This week’s hour, like every great episode of Empire, centers on Cookie. Through flashbacks — some we’ve already seen, some we haven’t — we learn more about the life her father wanted for her. A life that, with Angelo, she has a second chance at getting.
So let’s get into it. Remember last week, when Cookie dumped Angelo but then whispered she loved him after he stripped down for her on TV? One of Angelo’s superpowers is bionic hearing, apparently, because he shows up this week at Cookie’s door, carrying their customary coffees and ready for a second chance. “Are you in or are you out?” he asks her, to which she replies, “Did you just give me an ultimatum?” Fortunately, the ultimatum works: Not only does Cookie decide she’s “in,” but she and Angelo finally consummate their relationship, seconds after resuming it.
Lucious has called a meeting over at Empire, even though it’s a Saturday. New York DJs have been dissing Jamal, so Lucious decides to confront him in front of everyone about how much money Jamal is burning through with no music — and no Empire XStream data — to show for it. Jamal swears he does have music, and not only that, but he’s also created some visuals (“a musical museum” as he calls it) to go with the tracks, à la Frank Ocean or Beyoncé. Always on trend, that Jamal.
One of those trends, however, isn’t great: After the meeting, Jamal is once again at home, and his two love interests are there, too. Phillip and Derek bicker in the kitchen — Phillip doesn’t think Derek should be giving Jamal drugs (duh), and Derek says everyone takes those pills. “‘Everyone does it’ is not an excuse!” Phillip tries to say, but Jamal stops them right there and makes them leave. Cookie’s coming over.
“Look at my ho-ish baby,” Cookie says when she arrives — the first of three BAZILLION amazing Cookie zingers this week. “Got two grown men sprung!” Jamal brushes it off with a smile and then takes Cookie into a room full of screens to show her his musical museum. A series of Cookie’s old home videos start to play, and she’s loving it — until her father appears on screen. Then she freaks out: “Shut it down! You can’t use those videos! You had no right!”
She rushes off to the fancy event where she’s supposed to be meeting Angelo’s mother, but she’s incredibly late after the shock of seeing those videos. When she arrives to find Angelo at the piano surrounded by pearl-clad society types, she snarls, “Can I have a minute with my man?” One of the women shoots back, “You sure he’s your man?” Cooke responds by tossing the woman’s purse and saying: “Go fetch!” When the woman is out of earshot, she mutters, “Cheap-ass bag.” I LOVE COOKIE. She never gets old; I don’t know why!
Cookie apologizes to Angelo, but he’s extremely upset. “Music is to your family what politics is to mine,” he says. “You disrespected my mother. That’s not cool.” Cookie tries to explain: Jamal found the videos, and all they did was remind her she chose Lucious when she should have chosen someone like Angelo.
In a flashback, we see teen Lucious dropping teen Cookie off at home late at night. Her father opens the door, extremely upset, holding something up. “I can’t do this anymore,” he says. “Guns and drug money? I know that’s his. You’ve got to go… As much as it’s killing me, you’ve got to go. I have two other girls to think of. I can’t let that boy ruin them like he ruined you.” Cookie tries to reason with him, but he breaks down sobbing and hugs her goodbye.
I’ll be honest, this scene made me sob. I think Ray Austin — who plays Cookie’s father, John Holloway — is phenomenal. Same to Ajiona Alexus, who’s wonderful here as young Laretha. Was John right to kick Laretha out so quickly? I don’t think so, but Cookie was blinded by young love. She didn’t yet know Lucious is The Actual Worst.
Back in present day, Cookie tries to figure out how to make it up to Angelo, and decides to take his mother out for dinner. Angelo says she should invite her sons — especially Andre, who shares an alma mater with Mrs. DuBois — because his mother is big on family. Cookie pleads with her boys and they promise to attend (though they’re not all happy about it).
NEXT: Cookie’s heartbreaking flashback