©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Chuck Hodes/FOX
Thirsty Rawlings makes his first appearance in a couple of episodes of Empire and pays a visit to Lola, Jamal’s daughter from his marriage to Olivia. He yanks out a piece of her hair and quickly leaves.
Since the debacle that was Cookie’s birthday dinner, Rhonda and Andre have been living separately. Andre has been at a hotel and Rhonda has been staying with Boo Boo Ki-I mean, Anika. Rhonda tells Anika that Andre finally re-calibrated his medications, stopped having visions and stopped insisting that she was pushed down the stairs. Andre arrives to talk things over with Rhonda and Anika leaves them alone.
Andre reveals that he hasn’t been going to church and says that he wants them to get back to being the ride-or-die team that they were. Rhonda admits that she was happiest in their marriage when they were trying to conquer the world and take over Empire but their conversation is interrupted by the sound of Anika vomiting in the bathroom. Rhonda and Andre go to check on her and she reveals that she is pregnant and the baby is Hakeem’s.
Lucious’ video for “Boom Boom Boom Boom” is receiving massive acclaim. Lucious is still Empire and they want him in charge. Cookie arrives as the party is wrapping up and asks Lucious to warn her before he acts against Hakeem, because she is trying to bring the family back together. She then berates Lucious for bringing Freda Gathers into Empire. Knowing that they were responsible for her father’s death, Cookie believes Freda to be dangerous and doesn’t want her around her sons.
Meanwhile at Freda’s job at a local barbershop, she and Jamal are trading ideas about a new song that Jamal intends to put on an album. Freda is ecstatic but her violent side comes out just after Jamal leaves when a man comes in and insults her late father. Freda pistol whips him and sends him out.
Jamal plays his new song with Freda at Empire but Cookie is less than impressed. After hemming and hawwing about why she doesn’t like the song, Cookie says that if Jamal wants to surpass his father he needs something special and Freda doesn’t have it. Jamal insists that the way he feels when he records with Freda is the way Cookie and Lucious felt when they recorded some of his early hits.
Later, Hakeem calls a meeting to discuss his plan for the upcoming shareholder meeting, even though Cookie is a no-show. Andre shows up and says he is ready to help Hakeem. Hakeem is focused on which performers to have for the meeting but Andre informs him that the shareholder meeting is more than just a show and that one wrong move, or number, can send the shareholders running for the hills. He also warns Hakeem to be vigilant about any deals he has upcoming that Lucious might come after. Hakeem points out his Antony and Cleopatra deal with Saks as the one that is most important to him.
Late that night, Thirsty, presumably on Lucious’ command, sends his henchmen to break into the Empire warehouses and steal the merchandise. Hakeem furiously confronts Lucious and threatens to go to the police, saying he will never bow down to Lucious. Lucious calls Hakeem a snitch bitch and drops another bomb–he has planted drugs on the roadies for Laura and Tiana’s tour and they’ve been arrested, effectively cancelling the tour. Lucious says that a good CEO knows how to get revenge, or to use his exact words…
Jamal continues working on his album and Cookie comes in with a surprise. She has gotten him a chance to work on a duet with record-breaking female MC Stacy Run-Run (who appears to be an autotune-reliant, lollipop sucking amalgamation of Nicki Minaj, Azealia Banks and Lil’ Kim). Jamal is excited about the duo and decides to move his songs with Freda but Cookie reveals that in order to work with Stacy there can’t be any other female rappers on the album. Jamal is torn about essentially doing to Freda what his father just did with “Boom Boom Boom Boom.”
Lucious takes Andre to visit his mother’s grave. Andre speaks to his grandmother and tells her he wishes he could have met her, but as we all know anytime Lucious does something sweet he is about to ask for something. He asks for Andre’s help with the shareholders but Andre says he won’t go against his brothers. Andre says he wants everyone in the family to be better.
Hakeem continues preparing for the shareholder meeting but now without Antony and Cleopatra he no longer has a big announcement. He decides to announce Empire’s new acquisition of music streaming site Swiftstream but learns that there have been problems with the app. After Hakeem blows up during the meeting, Cookie tells him that if he is right for the job, he has her support but tells him he needs to get it together and stop being emotional at meetings.
Jamal goes to the studio to break the news to Freda that he has to choose between having Stacy Run-Run on his album or keeping her. Freda tells Jamal to go with Stacy and win, although she is clearly hurt.
Andre calls the family together and he and Rhonda have Anika tell everyone that she is pregnant and the baby is Hakeem’s. Rhonda says the family has already lost one heir and when Jamal mentions Lola, Lucious reveals that she isn’t his daughter, or a Lyon at all. Cookie is furious at Hakeem and Anika says that she understands that relations between them haven’t always been amicable or pleasant and apologizes for her part in the animosity between them. She says that all she wants is a family for her baby.
The shareholder meeting starts with Tiana performing and giving us all types of straight hair slayage.
But I digress.
Meanwhile, Anika comes home to find Lucious sitting on her couch. Lucious tells Anika to take good care of herself and have a safe pregnancy and then when she has the baby, give it to Hakeem and he will give her $10 million. Anika turns down the bribe and lets it slip that the baby is a boy. Anika says that if Lucious doesn’t give her what she wants she will go to the FBI with everything she knows about him. Lucious leaves, but not before menacingly telling Anika that a lot of women don’t survive childbirth.
Back at the shareholder meeting, Hakeem is impressing the shareholders while talking about Empire’s acquisition of Swiftstream. Lucious crashes the meeting and begins giving Hakeem the third degree. Hakeem initially starts out strong while describing the biggest challenges facing the music industry, but chokes when Lucious asks him about the theft of the Antony and Cleopatra merchandise and the problems with Tiana’s tour and the Swiftstream app. As Lucious continues to ream into Hakeem, Andre tells Rhonda that it was him who caused the problems with the Swiftstream app, in an effort to put him and Rhonda back on top again.
Seeing Hakeem struggling, Cookie comes to the rescue and vouches for him, reminding the shareholders that it was Hakeem who helped her start Lyon Dynasty. She asks Lucious and Hakeem to stand together and promise not to fight one another, and the two shake hands. Oh Cookie, you still don’t get it, do you? A handshake does not an amicable relationship make when it comes to Lyon men.
Hakeem later gets voted out of his CEO position and although Cookie tries to comfort him, Lucious is only too excited to once again take a jab at his son. Cookie, disgusted with Lucious’ arrogance, walks out on him as Lucious looks on, excited about reclaiming Empire.
Jamal comes in to record with Stacy Run-Run but learns that she is in Tokyo and has prerecorded her verse and sent it over (I’m no rap expert but that verse was trash compared to Freda’s). Jamal is unhappy but still attempts to record the song, however, he struggles to catch the beat and eventually gives up. Jamal realizes that he does not want to work without a physical person in the studio and decides that he was doing better with Freda. He goes to find Freda at the barbershop and tells her that the way he feels when he makes music with her is the way he felt about music when he first started. He asks her to come to the studio to record with him that night and she says she’ll think about it.
In the final scene, Thirsty visits a nursing home looking for Leah Walker–Lucious’ mother. After making sure she is alright, Thirsty leaves, as Ms. Walker stares out into space, singing to herself.