We gave it a B+
Over at Hakeem’s, he’s laying down a track while Tiana plays with Bella. The song has some gunshots that scare Bella, but Hakeem doesn’t quite realize — just applauds himself for not cursing in front of her. Anika comes to the door to take Bella for the night, but Hakeem tries to fight it. “She has a playdate tomorrow! She’s on a routine now. Babies is supposed to be on them. Right, T?” Interestingly, Tiana seems to take Anika’s side in the matter — or at least, she seems to know when to defer to her. But in the end, Bella crawls back into Tiana’s arms where she’s comfortable.
Meanwhile, Cookie is at some sort of photoshoot for rich women (Mrs. DuBois is there, naturally), and it keeps triggering more flashbacks. In the next one, the woman from Philly comes back to give her a second chance, saying she “should have known how a new jack would respond to a gift like that.” She explains more about where in Philly she’s from and points out the whole Philly crew. She offers her supplies and gifts so she can be taken care of until her own commissary comes in, and reminds Cookie how many more years she — and all of them — have left on their sentences. They have to stick together: They’ll be here together for decades. Oh, and there’s something else, too: They’re almost all in prison because of their men.
Back in real life, Mrs. DuBois had been bitching (loudly) about Cookie to the other women, so the photo shoot is extremely uncomfortable. But Cookie decides to be the bigger person. “I’m sorry, I’ve gotta say something,” she says. “It’s no secret there’s bad blood between us, but I’d like to put that behind us because I have so many other things to be concerned with.” She tells everyone about her awful experience at the bank, and that she really has to go find a bank that understands how well she knows music.
One of the women pipes up: “The same thing happened to me,” she says. Her husband had a heart attack, leaving her to care for two teenagers. “All I needed was a loan, and I got turned down because I don’t have an appendage between my legs. Cookie, I’m going to spot you $10 million.” The other women chime in, talking about how the guys on Wall Street don’t have their backs, so women have to support each other. Reader, I cried. I don’t care how unrealistic it is that someone would just offer up $10 million (actually maybe it’s plenty realistic, but these are not the circles I run in), but this is one of my favorite Empire scenes of all time now. Women helping women is my weakness!!
Even Mrs. DuBois is affected (in some way): “I’m impressed,” she tells Cookie. “You were clearly the better woman today. And you’re right; it’s time we put these hostilities behind us.” Cookie smiles back at her, but I think — I hope — she realizes she still can’t trust her. You may have other things to worry about, too, Cookie, but you still have to worry about this one.
Afterwards, Mrs. DuBois gets into the car with the banker from earlier, who, of course, is another DuBois cousin. How many conniving cousins can one bougie family have?! The loan was denied on Mrs. D’s orders. Of course.
Later, Andre stands on his balcony while Pamela surveys him from an office across the street. But this isn’t normal surveillance: They’re on a call on speakerphone while they each do a bit of a striptease for each other. How is this going to play out?
And over at Jamal’s, Warren is asking why Jamal has been so cagey about his dad. “Are you embarrassed of me? Are you embarrassed of your father?” He pulls the “wow, I can’t believe you don’t trust me” card, which of course makes Jamal appease him by telling him about Lucious’ brain injury. Is this going to have a She’s All That-type ending where Warren realizes he really does love Jamal and wants to get out of this cruel game, but Mrs. D won’t let him and then Jamal finds out and they can never be together? I’m tired already.
Back at the Lyon mansion, Cookie comes home to find Lucious painting directly on the wall. He said he’s using Bella’s paints, but is this child painting with professional-level supplies?! Actually, I wouldn’t put it past the Lyons. His painting seems kind of beautiful to me, but I don’t know if that’s the point. Are we supposed to be annoyed and shocked that he’s painting on the wall, or are we realizing that Lucious’ injury gave him a major talent in another area? Is he starting a late-in-life portrait career like George W. Bush and Ronnie Wood? Anyway, Cookie decides it’s the right time to tell him that the reason she was gone for 17 years was because she was in prison. “Was it because of me?” Lucious asks. Cookie changes the subject for a second, but then relents: “Yeah, Lucious. It’s because of you.” He tells her he wants to know everything — the whole story.