Empire: Unto the Breach
March 4, 2015 10:24 PM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Anika is outed by Cookie as defecting to Billy, and everyone's at war, going all Jerry Maguire in trying to save their stars. Lovely singalongs happen, Cookie gets hella drunk, and Andre loses it.

This week I'll be recapping not by teams, but by movie titles, because I just kept thinking of them.

A Man Betrayed: We start the episode out with Lucious and Anika talking about releasing doves at the wedding--and then Cookie and Porsha barge in, outing Anika as cheating/running to Billy. Within seconds Porsha's outing herself as a spy, Cookie's chucking Anika's wardrobe off the balcony, and Anika's making phone calls to recruit artists away from Empire. (I'm kinda impressed with Porsha on that spying bit.)

Jerry Maguire: Empire's under lockdown! (And at one point, being hacked.) EVERYONE is suddenly trying to keep all of their artists with them instead of them running to Creedmoor Records. Hakeem watches (while pouting a bit) as Lucious and Andre try to keep one pouting Travie Wild, who eventually runs. Cookie goes to Ghetto-Ass Studios again and keeps a client by OUTDRINKING EVERYONE THERE. Later she recruits Hakeem to get in the game by delaying Anika--Hakeem pleads for her to not leave the family while Cookie talks to Tiana. Tiana wants to stay at Empire, but was told by Anika she was going to be dropped. Tiana wants her showmance with Hakeem to be back on again, but Hakeem says he can't lie and he loves Camilla. I'm kinda impressed that Hakeem manned up again. He and his mom even show some unconditional love towards each other.

Duets: Jamal has the best time in this episode, recruiting the classy Delphine (previously rejected by Anika, apparently). They clearly adore each other, sing duets, and jump up and down and touch a LOT while singing. It's adorable. Such a fanboy and fangirl! I ship them already in some way. Lucious doesn't want Delphine--presumably because she's cool with Jamal's gayness. Jamal basically tells him to get the fuck over himself and next thing you know, Jamal and Lucious are hanging with Delphine and her manager.

The Bodyguard: Cookie staggers down the street drunk. A guy goes after her. Malcolm to the rescue! Cookie asks him to "take these cookies!", legs VERY akimbo, but Malcolm is smart enough not to go after the boss's ex when he's still in love with her and giving intense stares. (Amazingly, Cookie sobers right up after this.)

The Godfathers: Lucious and Billy and their respective black SUV's and security men and guns all meet up in the street to yell it out and pull guns on each other. Nobody actually shoots though. Lucious is essentially all "Now you're just sad" to Billy, despite Billy's potshot that Anika mutters Lucious's name in her sleep. (This is probably not something Billy actually knows firsthand.)

Three Men In An Elevator: The brothers Lyon all end up in an elevator together during a hacking attack. Andre is sadly on a manic/losing his shit phase throughout the episode and actually ends up in a fight with his bros in the elevator and going on about how the babies knew nothing. Jamal reminds him of how he used to sing to them and....

Lean On Me: Yes, Andre can sing, at least a bit. They all sing along and hug and it's adorable!...for now.

The Family Lyon: All of that recruiting ends in a giant "You're So Beautiful" family singalong that we were promised earlier. It is absolutely delightful. Lucious plays the piano and Cookie, the boys, Delphine and Tiana hop on in. Up down, up down, up down....

A Fine Madness: Unfortunately Andre's not at that singalong--he's still losing his shit in the boardroom repeatedly. Even yelling out some Wharton business advice for dad: pick the son to run the business WHO KNOWS YOU'RE A MURDERER! By the end of the episode, Andre is loaded away on a stretcher and Rhonda's signing him up for a 48-hour hold.

Quotes from the episode:
"You are in the middle of getting your ass gone." -Cookie
"She's trying to take everything you got, which is everything I got, and I'm not gonna let it happen." -Cookie
"We at war. Quit touching all over each other." --Porsha to Jamal and his new dude.
"Lucious must have loved it." "No." --Delphine and Jamal on his coming out.
"That's what happens when you mess with Cookie!" --guess who
"The way he looks at you, whatever it is, it's too intense."--Malcolm.
"Take these cookies! I won't tell!" --guess who again
"I don't want you to follow me around like a lost puppy." -Lucious to Hakeem
"Your tragedy talks in her sleep. She mumbles your name." --Billy
"He hurts us all sometimes, you know that." -Hakeem to Anika
posted by jenfullmoon (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I see a lot of grousing about the pace in other recaps, but I like the pace. I wish we could have seen Porsha being a double agent instead of being told about it after the fact, but all things considered I'd rather they get right to the fallout than spend an episode showing us what happened between this episode and the previous one. There's only two more weeks left in Season 1, after all!

(Oh, and for those of us who want a Becky/Porsha spinoff, here's our poster. )

I love how Cookie just does not screw around. She goes straight from "Bye Felicia!" to clothes in the dirt in seconds. Anika was never a match for her, but I felt sympathy for her when she told Lucious she was tired -- I have no doubt she's swallowed plenty of hurt for him, and as a reward for all of her loyalty and patience she's wound up with a big ol' plate of nothing and her father's integrity compromised. Lucious is so not worth it, not for her or for Cookie. I did, however, enjoy that after several instances of Lucious blaming his bad behavior on some outside force (like saying Bucky essentially volunteered to be killed by attempting to extort him), Anika pulled the same move on him.

I'm so proud of Jamal and that shiny new backbone of his! Think of that music video near the beginning -- at the time, I thought, is he trying to get a reaction from Lucious? But seeing how he and Lucious interacted over the rest of the episode, I ended up thinking nope, he just seriously does not care anymore and he's ready to start making sexy, genuine music on his own terms. Then there's his line when Lucious was going off on his coming out at the White Party: "Sexual proclivity is what put us in this position." Hah! I'm Team Jamal but this is the first episode I was sold on the idea that he really could run the business if he put his mind to it.

Hakeem picked up a few more points this week, too. I have to admit I was a little charmed by him offering to blow up the building. It was an awful idea in every possible way, of course, but he was so earnest about it. Then he actually played Anika, and though it was almost certainly Cookie's plan he really sold it. He even had a grown-up discussion with Tiana and Cookie! A pretty good showing all and all from the guy who, at the beginning, looked like the least promising of the brothers.

Then there's Andre. I don't think Lucious actually called his wife a bitch, did he? So it was a good representation of his disordered thoughts. Funny, I was glad that Lucious passed the paperwork to Rhonda at the end, because I was thinking that if that was my husband, I'd want to deal with it and he'd want me to deal with it too, not his parents. So to me it seemed like a sign of respect for her position as Andre's wife, whatever he might think of her personally. But was it respect or was it passing the buck? Andre's really dug himself a hole, and I feel for him that he thinks this is the only way that he can be who he is, that this is what it takes for him to be honest and vulnerable with his family. The scene in the elevator was beautiful, and made me think, as I often have before, Lucious did something awful in trying to pit his sons against each other. This interview with Trai Byers was great for understanding what was going through Andre's mind, too.

Things are going awfully fast, but I think we're seeing some of the mines that have been set earlier this season start to explode. Still waiting for something to happen with Cookie's hit on that guy, but I can understand why nothing has yet, because if the person she had killed was the rose guy's man on the outside, it's reasonable it takes a while for rose guy to find a replacement, figure out who did it and how to get back at them all from inside prison. In terms of the story, it's bound to bite her in the ass at the worst possible time -- I'm betting the first part of the two-part finale in two weeks.

This is so cheesy, but... Which character from Empire are you? No, seriously, I want to know. (I'm Andre, apparently. Which is probably right.)
posted by shirobara at 1:26 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I forgot to say, I love the movie title recap theme! Your recaps are the best. I like to read a bunch of them, but I always check FanFare first!

There's a new article up about Rhonda. I find it very interesting that they've focused on her so much with these articles, given that none of the background material has explicitly made it into the shows yet. I mean, of all the characters, whose grade-school teacher do you most want to interview? Cookie, sure, maybe Jamal; who would answer Rhonda? Yet now those of us who seek out this kind of extra information know more about Rhonda than the main characters. Too early to call her as Season 2 Big Bad?
posted by shirobara at 3:06 PM on March 5, 2015

Thank you!!!! I also came out as Andre. I do fit that description...

Thanks for the article on Rhonda, I hadn't seen that one. Ouch! And the Andre-related interview was brilliant. I've been looking around for links related to Empire on that site and wow, good times.

Here's an amusing commentary on all the hip-hop names dropped in this episode. And this one's kind of in favor of Billy.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:02 PM on March 5, 2015

Cookie, Hakeem, Jamal, and Andre have to play what looks like an elaborate game of hip-hop Pokémon against Anika and Baretti.
I'm dying over here. That's the best one-sentence summary of the episode that could ever exist. And yeah, I found myself thinking that, given what we know about how Lucious works (and justifies things to himself), whatever happened with Baretti was probably not as high-stakes and deeply wounding as Lucious has since made it out to be. Did Baretti act in some super shady way, almost certainly, is it worth pulling guns on each other several years later, no probably not.

I liked the Wall Street Journal's evaluation, too. Particularly this line:
And this is why you shouldn’t sleep with, promise to marry, and then betray your single most valuable employee.
posted by shirobara at 7:58 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you thought about doing an Empire FPP? Considering it is smashing all kinds of rating records, dealing with homophobia, mental illness and incarceration and nearing the season finale I think it's noteworthy for sure. We already have a lot of good links -- the WSJ IPO evaluations, the article about being black and married to a white woman (and I think all of that guy's other articles on empire are great too, that's just the one I remember best), the Lyon's Den official articles, the music all available on Spotify. I think it'd be great!
posted by shirobara at 9:48 AM on March 8, 2015

Already happened!
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:28 PM on March 10, 2015

Don't know how I missed that FPP!
Anyways, it's Wednesday, which as of late is my day to stay off Twitter past 6 PM, because I first get the east coast chatter about Empire, then a repeat once it hits the west coast at 9. (I watch the next day online.)
posted by shirobara at 3:16 PM on March 11, 2015

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