If you’re going to snatch a show off the air for three weeks, you better damn make sure it returns with some heat. The latest episode of Empire, “One Before Another,” was definitely hot, especially with an all-out “shit hitting the fan” moment. I was reminded of the Beyoncé lyric, “Who runs the world? Girls!” when thinking about how the ladies of Empire were the real MVPs of the episode — and they could run the world if not for those pesky men. Take Nessa, for example. Last episode, Shyne was poised to fill Lucious and Andre with bullets after they snaked Nessa from him, giving her her own record deal AND beating him black and blue. Shyne catches Andre at Jamal’s apartment and, just as he’s about to fire a shot, Nessa moves in for the save! Not only does she stop a bullet, she uses logic to convince Shyne to back down and even have a civilized sit-down with Lucious and Andre to try and hash things out. During that meeting, things quickly go south. But in another “girls run the world” moment, Anika uses her powers to calm Shyne down. She allows him to believe that Lucious was just on the verge of offering him his own imprint backed by Empire with Freda Gats as his artist, thus saving the day. Of course, Anika later adds herself to the situation by reminding Lucious that Shyne’s imprint will need an A&R — and who better to fill that role than her? So Anika lives to die another day, girl power unscathed.
We know Cookie is “run the world” capable. She was able to get Jamal and Hakeem under one accord when they were struggling with the “terms and conditions” of putting on a livestream with agreed-upon music. Jamal asked his baby bro to share his livestream event with him. It would give Jamal an opportunity to reconnect with his fans while simultaneously avoiding another panic attack in front of a live audience. Hakeem, who had been confronted by Tiana’s beau, Gram (Romeo Miller), to livestream a rap battle, was feeling froggy and ready to leap all over that opportunity, scrapping the warm-and-fuzzy track the two brothers were going to perform. Level-headed Cookie to the rescue! With her help, they agreed on brotherly love. Keep reading to see how Lucious mucked (man + fucked) that all up. In my opinion, Becky’s been secretly running the Empire world since we viewers stepped into it. She’s currently locked in a contentious relationship with the new Cookie-appointed head of A&R, Xavier Rosen (Samuel Hunt), who is annoyingly, in her words, trying to “white mansplain” everything to her. When Tiana is told to record a song she’s not feeling, Becky convinces Xavier and Tiana to do the music Tiana wants to record, which is the all-agreed-upon BETTER SONG. All that changed when Cookie found out that Becky, who, by the way, has stepped up her swag this season, went behind her back. How did Cookie find out? That “Snitch Bitch” Xavier, of course.
Now for the “shit hit the fan” moment of the show: After Cookie got brothers Jamal and Hakeem together for their live stream, Lucious — who’s been needling into his youngest son’s impressionable side — triggered a jealous tirade when he learned that Hakeem had dropped his drive to beef with Gram. All greedy Lucious had to do was let Hakeem in on the secret that Andre was smashing his “girl,” Nessa, (a title unbeknownst to Nessa, by the way) and Hakeem went straight H.A.M., unleashing a homophobic verse on Jamal and firing off lyrical venom at Andre. It led to brothers fighting, Nessa screaming, Lucious instructing cameras to capture it all for streaming numbers, and poor Cookie trying to save face, frantically unplugging cords and blocking screens. It was a beautiful mess. This episode also did a good job of setting up future mayhem. Shyne’s put a bug in Tariq’s ear, who’s already hot on Lucious’ trail, about who killed Frank Gathers. It all boils down to what Freda Gats is willing to divulge. Also, Cookie’s boo, Angelo (Taye Diggs), agrees to link with her for an all-out war with Lucious. Why would he risk going up against Empire’s resident Lucifer for Cookie’s love, you ask? Because he knows girls run the damn world.