Lucious informs Thirsty and Andre about the vaulting and they’re both confused as to why Kingsley’s making such a move since Lucious’ music still makes up a large amount of Empire’s revenue. He asks the two to find out what Kingsley’s planning to do to replace that piece of the Empire pie, but not to let Cookie know about what’s going on. This lasts about three seconds as she’s distracted from her continued work on the showcase by everyone walking past her. Cookie asks Lucious to tell her if he really went to see Kingsley like she told him not to. Lucious cops up to it and tells her that he couldn’t let their legacy disappear; Cookie, however, tells him that the catalog is their past and LFM is their future and that she can’t just carry the company alone while he’s off on a vendetta of sorts. Lucious insists that he’s fully committed to LFM and that they’re in it together, as we get a long flashback to another lost court battle between the Lyons and Eddie for control of Empire. It’s almost like history repeating as Lucious is dead-set on getting his company back, while Cookie wonders if they should just walk away and start something new. When Lucious insinuates that Cookie is a quitter, she walks away “before I say something that can’t get unsaid.”
We then see her at a hotel bar nursing a drink when she’s joined by a dapper gentleman we now know as Damon Cross. Cookie isn’t falling for his act at first but they meet again in the hotel elevator, which conveniently breaks down. When a claustrophobic Damon has a panic attack, it’s Cookie that calms his nerves and instructs him to take a deep breath. She then spots a jewelry box that catches her eye; Damon says it’s a gift for his daughter who’s celebrating being 5 years cancer-free. When the elevator starts working again, Cookie tells Damon about the argument she had with Lucious but insists he’s the love of her life. When the two leave, he asks for her name; “Cookie, Cookie Lyon.” And the seeds are planted…
Kai walks in on Jamal playing the piano and confronts him for revealing their engagement on television. Kai says that he’s spent the last 10 years trying to be taken seriously as a journalist and now he’ll just be seen to the public as Jamal Lyon’s fiance. In fact, two sources have already backed out on him and his editor is joking about putting him on the entertainment desk. “I love you,” Kai says to reassure Jamal. “I just didn’t think that I’d go from telling the story to being the story.”
Back at the mansion, Cookie realizes they’re over budget while going over LFM’s numbers. Lucious comes to her with a plan to ease their financial burden: mortgage the mansion and use the money to cover LFM’s overages. “If we don’t bet on ourselves, who else will?” Lucious asks as he signs the mortgage papers. Over at Empire, Becky and Giselle are still at a loss as to how to deal with Kingsley’s decision-making. Both agree that the vaulting is a terrible move and Becky asks if Giselle could talk to Empire’s tech backers to get Kingsley in line. Giselle says Kingsley won’t listen to tech geeks and asks Becky to sit tight as she has something up her semi-homicidal sleeve. “When the time is right, I will handle Kingsley,” Giselle says.
Cookie walks into Candace’s house in the hopes of smoothing things over, but Candace is in no mood to talk. Franklin is now in an institution and she doesn’t know when or if he’ll be released. Cookie says she only called the police because she was in fear for herself and her sister, but Candace insists it was just another one of his episodes. “Have you ever called the police on Andre?” Candace asks. When Cookie says she hasn’t had to because Andre was “different,” Candace only grows more frustrated. “What was I thinking comparing my sweet boy to that murderous crazy convict?” Candace tells Cookie all she can picture in her mind is Franklin strapped to a hospital bed, medicated and not being able to recognize his mother. “Now you know what that phone call did,” she says. “What you did.” Candace, in tears, then shuts the door on Cookie.
After handing Maya some errands to run despite her not having a car (“the bus runs until 2 a.m., and with some luck, you’ll make it back by then”), Cookie is presented with the layout of the showcase by Carol. Carol wonders how they’ll be able to afford everything the event entails, which Cookie answers by telling her about Lucious mortgaging the mansion. Cookie wonders if this is the time to tell Lucious about the secret condo and to sell it, but Carol wonders if she’s holding onto to it for a different reason. Cookie brushes her sister’s worries aside and tells her that she and Lucious are building LFM together and that unlike Empire, this feels like a true partnership. Carol then changes her tune, telling Cookie to put her attention on the showcase and then tell Lucious about the condo when LFM’s in firmer financial footing.
Blake is in his own personal studio when Hakeem and his entourage burst through wanting answers for all the threats that are going Tiana and the kids’ way. Blake says he never said anything to make his fans do what they’re doing and tries to break the ice by offering a drink, but this only leads to more tension. When Hakeem passive aggressively insists on accepting Blake’s non-apology, Blake insists he has nothing to be sorry about since he wasn’t the one who started it by dropping the first diss track. “Who tried to take my girl?” Hakeem responds; Blake snaps back by saying Tiana wasn’t Hakeem’s girl when he was cooking for her and their kids. Suddenly that’s enough for the guns to start popping up. “You better fix this,” Hakeem says as he walks away, gun pointed at Blake.
(Recap continues on next page…)