Empire is back for season 4 and everything is still falling apart for the Lyon clan–five months after the explosion that has left Lucious with amnesia. The episode starts with Cookie and sons interviewing for a docuseries detailing preparation for Empire’s upcoming 20th Anniversary TV special, and it’s clear that Cookie runs things now, which is long overdue.
Cookie and Lucious run into Carlotta from Star at an event, and of course they know each other from back in the day, from running around the music scene. It has been a while, but Carlotta shoots her shot anyway and asks if Empire would lend one of their talented hitmakers to her girl group, Big Trouble. Cookie acts funny-style about it, but Lucious, who doesn’t even really know who he is right now and is subsequently a nicer person, agrees to see what’s up. Later on we see how unwell Lucious is when he freaks out on the red carpet. Something about the cameras flashing and people all in his face freaked him out. By the way, he has been referring to himself as Dwight (his real name), and, here’s the shocker, he’s on crutches and getting used to his a prosthetic leg. Y’all.
After all of the above, Lucious Dwight decides that he doesn’t want to appear on stage at the special. This is obviously a major problem for the Empire brand.
Evil Claire Huxtable Diana Dubois is back and she has decided to free Bella. But there’s a catch. Hakeem must keep all of this a secret and he has to allow her to see the baby whenever she wants. Hakeem isn’t with it, but he has no choice. Diana has pictures of all their secret meet ups and threatens to expose Hakeem to Cookie if he doesn’t play nice. Hakeem, being the goof that he is, agrees to go along with this (we all know that Cookie would be pissed, but she’d still help Hakeem get out of this bind and it’s really in his best interest to tell her). Diana has also sent her son to seduce Jamal (it’s not really working right now, but Jamal is showing signs of cracking eventually). Diana’s deal this entire season is to destroy each of Cookie’s sons since Cookie “destroyed her life’s work” (you know, messing up Angelo’s chances of becoming mayor).
In related news, Anika is still locked up. Remember, Lucious’ mom set her up for murdering Tariq so she might be gone for a while. Speaking of Mama Lucious we don’t see her the entire episode. There’s no sight of her or no mention. Weird.
Dre and Shyne are still plotting on getting Empire, but they’re nervous because it seems that someone snitched on them because police are sniffing around, but they don’t know who, which obviously diminishes the trust between them. Plus, Shyne is annoyed that Cookie is in charge of Empire because to him this means it’s going to take longer to achieve his takeover goals.
*Count down until Shyne because a full time Empire nemesis.
Lucious Dwight is starting to fall in love with his rehabilitation specialist (who has been tending to Lucious since being home), Claudia (played by Demi Moore). You already know Cookie isn’t having it, especially when she catches Lucious trying to kiss her. Cookie refrains from dragging Claudia, but promptly tries to relieve her of her services, but the nurse claims that it’s not real. Basically, she’s the only person he trusts so he’s misconstruing those feelings for love because he has ugly memories that he’s blocking and he’s in a very fragile state.
It’s important to note that Lucious Dwight has been treating Cookie like a stranger this entire episode and it’s breaking Cookie’s heart. There’s even a moment where Cookie runs down how the night of the explosion was beautiful a beautiful night for her because he gave her everything she ever wanted, but he’s still struggling to remember and offers the blankest of stares in response. It’s also important to note that Claudia is only now just allowing Lucious to have real conversations with his family as part of his therapy because too much information too fast and too soon could block progress.
Later on, Lucious Dwight has dinner with Cookie and his sons where they explain more about who he was. He then hears a song that Empire put out back in its early days that Cookie wrote while in jail, but didn’t get credit for (because Lucious is a dirty dog). Lucious Dwight finds out about this and is disturbed that someone would be so shady. He wants to know why Cookie didn’t get her credit, but they can’t tell him because it’s too intense as per Claudia. Basically, it’s still too early in his treatment for him to know that he used to be a monster. Anyway, Cookie, Hakeem, Dre and Jamal start arguing because that’s what the Lyons do. Lucious spazzes out because #distewmuch. He walks on to the pier in their backyard, they follow him, he says he’s tired of them trying to tell him who he’s supposed to be when they don’t even like themselves and it’s all a melodramatic mess, but they do manage to reel him back in and on the day of the 20th Anniversary Show, Lucious digs deep and manages to hobble out on stage.
Lucious Dwight proclaims that he’s a different man, he exposes his prosthetic leg and even has Jamal and Hakeem performing “Love Me,” the Empire classic that Cookie wrote, and gives Cookie her credit.
Finally, the episode concludes with Shyne murdering the bomber they hired because apparently he’s the snitch. None of this is a good idea and because we know what show this is, we already know this will only bring more trouble.