We've reached the end of the first half of Empire season 3 and funny enough, several of the characters appear to have reached the end of their ropes as well.
Cookie, future FLOTUS (or FLONY, for now)?
Angelo's mayoral campaign is well underway but his privileged background is preventing him from connecting with New Yorkers. Cookie steps in to defend Angelo and gets his upcoming fundraiser moved from his mother's posh country club to Rockaway Beach, where it becomes a concert, headlined by Empire's stars. So basically this becomes the second coming of the Free Lucious concert from last season.
Lucious (who is also apparently between perms this episode) is unhappy with Cookie's relationship with Angelo and continues to express his mistrust of Angelo and his "concern" for Jamal's health. Lucious arranges a meeting with Diana and agrees to stop a story by shady, potentially racist reporter Edison Cruz about Angelo that could damage his reputation. In return, Diana agrees to end Cookie and Angelo's relationship. Unfortunately after Diana learns that Cookie is actually benefiting Angelo's campaign she backs out of her end of the deal. Lucious isn't pleased.
As payback, Lucious decides to renege on his part of the deal as well. He tips Edison off about Angelo's fundraiser and the truth (or at least part of the truth) about Angelo's past comes out. Almost 20 years before, Angelo was involved in a drunk driving accident where a car he was driving crashed into a lake. Angelo managed to free himself but left the girl who was riding with him to drown.
Will Jamal stay on the wagon?
Jamal has kicked his painkiller habit but is struggling to prepare for his upcoming performance at Angelo's fundraiser. Cookie insists that Jamal do the performance sober and takes all of his pills away from him, dumping them down the sink to make sure they are gone forever. But on the day of the fundraiser, Jamal is late because his is suffering from withdrawal symptoms and can't get out of bed. Cookie employs her, apparently hereditary, plumbing skills and fishes Jamal's pills out of the pipes, feeding them to him so he can perform. Jamal gives the show of his life but as he exits the stage, Cookie and his family hold an intervention for him and Cookie informs a tearful Jamal that she is sending him to rehab.
Tariq almost catches Lucious
After learning that Lucious paid two men to do something during the Empire email hack and connecting their names to the lyrics from Freda's rap (which Shyne secretly recorded), Tariq is given permission to freeze Empire's assets for 30 days in order to bring a murder charge against Lucious.
Tariq Cousins ... the king of receipts.
The asset freeze causes Cookie to have trouble paying vendors for the fundraiser and halts Empire's business. Lucious goes to the FBI offices and offers himself up to Tariq to be arrested. Lucious reveals that Tariq is his half brother thus ruining his case. Shyne offers to help Lucious by leveraging his various properties for $50 million in exchange for a legitimate stake in Empire. Lucious agrees and Tariq is furious at being played by Shyne.
Vengeance by Andre
Andre finally tells Nessa about his bipolar disorder and explains that Rhonda used to help him take care of himself. Nessa is understanding but says that she wants Andre to learn to take care of himself. Andre has one last conversation with Rhonda's ghost where she makes him promise to get Empire and to destroy Anika.
Andre meets Shyne at Leviticus and lets him know that he knows that Shyne sold Lucious out to Tariq. Andre tells Shyne to respect the company's hierarchy from now on and wait until all of the pieces are in place for him to kill Lucious and take over Empire.
Other things we learned this episode:
- Mrs. Dubois reads books, not graffiti ... so she probably wouldn't have been interested in deciphering whatever that was on Hakeem's head during the concert.
- Takeem is a thing again ... I guess.
- FBI business takes a backseat to the Giants game.
- Black privilege is a thing ... NOT, NOT ABSOLUTELY NOT!
- Ferris wheels are a great place for making shady deals.
And now ... we wait until March.