The King is dead. Long live the King!

It is fitting that on the eve of celebrations for the queen of England's 90th birthday, we are given an "Empire" episode deep in intrigue and war worthy of a royal coup, as we deal with the continuous question of who will be crowned heir to the Empire.


Let's first discuss the crazy train of Anika, otherwise known as Hakeem's baby mama, who drops the bomb of her pregnancy during an unplanned (yeah, OK) Andre and Rhonda reconciliation. This girl knows how to steal a scene.

While we're all glued to what would have been a teary-eyed game of "I LOVE YOU," "I LOVE YOU MORE" between the recently separated Rhonda and Andre, we hear the lovely background noises of Anika vomiting in a hallway bathroom, door wide open. Sensing the perfect moment, Anika delivers her "I'm pregnant with the heir of Empire" line as the camera pans out to an emotionally devastated Rhonda. The drama here is full-on telenovela style.

With the cat out of the bag, Rhonda and Dre decide to hold a family meeting, ostensibly to speak about the Empire shareholder meeting, but SURPRISE — it's the Anika show. Now having told the entire family about her pregnancy, chaos completely ensues.

Hakeem denies paternity. Anika reminds everyone she slept with both the father and son and is now pregnant with the grandchild of the son's father (ew). Cookie is slapping faces (usual). Thirsty (yes, he's back), is all "But I just stalkerish-ly pulled hair from a little girl's head on a St. Louis playground to determine Jamal has no daughter" (yes, this happened). And finally, Rhonda tells everyone she's forcing Anika to keep the baby. The only thing this scene is missing is a priest admitting he's sleeping with the daughter of the local magistrate's brother, who is also somehow his own mother.

Did you get all that? Good. Now off to Heir No. 2.

Back over at the offices of Empire, Jamal is in the throes of recording his new album's collaboration with Freda Gatz, but Cookie is having none of it after learning last week that Freda is Frank Gather's daughter.

I almost don't blame Cookie after watching Freda beat the crap out of a man for sitting in her father's barbershop chair, but they do make beautiful music together, so, meh?

Also, let's take a time out and discuss why Freda is working at a barbershop. Seriously, I'm asking why? My understanding is she was signed to Empire's label in early Season 2, so she can't be hurting for money. Unless of course she spent it all on those amazing leather jackets we continuously see her sporting, but even then, she'd had to have purchased close to 100 leather bombers from Dolce and Gabbana to blow that kind of money.

Does she need street cred? Is it to memorialize her father who was murdered by Lucious and Cookie (which she still doesn't know)? WHY ARE YOU CUTTING HAIR INSTEAD OF RECORDING, FREDA? OK. I'm done. Moving on.

So Freda is back and Jamal won't quit, until the entrance of Ms. Stacey Run-Run. Stacey Run-RUn is essentially a caricature of Nicki Minaj, but it works. Cookie thinks she found a way to rid herself of Freda by signing Stacey to collaborate with Jamal ahead of the awards show due to Run-Run's exclusivity contract clause. A Stacey Run-Run means no Freda Gatz.

What Cookie didn't plan on was Jamal's real affinity for Freda's talent and their potential musical success. Once Stacey couldn't make it to the recording studio in person, we see Jamal right back at the barbershop begging for a duet with Freda. Does Freda relent? We don't know yet, but my bet is on a "Yes."

On to the next heir, the Shareholder Heir

Tonight's big Empire (the business, that is) scene is the lead up to, and eventual main act of, the annual shareholders meeting. It's here we meet the big and small co-owners of Empire, which apparently include a Kansas school teacher who's never heard of a classroom budget she didn't hate (nice political aside there, Lee Daniels), and an older, balding white guy who likes to fist-pump to music by Tiana (who has forgone her beautiful curls for some keratin flat-ironing – UGH).

In the weeks and days leading up to the annual meeting, Cookie, Dre, Jamal and many others spend their time coaching Hakeem on what to say, how to respond and, more importantly, what not to say. Keem is receptive and an eager student, but Lucious (as usual), instead of being supportive of his sons and family, tries to trick his way back into the role of Empire CEO.


To that effect, he steals the designs for the clothing line of Antony and Cleopatra to be displayed in partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue, plants drugs on Tiana and Laura's tour buses, then proceeds to tip off the police, leading to raids, confiscation of buses and performance equipment, and ultimately the canceling of several shows. This man is easy to hate.

Cookie tries her best to save Hakeem, but in the end, Lucious twists the knife deep by taking the floor during the actual shareholder meeting, and whipping the crowd into a frenzy of reinstating him.

Later, we watch as a downtrodden and defeated Hakeem exits the board meeting to announce to Ma and Pa Lyon that he was removed, the board voted to re-throne Lucious as CEO on behalf of the shareholders.

Lucious has won the day, but would it kill him to be nice, and gracious to his son, as most of us learned in Little League baseball? Yes, yes, it apparently would kill him; otherwise he would not have stated, "You can tell your kids how you ran Empire for 10 minutes" to Hakeem. Swift kick, meet teeth.

The king is dead. Long live the king! Lucious is back on top, but for how long? All of his kids hate him, and even Dre, who sold out Hakeem to help Lucious (but for his own reasons, mainly to get Rhonda back), still dislikes their family and father. Cookie is almost meek at the end — too meek — leading one to wonder how she'll ultimately respond to this after a decent amount of processing time.

For the final scene this week, we have a surprise visit by Lucious to Anika's apartment, and it's not a friendly, "Three's Company" kind of visit. No, this house call was to threaten, intimidate, cajole, and at one point — maybe — rid the Lyons of Anika for good.

Lucious has a secret key, lets himself in, and is taunting Anika with a stuffed lion (Lyon, get it? #theworst). He asks Anika to take $10 million in exchange for giving up her child to Hakeem to raise without her. She seems tempted for a very, very brief moment, but responds that no money in the world would tempt her to give up the male heir to Empire. Yep, ladies and gentlemen, it's a boy! If she weren't so mentally unstable, I'd be happy for her.

Slightly thrown off by her admission she's carrying a boy, Lucious proceeds to use everything but force to make her submit. Anika — never one to back down — threatens to go to the FBI to tell them everything she didn't tell them last season about Lucious: "I lived with you, worked with you, was at your side for five years. I know things you don't know I know." You can only imagine how this excites a non-paranoid Lucious, and he responds with a chilling, "A lot of women don't survive childbirth…" with a knowing glance.

Fingers on chalkboards, these two.


I highly doubt Anika would really never cave in for money. This is Anika we're talking about. She's not exactly the most sentimental, family-oriented person out there. Also, I do believe Lucious will kill her. If not, she somehow becomes his mistress again and the whole father-son-grandson-son-father love box becomes EVEN WEIRDER. Only time will tell, but there will be an heir one way or another.

Did I say the above scene was the final scene involving heirs tonight? Well, red herring. Our best, final and most riveting event tonight was the realization Mama Walker is … wait for it … wait for it … ALIVE!!!!

Lucious made the whole thing up. Not the part about his mother being bipolar — no, sadly for Dre that is true it seems — but the part about his mom shooting herself in front of him as a child, and him fleeing home to live on the streets, sleep under a stone statue of a lion and ultimately being reborn as Lucious Lyon, music mogul and ruler of Empire.

Why is this important? Lucious has built his entire life success on a lie. A lie that had big consequences. Once this gets out, the public will realize they have been played and shareholders may turn on him; especially now that he's released a new music video based on "his truth" as an artist and family man that clearly highlights his mother's suicide as a turning point for him.

Also, is anyone surprised Thirsty is somehow involved in this? Nope. I can't wait to get back into the home they shoved that poor woman into and hopefully see more of her next week.

Best line of the night: "This family uses the word heir like we're in a Shakespearean play"

Best dressed: Cookie in her dazzling, gold sequin, Cleopatra-inspired gown at the shareholder meeting. All she needed was an asp-themed necklace. Or maybe a real asp to throw at Lucious.