Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Empire recap: The Lyon Who Cried Wolf

Lucious’ mom comes to town, and Rhonda finally gets her memory back

Posted on

Chuck Hodes/FOX


TV Show
run date:
Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett
Current Status:
In Season

For all the Lyon/lion metaphors this show conjures, this week brings a new one: Lucious’s mother, Leah Walker, is absolutely not a lion. She’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. 

She seems harmless and sweet at first, as little old ladies generally are. Andre is visiting her at the home, and they chat during bingo. “They treat you okay here?” Andre asks. “Not Mondays,” Leah answers ominously. “I hate meatloaf.” Oh. It’s not long before she’s pulling up strands of her past, though: “That boy’s famous now,” she says. “I had the voice, but they never gave me a chance.” Finally, she gives Andre a harder look: “Your eyes. Are you kin to me?” And the truth is out.

While Andre is dealing with serious stuff — as usual — the other Lyons are working on their songs. Specifically, they have to prepare their family reunion song to audition for ASA musical director D Major to convince him to give them a primetime spot. Jamal wants to perform his own new music, Lucious wants control, Hakeem wants to spit a fire verse, and Cookie…also wants control, but she actually deserves it.

Meanwhile, Hakeem is trying to get a song on the soundtrack for the next Ryan Coogler movie (please let this mean that Michael B. Jordan might guest star on Empire) and chooses Tiana for the track instead of his fiancée, Laura. Tiana uses the alone time with Hakeem to her advantage — not to do anything overtly bad but just to nudge him: “I know you want to go to the club right now, but you can’t… You’ve got a wifey and a baby mama!” Hakeem pouts a bit, “I could go if I wanted!” But when Tiana pecks him on the cheek to say goodbye, you know he’s feeling a little left out. Back at home, Laura is obviously unhappy she’s not on the song. Hakeem says to trust him, and she says she does — just doesn’t trust Tiana. Looks like their little tour collaboration song didn’t quite solve everything like the tabloids thought.

Jamal’s love life is on fire this episode, too: It seems like D Major hates him, shooting down every suggestion Jamal makes and getting in his face. But eventually, a face-off turns into a kiss-off (sorry), and they get hot and heavy while Tiana and Hakeem are in the studio (steamy!). But D Major isn’t ready to go public, and Jamal doesn’t want to climb back into the closet, so when D Major comes to Jamal’s later, Jamal sends him away.

Andre picks the perfect time to debut his new find — at the first Lyon family song rehearsal. Mid-fight, one of the Lyons exclaims, “Family… Does anyone here know what that means?” And Andre enters from the back, Leah in tow, with a perfectly-timed response: “That’s an interesting question.” At first, no one believes it’s really her — except Lucious, whose horrified look pretty much convinces all the others. Andre wants to know why Lucious lied, but Lucious acts like he’s seen the devil herself. “You have no idea what you’ve done,” he says. What, Lucious? She seems fine!

In a private moment, Cookie asks Lucious (who’s on a juice cleanse through this episode — a funny running gag) why he lied. He explains that the video wasn’t a lie — she did put the gun to her head and tell 8-year-old Dwight her pain was his fault. There just didn’t happen to be any bullets in the gun. Under Reagan, Leah was finally locked up — when Lucious and Cookie were on welfare with two kids and couldn’t have helped her anyway. “She needed to stay dead,” he says. “That’s why I took Andre to the grave… None of you understand how dangerous she really is.”

Lucious tries to get Thirsty to send her back to the home, but when Andre stops her, she changes tack completely. “I want to go home — with my Dwight,” she says. A nervous Lucious takes her home and instructs his housekeeper, Juanita, to keep a careful eye on her: She must take her pills, and she can’t have a phone or visitors. 

Thirsty, for his part, was too busy to drive Leah back anyway: He gets Harper Scott into the car, and they have a quick chat about journalism and law and truth and blah blah before he quickly lets her out on an empty road under a bridge, where she’s quickly snatched up by two hired cronies. Like a nightmare version of Cinderella, she loses a shoe at the scene. Everything comes down to shoes, doesn’t it?

NEXT: Rhonda (FINALLY) has an epiphany