It's a war of the worlds for dueling hip-hop talents as Empire's head honcho Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) begins to witness Hakeem, Andre, Tiana, and even Anika join Cookie's (Taraji P. Henson) newly formed record label inside "Ghetto Ass Studios" on last night's episode of the hit Fox drama. Yes, Cookie may seem to be taking the higher road in pursuit of better pastures, but as the second season's first episode foreshadowed, it's Lucious who's always in control.
Now imprisoned, the music mogul is no longer receiving his medication thanks in large part to a new, dictating correctional officer (Ludacris) and Roxanne Ford, a prosecutor committed to permanently locking the eldest Lyon behind bars. But while the record label's founder is seemingly struggling in jail, things outside of four-walled cells aren't exactly greener. As Jamal sits for an interview with the fictional Spilling the Tea talk show, he and Cookie debate what the future for the talented family holds. She ultimately wants him to release Hakeem's album from Empire control.
Always somewhat unaffected by the situation, Hakeem hosts singing auditions in an effort to start a Destiny's Child–inspired girl group. IRL singer Becky G, who portrays Valentina, impresses him, and the two quickly hit it off. That's not enough, however, to keep the young rapper away from his ex-lover Tiana (Serayah), who is set on staying on Cookie's side.
For the most part, the family takes on a no-play-all-work mentality, but Rhonda brings up personal issues as she not only begs Jamal to welcome Andre back into the company, but also reveals she's pregnant. Back in jail, things aren't so bright for Ludacris's character. Lucious manages to privately record a song, find medication from a new, eager to please lawyer, and ultimately gets the guard seriously hurt.
Next, Hakeem independently releases his album online, a move that could potentially create legal problems with Empire, while Andre decides to leave Cookie's new label, which she appropriately dubbed Lyon Dynasty. Just as the matriarch rents a new, start-up like warehouse for her company, Luscious denies Andre a return to Empire and subsequently drops a soon-to-be-hit song on the radio—the one he recorded behind bars. A flashback sequence pans to Kelly Rowland, who portrays Luscious's mother, and we begin to receive more insight into his dark past.
And though naysayers were confident in the safety of Luscious's imprisonment, the tables rapidly turn. His new lawyer presents blackmail-worthy evidence to an S&M-loving judge who ultimately has no choice but to release Empire's main force on bail. So how will he react to all of his family's changes the minute he's back in the free world? We'll have to tune in next Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.