Recap 'Empire' Season 2 Before The Lyon Brings Even More Twists To Season 3

The Lyon family is back with more music and drama in Empire Season 3, which premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 21. After the Fox TV series became an instant hit in 2015, the second season upped the ante with more guest stars and dramatic twists for Cookie, Lucious, Jamal, Andre, and Hakeem. After so much drama, you'll need to refresh your memory with an Empire Season 2 recap before the third seasons brings even more celebrities and plotlines into the mix.

There's a lot to look forward to when it comes to Season 3. Mariah Carey is finally guest starring, joining a roster of upcoming guests including Taye Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, French Montana, and Kid Cudi, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Then there's the matter of Anika and Rhonda's high-flying cliffhanger, which either of them could have survived (or not). The stakes are even higher, because Anika is pregnant with Hakeem's child, who could be the heir to Empire Entertainment and the Lyon family throne. Oh, and Anika is also married to Lucious now, but not because they're in love.

It was certainly an intense season, so before you dive into the new episodes, here's a refresher on all the twists, turns, and surprises that Empire Season 2 delivered.

Cookie & Lucious: The Struggle Continues

Season 1 ended with Lucious and Cookie at odds, so Season 2 began with Lucious recording a Cookie-inspired rap song from prison called "Snitch B*tch" — ouch. Meanwhile, Cookie began Lyon Dynasty, her own label meant to challenge Empire. Throughout the season, Cookie and Lucious spar with each other through their respective labels, their artists, and even their sons.

Eventually, Lucious maneuvers himself out of jail with the help of shady attorney Thirsty Rawlings and courts investor Mimi Whiteman. Turns out, though, that Mimi is Camilla's wife — that's right, the Camilla who Lucious paid to stay away from Hakeem. Camilla and Mimi maneuver Lucious out of his position as CEO of Empire.

This causes the Lyons to reunite and refocus their efforts to take back Empire. Cookie also realizes that Lucious and Jamal have been working with Freda Gatz, which leads to trouble for Jamal later.

But the couple may return to odds in Season 3, as the finale left off with Lucious and Anika finally getting married so that Anika can't testify against Lucious. Cookie was not happy about it at all.

The Life & Death Of Leah Walker

Season 2 explored Lucious' past and the supposed death of his mother, Leah Walker. In flashbacks, she was revealed to have bipolar disorder as Lucious remember the time she almost drowned him in a bathtub, and played Russian Roulette with a gun to her head. In the present, Lucious used these past experiences to inspire the song and music video for "Bang Bang Bang," which would lead to a bond with Freda Gatz and eventually be nominated for an ASA Award. It's also worth noting that Andre is shaken by the revelation that his grandmother also had bipolar disorder and it forces him to face some issues with his father.

But things are never as they seem on Empire. Once the music video premieres, Leah Walker is revealed to be alive and well. She even wants an invite to the ASAs, because she is Lucious' mom, after all.

Jamal's Emotional Rollercoaster

Jamal's music career gave him many opportunities throughout Season 2, but boy did they come with some surprises.The R&B crooner got back together with boyfriend Michael and was tempted by an overly friendly Rolling Stone photographer — who he later caught hooking up with Michael.

Jamal rebounds and works with the soulful singer Skye Summers (Alicia Keys), with whom he seems to share a unique bond and a kiss. For Jamal, it was a fleeting moment and nothing more, but he does receive some backlash once it's publicized. Naturally, all this happens as he's trying to court votes to win his first ASA Award against Lucious.

But that ASA never comes to fruition. On the red carpet of the awards show, Jamal is shot by Freda when she realizes Lucious had her father killed and takes aim at him — only for Jamal to be hit. Don't worry, he survives, but his recovery is only beginning.

Hakeem's Maturation

The youngest Lyon sibling finds himself in the spotlight in a number of ways: He defects to his mom's company Lyon Dynasty, he starts to manage the band Mirage a Trois, and he gets abducted. Not to mention that Anika was secretly pregnant with his child as he was falling in love with the ingenue Laura. When his former lover Camilla returns, she puts him in charge of Empire as CEO, a position he's not quite prepared for.

He is, however, prepared to marry Laura, and claims to be ready to be a father to his and Anika's child — but Laura leaves him at the altar and Anika marries his dad.

Rhonda In Danger

Rhonda and Andre began Season 2 excited to become parents. Lucious, meanwhile is so excited about being a grandfather that he gifts the couple with a brand new mansion. Rhoda also begins a weird friendship with Anika, but her bliss is short-lived, as she is pushed down the mansion stairs and suffers a miscarriage. She firmly believes that she fell, but later realizes she was pushed and suspects that Anika did it.

The season ends with an epic fight between Rhonda and Anika, and it looks like one of them may not survive.

Anika's Revenge

Boo-Boo Kitty went off-the-rails in Season 2. After tasting the life of drama and luxury as Lucious' fiancé in Season 1, Anika is a bit lost without it in the second season, so she creates her own. She tries to become Cookie's ally, but gets rejected. Her hookup with Hakeem results in a pregnancy she hides from him after he cuts ties with her to be with Laura. So Anika starts bonding with the also pregnant Rhonda (but in a creepy way) and pretends to be a driver to find out where Laura lives.

After she wears some choice shoes, Rhonda singles Anika out as the prime suspect who pushed her and caused her to lose her and Andre's baby earlier in the season. But that doesn't stop her from finally joining the family and marrying Lucious at what was supposed to be Hakeem and Laura's wedding, before getting in that potentially deadly fight with Rhonda.

Got all that? Now you're ready for even more drama when Empire returns for Season 3.

Images: Chuck Hodes/FOX (7)