The Lyon family was back on Empire this week, along with returning favorites like Serayah McNeill as Tiana, new guest stars like Ludacris and Kelly Rowland, and more than enough drama for not one but two Lyon-run music enterprises.
Here’s a look at some of the best lines and moments from Wednesday's episode, "Without a Country."
1. "Lil’ Baby Traitor"
Cookie interrupts Jamal’s interview with "Spilling the Tea" -- in which the head of the Empire is talking openly about his relationship with Michael -- to ask him to give Hakeem his album back. When he refuses, she drops the real bomb: she, Hakeem, and Andre are starting up their own company.
2. "Don’t forget whose house this is."
The guest star of the week award goes to rapper Ludacris, who shows up as a unsympathetic, hardass prison guard. He’s got no sympathy for fellow guards or prisoners who bow to Lucious’ bravado, but he does drop one valuable piece of information: the prosecutor in Lucious’ case is withholding his medication until he can be "a little more cooperative."
3. "Rainbow Sensation"
While everyone else is worried about Empire, Hakeem’s preoccupied with assembling a girl group for their new label, a project Andre thinks is a waste of time.
"Hakeem needs to recording new music not wasting his time hitting on girls," he tells Cookie, who shrugs it off.
"That’s how Jay Z and your father built their careers."
While ‘Keem laments that he hasn’t found his Beyonce yet, everyone else is more worried about his proposed name for the project, what Cookie dubs "the dumbest name known to man."
4. SHOTS FIRED
While last week’s Empire premiere took a shot at rapper 50 Cent, this week Cookie seemingly took a swipe at Jennifer Lopez during the "Rainbow Sensation," casting process. Hakeem is worried about all his favorite prospects being Latina singers, when he had hoped for a more diverse look, but Cookie does her best to reassure him.
"Ain’t nothing wrong with a couple of J.Los," she says, "as long as they can really sing."
5. Kitty Fight
No Empire episode would be complete without some snark between Cookie and Anika, and this week the two had it out at the recording studio while trying to plot their new company’s next move.
"Anika knows marketing," Cookie sneers. "She made a whole career selling her ass."
But Boo Boo Kitty’s got claws too, firing back, "As opposed to you and your stellar career in pharmaceuticals?"
Lucious finally gets his meds, and a chance to record his "joint from the joint" (featuring another real-life hip-hop guest star, rapper Petey Pablo) after his sketchy new lawyer "Thirsty" works his behind-the-scenes magic. Ludacris and the other guards storm in just as they’re finishing up to toss everyone in the hole, but not before the rap kingpin and his crew are able to lay down some fire.
7. "You pray to God that he forgives you because I don’t."
Ronda and Andre were working opposite sides of the same coin this week, as the expectant couple did their best to get the eldest Lyon son back into the Empire fold. Ronda visited Jamal in secret, revealing that he was about to be an uncle. The news made Jamal so happy he promised to talk to his father about bringing Andre back on board.
At the same time, Andre was finally breaking away from Hakeem and Cookie’s new venture, begging his mother to let him go and his father to take him back. However, when he visits Lucious in jail, there’s no warm reception for the repentant son.
A too-short flashback to Lucious and his troubled mother (Kelly Rowland!) gives the beginnings of more insight into this father-son dynamic.
"I don’t hate you," Lucious finally declares, leaving it at that for now.
8. Lyon Dynasty
Cookie’s ready to set up shop after Andre bails, so Hakeem makes his big power move -- leaking his album for free online so it’s no longer in the clutches of the Empire. The strategy’s got Jamal threatening to sue, but the youngest Lyon son isn’t worried at all
"Tell Father when I get to Madison Square Garden, I’ma comp y’all some V.I.P. tickets," he boasts of the new "Lyon Dynasty" on his way out. "Our little dynasty’s gonna crush your Empire."
9. Thirsty Gets the Drop
Not only does Lucious’ new lawyer get the Empire ruler’s new track out of prison and on the radio (by having his thugs jump Ludacris after work), he also gets him out of jail, blackmailing the judge at the parole hearing.
Look out Lyon Dynasty, Lucious is a free man!