Empire Recap: Lyons Put Their Family Business in the Streets

Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in Empire
Jean Whiteside/Fox
Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in Empire
Jean Whiteside/Fox

It’s been a craptacular week. After a few days of plotting how we will rise up and form a resistance movement, it’s good to kick back with some mindless TV. Thank God for Empire.

Still stinging from a beatdown by Andre, Shyne goes Lyon-hunting, ready to settle things the American way: with bullets. As Shyne and his goons are on the prowl, Lucious is ready for them with armored tanks and armed guard. All these guns can lead to only one thing: Someone’s gonna get got tonight.

First up, Taye Diggs and Cookie leisurely enjoy some take-out coffee, and alarm bells go off. It goes like this:

Cookie: We’re so happy.

Taye Diggs: Yep.

Me: Duck, Taye Diggs, duck! I know how this is going to turn out. You’re going to be collateral damage.


Empire: Just settle down, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Predictions don’t mean everything.

Next we move on to Andre’s place—sweet Christmas! Andre can surely disarm any attacker with those killer abs. Lord have mercy, look at him. What was I saying? When Shyne and his army burst in with guns, Andre is in badass mode and doesn’t duck for cover. The man is fresh off a threesome with Nessa and his dead wife, Rhonda, so he’s relaxed. Before Shyne can take Andre down, Nessa runs out wearing the universal symbol of doing the dirty, Andre’s shirt, which makes Shyne even madder, but his code prevents him from bloodying his hands in front of his protégé, so he promises to come back for Andre later.

Cookie has to deal with something other than family business—she apparently still has to see her parole officer on a regular basis. It goes like this:

Cookie: Hi, everyone; I know I’m swanning in late, but I brought coffee for the staff. I’m an exemplary role model. Wanna go get mani-pedis?


Parole officer: Nope, the plot requires me to be mean: “This is the U.S. government.”

Me: Don’t you worry, Cookie. That institution will be going up in smoke soon. And that’s a prediction you can count on.


Cookie blames Taye Diggs—OK, his name is Angelo—for her troubles because of his political aspirations. She’s wrong. He shows up later with the parole officer, who issues a warm apology. Someone is toying with Cookie, but it’s not Angelo.

Nessa is torn between Andre and Shyne, so she’s angry with Dre. Just think about those abs, girl. Andre cools things down by promising to bring her brother to the table.


Time for the weekly “I don’t want to be like you” song and dance. This time it’s Jamal who is railing at his dad. Lucious just rolls his eyes at his son and takes the Best Line of the Night Award with, “Oh, my God, you are so corny, Mal. I’m gonna book a duet with you and Mary Magdalene, soon as God gives me the OK. Oops, I said no.”

Lucious also has some fatherly advice for Hakeem, whom he is proud of—this week. His advice: Go to war with his competition, Gram, with music, aggressive music. Hakeem and Jamal are working on a duet, which will be shown live on Empire’s new streaming service. Jamal wants some Jamal-style brother-love tune; Hakeem wants a clapback song poking his rivals.


It’s a dark and stormy night. Obviously this means that things are going to go sideways. Mark my words, this episode will end with a shot ringing out in the dark. Shyne visits Chez Lyon for a sit-down. Things start off rocky between Lucious and Shyne, who brings up “Camden.” That is a word that Lucious doesn’t like, and it looks like this parlay is over until Boo Boo Kitty saunters in and lies that Lucious plans to give Shyne his own imprint. As an added bonus, he gets to recruit Freda Gatz. Things end on a peaceful note, but things aren’t so peaceful for other Lyons.

Not done with stirring up family drama, Lucious tells Hakeem to forget about having a relationship with Nessa because she’s seen Andre’s abs. Papa Lyon then persuades Hakeem to ignore Jamal’s plan to have this be a happy, shiny performance and to go be “a destroyer of men.”


Hakeem kicks off the streaming event by calling out his brothers with a rap, which includes taunts at Jamal’s gayness. The brothers go at it, literally putting their business in the street, since everyone is gathered around watching the drama. Lucious gleefully makes sure the whole ugly display is on camera.

So every other prediction I had this week was proved laughably wrong, but I still predict that it's gearing up for some exciting times ahead on Empire.


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.

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