Empire: Making the Band

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It’s the morning after the failed hostile takeover. Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), Hakeem (Bryshere Grey), and Andre (Trai Byers) clean out their offices and prepare to launch their own rival music company. Andre points out the business has changed since Cookie last put in her “fo’ hundred thousand” to start up Empire. However, Cookie barrels on, and she and Hakeem get to work poaching artists, finding workspaces, and coming up with their own name.

Cookie and the Lyon cubs return to Ghetto Ass Studios, where Jamal (Jussie Smollett) got his start in season 1, and Cookie is furious that Jamal secretly invited Anika (Grace Gealey) to come along. Cookie quickly kicks her out and returns to Empire’s offices to convince Jamal to release Hakeem’s album to their new company. “All Hakeem’s got is his music,” pleads Cookie. “Lucious is trying to make you like him, but you ain’t him.”

Meanwhile, Lucious is finding out firsthand how much prison healthcare sucks (or how low corrupt prosecutors and prison officials will go to get their way). A prison nurse claims he can’t find Lucious’s medical file and, therefore, can’t give him any of his crucial medication. His new prison gang attempts to cheer him up by freestyling in the yard, but a cruel prison guard (played by Ludacris, who is not playing an inmate for once) puts a stop to their fun. He tells Lucious that if he cooperates with Roxanne Ford, the prosecutor, maybe his medical file will magically reappear.

Watch out, Orange is the New Black! Is Empire going to start tackling corruption in the prison industry?

Instead of focusing on finishing his album, Hakeem decides that he wants to discover new artists for the company. The only good auditionee (and you know she’s good since she’s the only one who got backing music) is Valentina Galindo (Rebecca Marie Gomez), a stereotypical Spicy Latina who yells in Spanish when she finds out she’s competing for a spot in a girl group. “I’m not interested in being part of a group,” declares Valentina. “With or without you, I shine.”

Uh,  without them, you still don’t have a record deal so…

She must have made the same calculation because later in the episode she showed Hakeem a little more about how much she can shine — in a hot tub.

Auditions are interrupted when Andre storms in and yells at Hakeem for holding auditions without telling anyone. “I don’t need your permission!” says Hakeem. “We’re partners now!” Andre asks Cookie to get Hakeem back on track, but Cookie is confident that Jamal will hand back the rights any moment.

The team has a meeting to discuss their progress, and Cookie is annoyed that Anika has been invited again. However, her annoyance temporarily transfers to Hakeem when he announces his plans for his girl group. “I’mma call them Rainbow Sensation,” he says proudly. “That is the dumbest name ever,” snaps Cookie and the entire audience watching at home.

Meanwhile, in prison…

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TV Show: Empire

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