SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched the Nov. 18 episode of “Empire,” titled “My Bad Parts.”
Boo Boo Kitty went Boo Boo Crazy on Wednesday night’s episode of “Empire.”
Lucious Lyon’s (Terrence Howard) ex Anika (Grace Gealey), better known as Boo Boo Kitty, dropped a baby of a bombshell that she is pregnant with Hakeem’s (Bryshere Gray) child. (For those who are confused how this pregnancy is possible, two episodes ago, Hakeem found comfort in meeting up with Anika after he was kidnapped, and although only locking lips was seen on-screen, showrunner Ilene Chaiken told Variety, “That was more than a kiss.”)
Anika was less than thrilled when Hakeem — who doesn’t know she’s apparently carrying his child — confided in her that he’s falling in love with another woman, Laura (Jamila Velazquez).
By the end of the episode, Anika’s jealousy and pain got to her so she took Laura by disguising herself as a driver who picked up Hakeem’s new lady in the car.
Before Laura was snatched up, her relationship with Hakeem was really growing. “Hakeem appears to genuinely care for Laura in the most authentic way he’s ever cared for anyone. Laura is a relationship with someone who can be a real life partner for her,” Chaiken says. “He cares for her, and I would venture that he loves her.”
Over on the professional side of Hakeem’s life, the youngest Lyon son engaged in an intense rap battle with his dad’s new client Freda (Bre-Z), sparking up a fire in him to declare that he’s dropped the “Lyon” from his name — a significant sign that Hakeem is seriously distancing himself from his famous family. Meanwhile, Jamal (Jussie Smollett) proved that music has the power to bring Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and Lucious together.
And in Cookie’s world, her sister, played by Vivica A. Fox, came into town.
Here, Chaiken tells Variety about the Lyon family woes, Anika’s bigger woes, Vivica A. Fox’s debut and how this episode sets the stage for the remainder of the season.
Should we fully believe that Anika is pregnant with Hakeem’s child?
We have have every reason to believe that.
When will Hakeem find out?
When she’s ready to tell him because she now holds a big card.
Will she be able to hold the pregnancy over Hakeem’s head to benefit herself amongst the Lyon family?
In multiple and profound ways. It will have a ripple effect throughout the entire family.
When Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) tells Anika that being pregnant has put her in Lucious’ good graces, Anika seems to perk up. Since she knows what having Hakeem’s baby could do for her own gain, should we expect a baby to come into the picture?
I think that we should expect a baby — it looks like somebody is going to have one! The odds are getting stacked up. We should expect a lot of babies at some point — baby Lyon!
What does Boo Boo Kitty plan to do with Laura?
This isn’t a kidnapping. This is an intelligence-gathering mission. She is evaluating the competition. She is going to think very carefully about what she does and how she plays her cards. Sometimes, she might be impetuous and emotional and borderline, but she is also carefully considering her moves and figuring out what she wants and how she’s going to get it.
Hakeem drops his last name at the end of the rap battle. Just how upset is he with his family?
I think that Cookie is doing her best as a mother to make clear that she has love to go around for all of her children and I will say Hakeem and Cookie shouldn’t be a deemed relationship — there don’t have to be dire consequences to that. It’s just family drama. The way Lucious has struck out on Hakeem probably goes way beyond that — Lucious is a gangster in the traditional sense and in regard to his family and the things to he does to get them where he wants them to be.
Where does Jamal now stand in between Empire and Lyon Dynasty?
I think Jamal is loyal to Empire. He sat on the throne, he’s fought hard for it. His career and his musical ambitions are more aligned with Empire. He’s becoming a big star and he should be at a company like Empire to continue toward his trajectory of superstardom. In this episode, the way that Jamal brings Cookie and Lucious together musically is my favorite thing about “Empire.”
The rap battle was so intense and fun to watch. Both actors are rappers in real life, but how long did that take to shoot?
They’re fabulous. Both of these actors are real — they really are these musicians that they portray. It was loads of fun to shoot. We could have just let the whole episode be the rap battle. We could have just shot the rap battle and said, there you go, there’s “Empire!” We shot three rounds because in reality, a rap battle is three rounds, but in the world of television, you can’t have three rounds in 42 minutes. But I had many conversations with Yazz about, “Trust me! It still works even though we didn’t play the first round.” I just want the whole world to see that rap battle though.
Maybe release it online?
We definitely will. We’ll find a way to let people who want to see it see the whole thing.
Let’s talk about Vivica A. Fox. She plays Cookie’s sister and comes into town to bring Cookie to Philly to help their other sister out. What’s the storyline coming up with the sisters?
Cookie and Candace, who can’t stand one another, they both know their baby sister is in danger and she has substance abuse issues and has gone to this place before. They’ve had to get her off the streets of Philly before to save her life, and they’ve got to do it again. It’s that relationship in a family in which one sibling constantly needs to be rescued and you just keep going because you love her and you can’t let her go down.
What else can we expect coming up with Candace and Cookie, since they don’t like each other?
When we see Cookie and Candace go in the search for Carol, we’ll learn more about the family dynamic and some secrets of the past that will come back to bite them in the present.
How did Vivica A. Fox get involved with the show?
Lee [Daniels, co-creator] came to me in the very beginning of the season and said, “Season two, Vivica A. Fox, Cookie’s sister, three-way cat fight!” He’s got this great fabulous idea of these three soapy sisters who bicker with each other. And then on the flip-side of it, he said, “I want to tell a real story of family and poverty and how someone like Cookie who grew up in poverty and now lives in extreme wealth deals with her family and that gap.”
The family dynamics in this episode really shifted. Where does the Lyon family go from here?
This episode, to me, is the beginning of the trajectory toward our midseason break. The most important thing is that the Lyons are coming back together and there will be various things that happen in the next few episodes that move us in a very dynamic course toward that.
As we look toward the midseason finale in a few weeks, is there anything you can tease?
I’m looking forward to the next few episodes — episodes eight, nine and 10 are my favorite of the season — fast and hard and core “Empire.” Where we land at the end of episode 10 is I think breathtaking and I think also promises that when we come back after the break, you’re going to see the Empire reclaimed by the Lyons in an epic battle.