‘Empire’ recap: Camilla helps Hakeem take the throne, but Cookie’s got a plan of her own


After an entirely too long hiatus, the world of Empire Entertainment has returned with its spring premiere of Season 2, "Death Will Have His Way." And as expected, the drama is still high.

We begin with Rhonda, whose body lies prostrate and bloodied after being hurled down her and Andre's home stairs. As she turns over in pain, the silhouette of the assailant steps over her body to walk out the door. The only clue we have as to who it is is a pair of red-bottomed flats.

Do remember that the figure is quite possibly Anika. She went bat crazy at the start of the season when both Hakeem and Lucious rejected her. After finding out she was pregnant following an impromptu booty call with the youngest Lyon, and observing how Rhonda's baby was used to get Andre back in father Lyon's good graces, we saw a devious plot form in Anika's eyes.

While Rhonda waits for the police to take her to the hospital, the final vote by Hakeem has been cast to remove Lucious as CEO — prompted by Camilla (Naomi Campbell) whose wife, Mimi (Marisa Tomei), gifted her the controlling stake of Empire. Hakeem's hope is that he will become the new CEO, but that won't happen if Lucious has anything to do with it.

By the time Hakeem gets home, Cookie is waiting for him in his living room, broom in hand. After imploring him to take back his betraying vote, she breaks the broom over his back. She then picks up her purse to continue the beating. And like the child he is, Hakeem curls into a fetal position until it ends.

The family coalesces at the hospital once they get the news of Rhonda's mishap — Hakeem comes too, but isn't welcomed for obvious reasons. Though Rhonda prayed to God mid-pain to save the baby instead of her, the heir to the Lyon throne doesn't make it. This causes Rhonda to question the existence of God, and in the face of her super-Christian husband, Andre.

Meanwhile, Lucious is plotting to take back the Empire. While loading a gun in his closet, he tells Cookie that if Hakeem becomes CEO, "he won't make it," meaning Lucious will kill his own son. But nobody messes with Cookie's boys. Mother Lyon asks Lucious to hold off on any action for 48 hours while she figures out a way to get back into Empire and begin a take-back — because though the label Lyon Dynasty is her (and Hakeem's) company, Empire is their legacy.

On Camilla's first day in charge, she reveals to Hakeem that she would like him to be CEO, but he's got to fight for it against all the other board members who are interested. Oh, and he has to break up with Laura, the lead singer of his Latin Destiny's Child knockoff menage a trois. But Hakeem thinks he's in love.

Cookie then launches her plan. She wants Empire to acquire Lyon Dynasty. Camilla emphatically declines as Hakeem decides to break up with Laura.

Luckily, or not so luckily, Lucious didn't wait. He calls a meeting of his goons at Leviticus, the club he owns. The plan is to intimidate all of the candidates for the Empire CEO role by any means necessary, but "nothing illegal, like murder" — though we know Lucious, himself, is not above that either.

The group carries out their orders: A woman's cat is lynched, a man's car is blown up and another one's arm is broken and eye blackened.

At the same time Empire is going through said changes, Jamal and Lucious are battling for the American Sound Award for Song of the Year.

Reminder: Jamal has received a number of nominations. But the Song of the Year one is important because it's a nomination that Lucious never got — until this year, for "Boom Boom Boom Boom." This happenstance continues a feud between Lucious and Jameson, Jamal's manager who hates Lucious' homophobic ways.

As Jameson continues his efforts to make Jamal the biggest Lyon to date, he finds himself conflicted following Jamal's booty call with Skye (Alicia Keys). Jameson believes this dip in the lady pond conflicts with Jamal's brand as the gay crooner. Jamal, however, affirms his gayness, or rather his decision to sleep with whomever he wants, when he wants.

Cookie lends her voice to the situation, landing on Jameson's side that Jamal's gay identity could be the thing that allows him to edge out Lucious for the big award. She tells him it's time to "get your gay back."

But Jamal, again, isn't having it. After all, he says, "sexuality is fluid."

Back at Empire, Cookie takes another stab at getting on the inside. This time, Jamal and Andre are at her side. Here's the situation: Jamal's album is technically a joint venture between Empire and Lyon Dynasty. Because there were no specifics on which label would distribute, Jamal wants to give the duty to Lyon Dynasty, but because he's Empire's biggest act, Empire can't let that happen. And the proposition, once more: Empire acquires Lyon Dynasty, but Cookie retains full autonomy of the label. Additionally, mother Lyon becomes Empire's head of A&R.

Though Camilla warns Empire CEO Hakeem against the deal, it's one he really can't refuse. And finally, the family is back together. Sort of.

Other moments of note: