Empire Season 2, Episode 13 Recap: Don't Call Your Mother A "Nut Job"

Photo: Chuck Hodes/FOX.
For those teetering on the edge of dropping Empire off their DVR schedules, fed up with its melodrama, over- or under-acting, and lack of substantive storylines — stop. This is the episode that should make you hold off, back away from the remote, reflect, and reminisce on why you got hooked on the nighttime soap in the first place. Ease back into your sweet spot because Empire just eased back into its own with this latest episode titled, “The Tameness of a Wolf.”

The wolf is surely Luscious (Terrence Howard) but tame? Throwing “ness” on the end of the word is, in my summation, the writer’s way of exemplifying how he can be tame — in moments and minutes, when he seeps back into memories of his misfortunate childhood. Or when his bawdy, beloved Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) is soft and meek, tenderly caring for him while politely prying into his troubled past. But the wolf surely showed his teeth this time around. Now that we know the whole story, it’s clear that Lucious is definitely damaged goods. We find out that, before Lucious was THE Lucious Lyon, he was Dwight Walker. His mother (Kelly Rowland), burdened by the guilt of trying to “cleanse” young Dwight by dunking him under water in their bathtub during one of her mental breaks, decides she’s not worthy of living anymore and commits suicide by shooting herself right in front of her young son.

Lucious, with some urging from Cookie, agrees to tell the whole story via a video for his ASA-nominated song “Boom Boom Boom Boom.” But reliving those memories of his traumatic childhood proves to be too much for adult Dwight. Cookie in all her wisdom stops the video shoot and while she’s speaking to the young actor playing Lucious, assuring him “that this is all make believe and that it would soon be over” — in all actuality she was speaking through the child to Lucious the man. It was enough for him to get past his anxiety and complete the shoot.

All seems well. Lucious even surprises Cookie with a birthday dinner with all her sons and daughter-in-law Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) in tow, despite how they feel about their father. Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) isn’t feeling Lucious because Lucious blames him for Camilla’s death (ruled a murder suicide by police), knowing damn well Lucious was the culprit. Jamal (Jussie Smollett) is long-arming Lucious because of the personal business his father spread to his fans. Andre (Trai Byers) is the only one that doesn’t have a fresh beef with his dad but that all changed real quick. Cookie decides to screen Lucious’ video for her boys at her birthday gathering, thinking it would be good for them to see what demons their father had to battle. But all hell breaks loose when Andre finds out his grandmother suffered from mental issues too. He confronts Lucious, pissed because Lucious kept what he considered vital family information from him. Lucious then admits that he kept it hidden because he was embarrassed by his “nut job” of a mother AND by Andre!

This news might send Andre, whose mental health is already hanging in the balance, right over the edge. It sends Hakeem, who longs for family stability (even though he’s got a little family cooking in Anika), right into the arms of Laura (Jamila Velazquez) with a fat rock and a marriage proposal, with an envious Tiana (Serayah) looking on, and Rhonda reaching for solace with Anika’s (Grace Gealey) kooky ass, who invites Rhonda to stay at her home. While there, will Rhonda spot the same Christian Loubs that walked away from her miscarrying on the marble floor?

Meanwhile, Cookie learns that Freda Gatz (Bre-Z) is Frank Gathers’ daughter. And that Freda has no idea that Lucious, the man she considers “like a father” to her, actually murdered her own father. What will Freda do when she realizes this wolf ain’t nowhere near tame?

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