On Wednesday’s “Empire,” the family tried to get Hakeem back on their side and take down Camilla. Here are the most important things to know about “A Rose By Any Other Name,” the 12th episode of season 2.
The show began with Hakeem greeting the press as the new CEO of Empire. He named Cookie the head of A&R, said Andre would stay on as CFO and president of Gutter Life Records, and Jamal would step down as Vice Chair in order to focus on his career (see photo). At a performance, in which he touted the dawn of a “new era,” Hakeem stunned the family by revealing the new logo would feature his face, instead of Lucious’.
Camilla and Laura had an awkward first meeting, after which Camilla called him out for not “getting rid of her.” Hakeem said he wasn’t going to be her “side piece,” but Camilla said Mimi would soon die, and she’d get her Empire shares and dismantle the company to great fortune. He promised to “try” to make her happy.
Lucious met with a journalist named Harper, who asked if he would resort to violence to get back his throne. She further wondered if Camilla and Mimi blindsided him, causing him to get angry and lash out. Later, while Lucious and Cookie bonded over plans for his new music video, Andre broke the news that Camilla slashed the budget for it.
Meanwhile, Jamal was stunned by a demonstration by supposed fans who accused him of “letting the team down” by “flip-flopping” and hooking up with Skye. He felt it was “nobody’s business,” and was in disbelief the gay community was turning on him. Jamison said it was Lucious who was “gossiping,” and Jamal realized his father did it on purpose to “sabotage” his chances of winning the ASA over him.
As Cookie tried to plan Tiana’s tour, she was first interrupted by an arguing Porsha and Carol, before Jamal came in complaining about Lucious. “Your father is a tampon, we already knew that,” she told him, vowing to get the “gays” back on his side. Then Andre said Camilla wasn’t approving the budget for the tour, either. “That bitch gotta go,” Cookie exclaimed.
Tiana said she was “done” when she found out her tour had to be put on hold, convinced Hakeem was favoring Laura over him. Cookie pitched Camilla the idea of putting Menage a Trois as the opening act, so they’d get two tours for the price of one. Of course, Camilla went for it, wanting Laura gone for a “very long time.” Laura was on board, but Hakeem was angered, though Cookie told him you “brought this on yourself.” “You’re not only going to lose Laura, but you’re gonna lose your entire family if you don’t fix this,” she warned.
At a performance, Jamison vowed to “fix” the damage he caused by falling for Lucious’ Skye plot, and Jamal announced to the crowd that his “loyalty” had reach its “breaking point.” He then performed a song that slammed his “daddy,” and compared him to the “devil.” The tack was filled with references to Lucious, including a line about that not being his real name, which caught the audience, and Cookie, by surprise. That prompted Lucious to offer Harper an apology and an “exclusive” to downplay Jamal’s attempt at painting him as “inauthentic.” Lucious said he would embrace the name reveal, and offered her the story of “how a homeless orphan became Lucious Lyon.”
Andre told Rhonda he had a vision that her fall down the stairs wasn’t an accident, and God wanted him to find out “who” caused them to lose their baby. She was skeptical, and concerned he wasn’t taking his medication and was too focused on “faith.” Rhonda ultimately agreed to go counseling with his pastor, and Cookie, too, expressed concerns.
Though still recovering, Rhonda opted to work in Camilla’s new Empire clothing store, where she overheard her seemingly fighting via phone with Mimi. At the counseling session, Rhonda took a cynical approach, and called Andre “paranoid” when he asked if she’d been cheating on him. She was convinced he was on the edge of a psychotic break, and accused them of setting her up.
Cookie gave a suspicious Andre an alibi for Rhonda, saying when she was MIA the night before, she was sharing what she uncovered about Camilla as part of their plan to take her down. At the same time, Jamal told Hakeem he had to “prove” himself to the rest of the family, and he attempted to… by first hooking up with Camilla, so she’d think he was all in on her side.
After, he urged Camilla to “come clean about me and you” to Mimi, who was coming to town. When she left, it was revealed Hakeem had taped the whole encounter, which he sent to Mimi’s hotel. That led Mimi to drop all her Empire shares, and Andre quickly moved to buy them for the family. Cookie and Jamal were amazed that they were “free” thanks to Hakeem.
Despite the good news, Andre started to have a meltdown as he was reminded of his son’s passing. Jamal and Hakeem then performed a song they wrote specifically for him. Both Andre and Cookie were moved to tears by the emotional track, which was all about getting through pain “when you don’t fully understand why the bad things happen to the good people.”
In the episode’s final minutes, Cookie warned Lucious not to take any action since Camilla’s downfall was imminent. Instead, he ignored the advice and went to the hotel, where he found Camilla staging Mimi’s suicide after fatally spiking her drink. Lucious caught it all on film, and taunted her about Hakeem’s betrayal.
He then pulled out a gun and attempted to convince her to kill herself, saying her only alternative would be prison as a murderer. She asked him to shoot her, but he didn’t want to do her any “favors” after all the “pain she caused” his family. And with that, she ingested the same poisonous pills she had given Mimi. “Rot in hell,” Lucious said as he walked out. The promo for next week showed Lucious attempting to make Hakeem feel responsible for her death.