Empire recap: Murder at the Heartbreak Hotel
It’s time to get the Trust Tour on the road! When a music label deep in debt embarks on a nationwide tour without selling a single ticket, I can’t help but expect a sh— show on wheels. And where the Lyons go, drama is sure to follow, so let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?
Tiana and Treasure’s duet is topping the fictional charts, warranting a TV interview with “Angie on the Mic,” featuring Cookie, as a promotional spot for the upcoming tour. Cookie assures the viewers of Empire’s complete confidence in the tour’s potential success, conveniently leaving out the fact that Lucious is the only executive member who hasn’t at least momentarily wondered if the entire venture was a mistake.
Thurston updates Lucious on the day he spent with the FBI, which sends him spiraling to cover the tracks of Cookie and Damon’s trip to Panama. While going over the details of the “scrubbing” with Cookie and Gisele, he thoughtlessly mentions that he hid the money in his new charity, disguised as a donation. Cookie is livid when she finds out that he’s using the charity they were going to use to “rewrite [their] story” as a method of hiding shady business from the feds. However, she doesn’t have much time to go off on him before Damon Cross storms in demanding to to know why Lucious is contacting his Panama connections without his permission.
Damon explains how he’s going to clean up the “sloppy” job Lucious has done covering their tracks. Lucious isn’t going to stand for this man calling the shots in his office, and Gisele was just enjoying watching these two businessmen fight over whose “ego” is bigger (she was definitely team Damon and thirstier than Cookie or I could stomach).
Elsewhere, the artists of Empire are boarding their busses. It’s only a 2-hour drive to Philly, but it will definitely feel like longer with Carlito’s unwanted sexual advances, Blake and Tiana’s sexual tension (for some reason Hakeem has a private tour bus?), and Maya trying to get everyone to see her as a choreographer and not just an assistant. She bonds with Blake because he’s the only one being nice to her and encourages him to make a move on Tiana. An odd move, considering the look on her face implies that she’s developing her own feelings for Blake.
The whole team is annoyed by the critiques of a gossipy, non-binary YouTube personality named Hey Beautiful. They believe the Trust Tour is “crusty nonsense” and that the Empire has become a “trash” brand that’s likely unworthy of even a free price tag. Cookie is suffering through Hey Beautiful’s harsh words when she receives an email from Damon Cross that contains that security camera footage he obtained from the hotel where they stayed in Panama. She’s reminiscing on their time together (to be continued in a sultry wet dream later!) when Gisele interrupts with plans of how to explain away Damon’s visit to Empire if the FBI comes knocking. They’ll claim that they were seeking the help of Damon’s investors to fund the tour and will invite him to the tour’s first stop in Philly for good measure. Of course, Gisele has no problem escorting him there herself. Cookie doesn’t hide her jealousy, and really? It’s getting tacky.
Moments before the dress rehearsal for the first Trust Tour performance, Treasure’s gross ex-manager shows up demanding his cut of the proceeds from Treasure and Tiana’s hit song. His arrival pisses everyone off, but Cookie reminds Lucious that the FBI could be watching him at any moment. Instead of reintroducing Joe to his right hook, Lucious agrees (through gritted teeth) to paying him $30,000 and drafting up a paper that says he’ll never show his face again.
Lucious calls Andre and instructs him to make the money transfer, unaware that his son has just had his first chemo treatment. Teri has hooked him up with a doctor she knew as a nurse, and they’ve recommended a brand of chemo nicknamed “the angel and the devil.” It can stop the growth of his cancer in just weeks, but it could also cause heart problems and tumors. Andre ignores the side effects and is quickly persuaded by the promise of speedy results. Teri doesn’t think he should be doing Lucious’ bidding with this medicine pulsing through his veins, and he’s in the middle of insisting that he’s fine when an aggressive round of nausea literally knocks him off of his feet.
Treasure’s old manager slithering over before the dress rehearsal must have been a bad omen because the actual performance of her duet with Tiana was what nightmares are made of. First, the lights started going haywire. Then, Carlito didn’t even bother to take the stage for his verse (no doubt off somewhere seducing one of the groupies he met outside the venue). The cherry on top of the sh— sundae was Treasure forgetting the dance steps and taking a nosedive off stage, leaving the dancer who tried to catch her holding nothing but a fake ponytail. (Hey Beautiful summed up the “free-asco” with a pretty amazing GIF of her mid-fall.) Understandably embarrassed, Treasure runs away crying and Lucious chases after her.
The real performance the next day was one thousand times better — at least for Tiana and Treasure. Treasure stayed upright, Carlito actually showed up, and Tiana and Blake got a little closer while dancing on stage, per Maya’s advice. However, when Jamal took the stage, the whole venue blew a fuse. Quick on his feet, Jamal asks the crowd to raise the flashlights on their phones. If the electricity is out, how does his microphone still work, you may ask? I have no idea. Call your electrician. Don’t call me.
He sits down at the piano to sing a love song inspired by his ex-fiance Kai, but becomes too overwhelmed with emotion to continue. Winter comes to his rescue, making the performance a beautiful duet. So beautiful, that it brings Kai to Jamal’s hotel door later that night, and they fall into each other’s arms.
The celebratory after-party leads to more than a couple alcohol-induced bad decisions. Drunk Tiana is dramatically less repulsed by Carlito, which leads to Blake seeing them hooking up in her room. Sauced and sad, Blake ends up in Maya’s room. Treasure, champagne wasted, tries to mount Lucious as a thank you for his kind pep talk. Lucious tries to push her away, but Cookie bursts in the room and explodes when she finds them in a compromising position. Lucious chases after (really getting his steps in this episode), but a rage-filled Cookie can’t be reached.
Thinking Lucious has betrayed her yet again, Cookie is done sacrificing her happiness for his. It’s her turn to be selfish. As she walks to Damon Cross’ hotel room, her mind is lost in flashbacks of all of the awful moments of her relationship with Lucious. When she walks through Damon’s door and lets her fur coat fall to the floor, she walks away from it and the pain Lucious has caused her. Damon’s creepy smile says it all.
While Andre gives in to the chemo fatigue the doctor warned him about, Teri calls Lucious to tell him about Andre’s cancer. Now Lucious is not only stressed about what his wife thinks she saw, but he’s also devastated that his eldest son could be dying. You could say there has never been a more inopportune moment for Treasure’s sleazeball ex-manager to stroll up behind him in the alley behind the concert venue.
Since Andre was never able to send him the money, and Treasure’s second performance was such an improvement, he’s now demanding $50,000 — per month. Lucious lunges at the man and begins smashing his face into the ground, killing him and whatever chance the Lyon family had of a fresh start.
I obviously don’t condone murder, but I can see why Lucious snapped. What do you think? Let us know below.