By Tre’ Smith
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer
Last night, “Empire” made its triumphant return to television following a six month hiatus. Evidenced by the series of tweets, well over 100,000 during the premiere hour, fans were excited to have the show back. But, they were not as excited as Lee Daniels and Danny Strong to return it.
Throughout the summer, the “Empire” cast members, mainly Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett, and Bryshere “Yazz” Gray, made various appearances on different shows. Everyone wanted to know about “Empire” season two. Last night, they got their answers.
Picking up three months after the season finale, “Empire” shows Lucious (Howard) in prison for killing Bunkie. In the interim, his son, Jamal (Smollett), is running the company, Empire Enterprises. While running the company, Jamal is being undermined by Andre (Trai Byers), Cookie (Henson), Hakeem (Gray), Anika (Grace Gealey), and reinforcements.
While the hostile takeover began in the March two-part season finale, it continued last night. The new player is the lesbian venture capitalist, Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei). As Andre and Hakeem plot to take Empire for themselves, Cookie plans to take it only from Lucious in order to give it to her sons, meanwhile Mimi wants Cookie and/or Anika for her to give them the $250 million they need to get the company.
Playing the game, as Lucious ended season one with his “game time, bitches” line, Cookie organized a #FreeLucious concert. The concert was hosted by Swizz Beatz and featured performances from the Empire roster, including Jamal and a reluctant Hakeem. Present to show his support was Al Sharpton, whom Cookie asked for help, but he could not, leading her to walk away from him and Jamal even said Bill Clinton was present at the concert.
Cookie is in the throws of a hostile takeover, but the streets are catching up to her, as Frank Gathers, portrayed by comedian Chris Rock, is on to her snitching on him to put him in prison. While in prison, Gathers encounters none other than Lucious Lyon. Gathers makes his impact felt, immediately, confronting Jemel (DeRay Davis) for killing McNally on behalf of Cookie last season.
Quickly, Lucious finds out about Mimi and orders Jamal to meet her and find out about her. Meanwhile, the streets catch up with Cookie, as her sister, Carol (Tasha Smith) was blowing her up with warnings about Frank, as is Jemel from prison. After asking Lucious for protection to no avail, Jemel turns to Cookie, but her assistant ignored both his and Carol’s calls and it proved fatal for Jemel.
Frank has Jemel’s head gift-wrapped and sent to Cookie, prompting her to demand her and Carol’s entire family to move into Lucious’ mansion for safety. While this is going on, Frank is visited by his children and his daughter raps for him, which Lucious overhears. After she raps, Lucious hints at signing his daughter to Empire, but Frank tells him it’s not enough to stop the beef.
Meanwhile, Jamal is continuing to run Empire and his boyfriend, Michael, is organizing the GLAAD event with another special guest star. Portraying himself, Miss Lawrence, from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” fame, made a cameo and sang. Following this meeting, Jamal was in a board meeting, interrupted by Andre, Hakeem, Cookie, and Anika that announced their hostile takeover of Empire and Mimi on board.
The only problem was that Lucious intercepted Mimi with Jamal’s help and she sided with them, keeping Empire in the hands of Lucious. This effort was disappointing, as Cookie put Anika up to sleep with Mimi to keep her on their side. Upset and already not an Anika fan, Cookie told her she could not even dyke right, which caused a major social media response.
Despite being at war with Cookie, Andre, and Hakeem, Lucious came through when it mattered most. Lucious pleaded with Frank to reconsider killing Cookie, prompting him to order Lucious killed. However, Lucious pointed out to Frank that they differed because he always wanted to run the streets, meanwhile he wanted to run the world via his Empire company, before he ordered Frank’s men to kill Frank, after revealing the debts he paid off for them.
Lucious’ parting message to Cookie, Andre, and Hakeem, the latter of the two who sent him to prison, was “game over bitches, bye bye.” Still, he saved their lives and now awaits freedom to get back to Empire, but the heartwarming situation was not enough to make Jamal forgive Cookie. Because of this, she left her favorite son with two hard slaps to the face.
Watch the “Empire” season two premiere below:
Follow Tre’ Smith on Twitter @MicrowaveNC.