On Wednesday’s season premiere of “Empire,” the action picked up three months after Lucious went to prison, with Cookie and sons Andre and Hakeem plotting to wrestle Empire Entertainment away from him and third son Jamal. Here are the most important things to know about “The Devils Are Here,” the first episode of season 2.
The episode began with a “#FreeLucious” rally, where Cookie and Hakeem were “frontin’” for the sake of their “hostile takeover,” as they had an investor named Mimi (Marisa Tomei) to impress. She insisted to Jamal that she wasn’t a “snitch” and responsible for Lucious’ incarceration, but tensions remained. On stage, Cookie protested the correctional system and screamed, “Justice for all.” Cameos included Don Lemon, Al Sharpton and Swizz Beatz, with mentions of Bill Clinton and Anna Wintour.
Jamal and Hakeem lateer took the stage to perform, which Lucious was able to watch on a prison television. He had fellow inmates serving as his enforcers, and turned away another prisoner, Cookie’s cousin, who came to him for help regarding Frank Gathers, a new arrival (played by Chris Rock). As viewers may recall, it was Cookie’s confidential testimony last season that put Frank behind bars. Lucious became angered when the TV cameras showed Cookie wooing Mimi, and then Frank and Lucious bonded over there shared drug-dealing past.
Jamal pissed off both Hakeem and Andre over business plans, after which he visited his father, who was awaiting a bail hearing. Lucious wanted it, ahem, “handled,” and, in addition to giving Empire advice, complained about Cookie not visiting him. He alerted Jamal to the “lesbian bitch,” Mimi, and figured Cookie was up to something. Frank confronted Cookie’s cousin about murdering one of his associates, the guy she had him kill when she thought her life was in danger because she snitched on Frank.
Andre had a nightmare about Vernon’s murder and the cover-up with Rhonda, who was now several months into her pregnancy, expecting a boy. He was still crushed that Lucious gave Empire to Jamal, and Rhonda didn’t actually believe Cookie and Hakeem would get the company. The next night, Cookie was angered when Anika, apparently dating Hakeem, involved herself in the wooing of Mimi at a party. Mimi was very clearly interested in Anika, though, and Cookie became in favor of her essentially selling herself for the sake of the deal.
At the same time, Jamal returned home to Michael, as they were back together, and planning a LGBT party. The next day, he was late to the organizing meeting, which clearly upset Michael. Amid all this, Cookie’s cousin placed a call to Cookie’s sister warning that the Lyons were in danger and that he needed Lucious’ protection in prison, but Cookie didn’t get the message. She instead urged Hakeem to play nice with Jamal in order to score Mimi’s $250 million investment. At the same time, Lucious was visited by the federal prosecutor, Roxanne, who warned she would be his “worst nightmare,” and urged him to plead guilty, saying he could help her take down other murderers and in exchange would not be locked up forever. He dismissed her as a “black bitch,” and afterward praised Frank’s daughter’s rapping during a family visit.
Next, Cookie, along with Andre, Hakeem, and Anika, interrupted Jamal’s board meeting to announce they were taking a controlling interest in the company with Mimi’s help. They found out, however, that Mimi had met with Lucious that morning and negotiated a better deal to work with him and Jamal. Via video message, Lucious declared, “Game over, bitches.”
Frank, apparently a cannibal, seemingly ate some of Cookie’s cousin’s flesh, leading him to confess that Cookie was the snitch that got him imprisoned. Now she was busy dealing with another betrayal, though, as Jamal accused her of backstabbing him. In turn, she warned that he was turning into his father. When she went home, Cookie’s sister Carole finally told her about Frank, and they opened a “gift” that was their cousin’s decapitated head.
Jamal and Michael then fought about details of their party, and he offered a big donation in return for dis-involving himself. Afterward, Jamal’s own music session was interrupted by a call from Cookie, who vaguely told him to go to Lucious’ home, where he would be safe. She, meanwhile, finally went to see Lucious in prison.
Right away, he said he still loved her, and apologized for never visiting her during her years in prison. They quickly started sparring as she resisted his advances, leading him to say, “It’s crazy how I can love your ass and hate you at thee same moment.” She went on to share that Frank was “messing” with them, and that she needed him to “fix” it.
As the family hid out at Lucious’ home, he went to Frank and played nice, offering his daughter a record deal with Empire. He refused, though, saying that it wouldn’t make up for Cookie being the informant that got him locked up. Lucious said he loved Cookie and war with her meant war with him, leading Frank to order his prison goons to kill him right then and there. Lucious being Lucious, of course, already arranged to have all the guys on his side, and they killed Frank on his orders.
At the Lyon mansion, Jamal told Hakeem he was killing his album after the betrayal, which Hakeem thought was really just out of fear of competition. Their argument about being “king” was interrupted when Cookie came home and announced the “old beef” with a “very dangerous man” was “over.” She gave props to Lucious for protecting them, but Jamal then threw all of them out of his “father’s house” because of their takeover attempt. Cookie slapped him twice, and he fired back, “You done now, lady?” as he forced her out the door.
With the door shut, Jamal, on the verge of breaking down into sobs, instead stormed off, seemingly more determined than ever to remain in control of Empire. An extended preview showed Lucious out of prison, vowing to make the company bigger than ever, with the family still divided into warring sides. TELL US: What did you think of the season premiere?