Well, it’s not an Empire finale without bitter fights, soapy drama, and a brutal cliffhanger, is it? We’ve got a lot to cover this week, so let’s get started!
When this week’s episode starts, Jamal is arriving home from the hospital in a wheelchair — so that answers that big “Is he dead or not?” question from last week without too much fanfare. Although I’m pretty sure the two characters Empire could never kill off are Cookie and Jamal, so did any of us really think he was out? Didn’t think so. As for the other cliffhanger from last week — whether Grandma Lyon was going to tell Lucious’ secret to the press — that one gets resolved quickly, too. Thirsty pulled her away in time, apparently, so she never told. That was… easy. Too easy?
The Lyons are planning Hakeem and Laura’s wedding and want Jamal to perform a song for them (obviously). But this time, a somber, exhausted Jamal isn’t having it: He doesn’t want to sing until the Lyons change the cycle of “death and incarceration” they keep getting trapped in. Lucious is still crazy proud that Jamal took a bullet for him, but Jamal reminds him that Freda is a victim in this situation, too.
Anika is nervous this week because the cops have talked to her, and she really, really doesn’t want to testify against Lucious. But she’s not nervous about what should really be bothering her: The fact that Rhonda has figured out Anika is the one who pushed her down the stairs and killed Lyon Heir #1. Watching Lucious treat Anika with kid gloves, though, has gotten Rhonda to her breaking point. She confronts Anika in front of everyone — but to her (and my) shock, everyone takes Anika’s side. Even Andre. Later, Rhonda tries to talk about it with Andre — he had those visions about her being pushed, remember? — but he isn’t having it. She thinks Andre owes her, but he doesn’t seem quite convinced.
Meanwhile, Cookie and Lucious have the past creeping up on them, too. While Cookie was in prison, Lucious had to “put in work on those cats” (I’m just quoting it because it’s hilarious to picture Lucious literally grooming some kittens). I honestly can’t follow all the crime stuff, but basically it seems like Lucious and this guy Shyne (“an idiot snitch,” according to Cookie) were working for two guys, Tommy and Rosie, and now it’s all coming back because Tariq the Freak FBI Agent is on the case. They have to make sure all those people who were involved don’t let anything slip.
The only problem? In order to placate Shyne, Cookie has to agree to let him come to Hakeem and Laura’s wedding. And Laura’s dad, understandably, doesn’t want Shyne there, because he’s aware of his reputation. Hakeem assures Laura’s family it will be okay, and Cookie and Lucious also promise everything will stay under control. Famous last words.
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To win back Jamal’s trust, Lucious visits Freda in prison, and pretends he had nothing to do with killing her father — he just wanted to help her because she was so talented. Lucious Lyon, a regular Mother Theresa! Anyway, he convinces Freda to record a little song from prison to help get Jamal’s spirits up. I seriously, seriously love Freda. I feel like she’s just a couple hugs away from superstardom.
Jamal is a sucker for music, so obviously this plan works, and he’s inspired! He and D-Major (when did they make up?) gather up a crew of orchestra musicians and gospel singers and crank out another Jamal Lyon hit. And best of all, Jamal isn’t depressed anymore: He even gets up out of his wheelchair, despite looking super cool ordering everyone around from his mobile throne like Professor Xavier, but then has to get back in because of a flare of pain.
NEXT: Anika makes a dramatic threat