It took three episodes, two prison hits and one sketchy lawyer, but Lucious Lyon made bail. Then it took the Empire patriarch precisely, oh, zero minutes to start alienating everyone around him.
Lucious is back — and this is one Lyon whose claws are most definitely out.
It’s not like we didn’t know Lucious was an unsavory character before. After all, he built Empire on the back of the incarcerated Cookie, whom he ditched and divorced as she languished behind bars. He pitted his kids against each other. Yet, somehow, he retained some semblance of charm.
This Lucious, though — well, he’s kind of the worst. Seriously. And I’m not the only fan who isn’t feeling his behavior.
His actions in tonight’s episode, “Fires of Heaven,” leave enough of a slimy residue to necessitate a hot shower. Let’s review.
1. When he channeled a dictator
Lucious has always been a bit of a tyrant, no? But tonight, he literally decrees to a group of supporters and press that, henceforth, the world will not be able to utter the word “music” without mentioning the Empire. Then, in a strikingly familiar gesture, he throws one arm up in the air, shouting, “To the Empire!” Mm-hmm.
2. When he jilted Hakeem
So, sure, Hakeem had a hand in overthrowing Lucious. But, really, what choice did Lucious give anyone? Regardless, refusing to release Hakeem’s record to him in some twisted power play to manipulate him back into the fold was self-serving, at best. When Sway (another great cameo!) asked Lucious for his opinion on Hakeem’s album leak, Papa Lyon could have mustered at least a little respect.
3. When he threatened Cookie and his other kids
Jamal pulls together a family dinner, essentially so Lucious can crash it. He packages it under the guise of wanting to get his family back together — but Cookie saw right through that: “I doubt Jesus Christ himself could save you without burning his hands. But I’m going to save my sons.” Then, it bears mentioning, she pulled the whole damn table runner down, food and all. So, yeah, the war may be raging, but Cookie won that battle.
4. When he tries to Jedi mind trick Anika into betraying the Dynasty
When it comes to shifty business, Lucious Lyon runs the game. It’s no surprise, then, when he asks to meet Anika in private to try to get her to cash in on Cookie’s secrets. “You’ve always been a little dirty,” Lucious says, smirking. “Why not get rewarded for it?” The skeeze is strong with this one.
5. When he marginalizes everything Jamal has done for him
After Jamal kept Empire going in Lucious’ absence — not to mention, going against his entire family and basically ostracizing Cookie — Lucious knocks the wind out of his middle son with a swift one-two strike. First, he tells Jamal of Frank Gathers’ daughter (guest star Bre-Z), “She means everything to me musically!” As if that wasn’t hurtful enough, after Jamal lets her leave, Lucious tells him, “Hakeem would’ve signed her.” Nice.
6. When he throws himself a big, pretentious party
I like a party as much as the next girl, but when you hire Pitbull and your own son to open up your lavish welcome back shindig, it might mean you have a God complex. This may be another battle that goes under Cookie’s belt, though, considering she hijacked the spotlight with a killer performance by Hakeem and the man himself, Timbaland.
7. When he breaks Andre’s heart… again
Can he stop with this already? Dre tries so hard to make Lucious happy and Lucious just keeps obliterating his oldest son. Following Cookie’s advice, Dre tells his dad he is expecting a little Lyon cub and, at first, Lucious seems happy. But then he accuses Dre of using the child to suit his own needs — a move he probably would have applauded coming from Hakeem. Not to mention, Lucious sat across from Dre just that morning and told him he’d bring him back into the Empire fold if Dre brought him something no one else could. Uh, hello!
8. When he sexually harasses the district attorney
Ugh. Every single interaction Lucious has had thus far with the female district attorney has been dripping with misogyny. When she shows up in the neighborhood where Lucious is trying to convince Gathers’ daughter to join Empire, he implies the only reason she is after him is because she has the hots for him, saying, “Why don’t you come by and take care of all this tension we’ve been building?”
9. When he steals Hakeem’s thunder
Delivering on his promise to give Sway the exclusive debut for his girl group, Hakeem arrives at the radio station with Cookie and two of the girls in tow. Only, the lead singer and Hakeem’s latest bed buddy, Valentina (played by Becky G), is MIA. Lucious then shows up, revealing the move he made to purchase 200 urban radio stations — thereby making it impossible for Hakeem’s girls to get any airplay. And, oh yeah, did I mention he signed Valentina right under Hakeem’s nose? He might have the worst father of the year award in the bag.