Here's the thing about Cookie; folks on the show haven't really been taking her seriously. When she talks owning half of Empire, nobody believes it. When she provides commentary on who's wack and who's got a hot track, folks outside her family look at her like she doesn't know what she's talking about it. No one believes her skills as a producer, no one thinks she can cut it as a manager, and Lucious himself has to continually be reminded that Cookie produced his albums and made him a star back in the day.
But in this episode, the other characters and the audience get to see Cookie in action. For one, she's still barging in on people's (read: Anika and Lucious's meetings) and pushing Anika's buttons. Lucious is used to it; unfazed, he tells Cookie to take "Donkey Kong" (Cookie's assistant Porsha) out of his office so he can get back to work. Singer Tiana actually seeks Cookie out to advise her on her latest track, to Cookie's surprise. For once, it's a song by Tiana that doesn't make me hurl myself off I-10. Tiana is so impressed with Cookie that she fires Anika from being her manager, and a very charming relationship develops between Cookie and Tiana.
It feels a hell of a lot more genuine than the relationship between Tiana and Cookie's youngest son Hakeem. Tiana and Hakeem ("Takeem" as their fictional fans call them) agree to have dinner with Cookie, but Hakeem predictably ditches without calling so he can take a bubble bath with fashion designer Camilla (still being portrayed Naomi Campbell with a straight face) while whining about his problems (read: parents). And she listens to that shit! Touching him and consoling him and promising him a some book - like that boy even reads.
Tiana walks in on the two while chastising Hakeem for disrespecting his mother (side note: I love how more and more characters are telling Hakeem to cut that shit out). Tiana sees the two shameless lovers, and wordlessly spins on her heels and walks out. Camilla then chastises Hakeem for giving "that little girl" a key to his place and for making an "amateur mistake." (Mind you, it's revealed later Tiana
Meanwhile, Anika's trying to prove she's not some fragile rich who take care of herself (read: just as tough as Cookie), and insists on going to a prison to sign a very popular rapper Titan, said to be straight from the hood and the most authentic hip hop artist since Tupac. Needless to say, Cookie laughs and Lucious tries not. Lucious agrees to go with Anika back to the hood to talk to Titan's boys.
Cookie takes a different approach; she poses as a Muslim woman and visits Titan's mother. Titan's mom is actually familiar with Cookie's story; she expresses empathy and solidarity. Cookie talks about how the Muslims sistahs in jail gave her strength (who knows if this true), and then talks about how her husband left her and how her children treat her. The magical mix of truth and possible fiction gets Titan's mom talking, revealing that Titan was raised in the Nation of Islam.
Meanwhile, Anika's experiencing her first drive-by - literally. While she's trying assert herself with Titan's boys ("I'm head of A & R, not [Lucious's] assistant") someone decides to take a shot at the diner they're in. I had to blink when I noticed Anika was one of the last people to hit the deck (Seriously, boo? Don't you know you're promptly supposed to drop even if someone just pops a balloon???)
After comforting a panicked Anika, Lucious goes to visit Titan himself in jail and hooks him up with a $1.7 million signing bonus (read: bribe). Later Lucious and Cookie compare notes about Titan (while Anika is noticeably absent). Cookie confirms Titan is purebred Nation of Islam and reminds Lucious that the Nation killed his father, but Lucious is hellbent on stealing Titan from a rival record label.
Did I mention "Takeem" perform at the Teen Choice Awards Nomination party? See, Jamal is broke and experiencing writer's block so these two got to drop the episode's big track. And while Hakeem annoys me to no end, I admit Cookie's handiwork here was diggable:
While Lucious and Cookie are re-watching the kids' performance (again...Anika's absent), viewers noted how the flirtations and emotion kick into gear. Impressed by Cookie's magic, Lucious is clearly not above forgetting about Anika, but Cookie's no fool. When he tries to hold onto her hand, she reminds him about his new boo
Remember that train wreck video of Tiana and Veronika that I tried to tell y'all about?