We gave it an A-
This week opens with Lucious sick — very sick — in bed with an unknown disease, with Thirsty urging a doctor to undertake some sort of illegal procedure. It’s not ALS again (as Hakeem is told later in the episode, “That’s not how ALS works”), but we don’t quite know what it is. Either way, he looks terrible, but he squeaks out one request from his ill haze: “Watch my family… they’re snakes.”
Turns out Lucious was right to think that his family would use his immobility for their own advantage… but can you blame them? Jamal and Cookie take the opportunity to work on the music video for Jamal’s “Dangerous” — a funky, Bruno Mars-esque duet with Delphine (Estelle) that tells the story of Cookie and Lucious’ die-for-each-other early days. The video stars Jamal and Delphine as the Lyon matriarch and patriarch in their gaudy ’80s best — which is a funny contrast to the more muted, more real ’80s style we see in the flashbacks.
Cookie convinces Jamal to put out a teaser for the video (complete with Cookie’s own emotional commentary upon seeing it) on his Empire Xstream channel, and it blows up. Jamal gets more followers, the fans are eager for more, and — as Cookie finds out while accompanying Angelo to the primary polls — it turns out fans are actually rooting for real-life Cookie and Lucious to get back together. They’re… I can’t even type it. They’re calling them “Coocious.” (“Sounds like a damn STD,” Cookie remarks later).
Not everything is as happy as that video, though. Empire is hit with a lawsuit for $50 million by Kennedy, Tiana’s friend who got assaulted by the random goon Hakeem had hired for his birthday party. It was on Empire property, done by an Empire employee (even a temp), streamed on Empire’s streaming service… basically, it doesn’t look good for the company. In addition to the money, Kennedy’s legal team wants a public apology from Hakeem and wants him to cancel his upcoming club appearances. The company, as you can expect, is livid.
So they have one of this week’s first Empire meetings in Lucious’ bedroom (isn’t there a song somewhere playing off “boardroom”/”bedroom”? I’m definitely missing the opportunity for a joke). Hakeem is ready to just apologize, but Thirsty says an apology is essentially an admission of guilt and tells him he can’t do it. Thirsty’s plan is to dig up dirt on Kennedy (man, Thirsty! Just when I was starting to like you for helping Becky. Ugh), which Jamal says is victim-blaming — a big no-no for an artist like Hakeem whose fans are mostly female. (I didn’t know that! Interesting.)
When everyone else leaves, Anika stays — but not before Thirsty asks her when she’s going to wear that wire for Tariq, and why they don’t just kill her now. She removes Lucious’ oxygen and starts threatening him. “Don’t die… because if you die, I’ll get everything,” she whispers. Turns out their hasty sham of a marriage didn’t include a prenup: smart on Anika’s part, not as much on Lucious’. Her threats don’t quite work, though, because Lucious shakily pulls a pistol out from under the covers. Anika gets the message and bolts… straight to Cookie’s house. She asks Cookie flat-out if she’ll personally be Bella’s guardian if Anika goes to jail or gets killed, and Cookie asks why she’d give her child to her enemy. “I’ve seen firsthand what you’re willing to do to protect your own blood,” she says. “Bella needs that.” (Aren’t we forgetting Bella’s father, Hakeem, in this equation? Although yes, I’d rather give my baby to Cookie, too.) Cookie agrees, and Anika starts to say something about “the man we both love,” but Cookie corrects her and says there’s only one man she loves, and “his name ain’t Lucious.” Anika isn’t buying it. “You can say that, but it’s not the truth,” she says.
Meanwhile, someone else has been saying things that aren’t the truth. Giuliana mentions the “arrangement” to Nessa, wondering whether she can hang with them when Nessa and Andre move in together, and asking how they deal with their hookups — do they each bring them home? Do they take turns? Nessa is confused — just as we knew she’d be. There’s no way Nessa would share her man.