‘Empire’ Recap, Episode 9: ‘Unto the Breach’

Estelle on Empire

Estelle guest-stars as Delphine in the “Unto the Breach” episode of Empire on FOX on March 4, 2015.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

The ninth episode of Empire proved the Lyons family can achieve a lot, such as take down a common enemy, if they stick together. The brood has rallied around each other against a foe they can all agree on, Billy Beretti. But like the refrain on “You’re So Beautiful” goes, the Lyons family continues to go up and down. Though it may have seemed like they got the best of Beretti, they have yet to figure out a way to bring out the best in each other. By the end of the episode you see why the Lyons family doesn’t need enemies when they have each other.

Below are the most pressing questions that sprung from the ninth episode of season 1 of Empire, “Unto the Breach.”

‘Empire’ Recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7 | Episode 8

Are Anika and Lucious officially over?
The first scene of this week’s episode certainly makes it seem as if Lucious and Anika are done. As Anika and Lucious plan their wedding at their house, Cookie does what she does best: barges in. This time, Cookie comes with some gossip. Apparently Cookie’s assistant Porsha started spying on Anika soon after Anika asked Porsha to spy on Cookie in a previous episode. Porsha was able to find was Anika meeting with Lucious’ archenemy Billy Berett to propose working for Beretti’s label Creedmor Entertainment and stealing Empire artists. This causes complete chaos: Cookie throws Anika’s clothes out of the house like she is auditioning for Angela Bassett’s role in Waiting to Exhale. Lucious wants Anika to stay, but only to find out if she told Beretti about his ALS. Of course, this doesn’t work. Anika runs off with Beretti, whose people are outside of Lucious’ estate to pick her up.

Which one of the Lyons boys is the most real?
Empire is at war. Lucious’ entire artist roster is in jeopardy of leaving to go to Beretti’s label Creedmor Entertainment because of Anika. Jamal finds his inner-private investigator and reaches out to other label executives to figure out who they can keep or bring over to Empire. Andre comes stumbling in late, looking like he could care less about anything since he knows his dad doesn’t approve of his interracial relationship with his wife Rhonda. But at least he’s brought a suitcase full of cash in case they need to bribe an artist to stay on the label. Hakeem has an idea too: One of his friends can get their hands on C4 explosives. Thankfully, no one else in the Lyons family thinks it’s a good idea.

Do music labels really draft like it’s the NFL?
Empire’s war room — where scheming and plotting take place — looks like something out of an ESPN production meeting. In the room there are fancy screens that display pictures of the artists they want to keep alongside profile specs such as how much money they make. Specific artists have been targeted. Hakeem is going after Creedmore artist Travie Wild, a white rapper he partied with in Belize. Jamal has his eyes set on Delphine (played by Estelle), a superstar diva. Cookie is trying to keep Royale-T on Empire, a street rapper who is recording at Vernon’s studio back in the projects.

How good was Jamal and Delphine’s collaborative song “Conquerpr”?
While attempting to lure Delphine over to Empire, Delphine asks Jamal to collaborate on her song “Conqueror,” which is a real-life single from Estelle’s new album, True Romance. Of all the songs that have been featured on Empire, specifically the ballads, “Conqueror” is the best one yet.

Can we see Cookie drunk more often?
The episode’s funniest moment belonged to Cookie. In efforts to keep Royale-T at Empire, she is challenged to a drinking contest of sorts by members of Creedmore Entertainment. Creedmore Entertainment was trying to take Royale-T from Empire. Cookie accepts the challenge and drinks some purple drink until her and Royale-T are the last two standing. After she accomplishes the mission, she leaves the studio but is almost robbed for her purse. Luckily, Malcolm — along with another member of Empire’s security — sees what’s happening and saves her. Cookie, all the way turned up on liquor, is really grateful for the actions of her hero Malcolm and wants him to “take these cookies.” Malcolm, who is loyal to Lucious, turns down Cookie’s offer.

Lucious and Beretti couldn’t find a more secretive place to have a guns-drawn stand-off?
You would think if two men are going to meet, and that meeting is going to involve drawing guns and possibly more than a few casualties, Beretti and Lucious would’ve handled this in an abandoned warehouse or an airport hangar. They could’ve at least handled their business during the night hours instead of what looks like noon in the middle of some residential area. But this is the world of Empire, where men meet in nice clothes, in the middle of a street to threaten each other with guns.

Should Lucious consider hiring a new security team?
Back at the Empire offices, the building’s state-of-the-art security system is hacked. No one in the building has a cell phone signal, and even the elevators have stopped working. The hack happens just as all three Lucious boys get stuck in an elevator together. Andre is beginning to have a manic episode since he decided not to take his pills to keep his bipolar disorder under control. The lack of meds causes Andrew to lash out at Hakeem and Jamal, thus causing a full-on scuffle. Jamal and Hakeem calm Andre down, but only temporarily.

Is Jamal as good of a businessman as he is an artist?
Of all the artists the Lyons family is trying to keep or get on Empire, Delphine is the hottest. Jamal is sure he can get her to sign. The only thing he needs to do for her is set up a meeting between her and Lucious, who she idolizes. Lucious at first refuses, even though his entire family insists signing Delphine would be what’s best for business. It’s clear to Jamal why Lucious is being difficult: the signing would mean, once again, that Lucious’ gay son is as good as his father is at music and business. Jamal calls out his father for being stubborn, using some of Lucious’ own words from earlier in the episode against him. “You said families put aside their difference,” Jamal says, “So put aside your played-out homophobia unless it’s more important to you than Empire.” If Jamal had a mic on him, he could have dropped it right on Lucious’ foot.

Is Hakeem growing up right before our eyes?
Another golden goose for Empire is keeping Tiana on the label. Cookie blocks Tiana from meeting with Anika to talk about Creedmore Entertainment. With Hakeem in tow, they meet with Tiana where she was originally going to meet Anika. They convince her to stay, but instead of Hakeem manipulating Tiana into thinking they could get back together, he tells Tiana and Cookie the truth. He’s still in love with Camilla, and though he wants Tiana to stay on Empire he refuses to lie to her to keep her. This ends up working, and Tiana joins Hakeem and Cookie back at Leviticus where Jamal is singing “You’re So Beautiful” alongside Delphine and Lucious.

Has Andre ruined his chance at taking over Empire?
Back at the Empire boardroom, Andre goes completely off the rails and turns into Andre the Giant. Lucious wants him contained there until his wife Rhonda arrives, but he tries to leave. He’s pressed about getting Travie Wild to Empire. Andre and the security team — half of whom Andre wants fired because they won’t let him leave — begin to fight. For a moment, he calms down but he has another episode when his wife arrives. Lucious comes back to the office from Leviticus shortly thereafter. Andre throws the meaningless rack of basketballs in the boardroom to the floor. He starts referring to himself in the third person. He even calls out Lucious for being a murderer, but no one believes it because Andre seems to be falling apart. Naturally, 911 is called. He’s detained by the paramedics, who give him a shot to calm him down. Lucious and Rhonda look on in fear knowing Andre has revealed issues that go far deeper than his lack of star power. If Lucious didn’t know of the severity of his son’s condition he does now, and it might’ve diminished Andre’s chance to take over the throne.