Episode 202,  Without A Country

Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon and Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon in the “Without A Country” episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Sept. 30 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

I learned a few things during Empire’s second episode last night.

One, did you know that inmates could record tracks in prison and then leak them over the Internet? If you’re Lucious Lyon you can! He dropped a joint from da joint.

Two, Terrence Howard (Lucious) not only looks bad in orange, but he’s a better singer than he is a rapper. But I can’t imagine Wesley Snipes trying to rhyme either.

Three, since almost every writer in Hollyhood has stolen from the Bible, why shouldn’t Empire’s staff follow suit. Cain and Abel are alive and thriving; and on Empire, they’ve got a baby brother.

But while last night’s show was only slightly better than the season opener, which was guilty of trying to cram too much sizzle into 44 minutes, Wednesday’s episode was less snapchatty and easier to follow. That said, there will probably be a lot less bantering about the show around the Keurig machine this morning.

Now that Lucious is out of jail, you can accurately guess what he’s going to be up to—no good.

Some of last night’s highlights included the introduction of Lu’s new lawyer, Thirsty, who overheard Lucious talking with Jamal in the prison visitation room. Thirsty, as his name suggests, is just that. He got his law degree from the University of Guam and wears cheap suits. But since Lucious has a soft spot for hustlers willing to do his bidding and keep the bitchy D.A. in check, Thirsty is hired.

You might remember Thirsty (Andre Royo) from his role as Bubbles on The Wire. Good to see a brother movin’ on up!

Meanwhile, Cookie tries to mend fences between the brothers by getting Jamal to offer an olive branch to Hakeem. That branch, however, comes back to stab him in the back when Hakeem leaks his album online. And, Andre’s wife tries to get Jamal to re-hire her husband by using the baby mama card, knowing that Jamal would be thrilled to learn that he’s about to be an uncle.

He was, but oh well.

Meanwhile, Andre, seemingly on the verge of another breakdown, swallows his pride instead of his medication and begs his father to let him back into the empire. But the sting of Andre’s betrayal is still too fresh for Lucious. It’s hard to blame him. What’s a man to do when his oldest son organized a coup against him to take the company and then sided with his mom in the ill-fated hostile takeover attempt? Poor ‘Dre even tried to use his unborn baby to tap his daddy’s heart to no avail.

Terrence Howard (L) and Ludacris in "Empire"

Terrence Howard and Ludacris in “Empire”

Speaking of medication, the beef between Lucious and Officer McKnight heats up. Not sure what’s really going on here but McKnight revealed that the D.A. was the one withholding his medication. Without it, homie has been coughing and wheezing, and that’s never a good look for a gangsta hip hop mogul.

Cookie was pretty subdued last night. No over-the-top shenanigans—save for interrupting Jamal’s interview. She was busy preparing her dynasty and dissing Anika. In one humbling moment, she’s seen sweeping the floor of her new company, Lyon Dynasty, with Hakeem beside her.

In other events, Lucious finds a way to record and release a track from jail, but only after McKnight steals it and Bubbles uses his outside sources to get it back, while simultaneously ensuring that Lucious will get out of jail free. It appears that the judge at his bail hearing has something to hide.

Top 10 Lines:

“Same curriculum, different campus.” Thirsty to Jamal after Jamal learns that Thirsty got his law degree from the University of Guam.

“You pray to God that he forgives you because I don’t.” Lucious to Andre after Andre begs his father to take him back.

“You’ll never see a penny. I’ll sue the drawals off your black ass.” Jamal to Hakeem after learning his brother leaked his album online.

“The court still validates, right?” Thirsty to the judge after arriving late for Lucious’ bail hearing.

“Forget Lyon’s Den let’s just call this The Pigsty.” Andre to Hakeem after seeing the building Cookie has chosen to launch their new company.

“Let me just translate it bitch. With or without you, I shine.” Valentina to Hakeem after her audition for his girl group.

“Not everybody’s interested in being up your ass.” Officer McKnight (Ludacris) to Lucious.

“Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a couple of J-Lo’s as long as they can really sing.” Cookie to Hakeem, who is concerned that his girl group is all Latina.

“Anika knows marketing. She made a whole career selling her ass.” Cookie dissing her rival to her sons.

“Let me tell you something ho. If it wasn’t for women like me, bitches like you would spend a lifetime on their knees. Or, underneath my 20-year-old son.” Cookie to Anika after Anika makes reference to Cookie’s career in “pharmaceuticals.”