Last time on Empire, Leah Walker, Lucious’ supposedly dead mother, left the long-term care facility and moved into her son’s mansion. We all got a taste of Lucious’ childhood when she pointed a knife at her son and demanded that he eat one of the cakes that she had made in the middle of the night. Also, Rhonda remembered seeing Anika’s very distinctive shoes the night that she fell down the stairs and lost her baby.
In this episode of Empire, “Rise by Sin,” Cookie confesses the truth about what happened to Freda’s father to Jamal. (Yikes! That is going to be a problem, I think.)
An Award-Winning Family?
It is the night before the ASA awards and Lucious’ perfectionism is on full display as he tries to whip the band into shape for his big performance. Cookie stops by to call Lucious on his habit of not sleeping in his home now that his mother is there. He reminds his ex that his mother is dangerous and tells her that he doesn’t trust his mother.
Meanwhile, Leah Walker is home, watching television and insulting the maid, Juanita, on her cooking abilities. Leah sees a news piece on her son’s nominated song, “Boom Boom Boom Boom,” and is shocked to hear that the song is about his bipolar mother and her death by suicide. When Leah sees the images of the woman portraying her holding her son underwater in the bath tub, Leah remarks, “He’s always been a liar.”
Rhonda has fitted Carol, Cookie’s sister, with a sexy red dress for the ASA awards, but Cookie would like the sexiness dialed back on her big night. Cookie is keeping her eyes on the prize, and expects that the Lyons family will soon be known as the “first family of hip-hop.” Carol dishes on running into Tariq Cousins (also known as Tariq the freak). While Cookie is concerned that Tariq used to work for the police department, Carol is more concerned about borrowing the dress for her date with Tariq.
A Mother’s Motive
Freda and Jamal perform one of their newest songs for Derk (D-Major). Derek calls the duo magic. When Freda leaves, Derek tells Jamal that he needs to cut his mother loose as he recognizes that Jamal’s talent has outgrown Cookie. Derek wants to produce Jamal’s next record.
Andre tries to explain that it would catastrophic for Lucious, and Empire Entertainment, if anyone finds out that Leah is alive, but he also reluctantly agrees to ask Lucious for an extra ticket. (Good luck with that, Andre. I have a feeling causing trouble for Lucious is the real reason that Leah wants to attend.)
Worst Friend Ever
Anika stops by Empire Entertainment to check on her bestie, Rhonda. Anika wants to know why Rhonda wasn’t at yoga and why she hasn’t been returning Anika’s texts. Anika realizes that her pregnancy is starting to show, and worries that it must be painful for Rhonda. Rhonda assures her that it isn’t.
Rhonda asks Anika about the shoes that she was wearing the day she came over to see the nursery, and if they had red soles. Anika says that she doesn’t remember, but Rhonda keeps pressing her on it. Finally, Rhonda asks if Anika was wearing them that night. Anika asks if they saw each other that night, and Rhonda replies, “I don’t know. Did we?” Anika starts to look panicked when she realizes that Rhonda remembers that Anika pushed her down the stairs.
Laura is in wedding planning mode and is thinking of a winter wonderland theme. Hakeem thinks that it will be shiny and glittery. Laura also hopes to sell the first picture rights to one magazine to give her music more exposure. Hakeem finally tells his fiancÃ©e that her career is not going to explode like they had planned. Laura is disappointed, but tells Hakeem that marrying him is what is most important.
Coming for the Lyons Family
Cookie has Lucious do some research on Tariq. He is no longer on the force and his file is sealed. Cookie has a hunch that Tariq is now a Fed. They are not sure what Tariq’s motives are or why he is interested in Carol. Lucious wonders why Cookie is bringing her crack-head sister to the ASA awards anyway and Cookie teases Lucious that she heard that he planned to ask her until he found out that she was going with someone. That’s okay with Lucious as he is going to bring a supermodel. Cookie finds this hilarious.
Someone does meet Tariq at Leviticus, but it is not Carol. Cookie shows up as her sister is always late. She also adds that she is not as naÃ¯ve as her sister. Cookie knows that he is a Fed, and she warns him not to use Carol to go after her family. Tariq assures her that his code growing up on the street is the one he lives by, no matter what badge he has. Tariq would like to know why Cookie is still with Lucious since her ex-husband killed her cousin, Bunkie. It’s clear that Cookie wasn’t expecting to hear that, and she leaves Tariq with one piece of advice before she makes her grand exit: Carol has herpes. (Yes, Cookie just said that. Wow!)
Carol pops in to see Cookie during the hectic preparations for the ASA awards. She wants Cookie to back off because Tariq isn’t interested in Cookie. Apparently, Cookie has a habit of stealing Carol’s men; even Lucious. Cookie knows that Carol had a drink with Tariq, and she meant the warning that she had given Carol that if she fell off the wagon again, she would be on her own. Carol responds that Cookie doesn’t care about her. This argument culminates with Cookie throwing Carol out of her office, kicking her out of her apartment, and reneging on her plans to bring Carol to the ASA awards. Meanwhile, Tariq briefs his bosses on the case that he has been trying to build on Lucious. Tariq plans on persuading Anika to talk.
A Painful Verbal Attack
Derek has a favor to ask of Jamal. He wants Jamal to remember that when Jamal sees Derek on the red carpet with Chanel to remind himself that Chanel is just his beard. They are embracing when Derek shoves Jamal away just as Lucious enters. Derek storms out, prompting Lucious to make a remark about D-Major still being on the “down low.” Lucious is furious that Jamal was so brazen as to be with D-Major in the studio, where anyone could have seen them. He adds that he has tried to respect Jamal’s “unnatural” urges. When Jamal counters that Lucious cries about what his mother did to him 30 years ago, Lucious grabs his son by the neck and nearly punches him. Even worse, Lucious tells his son that he is a disappointment, and that he will “celebrate” when Jamal dies of AIDS. (I hope Lucious hasn’t cleared any space on his mantle for Father of the Year awards.)
Jamal goes to fill in Cookie about what her ex said to him. Cookie is more interested to hear that D-Major wanted to produce Jamal and Freda’s work. She is stunned that Jamal is still working with Freda. She orders him to let her go, but Jamal is insistent that he will not. Cookie explains that the Feds are still after the Lyon family, and they need to fly below the radar. Cookie tells her son that she got out of prison early by ratting out Frank Gathers. When Jamal asks if Lucious had anything to do with Gather’s murder, Cookie keeps repeating how dangerous Gathers was. She asks Jamal one last time to let Freda go.
Andre comes through for Leah and shows up to bring her to the ASA awards. Lucious doesn’t know about it, or at least, Andre thinks that he doesn’t. Thirsty shows up with a group of guys and demands Andre’s phone. Then, Andre and his grandmother are locked in the panic room for the night. At least there is a television in there so that they can watch the ASA awards. Lucious and Thirsty are all heart.
A Red Carpet Celebration
Lucious not only shows up to take Cookie to the ASA awards, but he also didn’t show up empty-handed. He brings her an expensive diamond bracelet and Cookie is ecstatic. Lucious says that tonight is the celebration of their dreams coming true.
The red carpet is crazy. Even Freda is walking the carpet and is being photographed. Hakeem and Laura are posing, until photographers clamor to take pictures of Hakeem alone. (Ouch!) Jamal tells a reporter that he is not releasing his “Black and White” album and that his performance with is family tonight will be the last one that he is going to be part of. When Freda and Jamal meet up after the red carpet, Jamal tells her that he wants to talk to her about leaving Empire. Jamal wants to get her a new manager and a new record label. Freda says that she is fine at Empire and is confused by Jamal’s comments.
A Son’s Sacrifice
Cookie and Lucious bask in the attention on the red carpet. They are interrupted by a loud and drunken Carol, wearing that sexy red dress. Lucious sends a bodyguard to bring her home. Before that happens though, Carol runs into Freda. Carol becomes angry when Freda explains that she can’t escort her inside because she has more press to do. Carol lets the cat out of the bag by telling Freda that she wouldn’t be working for Empire Entertainment if Lucious didn’t feel guilty about Freda’s father’s death.
While watching the Lyons family get ready for a family photo, Freda grabs a gun from a security officer and runs toward the Lyons family. Jamal sees her and jumps in front of Lucious. She shoots and hits Jamal.
Jamal has a gunshot wound to the stomach. Cookie is hysterical when Jamal is wheeled into surgery. She blames Lucious for being the cause of what happened to her son. Thirsty finally lets Andre and Leah out of the panic room so that they can go to the hospital. The family waits for news in the waiting room where they learn that neither Lucious nor Jamal won the “Song of the Year” award. Lucious tells Cookie about all the horrible things that he had said to Jamal that day.
While no one is watching her, Leah walks out of the hospital and goes before the media gathered outside, telling them that she is part of the family.
This episode of Empire has been a real roller-coaster ride. I would have liked to have seen more musical performances, because that is when the show really comes alive for me.
Empire airs Wednesdays at 9pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)