‘Empire’ Season 1, Episode 9 Recap: Anika Betrays Lucious, Andre Has a Mental Breakdown, Estelle Shows Up
It usually takes a minute -- or five depending on which character is leading the scene -- for things to heat up during Empire, but Anika, aka Boo Boo Kitty, had things popping before producers could even get the theme song rolling. If you're an avid Lucious-loves-Cookie viewer, then you know Anika made her way to Billy Baretti, her fiance's executive rival. This is for a little payback -- you know, since Anika found out her soon-to-be husband was bending his ex-wife over a few soundboards and speakers last week. But (figuratively) sleeping with the enemy can only bring on the the wrath of war.
As the show opens with Anika and Lucious finalizing their million-dollar wedding with their wedding planner, Cookie storms in screaming, "She's playing you," to her ex-husband. Wasting no time, Cookie lets Mr. Lyon know his fiancee is playing with the enemy and for once, Anika has nothing smart to say. She simply stands up, grabs her coat and exits stage left while Cookie and Porsha help throw her things on Lucious' front lawn. Anika sells Lucious out to Billy Baretti and his Creedmoor Records company without realizing she's igniting a scene from Olympus Has Fallen. But in this case, the Empire strikes back.
Lucious makes it known that "Empire is built on family." With that mindset, the Lyon family finally finds a reason to put all differences aside and come together to protect what's theirs. In this case, their artists, their legacy and their money -- not necessarily in that order. With a little motivational push from Billy Baretti, Anika tries to single-handedly steal the Empire roster in an attempt to hurt Lucious the way she felt after walking in on him and Cookie getting down and dirty in their home. But viewers should know things aren't going to be that easy.
When it comes to Lucious, preaching family and meaning it are two different things. The king of Empire is concerned Jamal's "coming out" performance during the all-white party is working as a catalyst for Anika to win over artists who don't want to be associated with a label that permits an heir to "let their freak flag fly," as Lucious puts it. Thus, the father of three doesn't want to hear anything Jamal has to say when it comes to saving the company.
Instead of allowing Hakeem to be proactive, Lucious tells his youngest son to sit back and take note on how an executive handles a crisis. Lucious seeks counsel from his eldest son, Andre, for some creative sway tactics to keep key artist on board, but Dre is often nowhere to be found. In fact, he's on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Before the war breaks out, Andre decides to flush his medication down the toilet. When Hakeem and Jamal do find their brother, it's on an elevator that ultimately gets stuck after Baretti's team hacks into Empire's security system. There, Hakeem and Jamal see the beginning of Andre's fall to rock bottom.
With lights out and a suspended elevator, Andre has a complete mental breakdown. His brothers try to calm him down by rapping and singing "Lean On Me," the song Dre used to sing to them when they were babies. And for once, audiences across the country finally get to watch the Lyon brothers come together as a family. But when it comes to this familial line, some songs can only do so much.
Andre's breakdown continues after he's freed from the elevator, and Lucious, his wife and security opt to call 911 and commit Andre to a 48-hour hold in a psychiatric facility. But the real question here is, did anyone other than his wife know he was sick? Well, if you stuck around for next week's preview then it's easy to know the answer is "No."
On a lighter note, Estelle is this week's celebrity appearance, starring as three-time-platinum artist Delphine. And with the help of his mother, Jamal convinces Lucious to listen to him for once and keep Empire alive with the help of Delphine's voice -- and signing, of course. Jamal's convincing line is powerful. "Put aside your played out homophobia unless it's more important to you than Empire," he says. Jamal finally finds a way to step to his dad by speaking a language he knows Lucious will understand. Which is more important: saving your company or being embarrassed that you have a gay son?
Empire was built on family, remember that.
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