Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) may be behind bars, but he's still a man with great power. In the Season 2 premiere of Fox’s hip-hop drama “Empire,” titled “The Devils Are Here," Lucious proves he still has control of his empire and won’t let anyone mess with his family ... other than himself.
Episode 1 begins three months after Lucious was arrested for the murder of Bunkie (Antoine McKay). Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) puts together a huge outdoor #FreeLucious concert to support him. The support, however, is just a front; it's actually part of Cookie’s plan to gain control of the company via hostile takeover. In a moment that seems to echo protests around the country recently, Cookie makes her way to the stage in a gorilla costume locked in a cage, then removes the costume and speaks out against the American correctional system.
The #FreeLucious concert is a star-studded event with cameos by Rev. Al Sharpton, Swizz Beatz and Andre Leon Talley. Swizz Beatz and Sean Cross perform with Jamal (Jussie Smollett) and Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), who take the stage to support their father as Lucious watches from jail. Cookie is later introduced to Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei), the woman Cookie hopes will help with the takeover.
In prison, Frank Gathers (Chris Rock) arrives after being locked away thanks to Cookie’s anonymous testimony. Many inmates fear Gathers, but Lucious used to sell drugs for him and the two appear to be civil after 20 years.
Jamal is swamped with his new role running Empire. He’s so busy with the daily operations that it’s hard to find studio time. Meanwhile, he and Hakeem are still at each other’s throats, especially after Jamal tells Hakeem he doesn’t like the artwork for his new album.
Jamal visits Lucious in jail and tells him he hasn’t been able to write any new music because running Empire is taking up all his time. Lucious says if he’s able to get out, Jamal will be able to tour the world to support his album, which is slipping on the charts. Lucious is mad Cookie hasn’t visited, but in a way it’s payback for him never seeing her when she was in prison. Before Jamal leaves, Lucious tells him that he saw Cookie on TV with Mimi at the concert and warns that she's up to something.
Andre (Trai Byers) is still haunted by Vernon’s (Malik Yoba) death after Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) accidentally killed him last season. The two apparently buried the body somewhere, but by killing Vernon they took out the key witness who said Lucious killed Bunkie.
Gathers sees Cookie’s cousin Jamelle (DeRay Davis) in jail and knows he killed one of his men, but Jamelle denies it. Gathers later gets Jamelle to admit that Cookie was the one who snitched on him, and Gathers now has to do something.
Cookie, Andre, Anika (Grace Gealey) and Hakeem continue to try to impress Mimi, to make her invest in Empire. She wants to know why they want Lucious out. Cookie says he lost his way and she wants the company to be for her sons. Mimi, who is a lesbian, takes a liking to Anika and Cookie pushes Anika to do what she has to do to get the deal done.
Mimi agrees to invest $250 million into the company, and Cookie, Andre, Jamal and Anika believe they have what they need for the hostile takeover. They interrupt one of Jamal’s meetings to let him know they bought a controlling interest in the company. They plan to remove Lucious as the CEO, but Jamal isn’t too bothered by this announcement. It turns out Mimi went to Lucious in prison and made an even better deal with him, turning her back on Cookie and company. Lucious is then shown on a video screen to the group saying “Game over, b------.”
Cookie’s sister Carol (Tasha Smith) shows up at Cookie’s place after not being able to get in touch with her. She tells Cookie she’s in danger and that Gathers is after her, which is later confirmed when the two open up a package with a head inside it. Cookie tells everybody to go to Lucious’ house because none of them are safe and she decides to pay her ex-husband a visit in jail. She tells him the “skinny Hannibal” (a.k.a. Gathers) is messing with her and the family and Lucious needs to fix it.
Lucious meets with Gathers, as guards step out of the room and other prisoners look on. Gathers tells Lucious that Cookie snitched on him to get out of prison, so he has to do something about it. He says his problem is with Cookie not Lucious, but Lucious says if he’s got war with Cookie, he has a war with him, too.
Gathers tells the prisoners watching to kill Lucious, but it turns out the other inmates are on Team Lyon. Gathers may run the streets, but Lucious takes care of the inmates' families with his money. Lucious turns the tables on Gathers and tells the prisoners to kill Gathers and he walks out of the room as you hear Gathers scream in the background.
Cookie gets back to Lucious’ house, where Andre, Rhonda, Jamal and Hakeem are waiting. She says it’s safe now and that their father handled an old beef for them. Jamal then tells Cookie, Hakeem and Andre to get out of Lucious’ home because they all betrayed him. As his brothers leave, Cookie stays behind and slaps Jamal before he shuts the door on them. Jamal is conflicted because he loves them, but he has to do what he has to do as to show he has the toughness to be the ruler of Empire.