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‘Empire’ Boss Promises Lucious and Mimi’s Partnership Will Be Consequential

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not seen season two, episode seven of “Empire,” titled “True Love Never,” which aired on Nov. 11. Plus, watch an exclusive sneak peek of next week’s episode in the video down below.

A girl-fight broke out on “Empire” Wednesday night when Hakeem’s (Bryshere Gray) crush Laura (Jamila Velazquez) was pushed aside in Ménage a Trois, the girl group under Lyon Dynasty. Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) urged Hakeem to move her from the lead position in the band, but the younger Lyon brother worked hard to get his girl back to the top — including enlisting Tiana (Serayah) to train Laura — and by episode’s end, Laura turned into a star.

“We see Hakeem growing in a relationship, caring for someone and being willing to change and grow in order to be worthy of that relationship,” showrunner Ilene Chaiken tells Variety. “We see him being a mentor for the first time and a leader. He’s growing into adulthood.”

On the topic of mixing business with pleasure, romance was also in the air for Cookie, who is — in a way — sleeping with the enemy, Laz (Adam Rodriguez). She trusts him, though, despite his shady dealings. Cookie also got involved again with her son Jamal (Jussie Smollett) on the business front — which Chaiken promises will not make Lucious (Terrence Howard) happy.

Viewers got more insight into Lucious’ past, as more flashbacks with his bipolar mother (guest star Kelly Rowland) revealed that she killed herself, and he tried to stop her as a young child.

The Lyon patriarch also had a steamy scene with none other than Mimi Whiteman (guest star Marisa Tomei). The two business powerhouses engaged in a drunken threesome together, in which Mimi mysteriously made a secret call. But who was on the other end of the call? “All I’m going to say is it’s significant,” Chaiken teases. “We’re looking forward to finding out who she was talking to on the phone. It’s going to be consequential.”

Here, Chaiken talks us through the episode, which saw new alliances form not only between Lucious and Mimi but also Jamal and Cookie.

What does that hook-up between Lucious and Mimi mean?
What it means is that Mimi and Lucious are two of a kind. They’re so like one another and they’re finding a partnership. They both clearly have some dark corners that they play in and they are making big things happen and going to those places together and forming a trust and a bond together that gets kind of consummated in this twisted scene. There’s nothing from that hookup other than Mimi knows exactly what she’s doing.

This was a big episode for Lucious. We’re learning more and more about him through his flashbacks with his mother.
These flashbacks are the story of Lucious’ childhood, and his mother’s suicide is really integral to not only his past and the light that it shines on who Lucious Lyon is, but also a story that comes forward into the present and plays in our current-day drama. The flashbacks will continue and they’ll also become another story that we’re telling.

Kelly Rowland is so great in that role. How did she approach the storyline of mental illness?
We brought Kelly in to meet with the writers. We came up with the idea of having her play Lucious’s mother in the flashbacks and what happened in our room in the meetings is that Lucious’s mother was bipolar. Andre’s bipolar illness is a genetic illness and Lucious’s mother was bipolar. Kelly was excited to play this character.

Speaking of Andre, he finally got his mojo back! He’s turning a corner, isn’t he?
He is working very hard to fight his demons and as he said in the episode, it’s the combination of his medicine and faith that’s really giving him a new grip on how to conquer the challenges of being Andre Lyon. His father constantly pushes him and tests him and tasks him and it’s almost as if Lucious wants to see if he can tick him over the edge — maybe because it enables him to have more control.

Lucious is about to lose control of Jamal. I’d imagine he won’t be happy to find out that his son is back working with Cookie over at Lyon Dynasty.
Cookie and Jamal are having, in a sense, a love affair — I don’t mean that in a creepy way, just as mother and son. We talked about them as America’s favorite couple. We love them together. They have such a deep bond together and it was heartbreaking when this rift occurred between them. And now, each of them has a different loyalty that he and she is betraying by coming back together, but they can’t resist because they love each other so much as mother and son. And when they work together, magic happens. It’s definitely going to be a conflict.

How will Hakeem react to his mother being back invested in Jamal?
We’ve already seen that Hakeem is a little bit hurt by it and Lucious is certainly not going to take kindly to it.

Cookie and Hakeem already butted heads in this episode — first over Laura in the girl group, and then over Laz. Should we be concerned about their relationship?
We have to be concerned. Cookie is not one to take advice or let her kids judge her and it would be easy to think that Hakeem is just jealous because he just got his mom back and he’s not sure that he wants some random guy coming in between them. Cookie is dismissing his concerns. As she said, she’s pretty enraptured by Laz.

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