It's the episode we've all been waiting for. In the final seconds of the last one, Hakeem got snatched off the street. Those previews were tense, huh? And thanks to the World Series, we had to wait two whole weeks. It's gonna be a nail-biter; let's go!
At the Lyons'-den studio, Cookie is salty because Hakeem isn't at work. Cookie gets a video of a sweaty Hakeem, his mouth covered with duct tape. She responds like any mother: She rolls her eyes. Maybe she forgot the riffraff who accosted Tiana recently and sent Cookie a threatening video demanding a "tax” in exchange for operating her business in the shady neighborhood. Is this the same Cookie who had a meltdown when she found a single rose on her doorstep and thought it meant she was marked for death? No, that was season 1 Cookie, who wouldn't be caught dead looking like Shemp from The Three Stooges with them new bangs.
Cookie suspects that it's one of Lucious' attempts to shut down her business, so she dawdles to the Empire studio to holler. Then they ascertain that it is a real abduction. Lucious is irritated about the darn annoying kidnappers, and the Lyons go to deal with it. Jamal, who happens to be there, offers to help, with the same conviction as when you go, "Oh, no, you don't have to pay for dinner," and casually fish around like you intend to pull out your wallet.
Hakeem is in a warehouse or something with a sack on his head. To make matters worse, his three captors toss shade by cracking that they should have taken "the more famous brother, the one with talent." The men pour liquid in a barrel and take off their shirts; it seems like an odd time to worry about fine washables, but I don't know abduction etiquette.
Hakeem shakes off his hood and sees the shirtless men's backs; they all sport the same tattoo. They've also covered their heads with masks now. Since their backs are turned to him, they wouldn't need to cover their faces, but OK. Mouthy Hakeem gets punched in the head. We've all wanted to do that; Hakeem is the only character who acts like he's from the first season.
Lucious negotiates with the abductors, but Hakeem isn't at the drop-off. Suspense! How long will it take to find him? Oh, here he is. The kidnappers dropped him off somewhere else. This is at the 11-minute mark. To add perspective, the "Drip-Drop" running length is 4:32. You could play it three times in a row, and it would take longer than this arc. Why is Empire in such a hurry? Does everybody have another job to go to?
Hakeem stumbles to Boo Boo Kitty's place. As she walks home, she's on the phone, whining to her mom about her empty life. Seconds after she spots bloodied Hakeem, they engage in foreplay outside her door. When did she become pathetic? Can we get gorilla suits and stage a #FreeGraceGealey protest? When Hakeem goes home hours later, he barks at his family. There's a doctor on the premises. After a quick examination, the doc says Hakeem is fine, no reason to check out his head at a hospital or anything …
Hakeem has PTSD. Those minutes in captivity were brutal. Olivia Pope was held hostage long enough to grow out her relaxer and was more together—walk it off, Hakeem.
Cookie visits the kidnappers to hire them for security at the suggestion of Laz, the music promoter she recently met. Hakeem pulls out a gun to yell at the kidnappers, but nothing comes of it.
In the last scene, as Cookie gets hot and heavy with Laz, we see he has the same tattoo as the kidnappers. Another cliffhanger! But don't get invested—it'll probably be wrapped up immediately.
The rest of the episode leaves many questions:
What happened to Kelly Rowland? Is the story of Lucious' family history of mental-wellness issues over?
Is everything all better with Andre now? God told him to dig up a body a few episodes ago. Now, as the new president of the Gutter Life label, he's trying to make Christian gutter rap a thing.
As has been hinted, Jamal is backing away from being known as a gay entertainer; he just wants to be known as an entertainer—period. Um, OK, but season 1 Jamal was already known as an entertainer until he came out publicly during his performance of "You're So Beautiful."
How much longer will we have to listen to Lucious singing his "Boom Boom Boom Boom" song? Please say only 11 more minutes.
Elaine G. Flores is a New York writer, editor and bon vivant. She’s a hard-core shipper and excommunicated soap opera reviewer. Her fictional dinner-party guests include Omar Little, Buffy Summers, Abigail Mills and Ichabod Crane. You can visit her site, TV Recappers Delight.