On Wednesday (Sept. 23) night, FOX's hit series Empire returned to the small screen. As expected, the season opener was full of suspense, drama, eye-catching fashion and possible chart-topping music. Episode one of Season 2, appropriately titled "How The Cookie Crumbles," picked up where the first season ended. Lucious (Terrance Howard) is behind bars and his family continues to battle each other for control over the company. We've recapped five of the best moments from the episode below.
"How The Cookie Crumbles" got off to a captivating and thought provoking start with Cookie, played by Taraji P. Henson, throwing a #FreeLucious concert and slamming the American prison system. While dressed in a gorilla suit in a cage, Cookie delivered a speech calling for equality and justice for those effected by mass incarceration. Jamal (Jussie Smollet) and Hakeem Lyon (Yazz) also took the stage for a performance alongside producer Swizz Beatz. Elsewhere, Reverend Al Sharpton and CNN anchor Don Lemon made appearances as well.
Miss Lawrence, an Atlanta singer and hair stylist who co-hosted Bravo’s Fashion Queens, shared some camera time with Jamal and Gabourey Sidibie, who plays Lucious’ assistant Becky. During the extended cameo, Lawrence exchanged a few lines and delivered a powerful rendition of the disco classic “You Make Me Feel (Might Real)” by Sylvester.
As Lucious serves his time behind bars, he strategizes how to maintain his company with outside help from his son Jamal, whom he put in charge last season. Being in prison apparently has no effect on the things the music mogul is capable of. In typical Lucious nature, he outsmarts everyone, pulls a boss move and shuts down the hostile takeover, which Cookie thought she secured with a potential investor Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei) putting up $250 million towards Empire Entertainment. As quickly as she entered the picture, Whiteman switches sides joining Jamal and Lucious, but not before she uses Anika, also known as Boo Boo Kitty, as a sexual plaything.
While juggling his new business affairs with Whiteman, Lucious is faced with yet another hiccup involving Cookie. During lockup, he is reunited with Frank Gathers (Chris Rock), their boss from their drug-running days. Gathers soon learns that it was Cookie who ratted him out and had one of his goons killed last season. A box containing the head of Cookie’s cousin is delivered to her apartment door and in a panic, she visits Lucious in jail, which ultimately leads to Gathers’ slow, painful murder at the hands of several inmates.
Aside from the drama slated to go down this season, viewers have also been anticipating new music from the cast. In addition to his performance with his on-screen brother Hakeem, Jamal makes his return to the studio and shares a new heartfelt ballad. Surprisingly, he has a new attitude, which Cookie says resembles the cold-heartedness of Lucious.
Empire airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX.