While this week’s episode starts out crazy enough (I’d love to interview some people with synesthesia to see if anyone actually “writes” symphonies via abstract painting), by its end, it almost feels like we’re back in the old days of Empire, where it’s Lyons against the world and Cookie and Lucious will cut anyone’s throat for their cubs.
We begin with Lucious and Jamal in the studio, where, as mentioned above, Lucious is trying to translate a painting into musical notes. He goes as far as to put dabs of paint on the actual piano keys. Is he re-teaching himself how to play here, or is he just trying to help show Jamal his vision? Either way, it’s obviously a beautiful song…it’s just hard for me to keep a straight face during these savant-like scenes with New Lucious. Later, Lucious works on the song even more while he’s alone, and more scenes from his past come back to him. So nice how this happens!
Elsewhere in the studio, Becky and Porsha are watching Tory Ash record a new track for hours, as dictated by Cookie’s new special assistant (and board member) Eddie Barker. Everyone’s yawning, and the engineer, Calvin, is falling asleep and pressing the wrong buttons. I thought it was because they were so bored by the song, but it turns out they’d been up all night and were dying for a bit of sleep — something Eddie has no patience for. Privately, they start grumbling, and Calvin tells Porsha he’s working them way too hard. Oh, and by the way, he thinks she needs to stand up to Cookie for the way she treats her.
Meanwhile, Hakeem has been spying on Bella when Anika and Angelo take her to the park, pretending to be a beautiful, perfect, bougie family. Thirsty stops him from doing anything crazy, but later, the family agrees they need to get Bella back. Yes, they’re all still a little pissed at Hakeem for the things he said about them on Diana DuBois’ tapes, but it seems like they haven’t totally cut him out (big change from the way last week’s episode ended, but oh well).
Lucious goes to Anika’s by himself and says that if she’ll share custody of Bella, he’ll make her an equal heir to Empire along with Jamal, Andre, and Hakeem. She says she’ll think about it, and Lucious asks for the family to have a visit with Bella as a show of goodwill — while she’s thinking. Reluctantly, she agrees, if it’s one time and in a public place.
Back at Empire, Porsha tries to warn Cookie that the engineers and studio musicians are getting increasingly disgruntled at the brutal hours they’ve had to put in to make Empire’s 20 for 20 plan a reality. But Cookie shrugs her off when Lucious arrives and says he’s put Eddie in charge to deal with it. He reminds her he has her back, which triggers a prison flashback for Cookie: the time he sent her divorce papers while she was still locked up. “You haven’t always been there for me,” she says. He promises to do better in the future…and reminds her she’s looking pretty comfortable in that CEO’s chair.
Jamal, Warren, and Chicken are at a gay bar (an excited Chicken thanks Jamal: “I can never do this with Hakeem!”) when Warren suggests the two of them pick up a third for a little ménage à trois. Jamal balks at the idea and says it isn’t for him, but Warren pushes so hard that he eventually relents.
But later, when a handsome young guy is planted on their couch, Jamal is back to his original stance: He really doesn’t want this. “You wanted it, I didn’t,” he tells Warren. So Warren tells the third to please leave because he’s in love with Jamal and has to fix his mistakes. (I think this was said out of Jamal’s earshot, to show us that Warren really loves Jamal now…but it was hard to tell.) Once he leaves, Warren gets serious. “No matter what happens from here on out, who says what, remember that I love you,” he says. “I need you to know that this is real, and that I love you.” Jamal, after everything you’ve been through — a speech like this doesn’t trigger any sort of concern or suspicion? Really, none?
Andre, meanwhile, has been freaking out because he can’t get Pamela to answer his calls. He heads to Empire, where Porsha also tries to warn him about this impending strike, but he’s just caught a glimpse of a news story where he sees that Pamela was involved in a shootout — and he has no idea how she’s doing. (Recap continues on page 2)