We're recapping Empire Season 2. Have you checked out the first episode yet?

This episode begins with Cookie, Hakeem, and Andre clearing out their things at Empire Records like forlorn customer care employees after their heated fight with Jamal at the end of last week’s episode. Upon leaving the company for good and salvaging her lone orchid, Cookie doesn’t waste any time pressuring the crew to start their own record label, and sets the gears in motion within the first 30 seconds of the episode. Hakeem claims he wants to discover new artists, and possibly make a girl group like Destiny’s Child (no complaints from me on this), in order to get the label off the ground.

Cookie interrupts Jamal’s interview for the TV talk show Spilling The Tea, and subsequently spills the tea (wink) by asking Jamal to allow her new label to release Hakeem’s album. In true Cookie fashion, she ruthlessly attempts to manipulate Jamal by telling him how Hakeem is just another victim of their father, when Jamal knows damn well what it means to face the wrath of Lucious Lyon. What Cookie may be forgetting, however, is that Hakeem was never dumped in a trash can by Lucious. Her means of manipulating Jamal may backfire later on, but Jamal plays the whole encounter off very cool...how much like his father he's becoming.

Chuck Hodes, FOX

Meanwhile, in prison — or as I’ve started to call it, glam prison — Lucious is suffering from respiratory problems and requires medication, which the prosecuting attorney in Tom Ford heels is withholding. Apparently overall wellbeing isn’t a top priority at this prison, seeing as though nobody seems to care about what happened to Chris Rock in last week’s episode. But that’s okay, because glam prison!

His Royal Highness Ludacris makes a guest appearance as a badass prison guard with a chip on his shoulder and a story to tell, who ultimately doesn’t give a s--t about Lucious or his feeble attempts to get back into the rap game. The prisoners rally and get Lucious into a utility closet where they have set up recording equipment, because OF COURSE, so Lucious can record the rap he’s been working on. The rap, which unfortunately I only managed to listen to four times on repeat in disbelief, is titled “Snitch Bitch," which was actually the original working title for Mean Girls. (I’m joking, but also, I’m wishing.)

This is an aside: Isn’t the prison on this show great? I mean, sure Chris Rock was brutally murdered there, and sure they’re withholding medication from Lucious, but they have Skype AND recording equipment. This prison has more luxuries than my apartment. It’s amazing.

Chuck Hodes, FOX

At Cookie’s makeshift studio, Hakeem is holding auditions for his new girl group. Valentina (Becky G) shows up and kills her audition, because of course she does. She’s Becky G. Hakeem tells Tiana about his new group, and she couldn’t be less interested, which makes perfect sense because why would Tiana want to get involved in something like this? Jamal picks Hakeem up from the studio and tells him Lucious wants him back at Empire. When Hakeem asks why, Jamal says “because we’re family," which is a viable reason for the Lyon’s, seeing as though they’ve never tried to destroy or kill each other before.

As a result of this meeting, Hakeem leaks his own album, despite the threat of being sued by Empire. All he claims to care about is that his music is heard, which Andre has no time for. He storms out of the room, wearing a beautiful wool cardigan as only Andre can, and goes to beg Lucious to let him back into the company. During a heated exchange where a *lot* of acting takes place, Lucious has a flashback to his own childhood where his mother, Kelly Rowland (#Justice4Kelly), is singing him a lullaby. Ultimately, Lucious denies Andre’s request, and leaves him alone in his wool in the visiting center.

At the end of the episode, Lucious is back in court, where it seems as though his new defense attorney has stood him up, as the prosecutor in Tom Ford heels begins griping about the defense attorney’s absence. Eventually he shows up, with “new evidence” to show the judge. The evidence ends up being blackmail, and the judge lets Lucious go on bail.

Lucious is now free, and Cookie’s new record label is in deep trouble.

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