Another week, another stellar episode of Fox’s Empire for the Lyon’s and co. Picking up after last weeks great showing, things in the fourth episode “Poor Yorick” went a little darker, a little more morbid but still maintained its heart and humor.
WARNING: Spoilers from the episode to follow
Empire Recap: “Poor Yorick” – This Is When We Roar
With her star witness missing, Ms. Ford decided to turn up the heat on Lucious by sending the FBI in to raid not only the offices of Empire and Lyon Dynasty but also his home. I’m guessing she wasn’t expecting to find him standing there stark naked ready for a cavity search. During the raid, Jamal was giving a Rolling Stone interview, Cookie was working on an online solution to being banned from urban radio and Hakeem was promising to find a replacement for his new girl group. Deciding that the police had gone too far Lucious said to hell with his ban on the building and went to Empire to rally his troops. He corrected Mimi Whiteman who was giving a “lets cower in the corner till this blows over speech,” and advised his team they would be doing the exact opposite. They would use the publicity from the raid to garner attention and increase their street cred. Much in the way NWA did in the late 80’s. Lucious having to explain this to Mimi in the first place further exhibits her pointlessness. Between that and her horrible wardrobe, I am counting down the days till she disappears to whence she came. Having been raided as a family, the Lyons gathered again as a family to talk strategy. Hakeem, still upset over being one upped by Lucious proceeded to ask his father if he really did kill Bunkie. Cookie sat back curious to see if Lucious would actually be honest for once in his life and of course he wasn’t. He said that he couldn’t do such a thing because he was family and because he introduced him to the love of his life. I swooned at that even if Cookie didn’t. Thirsty interjected that the only way Lucious would be able to clear his name was by finding Vernon and getting him to change his story. At least one person sitting in the club knew that finding Vernon alive wasn’t going to happen.
To further the Lyon solidarity, Cookie approached Lucious with a temporary cease fire the next day. In exchange for Hakeem and Jamal shooting a video together, Lucious would have to let Lyon Dynasty back on the radio and discontinue his efforts to steal their artist and masters. Lucious informed Cookie that Anika was lying about the masters but agreed not to go after anymore of her clients. Radio was still off the table. Meanwhile Jamal was across town shooting his Rolling Stone cover with a very… eccentric artist who Michael noticed was taking quite a liking to his boyfriend. Later, on the advice of Cookie, Lucious extended an olive branch to Andre in the hopes that he wouldn’t ban him from a relationship with grandchild because of his refusal to bring Andre back to Empire. Andre assured him that he would always have a place in their lives. Lucious had another flashback to his mother, her condition and almost being ripped away from her by Child Protective services. I can’t say enough about this backstory. It is literally perfect and Kelly Rowland remains this season best guest start. Breaking him out of his daydreams, Andre then asked if he would be welcome back at Empire if he could make the murder charges disappear. Lucious told him he could have anything in the world if he could make that happen. Andre held him to that.
In This Together
With the momentary truce in place, the video shoot for Hakeem and Jamal got underway on a set ripped straight from Tupac and Dr. Dre’s California Love. Yes, I do love all of the subtle and not so subtle hip hop shout outs. Lucious approached Hakeem with a new beat in an effort to lure him home but the youngest Lyon promised Cookie that he wasn’t leaving her side. As much as I loved and miss the relationship with Cookie and Jamal, I love how they’ve used this time to strengthen the bond between her and Hakeem. Especially considering how contentious they were towards each other last season. Nothing says motherly love like beating your kid with a broom, right? The comradery on the set didn’t last long as it was clear Hakeem didn’t really want to be there. Even moreso when Cookie mysteriously disappeared. While stepping outside to take a phone call, the police snatched her up on a trumped up warrant issued solely to get her small confined room with DA Ford. She told Cookie that if she didn’t tell her what she knew about Lucious killing Bunkie, she would go after her sons in every way she could. Including leaking Andre’s bipolar diagnosis to the press. As reprehensible as she is, she is making for a very formidable villain. After stirring for a little while Cookie agreed to talk and give the DA what she wanted. Kind of. She told her she didn’t know anything about Lucious killing Bunkie but that they were fighting over the Apex Radio deal. That seemed to be all Ms. Ford needed and promised to but a stop to the deal.
Back on set tempers reached a fever pitch as Hakeem let his continued jealousy of Jamal get the best of him. The photographer in charge of Jamal’s Rolling Stone cover brought his Warhol inspired painting to the set to which Lucious raved. Hakeem was none too impressed and turned his Warhol into n Van Gogh when he shoved a knife into it. Reckless, immature an oh so soapy! Everyone tried to move on and continue the video but that lasted all of 2 minutes before Jamal and Hakeem decided to handle their issues with fists. Hakeem walked off the set and Jamal and the Rolling Stone photographer decided to use the slashed painting to their advantage. By the time Cookie was released from custody and made it back to set, the only person still there was Anika. Why, I don’t know. But she told Cookie that Lucious was lying about her lying. Cookie agreed but said she still trusted him more than her. Why, again I don’t know.
Ride Or Die
Still upset about everything that happened on set, Hakeem went to clear his mind and drown his sorrows at a local cantina, at least that’s what I’ll call it. He ignored some boring cabaret singer while struggling with whether or not to apologize to Jamal over the slashed panting. Unbeknownst to him, they had decided to use the knife wound in the painting and splashed the image all across town turning the artist into the art. Next up on the mic was Laura, played by Jamila Velazquez. She started out timid at first then began to belt out the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard in any language. She easily got Hakeem’s attention as well when he realized that his search for the next lead singer in his group had unintentionally found him.
In the midst of all that, Andre was dealing with more serious matters of the excavation kind. He decided to get back in his father good graces by producing the one person who could ruin his life. Not dead or alive but completely dead. And decomposed. Rhonda went with him to the spot they buried Vernon and began digging. Only after what felt like hours, they still hadn’t hit him. Andre assured Rhonda they were in the right spot. In front of the tree with the hole in it. But during the panic of killing someone and trying to dispose of his body, they failed to notice that All the trees had holes in them. It was completely and unintentionally hilarious. Ready to give up, the two were caught before they could leave by an approaching car. The passengers told them to come out with their hands up. Before they could both pee their pants, Thirsty and Lucious appeared from the shadows and told them they planted a tracker in Andre’s car after their talk at the club. Andre and Rhonda finally confessed and Lucious couldn’t have looked more proud. With the help of a corpse detector (didn’t even know that was a thing) they located Vernon’s body and Lucious welcomed his son back to Empire. They said their goodbyes to Vernon in their own way and he said his hello to Ms. Ford in the front seat of her car. Happy Halloween!
This show feels like its old self again! I was and still am at little concerned about the number of celebrity guest stars taking away from the story but it seems like after a rocky start, Empire is back to what I loved about it last season. There are still some things that need to be changed and some people that need to be removed, but over all the 5 reasons I tune in every week are still present and as power as ever.