Empire Season 3, Episode 9 Recap: Help!

Chuck Hodes/FOX
Help. A four-letter word that can have a huge impact. Merriam-Webster defines it as a verb that means: to make more pleasant or bearable: improve, relieve. But when Empire is involved, that definition becomes twisted and perverted. Empire’s mid-season finale, “A Furnace for Your Foe,” used the perversion of “help” as an underlying theme.

Angelo is catching heat during his mayoral run from the everyday folk of New York City. They think he’s not one of them. The upcoming Captain’s Ball, where Jamal is set to headline, will take place far from “the hood” spiritually and physically. That’s when Cookie steps in with help. She acts as a bridge between Angelo and the people who trust her street smarts. The two decide that the now Empire Records driven ball will go down amongst the people and be called “The People’s Ball,” much to the chagrin of Diana Dubois (Phylicia Rashad).

Diana turns to Lucious for help with a little quid pro quo (ignoring all my screams of “Don’t do it girl! Don’t make a deal with the devil!”). If he can help make some dirt from Angelo’s past disappear, she’ll make Cookie and Angelo’s relationship disappear. Lucious wants Cookie’s cookies to himself so he agrees to help. He has one of his goons use a rap performance to level a death threat at the journalist poised to go public. Naturally, the journalist zips his lips.

But Mrs. Dubois is a double-dealer, too! She doesn’t hold up her end of the bargain. Cookie’s presence is helping to spike Angelo’s approval rating so Cookie’s now a keeper. Still, everybody knows Lucious will not be played.

Meanwhile, Andre tells Nessa that he’s bipolar. She asks how his late wife helped him with his illness (I screamed “Grab the bib and some knee pads, girl!”). Andre says she helped in every way possible. Nessa says she plans on helping him by helping him to help himself. Andre’s into it. He gets permission from Ghost Rhonda to finally let her go. She agrees, but not before demanding that he avenge her death with “that bitch” Anika.

On the other end of town Tariq, thisclose to nailing Lucious with a wall of evidence, gets help from a judge ordering a 30-day freeze of all Empire’s assets. With no liquid capital, Empire is in danger. Shyne’s there to help by loaning Lucious $50 million in exchange for piece of Empire Records. Lucious agrees but doesn’t know that Shyne’s working with Tariq. Only Andre knows this. He makes a deal with Shyne to help each other with an Empire takeover that will culminate with helping Lucious to an early grave.

Jamal, by the way, is still pill-poppin. Cookie thinks he’s clean and pours all his stash down the kitchen sink. As his headlining appearance at The People’s Ball nears, he’s still at home fighting withdrawal. Cookie’s arrives with help. She threatens to cancel Jamal’s appearance. He begs Cookie for a different desperate kind of help: his performance is more about conquering Lucious on that stage. Always there for her boys, Cookie does the unthinkable, digging through the pipes for a slimy pill. Jamal gobbles it like a baby bird accepting a worm from its mama.

After rocking the crowd high on a dirty perc (or whatever), he walks off the stage and right into an intervention staged by Mama Cookie, always there to help. In true intervention fashion, the entire family, including Lucious is there to help too. Jamal gives in.

No Empire mid-season finale would be complete without some final Lucious fuckery. He helped himself to heaping helping of revenge. Remember that little promise Mrs. Dubois broke? Lucious helped that journalist fulfill a promise that Angelo would never become mayor of New York. Apparently, Angelo has a messy little DUI. He drove into a river and only helped himself escape leaving a girl to drown. Sounds like a Kennedy. Lucious — evil grin intact — leaves Cookie, Angelo and Mrs. Dubois in front of a camera and microphone, helpless.

Empire
resumes March 22. See you then!
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