Welcome to the latest edition of "As The Family Kills," our prime-time Wednesday night show on which we watch a dysfunctional family continuously plot, scheme, and murder everyone! Just like the typical family reunion downy ocean.

We begin the most recent episode of "Empire" with Hakeem on a bender, attempting to adjust to "that single life," by basically renting out every stripper in NYC for a private performance, complete with a gunlike machine that shoots out Benjamins like it's free T-shirt night at Camden Yards. Yeah, I want to be at that club.


There was literally, not figuratively, a stripper grabbing handfuls of cash off the floor and stuffing them into a bag. I am seriously asking myself what I did wrong in a previous life to not have friends like these.

The cap to the stripper-binge arrives when Laura (who apparently did not break up with Hakeem), shows up to da club after repeated attempts to call his cellphone. In what could have been a touching reunion and moment of forgiveness, Hakeem confesses to Laura that he is also Anika's baby daddy. BOOM. There went the reconciliation. Laura is understandably upset, and shows that anger with a two-step slap, followed by a dramatic exit from Hakeem and "those thirsty [expletives]."

While Hakeem is reeling from what ends up being a false breakup — going all out with his buddies to mourn the loss of the luscious Laura — the battle for the American Sound Awards continues to heat up, pitting Jamal against Lucious, with Cookie and Andre as boxing ring coaches.

Before we get into that battle royale, let's all breathe a sigh of relief at the return of Dora the Explorer (still one of Cookie's best lines) and my favorite, Michael! It's a shame he has been relegated to the stereotypical New York cater-waiter role, but, hey, as long as he's back!

After meeting in the lobby of Empire, vis-à-vis the witticisms of the fabulous Becky (Gabourey Sidibe), Michael invites Jamal to talk (SQUEE) during his break at a local coffee shop/bar.

I didn't catch the name of this dive, but I'm pretty sure it's an updated Central Perk from that somewhat of a big deal TV show called "Friends." Orange walls? Check. Dark lighting? Check. Odd mismatched wood furniture? Check. This place is definitely the 2016 of Central Perk coffee houses.

During what I can only pray is a reconciliation date that leads to marriage and babies, Jamal decides to accept a spontaneous invite to hop onto stage, and we're treated to a wonderful soul song that leaves Michael slightly wet in the face. *Swoon*

Meanwhile, back at the evil lair … I mean, Empire ... Cookie and Lucious exchange a few eye-rolls and witty barbs over a potential new flame for Lucious, the gorgeous music journalist Harper (Annie Ilonzeh). Harper is ostensibly tagging along with every Lucious move to profile him for an exclusive, but Lucious, being Lucious, seduces Harper into a night of awkward, fully clothed sex slapping and choking. To each their own, but Lucious makes everything 20 times more weird.

Not to fret though! Cookie saves the day by interrupting sex-slap time with the urgent news that Anika has been hospitalized and the heir to the Empire is in danger. We aren't told specifically what happened, what is wrong with Anika (sorry, Boo Boo Kitty), or if we can expect more baby troubles, which is kind of frustrating after the whole Anika-kills-Rhonda's-baby thing this winter.

Never to let an opportunity for dramatic flair pass by, the hospital becomes the perfect setting for Anika's mom to inform Cookie of Lucious' previous involvement in having her husband commit medical fraud so Lucious had a "clean bill of health" to take Empire public at the IPO launch.

Not to be let down, the grandmother(s) inform Hakeem of what at this point nobody should expect to be atypical Lucious behavior. Hakeem proceeds to confront Lucious, but being the silky snake he is, Lucious turns what should be an egregious medical felony confession into a father-son bonding moment. Only Lucious.

We end the hospital visit with a sleeping but improving Anika, being watched over by a maturing Hakeem. The last person we expect to see enter Boo Boo Kitty's room is Laura … but SURPRISE. Laura and Hakeem make up after Laura informs him his dad called her to tell her he "respects the man" his son is growing into. Cue ring the size off the Titanic iceberg back onto Laura's finger. It only took near death to bring these two back together, but hey, we're here.

Now for the good stuff.

Circling back to that whole Jamal vs. Lucious ASA rivalry, Cookie and Lucious decide to hold a monster party for the shareholders and select guests to drum up more support for the ASA award process. Here, Dre actually comes up with a great idea — he wants to not only throw the party, but stage it as a fundraiser for the National Alliance for Bipolar Disorder. The party is a success, tons of money is raised, and everyone is happy.


Well, everyone but Harper, who finds out she was dissed and her story on Lucious was not exclusive. There's an expression that goes something like, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," and she thankfully does not disappoint. After learning she's lost her scoop, Harper knowingly hands Dre an envelope containing photos of Lucious' still very much alive mother, Leah Walker. Dre, naturally, becomes confused and upset, as he believed she committed suicide when Lucious was young (House of Lies!). Dre flees the scene for what we assume is Philly.

In the same scene, we overhear Lucious smack-talking Jamal to the shareholders, who overhears this himself. Not thrilled at listening to his father downgrade his skills as an artist, Jamal also jumps ship (although sadly not into the gorgeous loving arms of Michael).

Standing on stage with shareholders watching and waiting, Cookie announces that to bring the shareholders together and boost profits, the Lyon family will not only present an ASA, but perform onstage, all together, for the first time in history.

Clearly, this makes all the middle-aged white people thrilled, who then one-up the shocking revelation that Lucious' mother is still alive by informing Cookie and Lucious the shareholders have decided to make them co-CEOs. Moving forward, Lucious and Cookie will be the co-owners of Empire, and co-decision makers of alllllll things Empire. While Lucious consents to this proposal and seems outwardly happy, we end the episode with what cannot be called other than a "I will drown the kitten in her own cream" look. Shivers. Chills. RUN AWAY, COOKIE! RUN!.