We gave it a B+
Empire’s midseason finale opens with a dream: Andre’s on stage singing, imagining that he’s Empire’s latest star artist. (Side note: Since Trai Byers can actually sing, why do we have to pretend Andre is the Lyon with no talent?! Are they saving this for a season 5 plot?) He starts screaming for “Daddy!” which breaks him out of the dream: Now we’re in a hospital room where he’s strapped to a bed, and a nurse is explaining to Lucious that they have to purge all the psychotropic drugs from Andre’s system so they can see what the permanent damage to his brain might be. Lucious tells Andre that the people who did this to him are going to pay dearly.
Cookie, of course, is also ready to take down the DuBois family in the most vicious way possible. And it turns out they might have the perfect opportunity: Diana is hosting the Captain’s Ball again this year. But she’s having all of the wait staff and hotel workers thoroughly vetted specifically to keep out any Lyons.
Over at Empire, another party is going on, as Eddie’s leaving his temporary post at the label. Cookie still isn’t convinced that Lucious is really back, but when Lucious plays an old song with Eddie at the party, it does seem like he’s here.
After the party, Lucious and Cookie brainstorm about how to get into the DuBois party, and they realize (in cheesy Empire fashion) that “it’s music that gets us in there”…so they’ll figure out a way to get in via the New York Philharmonic.
A still-bruised Warren shows up in Jamal’s apartment — apparently by giving Jamal’s doorman the $10,000 Diana gave him to leave town. Should I become a doorman? Warren apologizes again and says he deserves everything that’s come to him, and Jamal just agrees (and then some): “You and every bitch like you deserves to die!” Warren says he has something important to tell Jamal, and Jamal brushes it off at first. But as Warren leaves the apartment, Jamal finally comes to his senses and asks, “What is it you need to tell me?”
The time for the Captain’s Ball has finally come, and conveniently, Angelo is outside of the event space. Cookie and Lucious pick him up in a limo, and Lucious bloodies him into signing a confession that he was in on Bella’s kidnapping. (Which seems to be the only thing he wasn’t actually in on at the time Diana conceived of it.)
Once it’s signed, they drive him back to the ball, where of course Diana is shocked to see what’s happened to him. But she’s even more shocked when Cookie and Lucious show up and take over the dance floor with a tango, then cede the spotlight to Jamal and Hakeem, who perform the new version of “Love Is a Drug” to a very lukewarm crowd of rich socialites.
Then, the fun really begins: Jamal and Hakeem tell the crowd about everything Diana has done, like putting Andre in the hospital and kidnapping baby Bella. But the clincher is when Warren Skypes in on the big screen and tells everyone his own side of what happened, and the way Diana treats her own family. “She’s one of the most disgusting, violent people I’ve ever met,” he says. Cookie joins in on the speeches, and finally, the crowd starts to turn on Diana — as Angelo heads out to try to get vengeance on Warren. By the time the cops show up to arrest Diana, the whole audience seems to be Team Cookie. (Recap continues on page 2.)