Empire recap: 'Without Apology'
Cookie is sidelined by a mysterious health issue -- and an aging girl group has an axe to grind
Is Lucious psychic? This is the preposterous thought I was left with after the opening scene of Wednesday’s episode of Empire.
“Without Apology” begins with Lucious having a dream about seeing Jamal confess to trying to kill him by blowing up his car. We the audience know this to be true, but, with nothing else to go on, Lucious also takes his dream as proof and asks Thirsty to bring him the police reports regarding the explosion that played out at the end of season 3.
Lucious is back in the office and is eager to take his place behind the big desk in the big office. Cookie politely obliges, much to Porsha’s chagrin. But Cookie is just playing nice on Lucious’ first day back. “Don’t get it twisted,” Cookie tells Porsha as the matriarch heads out to a meeting. “I still run this bitch.”
Next, we cut to Tiana, Jamal, and Hakeem on stage in a rehearsal. But their performance is really just a backdrop for a conversation between Eddie and Giselle. Eddie aims to make Tiana the pride of Empire Records while Giselle is just there to make sure she gets the money that she says she’s owed once Eddie accomplishes his goal. During a break in rehearsal, Hakeem tells his ex Tiana that he noticed the way she was looking at him. “That was acting,” she tells him. But then she plants a big ‘ol kiss on him. And just like that, the two are back together.
Bak in the office, Eddie, Lucious, and Cookie take a meeting with Kelly Patel, whom Eddie refers to as “the king of Silicon Valley.” Eddie and Lucious try to sweet talk Kelly into partnering with Empire Records to put their streaming service on his next generation of phones. Kelly seems tentative, so Cookie cuts to the chase: “Are you in or out?” Kelly responds to Cookie’s assertiveness. “This is going to be fun,” Kelly tells the group, but privately he asks Eddie if they can pull off the partnership without any of the “Lyons’ drama.” Eddie assures him that’s all “behind them”…
But drama always finds the Lyon family. Later in the day, Porsha interrupts a meeting in the conference room to share a snippet of an interview that’s set to air the next day: An aging girl group that Lucious had dropped from the label years ago is claiming Empire Records used to lock talent up in “sweatshops” until they produced a banger. Oh, and they just happen to have a reunion album to promote…
Everyone fears the interview will send Kelly running. Lucious says he wants to handle it but Cookie steps in and promises to solve the problem. She goes to visit the Three Black Divas — or TBD) — who are giving a sad performance at a local mall. (Someone actually unplugs their speaker to charge their phone.) Cookie hands the group an envelope, but it doesn’t have a lawsuit in it — it has a contract to sign them back to the label. She has one condition: Scrap the interview. The group has a condition of their own: Lucious has to apologize to them.
Jamaal wants to wow Kelly at the upcoming showcase and is thinking of performing something new for the mogul, but Eddie suggests that Jamaal sit the showcase out as to not remind Kelly that Jamaal was involved in the shooting of Angelo. Jamaal isn’t happy about the suggestion but Eddie appeals to his desire to do what is best for the family and the company.
Lucious puts his best fake smile on and tries to appease TBD with gifts — and a sweet food spread — before issuing a blanket apology for “anything” he may have done to apologize. One of the women dubs his mea culpa as a “fauxpology” and they accuse him of sabotaging their album and kicking one of the members out for gaining weight. Oh, and they don’t want Cookie “running the show” since she kept them out of the company’s upcoming 20 for 20 show. The conversation quickly devolves into bickering and the women walk out, saying they’ve got another record deal offer.
Needless to say, Cookie is not happy with Lucious’ performance. She’s pissed that she always comes through for him but he can never do the same. “I don’t need somebody to tell me how to do my business,” Lucious tells Cookie, adding that he’s going to secure the deal with Kelly the “old-fashioned Empire way.”
Becky finds Jamaal playing the piano like a sad little puppy. He opens up to her about feeling like a pariah after the Angelo incident, which leads her to open up about being pregnant with J Poppa’s child. It all ends with a hug. It’s nice to see these two bonding again.
Eddie has a meeting with Tiana and she assures him she’s “all in” to revamp her career, but he questions her commitment because he saw her kissing Hakeem. Eddie creepily tells her that he should be the only man in her life right now.
Lucious and Cookie bring in TBD to inform them that Empire Records bought the company that gave them their new record deal — and they put the band’s lawyer on their payroll to boot. Cookie stands up to leave the office, ready to tackle the next fire, but stumbles on her way out. Lucious is concerned but she waves him off.
Andre, who is out of the treatment facility, goes to visit his pastor. He almost comes clean about his sins right there in the church, but he can’t bring himself to say the words just yet.
At the showcase, Cookie introduces TBD, who put on smiles for a performance that leaves Kelly impressed. Backstage, Sean pops up to make sure Andre isn’t going to reveal his involvement in the bombing. And even further backstage, Tiana and Hakeem are once again locking lips. But the makeout is interrupted when Hakeem gets down on one knee with a massive diamond ring. Tiana tells him she wants to say yes but can’t have any “distractions” right now. ELSEWHERE backstage, Becky breaks things off with Big Poppa. How big is this backstage?!
After the show, Eddie and Giselle take Kelly out to celebrate their new deal, but it’s not the one Lucious and Cookie think they’re making: “When are we telling the Lyons I’m buying Empire?” Kelly asks. “Leave the Lyons to me,” replies Eddie. Watching Eddie dealmake gets Giselle all hot and bothered…maybe she’s not just in this for the money.
At the family home, Cookie and Lucious inform Andre that they still intend to hand the company over to him. They can tell he doesn’t look pleased and Lucious gives a knowing look to show he still suspects his eldest son of trying to murder him. During dinner, Hakeem replays his proposal to the family. He seems hopeful that Tiana will come around but Cookie tries to explain to him that needing to “take some time” to decide usually is just a nice way to say no.
Andre and Lucious pull away to have a private conversation, and Lucious all but flat out accuses Andre of the bombing. Andre tells him he has a secret he can’t keep anymore and admits he was responsible. As sure as Lucious seemed earlier in the episode, he still appears shaken by the revelation. Andre puts a gun in Lucious’ hand and tells him to do what he has to do. But instead of shooting his son, Lucious hits him upside the head and begins throttling him. “You almost killed your father!” he screams. The rest of the family rushes in and Lucious shares Andre’s revelation before collapsing in a tearful puddle in Cookie’s arms. Cookie and Lucious try and excuse Andre’s actions as part of him being “sick,” but Lucious admits things will never be the same. Cookie asks Lucious to promise not to hurt Andre, but as their conversation continues Cookie again stumbles and has to be placed on the couch. “I can’t catch my breath,” she says in a panic.
Cue the credits.
So what is going on with Cookie? It appears at least one Lyon must be in the hospital at any given time.