‘Empire’ Season 3, Episode 13 Recap: In ‘My Naked Villainy,’ A Ghost From Lucious’s Past Surprises Him
After the lull Empire had hit with last week’s strange, uneventful and unnecessary episode replete with filler drama-fest character subplots, (cough cough, the stretched-out Jamal, Derek/D-Major and Phillip love triangle) this Wednesday night’s episode, ‘My Naked Villainy,’ introduced and re-introduced some more interesting stories, both surprising and unsurprising.
‘Empire’ Season 3, Episode 13 Recap: ‘My Naked Villainy
Episode 13 begins with an ailing Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) suffering again from a fatal case of a neuromuscular disease called Myasthenia Gravis (MG), which in Season 1 was misdiagnosed as ALS. Lucious’s doctor comes to visit him in his house and says since the resurfaced MG is so severe at this point, the Lyon patriarch must be treated in intensive care at the hospital.
However, Lucious being as stubborn as he is and terrified of losing control of Empire if he disappears for any reason, orders his doctor to treat him at home rather than at an ICU. The doctor says that even with all the proper equipment, that would be illegal. Nevertheless, Thirsty (Andre Royo) steps in — again, as always — to support his boss and coerces the doctor into treating Lucious at his house so that he can more effectively relay tasks to Thirsty, his family and the rest of Empire’s employees. Lucious is hooked up to several machines by his bed at his house.
Anika (Grace Gealey-Byers) reminds us again just how much of a snake she is when she threatens to kill Lucious by removing his oxygen tank and tube that he is connected to while lying on his bed. Clearly, Anika wants to do this partly because Lucious threatened to kill her for helping Tariq and the FBI bring him down, but also because, as she says, “she would get everything,” meaning all of Lucious’s assets, because the two never signed a prenup before they got married. Anika takes advantage that her husband is lying on a bed and can’t speak because he’s breathing through a mask like Darth Vader, and tortures him with her words.
Just before Anika tries to kill Lucious when nobody else is in his room, however, the Lyon patriarch pulls out a gun from underneath the sheets and points it at Anika, who backs off. Should we be surprised? Of course not! It seems shocking at first, but when you really think about it, you remember Lucious Lyon always prepares for everything, especially anything or anyone that could hurt him.
Anika’s other major moment later in the episode is when she knocks on Cookie’s (Taraji P. Henson) door and asks her to take care of her and Hakeem’s (Bryshere Gray) daughter Bella should she go to jail or die or anything else bad happens to her. Cookie seems as shocked as we are, and says “You want someone you hate to take care of your daughter?” to which Anika responds that Cookie is the only Lyon she trusts at this point. Guess she believes Hakeem still has a long way to go to prove he can be a responsible father, and if that is why she’s asking Cookie and not him, it doesn’t seem unreasonable, given all the messes Hakeem has gotten himself into.
Among those messes is the fallout of Tiana’s (Serayah McNeill) friend Kennedy being assaulted by one of Hakeem’s unofficial bodyguards during his 21st birthday party in last week’s episode.
The Lyons find out on TV that Kennedy has hired a lawyer, and that the pair are suing Empire for a whopping $50 million for the incident. In a press conference, Kennedy’s lawyer blames Empire, and specifically Hakeem, for creating a “violent culture” and for producing music with lyrics that promote aggression and mistreatment of women. Cookie angrily grabs Hakeem by the ear — as she usually does whenever he’s done something wrong and/or stupid — and tells him and Jamal (Jussie Smollett) to come with her to Lucious’s house to determine how they will deal with this.
Andre suggests Empire settle the lawsuit in order to avoid a major public relations scandal, but Thirsty quickly shuts that idea down, and suggests his own unsurprisingly shady solution: to ‘victim-blame’ Kennedy by finding any negative information on her that would make it seem like the assault was her fault. Jamal criticizes Thirsty for taking this approach, but Lucious’s lawyer goes through with it anyway after the Lyon patriarch approves of this plan.
Thirsty represents Hakeem in an informal meeting between the two and Kennedy and her own lawyer. Thirsty finds a series of police reports about Kennedy starting fights in bars in the past, as well as a photo of her posing with the man who attacked her at Hakeem’s party just one hour before the assault, and uses all of this to accuse Kennedy of being a girl who can’t control how much alcohol she drinks and who becomes aggressive when men make sexual advances on her. At first, Hakeem seems to be on board with Thirsty’s aggressive strategy to help exonerate him, but then tells him to take it down a notch. However, the youngest Lyon son doesn’t concretely do much more than this, and Kennedy’s lawyer frantically attempts to defend her. A heavily-bruised-and-battered Kennedy leaves the meeting in tears after glaring at Hakeem for not standing up for her when, as she truthfully says, “he knows exactly what happened.”
Cookie, meanwhile, continues to do everything possible to clean up her image and help her boyfriend Angelo Dubois (Taye Diggs) win the election for New York City mayor. She even shows up with Angelo at the Democratic primaries to vote with him and poses for selfies with Empire fans who tell her how much they love Jamal’s new duet with a British singer named Delphine (Estelle), who previously collaborated with Jamal in Season 1 for a song named “Conqueror.” The funky R&B song, called “Dangerous,” is a track off Jamal’s ‘Black & White’ album and tells the story of how his parents met in the 80s (with tacky clothes and everything).
Jamal is also shooting the music video for the song with Estelle in this episode, a video that includes commentary from Cookie on her relationship with Lucious. Jamal releases a teaser trailer for the video on Empire’s streaming service XStream, but it comes on an ill-timed day: the same day as Angelo’s primary. Jamal initially expresses hesitation for releasing the trailer that day of all days, and especially while Lucious is laying at home deathly ill, but Cookie — who takes charge as the “sole healthy CEO” of Empire — pressures him into doing it after reminding him that Lucious made no attempt to stop, delay or postpone working on his “Inferno” project when Jamal was still in rehab.
The female fans who walk up to Cookie outside the voting center the day of the primary and take a picture with her tell her how much they love the teaser trailer for “Dangerous” and how much they love her and Lucious, or “Coocious,” a weird celebrity couple name for them that Cookie very accurately and hilariously says sounds like “a damn STD.” The two women say they really want Cookie and Lucious to get back together again while Angelo is literally standing right next to her (SO AWKWARD). Angelo justifiably becomes angry with Cookie for not thinking about what releasing Jamal’s music video trailer on the day of his primary would do for him, and again becomes convinced she is secretly still in love with Lucious and not with him.
Again, it seems like it’s just classic Cookie attempting to do good and to exact revenge on Lucious, but she ends up shooting herself in the foot by sabotaging her relationship with Angelo.
Jamal, who tells D-Major to back off for what seems like the final time (hopefully) after his former producer/flame tries to restart a relationship with him, promises to help Hakeem rebuild his image after Kennedy’s lawsuit by letting him record a new song on Jamal’s Empire XStream channel. Cookie reminds Hakeem that simply because he has a baby daughter now does not mean that he is suddenly not a “misogynistic pig” anymore. In the song, Hakeem sings/raps about how sorry he is for treating the women in his life badly, including Tiana, and at the end relays a special message in which he says he accepts full responsibility for Kennedy’s assault. Hakeem formally apologizes to Kennedy live on the streaming service and promises to be a better father to Bella.
Tiana hugs Hakeem after he records the song, and both her and Jamal tell him how proud they are of him, but Andre (Trai Byers) walks in and once again scolds Hakeem for his public admission of guilt that will cost Empire a fortune. Jamal assures Andre that Hakeem used Jamal’s channel rather than his own, but Andre is still furious.
Andre, for his part, has continued to pursue the deal to get Empire a casino license for Las Vegas to get the label’s top artists to perform there in an effort to expand Empire’s brand and compete with other companies in the hip-hop industry who are also giving their artists deals to perform in Sin City. Andre and Juliana (Nia Long) meet with Lucious’s former business partner Gino, whom they met in last week’s episode, and Gino initially becomes upset with Juliana yet again for arranging he meet with someone other than Lucious. Juliana assures Gino that Andre is Lucious’s son and that he runs much of Empire now as the CFO with great business acumen.
Gino asks Andre to convince him why he should help Empire obtain the casino license for Vegas, and after Andre makes a convincing case, Gino demands a 25 percent ‘tip’ for the service. However, Andre brings in Shine (Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner) and his men to practically coerce Gino into lowering the tip to 5 percent. Gino agrees and he and Andre shake on the deal.
However, Andre, much like Cookie, ignores a glaring hole in his plan that also affects his own romantic relationship. During a private conversation, Juliana tells Nessa (Sierra McClain) she likes and admires Andre very much and asks her about their “arrangement,” which Andre told Juliana in last week’s episode involves him and Nessa using random hookups to secure important deals. Nessa is unsurprisingly confused because she never discussed this with Andre, and she suspects Andre may have cheated on her with Juliana, or will try to cheat on her soon just to close this deal.
Andre tells Nessa how close they are to securing the Vegas deal, and how it could land Empire so much money that he could potentially afford a penthouse for the two to move in together. Nessa then takes advantage of this conversation to call out her boyfriend for trying to cheat on her with Juliana if it’s what it takes to secure this deal. Nessa tells Andre that she refuses to make that sort of arrangement with him the way he did with Rhonda, saying “I’m not Rhonda.” Ouch! Again, we can’t really blame Nessa for being angry with Andre about this.
When he learns that Lucious’s MG has gotten worse, Andre rushes over to his father’s house to see him, and is shocked to see not only his entire family there, but also all of Empire’s board members standing around Lucious’s deathbed. Andre presents the projections for the Vegas deal by passing around a series of folders to the board members and to the Lyons, and after Andre explains the details of Empire’s new expansion project, many of the executives, and even Shine and Cookie, say they are impressed with the figures and support Andre in this plan.
The only one who is not onboard with this project, unsurprisingly, is Lucious, who expresses anger at this being developed without his knowledge and approval. Lucious attempts to fire Andre in retaliation, but the eldest Lyon son reminds his father that since he is Empire’s CFO and a board member as well, Lucious would need at least one other board member to second his motion to terminate Andre. After Lucious angrily asks for a ‘second’ member to back him up and let his son go, none of the executives speak up and Andre decides to go through with this deal despite his dad’s tantrum, which seems extremely childlike at this point. (Why do you keep fighting this sort of thing even as you’re suffering from a serious disease, Lucious?!)
The episode’s final scene occurs at Empire’s Laviticus club, where a watch-party is being held to track the results of the Democratic mayoral primary in New York, which Angelo is hoping to win. Lucious surprises everyone by showing up, seemingly healthy enough, and jokingly tells Angelo he promises to buy him a drink when he loses the primary. However, Angelo wins, and Lucious once again acts selfishly and interrupts Angelo’s thank you speech. Lucious says that although he had initially defamed Angelo by leaking his DUI story to the press and endorsing his mayoral opponent, a man named John Meeks, Empire now supports Angelo for mayor and hopes he will win the general election.
What a raging hypocrite. But again, that’s one of Lucious’ many trademarks: flip-flopping on issues to take the side that suits him the most at any given moment. (Just like many politicians, actually).
To honor Angelo’s victory, Lucious plays a classical piano instrumental cover of “You’re So Beautiful,” the song he wrote for Cookie years prior. As Cookie listens to the song initially dedicated to her, she experiences flashbacks of her times with Lucious as a teenager/young adult, even up until a few years ago when they rekindled their love and slept together again.
However, Juliana pops out of nowhere and greets Lucious with a devilish smile, though the Lyon patriarch is visibly shocked and angry to see her after 17 years. We don’t know exactly what Juliana did to Lucious (or to someone he loved) all those years ago but it must have been terrible if he is truly the one who was hurt. Lucious even says to Juliana, “tell me why I shouldn’t kill you right now.”
What happened between Lucious and Juliana in the past? Were they lovers? What did she do to him? Will Juliana and Cookie develop a rivalry that surpasses the one Cookie and Anika previously held? It already seems very clear that Juliana is as much a “snake” as Anika or more. She did have the guts to kill her own abusive husband, after all.
Find out when Empire returns in two weeks, Wednesday April 26 at 9 p.m. EST on FOX! Eva Longoria will be a special guest-star on the next episode, which opens yet another door of curiosity regarding exactly who she will play and how her character will fit into the Lyons’ story.