Empire: Without A Country
September 30, 2015 11:07 PM - Season 2, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Team Takeover works on starting up a new business, while most of them seem to debate whether or not they want to come back to Empire. Hakeem hangs out with the ladies and breaks the law. Lucious gets harassed in prison and has his drugs taken away--and then gets a very interesting lawyer to fight that shit and help him record in prison.

Team Cookie: As Cookie, Andre, and Hakeem pack their shit outta Empire, Cookie decides to start their own company, first taking over Ghetto Ass Studios and later getting a lease on property previously owned by a Hasidim dynasty. They ponder names, and when Andre spots Ghetto Ass he says, "Let's just call it the Pigsty." Cookie says, "You ain't born with your name, you grow into it." It's her time now, and it'll live up to its name. A few other folks are suggested for poaching, but Tiana is definitely down with following Cookie.
By the end of the episode, Cookie gets a lease on a building that used to be owned by the Vizhnitz Dynasty. "Dynasty, that's a dope name," Cookie says, and renames the company "Lyon Dynasty." She and Hakeem are cleaning up the joint and doing their best to make moves before Lucious gets out of jail by the end of the episode, as they listen to him singing on the radio (see below).

Team Anika: Not a good week for her--she's got some singer named V on the string, but Cookie refuses to take her on, saying she doesn't trust her lying ass. Her sons argue for Anika and her marketing skillz, but so far, no dice.

Team Lucious: Oh, look, your authorization form is missing from your file. No more drugs for you right now, buddy, better call your lawyer. While Lucious is rapping out in the yard (mentioning his partner Clyde a lot, and "snitching ass bitches"), his voice starts to go again and he gets coughy and twitchy. He spends the episode being harassed by a dick guard named McKnight who is pals with that attorney in the previous episode.
While visiting with Jamal in prison (see below), Lucious announces that he wants to do a recording from prison. A guy in a lavender suit(!) overhears them at the next table and offers them his card and legal services. Meet Thurston "Thirsty" Rawlings, who straight up admits his degree is from the University of Guam. Jamal is all, "I ain't trying to knock nobody's hustle, but University of Guam with the discount suit?" Thirsty doesn't care, but he is aware of what's happening with that attorney and he has no qualms about fighting back. Set up a meeting!
Thirsty does good work for Lucious: he gets his drugs back, a friendly guard sets him up with an impromptu recording session in a storage room (of course, they get busted and Lucious is hauled to solitary right after recording), and Tricky has thugs that beat up McKnight afterwards and make sure they get the laptop with the recording on it so it hits the radio.
By the end of the episode, Tricky gets blackmail shots of the judge bound and gagged, and Lucious is out on a million dollar bail.

Team Jamal: Jamal sings a love song with Michael in the room and does an interview for "Spilling the Tea," in which he talks about how he's pretty busy trying to make smart business decisions. Cookie barges in and asks him to let Hakeem have his album back and oh yeah, we're starting our own company. Jamal considers it, but of course he talks to Lucious and Lucious says Hakeem will have to rejoin Empire if he wants it back. Jamal makes a personal appeal to Hakeem to come back, dad wants you back, we're family, etc. Hakeem is all, are you bringing back Mom and Andre? One step at a time, says Jamal. But....see below.

Team Hakeem: Hakeem now wants to form his own version of Destiny's Child: one white girl, one black girl, and one Hispanic girl and call it "The Rainbow Sensation." "That might be the dumbest name I ever heard," Cookie says, asking if Lucious dropped him on his head as a baby. These plans get a little derail-y when (a) he finds two Latina girls but no Beyonce (Andre points out that an all Latina gang would be hot), (b) he meets and hops in the hot tub with a Latina girl named Valentina who wants to be a star, and (c) Hakeem asks Tiana to be his Beyonce and she says no to that. "But I"m already in the front of my own situation."
Jamal tries to sweet talk Hakeem into rejoining Empire, but so far Hakeem refuses. Cookie wants Hakeem to record new songs if they can't get his album back from Jamal, but says she will understand if Hakeem leaves. ("Taking your rainbow abomination with you?" Andre asks), but Hakeem won't leave and says he's gonna be hip hop legendary on his own. As for his album, Hakeem basically is all, I don't care, I just want the music out there, and leaks his own album. Isn't that illegal? I don't know and I don't care! Andre is so pissed off at Hakeem's stupid that he quits on the spot.
Jamal writes a song for Hakeem with the lines "saying sorry just don't cut it" and says he wrote it for Hakeem. Hakeem takes NO hints and says he won't come back, and he leaked his album. Jamal says he'll sue the pants off his ass. Hakeem is all, tell Dad when I get to Madison Square Garden, I'll get you VIP tickets.

Team Rhondre: Rhonda goes "secretly" to Jamal begging him to take Andre back and oh, btw, she's pregnant. Jamal is quite sympathetic. Andre, after stomping off in a huff saying that basically he can't do this small time "scrappy" business thing and his heart's not in it, goes to prison and begs Lucious's forgiveness. Lucious refuses to forgive him ("You pray to God that he forgives you, because I don't.") and Andre is all, you hated Jamal for being gay and you give him a company, and Hakeem slept with your fiance and you'll let him back, but you won't let ME?! Do you hate me? Am I some kind of mutant? At which point Lucious has some random flashback as a little kid to his mother singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to him and gets strangely distracted. (HUH?) Lucious just says, "I don't hate you" and walks off, never answering the damn question.
Seriously, this can't ALL be about Andre marrying a white woman, is it?!

Discussion questions for the episode:
Is "snitch, bitch, snitching ass bitch" better or worse than anything Hakeem has recorded about women?
Does anyone remember who this "Clyde" is that Lucious keeps dropping the name of?
Why the hell does Lucious hate Andre more than the other kids? Lack of musical talent? White wife? Some weird shit having to do with that weird flashback?
Is "The Rainbow Abomination" (a) a good name for a rock band, (b) a good way to discuss the horrors of the Muppets turning into assholes, or (c) something that sounds suspiciously enough like a hate group that it's no longer a funny band name?

Quote Corner:
"Let me just translate a bitch: with or without you, I shine." --Valentina.
"I'm trying to be a legend, aren't you?" --Valentina
"Yeah, I double checked before I cracked his ribs." --random flunky getting the laptop back
"Our little Dynasty's gonna crush your Empire." -Hakeem.
"This is supposed to be our new kingdom?" -Hakeem to Cookie on the new digs.
"I think I've seen enough." --the judge looking at the photos of himself. I think we all agree on that.
posted by jenfullmoon (3 comments total)
Another question (I-am-old-and-squareFilter):
So, that partly-sheer, skin-colored bodysuit thing that Tiana was wearing over bikini-type bottoms and under a tank top ... is ... is that a thing now?

Cause, yeah, kinda hot, in that at first glance it looks like "NO PANTS ON!" but then I was all "Wait. Wha?" at the Barbie-doll-featureless-crotch vibe, and that weird zipper up the back, and the bagginess around the arms.

Loved the song she was singing during that dance number, though.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 9:24 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

At which point Lucious has some random flashback as a little kid to his mother singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to him and gets strangely distracted. (HUH?) Lucious just says, "I don't hate you" and walks off, never answering the damn question.
Seriously, this can't ALL be about Andre marrying a white woman, is it?!

A lot of people on Twitter (me included at first) misread this as Andre's flashback, meaning that Cookie was not Andre's mother. This is, of course, super wrong, and with it being Lucious's flashback of his own mother, others suggested it signified that Lucious's mentally ill mother is why he can't trust Andre. I like this read because Lucious being horrible to Andre over his mental illness due to Lucious's own painful past is a lot better than him just being a dick for dick's sake.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:57 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

That does make more sense, though I didn't pick up that his mother was mentally ill from that, she just seemed distracted by something.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:55 PM on October 1, 2015

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