Rehearsals for the showcase suffer a couple of snags (some botched choreography here, a Hakeem no-show there), but fortunately, Cookie and Lucious are finally able to give the event their full attention. Jamal wants to change the song he’ll perform to the number he wrote about Kai, “Loving You is Easy,” but Cookie doesn’t see the song as a showstopper and tells him to stick to the plans. As rehearsals continue to show some growing pains, Cookie rallies the troops to remind them of the stakes. “You are performing for your future,” she says. “What you do on that stage tomorrow night will define the rest of your life.” When Devon interrupts wondering why Hakeem isn’t here to listen to her speech, Cookie throws it back on him and his virginity. “That’s what wrong with you celibates.” she snaps back, telling Devon to put that “pent-up energy” into his performance.
But where is Hakeem? He’s at the mansion having a true heart-to-heart with Tiana; it’s become clear to them both that they’re no longer compatible as a couple. “We may not be good together, but we can be good to each other,” Hakeem says. The two agree that they have to put their drama behind them and be effective co-parents to Prince and Bella, even though they’re no longer together. Hakeem tries to go for one last embrace, but Tiana pushes him away and says she can’t. As Andre fills Lucious in on the further fallout at Empire, he ignores a call from Teri. Lucious notices and asks his son if he has a new woman in his life, which Andre brushes off. “Teri and Quincy don’t deserve that and you know what, I probably don’t deserve them,” he says matter of factly. Lucious, having seen the work his son has done over the years to put his demons behind him, asks Andre if he believes that he deserves happiness and tells him that life is finally offering him some joy. “Take it, accept that, you deserve that,” Lucious says as Cookie watches on silently. “Enjoy it.”
Having seemingly closed the door on Tiana, Hakeem heads off to the pool tables to see Blake. Though the meeting starts off tense, it eases quickly as Hakeem tells Blake about the gun incident and its aftermath. After a mostly unseen conversation, Blake apologizes for the diss track drama and says nothing ever happened with him and Tiana. “I don’t know how to make that right but whatever it is I’ll do it,” he tells Hakeem. Taking his father’s words to heart, Andre shows up for Teri and Quincy’s dream beach day. In a moment alone with Teri, he shares that the last time he was at this beach he said goodbye to Rhonda. “I thought that being alone and in the dark was what I was meant to be,” Andre says. He then tells Teri she brought him a light that he desperately needed and that he wants to be with her, even though he still considers himself “a dangerous man.” “What I need to know is are you willing to take the risk of being around me?” Andre asks. Teri answers with a kiss and a new door opens in his life.
Becky and Giselle lament the holiday melancholy at Empire before being interrupted by Kingsley, Kelly Patel, and a couple of security guards. Turns out Kingsley has scapegoated Becky for the data-selling, saying that she and Lucious were in cahoots on the scheme. Claiming to have the emails to prove this (he doesn’t), Kingsley fires Becky and has security escort her out the building. As Becky is pushed out insisting it’s all a lie, Giselle asks to see the proof. “Sink or swim” is all Kingsley says as he “keeps” the “information” to himself. It’s two hours until the LFM showcase and Lucious is putting the finishing touches on the table arrangements when Thirsty walks in with some urgent news about Becky’s firing from Empire. Lucious wonders if they’ve traced the data leak to them, but Thirsty insists the device was untraceable and that Becky’s not the real target; Kingsley’s using her to say that Lucious was behind the data scheme. Lucious is apoplectic as he figures this all out and, despite Thirsty telling him to stay in place and focus, he storms out of the showcase.
As if this showcase was unlucky enough, Kai visits Jamal backstage with some new information he’s dug up from a new source. When Lucious was running Empire, he had dossiers on all of his artists containing unsavory information about the crimes they’ve committed, all of which Lucious managed to keep buried from the public. Jamal says that while it all sounds awful now, his father was only doing this to protect his artists. Kai, however, argues that Lucious’ actions silenced numerous victims. Jamal says that since Kai doesn’t know what really went down in all those dossiers, he can’t really run the story. “So you’re asking me to choose between what’s right and what’s right for your family?” Kai asks. When Jamal insists that Kai is his family, he shows Jamal the “truth conquers all” tattoo on his chest and says that he was the victim of a partial truth. “I know myself and if I don’t release this story, I’m going to end up resenting you for asking me to kill it,” Kai tells Jamal. He asks Kai to give him the dossiers, promising to do the right thing with them. After a moment, Kai agrees to hold off on the story but says that he needs to examine their relationship. He’s been offered a new permanent position in London and he’s seriously considering it.
(Recap continues on next page…)