Tonight’s Empire fall finale wastes no time getting into all the twists, turns, songs, and punches we all come to expect from an Empire finale so neither will I. Onto the recap!
We start right where last week ended, with young Bella innocently clutching a gun as her family urges her to put it down. With everyone in an understandable panic, it’s Lucious’ plea for quiet that manages to calm the situation as Hakeem kneels to meet Bella’s gaze while singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.’ Once in front of his daughter, he grabs the gun and the family breathes a sigh of relief.
With things finally calm in the house, Tiana begins to blame herself for what happened but Cookie immediately says otherwise, noting that it may be her and Lucious’ fault in part for equating their relationships. “Ride or die is a lie,” Cookie tells Tiana. “It traps you in absolutes when the truth is we grow and we change and need different things along the way.” She then tells Tiana to put her worth into herself and her children and to “let Hakeem do Hakeem.” Meanwhile, Lucious is also blaming himself for the event, wondering if raising his children around guns affected their upbringing. “Everyone in our family got blood on their hands except you,” he tells Hakeem. Lucious tells Hakeem that while he and Cookie will have to think about the karma they carry with them, it’s not too late for Hakeem to pull himself together. “Clean your house, son,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be a vicious cycle unless you make it one.” These two conversations are interspersed together as Hakeem and Tiana each take the advice differently. While Tiana seems to be taking Cookie’s words to heart, Hakeem is eager to run from reality and walks away from the father-son talk.
Kai has been up all night working on the story of Empire’s data-selling scheme, using the information Lucious gave him through… ill-gotten gains. Jamal continues to wonder if his fiancé getting involved in the family drama will backfire, but Kai insists the story is of public concern. Having literally dodged a bullet earlier, Lucious and Cookie are ready for bed, but not before addressing that whole condo issue that started the drama. Cookie chalks up everyone’s “craziness” to no one in the family feeling secure, and says no one will feel truly secure until LFM gets off the ground. When Lucious questions if she’s all about money now, Cookie insists she loves him but that “love don’t pay the bills;” getting their artists signed to labels will. “Until our future is secure, we gotta be all about the money,” she says. And if the money doesn’t start coming soon, they’ll lose everything. Lucious apologizes for the blow-up and says the stress over Kingsley’s machinations has been throwing him off; Cookie immediately stops him and says not to mention Kingsley again and focus on their big moment: the LFM showcase.
Speaking of Kingsley, he and Giselle meet in the aftermath of her finding out about his family ties. Giselle makes it clear what she wants: either she takes over as Empire CEO or Kingsley’s parentage goes to the press. Kingsley, however, has other ideas; seeing he and Giselle as the perfect team to take Empire to the top, he offers her the job of co-CEO with him. “Together we can run Empire and destroy Lucious Lyon,” Kingsley says. “Thick or thin, sink or swim.” Giselle seemingly accepts, asking what the company policy is on drinking champagne before noon. Andre and Teri welcome the newly-freed Quincy into his family home, complete with an early Christmas gift. Teri takes the opportunity to thank Andre for getting his son freed, calling him a blessing to the family. When Quincy opens the gift, he finds a note simply saying “Anything! Anywhere;” Quincy’s idea of “anything, anywhere” is hotdogs on the beach. Even though it’s December in New York and beaches are essentially snow banks this time of year, Teri immediately obliges and as Andre is ready to leave the house, she invites him to join them on their special day. Andre insists he has work to catch up on but tells them to call if they need anything.
As Cookie and Porsha continue putting final touches on the LFM showcase, it’s time for Kai’s big exposé on Empire’s data-selling to air. This scheme, however, is news to Becky and Giselle, who watch the report in shock. “Damn, why it gotta be the po-po?” Becky asks as a furious Kingsley throws his drink at the TV. Kai’s report directly fingers him as the mastermind behind the data-mining. While Lucious and Jamal gloat over Kingsley’s bad press, Cookie sees this as the Empire chapter of their lives finally closing. With the media piling around Empire HQ in the aftermath of Kai’s report, Kelly Patel angrily tells Kinglsey and Giselle that Empire’s misdeeds are causing its parent company’s brand partners to jump ship. Giselle promises to have their PR team draft a letter addressing the crisis, while Kingsley says that once he finds out who’s behind the leak (*cough*Lucious*cough*) he’ll have their head on a platter.
(Recap continues on next page…)