Tonight’s mid-season finale of Empire did what it was supposed to do—left us craving whatever will come when it picks back up in March.
The episode opens with Cookie riding for Angelo Dubois, who is running for mayor. Cookie gave a speech at one of his rallies, because the press was on her with nosey questions so she set the record straight. She managed to convince the people that bourgie Angelo is a man of the people and to prove it, she claimed that he’s rebranding the Captain’s Ball. Instead of having it in some hoity-toity place, it’s going to be in the hood, for the people, with Jamal set to perform (and a general roster of Empire artists. You know Mama Dubois is not feeling that).
Tariq figured out who the mysterious initials belonged to in that wire transfer email that he intercepted after the hack, which was sent just before Frank Gathers died. It was all he needed to sanction a freeze Empire’s assets. His co-worker responsible for setting up the freeze told him that this better not be personal (because it’s obvious that it’s personal), and Tariq lied and said it wasn’t.
Mama Dubois linked up with Lucious to get him to coerce a journalist into not publishing an article that could destroy Angelo’s chances for mayor. He agreed, but only if she can get Angelo to break up with Cookie. They shook on it. Lucious meets up with the journalist later on, and low-key threatens him. It seems like the journo got the hint.
Cookie shook down Jamal for all of his painkillers in an effort to get him clean and sober for his big performance. She is determined to get him healthy and back in the game.
Back to Mama Dubois…
The gag is, she’s thankful for what Lucious did, but Cookie’s speech shot Angelo’s approval ratings up and it’s being called “The Cookie Effect,” so Mama Angela reneged on the deal. Lucious was pissed so Mama Dubois said she could offer him something else—a position as an ambassador or something along those lines in government. Lucious didn’t take her offer. Instead he said he’d offer a contribution to Angelo’s campaign. Yeah right.
When has Lucious ever bowed out gracefully?
Cookie discovers that Empire’s assets were frozen and complained to Lucious that she can’t use her credit cards. She panics because she’s not trying to go back to jail. Lucious says that he and Thirsty are the only ones who know about this at the moment, but he has someone working on the inside with the feds so it’s only a matter of time before they get some intel on what’s going on.
Cut to Lucious and Thirsty’s visit to Tariq’s office. He turned himself in saying, “You want me? Here I am.” This is a grandstand. Basically, Lucious pulled out their father’s badge and let it be known that Tariq is harboring bitter feelings against him since their father abandoned him (because he was the side baby). The agents around them were surprised that Lucious and Tariq were brothers because Tariq never mentioned it.
Shyne got wind of the asset freeze, because he can’t use his money from Empire, and Lucious filled him in on what happened. Shyne offers to raise 50 millie to help out (he has legal assets that he could actually liquidate, etc), but there’s a catch. Shyne wants a stake in Empire in order to make this official. Lucious isn’t with it at first, but he stands to lose a lot, particularly Empire Streaming, so most likely it will be a go.
Dre has been having a bi-polar episode during this episode. If you recall, his late wife Rhonda has been visiting him. Toward the end of the episode, he had a conversation with her where he asked her to let him go. Rhonda agreed, but not before telling him to make Nessa a superstar, that he is more ruthless than his brothers and father, and that he better destroy Anika for murdering her and killing their child. Dre agreed, and then Rhonda walked toward the ocean until she disappeared, while wearing a flowy white dress.
— IMAN Cosmetics (@IMANcosmetics) December 15, 2016
Jamal made it to the Captain’s Ball and actually killed his performance, but his family sent him straight to rehab after his set and he didn’t have a say in the matter, even though he tried to protest. Also at the ball, Tariq confronted Shyne about helping Lucious financially. As you know, he has been giving up information to Tariq, but it looks like Tariq may have been double-crossed. Shyne is out for Shyne, and he’s starting to get in really good with Empire, especially now that he has his own imprint.
After the ball, we see Cookie, Angelo, Mama Dubois and Lucious walking toward their rides home. Remember that journalist from earlier? Well, he popped up with a mic and asked Angelo about his DUI, which was part of the story that was going to be published. Lucious engineered this, and we know because he’s standing there with that signature smirk of his.
Cookie tried to save him by mentioning all the successful politicians before him who have had substance abuse in their past, Bush with a DUI, Obama with weed, etc. But the thing with Angelo is, he jumped out of a car to save himself and left the passenger to die. That definitely doesn’t look good.
The episode wraps with Dre confronting Shyne because he found out that Shyne conspired with Tariq to set Empire up for the asset freeze, and claimed he could prove it. You know Lucious hates a snitch, so you would think Shyne would fall in line, but he doesn’t back down. However, Dre is planning to work with him. Dre said that if Shyne gives him control of Nessa as an artist, then he’ll keep quiet until it’s time for them to kill Lucious. Rhonda’s ghost put that battery in his back. It’s about to go down.
See you in March.