‘Empire’ Recap: Cookie and the Hacked Nudes Blues

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Photos: Fox

Warning: This recap for the “Chimes at Midnight” episode of Empire contains spoilers.

If you have ever taken sensual or erotic photographs of yourself with a flip-phone, chances are you’ve experienced a measure of anxiety about what would happen if those photos ever went public. Like, say, if a stranger hacked them from your iCloud, or if they were suddenly displayed on several dozen flatscreen televisions in your office lobby. What would your family and co-workers think about you? Would they admire your flexibility and your top hat? Or would you simply collapse in shame and beg to be dragged into a tar pit to further cement your humiliation?

Hacked nudes was the issue facing Cookie in this week’s episode of Empire, and because she is a hero we should all hold in high esteem, she felt ZERO shame about her cute hot pics. That is because, first of all, the human body is a beautiful thing and sex is nothing to be ashamed of, but Cookie would sooner be mortified about wearing the same fur coat two days in a row than giving her private areas a public viewing. Empire is full of great lessons like this, and in “Chimes at Midnight” it also contained an hour’s worth of very fun entertainment. Let’s talk about it!

We began, as ever, with Cookie. She had just risen for a brand new day of back-sass and turbo drama when guess who appeared at her penthouse door? Taye Diggs! He brought her both coffee and the exclusive scoop that he was officially running for mayor of NYC!

Cookie was pretty happy for him, but she refused him any congratulatory morning nookie. Politics isn’t that sexy.

We then checked in with the other Lyons, who were all going about their days in various ways. But the one thing uniting them all? They each received a hot new Tiana track on their phones. That track was entitled “TIANA_NOTAVIRUS_CLICKME.EXE” and it was hottt!

Unfortunately it was also a virus. Next thing we knew, everybody’s phones were showing a zombified Tiana and playing a weird nightmare jam before locking everyone out of their phones. Empire Entertainment had been HACKED.

Lucious was very concerned about this new development, but not so concerned that he canceled his hair straightening appointment. Massive corporate leaks are one thing, but style is style.

Elsewhere, Hakeem and Nessa had just finished a “we’re just friends now” duet just in time for Andre to come in and threaten his baby bro for getting too close to his lady. Flat tops aside, there is a bit of a height difference between these two brothers and I got suddenly very worried for Hakeem’s safety. It would take three, perhaps three and a half seconds for Andre to put Hakeem in the hospital and I did not want to see that happen. Relax, fellas!

The hacker situation went from bad to worse when the hacker began taunting everyone (via text message) that he had access to all of their emails and demanded $1 million every hour in exchange for not releasing them. The poor IT guy Thirsty had hired immediately found himself getting thrown around Lucious’s office because Lucious did NOT understand computers, only physical violence. It was going to be this guy’s least favorite workday for sure.

Cookie attended Taye Diggs’s mayoral announcement press conference, but sorta hung back lest people assume they were dating. She also chose her most inconspicuous red jumpsuit so that nobody would notice her. That’s when she got a phone call about how bad the hacker situation was, and it was time for an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors!

At this point Andre admitted to everyone that the Empire email system contained some real hot ‘n juicy messages that could get them all in legal trouble if they leaked. When certain board members tried to fire Andre for his lapses in judgment, he threw it back in their faces that most if not all of them were buying hookers on the company dime, even the sad cat lady! I guess we should’ve known she liked to get freaky.

The hacking situation culminated with this instant classic scene, which began with Tiana angrily telling off Hakeem for being a sh*tty ex, and ended with all of Empire’s emails suddenly flashing on every TV screen. And one of those emails? Contained Cookie’s NUDE SELFIES.

Modesty maintained by her top knot! Now, obviously Cookie was shocked, and her family all turned their heads in embarrassment (or laughter, in the case of Becky) but let the record show: Cookie was NOT ashamed of that photo. I think we all know the pic was probably hot has h*ck. “At least they’re perky,” Cookie announced to the crowd before sashaying out of the room. Still, the hacker had gone too far.

This whole time you’ve been tapping your foot like, “OK, enough of the hacker stuff, what’s going on with BECKY?” Like, friend, I’m on your side here, but relax. Becky was once again in the running for the new A&R position, and she somehow enlisted Whiteguy to help her land the gig. He was like, “I will help you and definitely not f*** you over, don’t worry.” Reader, do not trust him! Whiteguy did not have Becky’s best interests at heart and it’s like Becky was the only one who didn’t realize this. (He later got the job and Becky had to be held back by Thirsty from attacking him with windmill arms onstage.)

I really loved when the gang relocated to the server room and it was like the climactic moments from the movie Hackers. But instead of Lorraine Bracco and Penn Jillette yelling at mainframes, we had Lucious eyeballing server towers with suspicion while wielding a bat. I hoped and prayed he would eventually just destroy millions of dollars worth of computer equipment in this scene, but he did not. I am truly sorry about that.

Because Cookie’s nudes had leaked, she considered herself damaged goods when it came to publicly dating Taye Diggs during his mayoral campaign. So in one of the sweetest breakup scenes in TV history, Cookie “dumped” him out of love. I loved that A) she still clearly liked him and also B) was dressed like a cocktail waitress in Xanadu. A truly touching scene, in other words.

I do not know who this purple-haired giggler was who was hanging out with Tiana, but I want to know more about her. What a mystery! I loved that she openly laughed at Lucious and then when he called her out she just went back to her phone. Purple-haired giggler, who even ARE you?

So the Lyons eventually found the hacker… And it was that one rapper dude who’d been grinding on Tiana the past few weeks! Or so they thought? That dude arrived back in his apartment and Lucious was saging the place with malicious intent. It was for sure the most sinister saging outside of a Laurel Canyon coven. Also he pretended it was a doobie at one point because he’s a real jokester. Anyway, Shyne arrived and joined the rest of Lucious’s thugs in beating the sh*t out of this rapper guy. Case closed! Hacking over. OR WAS IT.

Quick question: Does the neon sign above Jamal’s bed say “Music Whore”? If so, did we ALWAYS know this? Or was this the first time I’ve noticed it? Follow-up question: Seriously, “Music whore”? What on earth? Anyway, Jamal ate all his pills and did sex with his producer and then promptly OD’ed.

But don’t worry, the producer called Jamal’s hunky friend from Narcotics Anonymous and they gave him a cold shower that he seemed VERY annoyed by. Relax, Jamal, you almost died. Get it together, you lovable music whore.

In a terribly charming moment, Cookie was drowning her post-breakup sorrows with a glass of wine in bed, and guess who showed up on her TV? Taye Diggs! He was fielding questions about whether he was dating nude-pic-haver Cookie Lyon or not. He admitted that she had just dumped him, which was honest yet sad. But when the press started slut shaming her for her pics, he took issue with it and to prove his point he ripped off his shirt and threatened to doff his slacks as well! How ya like THEM apples, Big Apple?

Cookie shouted at her TV in delight, and she, like everyone else watching immediately fell in love with Taye Diggs forever and ever. That was a smooth move on his part, and he deserves to be mayor for it. In real life too!

Our big shocking twist arrived in a shady factory of some kind… Guess who’d been behind the hacking? Andre! Yes, good ol’ bipolar ghost sexin’ Andre had been a secret supervillain this whole time. In paying a dude to hack into Empire, he managed to get himself named president, further tightening his grip on the company. Who knew he had it in him? (Kinda weird he caused his mom’s nudes to leak, though.)

The episode concluded with Andre outright bragging to Nessa about what he’d done, and then proposing that the two of them become a power couple, sort of a next-gen Lucious and Cookie, if you will. Nessa was obviously taken aback by Andre’s sudden detour into “being interesting,” but she was NOT turned off. It definitely seems as though these two have a promising future together.

Man, I really enjoyed “Chimes at Midnight”! Not only did it feature a compelling, ripped-from-the-headlines storyline involving corporate espionage, it finally made Cookie’s relationship with Taye Diggs click. Add to that several fun moments for each character, and it was a worthwhile hour for sure. But let this be a lesson to us all: If you’re going to take nudes, just make sure all your parts are as perky as Cookie’s. Better proud than ashamed!

What did YOU think of “Chimes at Midnight”?

Empire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox. Watch clips and full episodes of Empire for free on Yahoo View