Empire created a lot of buzz when it premiered earlier this year, but the most memorable part of the drama’s record-breaking first season was the ever-quotable Cookie Lyon.
Taraji P. Henson stole the show with her Emmy-nominated performance as the tenacious ex-wife of hip-hop mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard). Quick with an insult and never afraid to speak her mind, Cookie starts the series fresh out of prison and ready to claim her share of the company she helped found. She knows what she wants, tells it like it is, and will take down anyone who gets in her way. When Cookie enters a scene, you know things are about to get interesting.
Matriarch of the Lyon family – which also includes bad boy-rapper Hakeem (Bryshere Gray), soulful R&B singer Jamal (Jussie Smollett) and businessman Andre (Trai Byers), Cookie is outspoken and unpredictable, which makes her one of the best breakout characters on TV in years. These are most entertaining moments and best lines Cookie has given us so far. With season 2 premiering on September 23, we look forward to more of Cookie’s craziness.
Beating her son with a broom
While Cookie isn’t the best mother, she does care deeply about her family. She missed her children growing up and wants to be a part of their lives again. Of her three sons, Cookie’s relationship with Hakeem is the most strained. He was only a baby when she was locked up, and doesn’t remember her or appreciate what she did for their family. Now, he’s a fully grown rap star with the requisite chip on his shoulder. So when they’re reunited, he’s less than thrilled to see her. In fact, he’s just rude.
Not liking his attitude, Cookie decides to take things into her own hands – literally – and beats some manners into him with a broom. It isn’t a happy reunion, but at the very least, Hakeem learns that his mother is not someone to be messed with.
“What I want is some respect!”
Throwing her shoe at lucious
Cookie likes to disrupt meetings and cause trouble, a habit that Lucious isn’t too fond of. In this case, she’s upset that he booked Hakeem at his club opening and not Jamal. She thinks they should perform together, but Lucious is too stubborn to admit that she’s right, and too prejudice against homosexuals to show Jamal the respect he deserves.
When he rejects her idea and dismissively walks away, Cookie chucks her shoe at him, in the middle of the Empire’s giant, expensive front lobby. Although she unfortunately misses, she does get his attention. If you don’t take Cookie seriously, don’t be surprised if a stiletto comes flying at your head. Of course, not one to clean up her own messes, Cookie yells at her assistant Porsha (Ta’Rhonda Jones) to retrieve her heel. Being Cookie’s assistant is hard work.
“Porsha, get my damn shoe!”
insulting “boo boo kitty” during grace
Cookie has a tendency to pick fights with people, but her favorite target is Lucious’ girlfriend Anika (or as Cookie hilariously calls her, “Boo Boo Kitty”). Anika retaliates by hiring a private investigator to keep tabs on Cookie’s whereabouts. But Cookie’s no fool, and calls Anika out at a family dinner.
She first demands to sit in Anika’s spot at the head of the table, then insists that she lead the family in saying grace. What starts off as a sincere prayer turns sour as she makes it clear that she knows exactly what Anika’s been up to. Anika’s embarrassed face as Cookie blows her a kiss is delightful. Subtlety is not really Cookie’s thing, and for that we are very thankful.
Praise be to Cookie. Amen.
“And God, please do not withhold your blessings, even from hoes that hire skanks to spy on me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen, hallelujah.”
Showing up to dinner in lingerie
Despite having some killer outfits, Cookie chooses to wear something a little more revealing to a dinner that she assumes is a date with Lucious. Thinking that Lucious wants to get back together after he gave her a rose on their anniversary, she wears nothing but sexy lingerie under her fur coat.
Much to her surprise, she finds herself at a family gathering to celebrate Lucious and Anika’s engagement. While anyone else would be mortified, Cookie is indignant. Feeling misled, she reveals what she’s wearing to show Lucious that she had expected the night to go much differently. Then she storms off, but not without flashing her butt on the way out. Outlandish stunts like this are what make Cookie so memorable.
“Oh, and Anika, this is an ass!”
Confronting hakeem’s older girlfriend
To the Freudian observer, it might seem as though Hakeem’s relationship with the much older Camilla (Naomi Campbell) stems from the absence of a mother in his life. Naturally, Cookie isn’t too happy about this and confronts the couple at the white party.
She tells her son he shouldn’t be dating women twice his age, and warns Camilla to stay away from him. Camilla isn’t easily fazed and tries to get a few digs in herself, but Cookie puts her in her place. Cookie has harsh words for pretty much everyone, but this exchange might be her best take down of the season.
“So Yoko Ono here wants to play on the song too. Well, what can you do Yoko? Can you play the tambourine?”
throwing anika’s stuff out of the house
After finding out that Lucious has been cheating on her with Cookie, a scorned Anika starts passing information along to Empire’s competition, Creedmoor Records. When Cookie learns this from Porsha, she relishes the chance to tell Lucious that his fiancée has been working for his arch-rival, Berretti (Judd Nelson).
She barges into their mansion and interrupts their meeting with a wedding planner to break the news. Leaving behind a stammering Anika to explain herself to Lucious, Cookie and Porsha help give her a head start on moving out. They throw her clothes down the stairs and out the door, and even grab the company cell phone from out of her hand. Cookie was rightfully angry about Anika’s betrayal, but she obviously enjoyed exposing her and having a good reason to trash her stuff.
winning a cough syrup drinking contest
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Cookie can drink five burly men under the table, whether with alcohol or anything else. A rapper named Royale-T (Ivan Ellis) is considering leaving Empire for Creedmoor, so Cookie tracks him down to try and convince him to stay. She finds him at a recording studio hanging out with guys from the rival label. The Creedmoor guys are condescending, but Cookie lets them know that she’s done time and is tougher than any of them. She challenges them to see who can handle the most “purple drank,” and easily wins.
With the bottle almost empty and the Creedmoor guys passed out, Royale-T tells her that if she can walk after taking one more shot, he’ll stay at Empire. Cookie downs it and staggers out of the studio, having succeeded in her mission. She gets the job done, even if it’s in an unconventional way.
“You ain’t no G! You’s a mark. I did 17 years in the feds, I know a busta when I see one, mark.”
hitting on her bodyguard
After all that purple drank, it’s impressive that Cookie is even standing, much less walking in heels. Completely wasted, she stumbles down the sidewalk and someone, sensing an easy target, tries to snatch her purse. Luckily, Empire’s head of security, Malcolm (Derek Luke), is keeping watch and prevents the mugging.
Cookie has been eyeing him since he was hired, and is feeling less inhibited than usual. She sloppily comes on to him as he walks her to the car. Malcolm resists her advances (for now) because he’s still working for her ex-husband. But that doesn’t deter Cookie, who spreads her legs for him like a stoned Sharon Stone from Basic Instinct.
“Yeah, that’s my name. Take a bite. Take these cookies!”
blackmailing her ex-husband for a portion of his business
Cookie took the fall for drug dealing with Lucious, and spent 17 years in jail while he became a hip-hop superstar. When she gets released and sees the enormous success of Empire, she demands her share in the company, which Lucious couldn’t have started without her.
But Lucious has different plans. With his new fiancée Anika (Grace Gealey), a new life and a habit of controlling everyone around him, he refuses Cookie’s request. In response, she threatens to reveal that Empire was founded on drug money, making it impossible for the company to go public. Cookie knows that Empire wouldn’t exist without her, and she’s willing to burn the whole thing down if her sacrifice isn’t properly recognized. Her boldness makes her a standout from the first episode.
“I’ve been livin’ like a dog for 17 years, and now I want what’s mine.”
catfight with Anika
There was plenty of verbal sparring between Cookie and Anika all season, but the finale gave us an all-out, epic brawl. Ironically, this happens when they’re supposed to be working together on a hostile takeover of Empire, but Cookie can’t help herself.
She instigates it by throwing a drink in Anika’s face, which leads to hair pulling, pearl snatching, and Cookie choking Anika on top of a pool table. This brawl was bound to happen eventually, and it didn’t disappoint. Given that Anika had her necklace destroyed and was almost choked out, Cookie is the clear winner.
“Tell me why I shouldn’t throw this drink in your bitch-ass face.”
What’s your favorite Cookie moment? Let us know in the comments!