On Wednesday night’s episode of Empire, Lucious (Terrence Howard) and Andre (Trai Byers) Lyon go to visit Shine Johnson (Xzibit) in order to convince him to sign Nessa (Sierra McClain) to Empire. However, Shine drops a surprising bomb on the Lyon duo, saying he “wouldn’t be a good businessman” if he didn’t at least consider other offers as well. Shine reveals he has a group full of other record label CEOs and executives sitting in one of the rooms adjacent to his recording studio, something he has done in order to orchestrate a bidding war between the different companies. Essentially, Shine wants to wait and see which label will offer the highest price for a contract for Nessa.

‘Empire’ Season 3, Episode 4 Recap

Lucious berates Becky (Gabourey Sidibe) for not finalizing the deal with Nessa sooner, and Becky angrily responds that she isn’t authorized to do everything because she isn’t officially head of the A&R Department, a position (promotion) she has long sought to earn. Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) walks in and says Empire has already recruited a new A&R head, a Jewish white guy named Xavier Rosen (Samuel Hunt) who is apparently very knowledgeable about the worlds of hip-hop and R&B and who makes cringe-worthy attempts at “being black.” Lucious attempts to continue pushing for Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) and Empire rapper Gram (Romeo Miller) to continue sparring over their love for Tiana (Serayah McNeill) via music, but Cookie tries to convince him to stop this petty idea, and especially to stop “interfering on her side of the business–” since Lucious manipulated Hakeem into adding Tiana’s own words into his diss track/clap-back song directed at Gram. Particularly frustrated with him losing Zeah from the WOKE group as a potential artist, Lucious desperately continues to seek artists that will help bring in subscribers to Empire XStream.

Angelo DuBois (Taye Diggs) approaches Cookie and invites her to attend a fancy fundraiser where one of his favorite opera singers, Gia Copeland, will perform an excerpt from Carmen’s La Boheme. Cookie accepts the invitation for her first date with the city councilman. Angelo reminds Cookie of her first boyfriend Barry, a good kid who, as her father said in a flashback that is briefly shown, will ‘lift her up instead of dragging her down.’ Cookie’s father is shown, in the flashback, to immensely distrust Lucious for being a gangster/drug dealer and warns Cookie to stay away from him and stick with Barry.

Andre tells Lucious that Jamal (Jussie Smollett) went to visit Freda Gatz (Bre-Z) in prison, and that he plans to go see her again.

Jamal is shown at the jail, and the PTSD support group leader helps him confront her, after he freaked out the previous time and ran away, blaming her for all his family’s troubles. Freda is shown to have a badly bruised, bloodied face, which she explains to Jamal was caused by a lawyer Lucious sent for her to ensure she stays incarcerated and keeps her mouth shut by having her beaten.

At Empire XStream’s launch event for Nessa, Shine pressures Hakeem, who is clearly romantically interested in Nessa, to reveal to him the value of the contract Lucious and Andre have prepared for Nessa– a contract worth a whopping $2.5 million. Hakeem writes the figure on a napkin so as to keep it secret, but Shine tricks Hakeem places it in front of the cameras for everyone to see, on screens at Times Square and all across New York City. Hakeem tries to stop Shine, but is too late.

During their date at the fundraiser, Angelo introduces Cookie to two of his rich, socialite friends, whose posh lifestyle bothers Cookie so much that she reveals she is an ex-convict simply to scandalize them and teach them a lesson. Angelo is amused by this. Toward the end of Gia Copeland’s opera performance, Cookie is so captivated by the music that she stands up, claps and happily, loudly cheers for the singer, much to everyone’s great shock. After overhearing the two female friends Angelo introduced her to earlier in the night trash-talking her in the bathroom, Cookie sassily threatens them and leaves.

After this debacle, Angelo reaches out to Jamal in order to ask him what the best way to win Cookie’s heart is. Jamal says he should try to become more familiar with his mother’s world rather than try to “fit her into his.” In exchange, Angelo offers to help Jamal get Freda released from jail using his government contacts, and after attending an emergency bail hearing for her, Freda is granted bail and released. Freda’s lawyer uses the argument that she had no prior felony convictions before she accidentally shot Jamal, and that her actions were induced by a mix of alcohol and prescription drugs, as well as mental illness (the last is a lie).

Andre meets with Nessa and tries to convince her to sign with Empire because it’s a “black company” that will be more of a family to her than any of the other competitors, and references her brother as one of his friends. Andre also warns Nessa that Shine is “exploiting” and “using” her.

After obtaining Nessa’s signature, Andre hands Lucious the contract, and says the deal is sealed pending her manager (Shine’s) signature. Shine bursts into Lucious’s office, furious about Andre talking to Nessa behind his back, and attacks Andre. Andre fights back, punching Shine, but Lucious ultimately comes from behind and smacks Shine down using an Alex Rodriguez bat. As Shine lays on the ground, bloodied, the Lyon father-son duo threaten Shine into signing the contract or they will kill him. Lucious even mentions The Godfather as a way to make clear to Shine what will happen to him if he refuses the deal. Shine signs the contract as Lucious holds a gun to his head.

At Tiana’s Empire XStream Live performance of her new song, Cookie reveals that she was inspired by Gia Copeland’s opera performance to include soundbites of La Boheme in Tiana’s song, thus mixing the classical music style with contemporary R&B. Angelo approves of this. Lucious walks in, and after the performance ends, boast about the spike in subscribers and warns Angelo that his attempts to seduce Cookie are pointless because he and Cookie always find a way of getting back to each other. Lucious even shares the story of how he first gave Cookie– whose real name is Loretha– her nickname, a story which involves him and his friends beating up her then-boyfriend Barry in order to claim her for himself.

Lucious reveals to Jamal how he indirectly manipulated him into freeing Freda Gatz and allowing her to face a trial, because by having her beat up and falsely plead ‘temporary insanity,’ Lucious explains, nothing Freda says will ever be credible in court.

As Jamal begins to practice his next song at his apartment, Shine is shown rounding up his friends and associates and arming them with guns to prepare for a literal revenge war against Lucious and Andre.

Nessa goes to Empire’s headquarters without alerting Shine and sees Andre alone in Lucious’s office. Nessa seduces Andre, and the two have sex, despite Andre initially attempting to resist the temptation after again getting visions of Rhonda in the room with him. Nessa reveals she knows Andre’s wife died.

Empire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.