Empire Season 3, Episode 2 Recap: Gifts From Jail

Photo: Courtesy of Fox.
If you’ve been an Empire fan since the beginning, then I’m sure there’s one thing that brings you sheer joy — I mean in addition to the gift that is Cookie and her fierce (and borderline tacky) wardrobe, which in the latest episode includes red fringe, a turquoise feathered sleevelet, gold plated cuffs and metallic gold pants, and a turban to die for. Aside from all of that, it’s Lucious and Cookie’s special brand of “love vs. hate.” They do it like no other.

In this episode of Empire, titled "Sin That Amends," Lucious goes out of his way trying to do just that: amend the sin he’s committed against his precious Cookie Monster and win her back after casting the final straw when he married Anika to save his own tail. Once again the title is a reference to a Bible verse, this time from the book of Proverbs, that reads: “Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.” And Lucious tries to be as upright as his crooked self will allow, which of course is never much.

Some women might expect a couple bouquets, a few baubles, and maybe a nice dinner amongst the offerings from a beau in the doghouse trying to pay penance to win his lover back. But Lucious is no dog; he’s a Lyon. So instead of the obvious trinkets, he laces Cookie with, let’s say, less expected items, like gold emblazoned street signs, a gold espresso maker, a gold gun AND gold bullets, and a giant, gaudy lion statue (guess they were out of gold). And instead of a lovely serenade, Cookie gets Biz Markie rapping "Just a Friend" live in her living room, with turntables to boot — just what every girl wants, right? But Cookie is having none of it. She sends it all back, except for the gold gun of course because…Cookie.
Photo: Courtesy of Fox.
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In a few throwback scenes, we see where Cookie and Lucious’ love first blossomed. She was attracted to his ability to rap. He was attracted to her. We learn that he stole Cookie away from her boyfriend: a young dreamer with plans of changing the world with young Cookie by his side. Much to Lucious’ chagrin, this all comes back to haunt him in the present.

Cue councilman Angelo Dubois (Taye Diggs), whom Jamal meets during a radio interview. Dubois recruits Jamal to be a part of his youth summit, which focuses on combating gun violence. Jamal is enticed after what went down with him and Freda Gatz. Lucious, who always has a sneaky trick up his sleeve, offers up Empire as a sponsor and allows them to broadcast on his new streaming service, all in order to trick Jamal into performing exclusive content.

Things start to backfire on Lucious all at once during the event when Jamal suffers a full-on panic attack — and realizes his PTSD is more crippling than he thought. And Cookie starts to catch feelings for councilman Dubois! Turns out he reminds her of that square boyfriend she gave up to get with her gangster boo Lucious back in the day. Lucious peeps out the flirtation between the two and lets it be known to Dubois that he’s not here for any of it.
Photo: Courtesy of Fox.
Aside from that, Hakeem and Nessa (Sierra McClain) seem to have chemistry in and outside of the studio. Shyne (Xzibit) is still scary, Anika discovers Tariq’s hidden camera, and could Becky with the good hair (Gabourey Sidibe) be leaving Empire for a rival label? Say it ain’t so!

Empire also took a serious and timely turn when Andre, who’s still struggling with Rhonda’s death, gets racially profiled by the police. With story after story in the press of unarmed Black men getting killed by law enforcement, Empire’s version was a sobering moment during an otherwise pretty lighthearted episode. Unlike what we’re seeing in the news, thankfully Andre lives to fight another day, in the court of law where it looks like he’s going to catch some bogus charges.

And finally, we get another Mimi tease. Don’t play with my emotions, Empire; next week, bring on Mariah!