there, shall we?

Chris Rock steps onto the scene all G’d up in his prison-issue orange jumpsuit…as a drug kingpin? Yep, you read that right, A DRUG KINGPIN. He plays Frank Gathers, the same drug lord who ran Cookie and Lucious’ drug operation back in the day. Cookie ratted him out for her get-out-of-jail card. But anyone with the slightest bit of street cred knows, “snitches get stitches," and that’s exactly what's coming for her. In one “ain't that a bitch” moment, after a hefty ass-beating, Jermel (Cookie’s henchman from last season) snitches on Cookie, setting the stage for payback. Even from prison, Lucious’ pimp hand is strong. He sets up not one, but two double-crosses.

Double-Cross No. 1:
Frank has a score to settle with Cookie. After sending her some creepy roses and Jermel’s severed head (eeeww), he informs Lucious of his plans to knock Cookie off. That’s where he gets it twisted. No one comes for Cookie unless Lucious sends for them. With a nod from his goon squad, it's a wrap. Bye, Frank!

Double-Cross No. 2:
Cookie masterminds a plan to entice billionaire businesswoman Mimi Whiteman into investing in Empire Records, giving Cookie controlling interest in the company. But, her shade only runs so deep. Her plan is to bring Jamal back onto her team, and she assumes she can use her “cookie” to get Mimi onboard. But Mimi's more interested in lapping up Boo Boo Kitty’s milk. So, Cookie instructs Anika do whatever needs to be done. The plan seems to be on track...until they all get the surprise of their lives at the takeover. Sneaky Lucious gets to Mimi, and she invests in him and Jamal instead. “Game over, bitches!” he says via a live feed from his jail cell.

Last season, Cookie said, “Hell wants the devil back — and Lucious is on his way.” This season, the premiere episode is titled “The Devils Are Here.” Now we know who the “devils” are, and we can’t wait to see what hell they’ll raise next.
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