Empire Season 2, Episode 8 Recap: Family Matters

Photo: Chuck Hodes/FOX.
Whoever made the decision to greenlight Vivica A. Fox as Cookie’s (Taraji P. Henson) highfalutin sister Candace gets a gold star. I waited the entire episode for Viv, and she — with all her glorious sass — pops up in the last five minutes. And let me tell you, it's well worth the wait. You see, if anyone has the chops to go up against Henson as Cookie Lyon, it’s one Vivica A. Fox. She’s played Cookie-type roles before. If you’ve ever seen Set It Off (1996) or hell, even her stint on Celebrity Apprentice, then you know I speak the truth!

Ms. Fox is a highlight of the episode titled “My Bad Parts.” Her arrival sets up what promises to be an interesting story line, one that might pull Empire out of the minor plot-slump it seems to have fallen into. Candace shows up to share some unsettling news with Cookie about their other sister Carol (Tasha Smith), who’s apparently gone on a bender. No big deal to Cookie. “What she smoke don’t make me choke,” Cookie says. But when Candace mentions that Carol left her kids and drops the name “Jermel” (DeRay Davis) — Cookie’s hit man who was murdered in prison by the late Frank Gathers (Chris Rock) — all sorts of internal alarms start going off in Cookie's head as she tells sister Candace, with whom she clearly has a cantankerous relationship, that they both need to travel to Philly.

The rest of the episode is filled with rap beefs, multimillion-dollar deals, a bitch slap, an unexpected pregnancy, and another potential kidnapping. You know, just your run-of-the-mill Wednesday night.

Anika (Grace Gealey) shows up again, but this time she’s not alone. In dramatic fashion, she uses the knife she’s gripping to slice open another pregnancy test — rather than her wrist, which it appears she was threatening to do initially. Turns out Boo Boo Kitty is carrying Hakeem’s (Bryshere Y. Gray) Lyon cub. We know she’s gone gaga over Hakeem, and when she turns up unannounced at his door to deliver the good news, he hits her with some of his own. He’s fallen in love…but not with her. The littlest Lyon is head over heels for Laura (Jamila Velazquez). Anika plays it cool, but by the end of the episode, it appears she’s finally lost all her marbles and is dressed in a cheap blonde wig, posing as poor little Laura’s driver, carting her off to parts unknown.

We don’t get to see a lot of Laz Delgado (Adam Rodriguez) this episode, but the little we do see is EPIC. Hakeem’s been finagled into a rap beef by Lucious (Terrence Howard), and Laz is offering all sorts of unsolicited advice on how to handle it. Hakeem has zero trust in Cookie’s new beau and lets it be known loud and clear. Cookie’s not feeling Hakeem’s flippant attitude toward Laz, but when Laz tries to put hands on Hakeem, that’s when all hell breaks loose and Cookie manhandles Laz. Not in the good way.

So about this rap beef. Lucious’ dirty ass gets Freda Gatz (Bre-Z) to drop a dis track about his own son Hakeem called, of all things, “Daddy’s Little Girl” — well, them's fightin’ words in the hood. So of course Hakeem must respond. But now he’s in a Drake/Meek Mill situation. A wack response could wreck his career. What’s a rapper to do? Appeal to the crowd, not the lower-rung rival. This, of course, is according to advice from big brother Jamal (Jussie Smollett). So the rap cypher turns into a Hakeem lovefest. Hakeem wins! Just for the record, this is NOT how a real cypher goes at all. THIS is a better depiction.

Meanwhile, Lucious finally inks a deal with Swift Stream, with Mimi’s (Marisa Tomei) financial backing, but I feel some funny business is in the air; Jamal figures out a way to get Cookie and Lucious back together, at least as co-producers on his album.

There are only two episodes left before the hiatus. Expect much more drama with Ms. Fox and an appearance by the lovely Alicia Keys. Bring it, Empire!


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