Cookie Lyon’s (Taraji P. Henson) guilt over her confrontation with Lucious (Terrence Howard) at the end of last week’s episode — which ended with the two kissing after Cookie destroyed half of Empire’s assets with a bat Beyonce-‘Lemonade’-style — was a major theme in this episode, as you will see in the Empire recap.

Empire Season 3 Episode 11 Recap: ‘Play On’

‘Play On’ literally began with Cookie showering in her apartment, washing herself of the blood she drew during her altercation with Lucious. Cookie said she was “done with” her ex-husband. However, the recurring flashbacks of her and Lucious when they first met, got married and began living together after Cookie’s father kicked her out of their house, suggest otherwise. They imply that Cookie still feels some love for Lucious, even if she refuses to ever admit it. Lucious even yells at her in ‘Play On’ at one point, angrily telling her that he knows she is still in love with him and can’t let him go.

Nevertheless, Cookie’s boyfriend Angelo DuBois (Taye Diggs) — who is still struggling to gain approval in his run for mayor following the revelation about his DUI for drunk-driving-into-a-lake scandal from 20 years prior — steps in to save Cookie after she tells Angelo she believes Lucious is the one who has the FBI and other federal agents hot on her trail. Cookie’s assistant Portia (Ta’Rhonda Jones) is the one who informs Cookie of the agents after she sees them attempting to enter Empire’s offices and say they are looking for her.

After Cookie sneaks out of Empire’s headquarters to Angelo’s car and tells him she suspects Lucious of ratting her out for physically destroying Empire’s conference room and several other areas, the two go visit Lucious and Angelo defends his girlfriend and warns the Lyon patriarch to step back. Angelo even threatens Lucious by telling him that if he continues to attack Cookie, he will make him “experience a kind of pain he’s never felt before.”

Meanwhile, Jamal (Jussie Smollett) and Tory Ash (Rumer Willis) continue to record music together, but after Lucious breaks into their studio and uses it to promote other artists like Andre’s girlfriend Nessa (Sierra McClain) and V. Bozeman, Jamal gets mad and leaves. However, Jamal becomes even more furious when he learns his father has acted selfishly and stolen something from him yet again. (No surprise there! Same old greedy Lucious tearing his sons’ dreams apart) Lucious tells Tory he likes her music, so she begins working with Lucious on his ‘Inferno’ project. Thus, Jamal rightfully becomes infuriated because of both his father’s poaching of his music partner/producer, and because of Tory’s betrayal after the friendship the two formed in rehab.

After Derek ‘D-major’” (Tobias Truvillion) tries to rekindle a relationship with Jamal, the middle Lyon son tells his former producer that he already has someone he’s working with (this is before Tory stops working with Jamal to participate in ‘Inferno’). Jamal adds that he doesn’t like the fact that Derek is still in the closet about being gay, and says he only wants an “honest” relationship. Who might that relationship be with: it could be with Phillip, (Juan Antonio), the therapist who helped Jamal with his stage fright and anxiety last season. Phillip and Jamal kiss after a brief conversation!

Anika (Grace Gealey-Byers) begins working as the new head of A&R, which includes helping to seek new artists and dancers for Tiana’s (Serayah McNeill) new music video, which Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) is directing as part of his directorial debut. Though Becky (Gabourey Sidibe), who desperately wanted the A&R job, is initially reluctant to work alongside Anika to help Tiana and Hakeem, Anika compliments Becky on her talent and excellent people skills, assuring Becky that “she could have her job in a year or two” and granting her more authority on the music video. Becky is unsurprisingly ecstatic about this, and hugs Anika — whom we as the audience know better than Becky — and can’t help but question whether Anika is genuinely interested in building a better relationship with Becky and the rest of Empire’s staff, or if she is simply being an opportunist again, determined to do anything, even hurting people to get what she wants. What exactly does Anika want most? It’s unclear at this point, although it most likely involves being in a powerful position, both in her personal and professional life.

Meanwhile, Lucious’s mother Leah (Leslie Uggams) — who is now being followed around and surveilled by a transgender-looking bodyguard — continues to attempt to take Anika down with help from Tariq (Morocco Omari), who is still determined to put Lucious in jail. Leah tells Tariq she is upset with Lucious (whose real name is Dwight Walker) for giving Anika – whom Leah despises more than anyone — a job at Empire rather than getting rid of her. After realizing Cookie — who also hates Anika — wouldn’t turn on Lucious no matter how hard he tried, Tariq decides to confront Anika directly and ambushes her on the street. He begins interrogating her about all of the people the Lyons were involved in during their drug-dealing days, from Frank Gathers (Chris Rock) to Bam-bam King and others. Anika, who tries to run away from Tariq, only tells him the names sound familiar but she doesn’t know any details. Tariq then surprises and scars Anika even further by handing her a subpoena, offering her witness protection as an incentive and threatening to have her killed if she doesn’t testify against Lucious. Anika implores Tariq to not hurt her daughter Stella, whom she gives to Stella’s father (Hakeem) to take care of while she is away to fix this issue.

Finally, one surprising character who briefly returns — though she doesn’t say anything — is Freda Gatz! (Bre-Z) she is apparently working with Shine (Xzibit) on something dangerous. In a rather odd subplot that doesn’t seem to fit in much with the rest of the characters’ stories, — at least not right now —Shine tells Andre (Trai Byers) of a man named Raphael, a business mogul who bought several strip clubs in Las Vegas, and is working on a huge venture to profit off a new property on the Vegas strip. Shine tells Andre he has struck a deal with Raphael thanks to a dangerous thug nicknamed ‘Dain-ja,’ (Blaise Nally) whom Nessa expresses concerns about to Andre. Shine expresses his own worries about Andre being bipolar and taking medication to mitigate his mood swings. However, Andre reminds Shine that he needs him as a business partner because of his financial expertise and his closeness to Lucious. Andre also adds that if this deal is successful, the two can then determine a more definite time-frame to kill the Lyon patriarch, as Andre had promised.

Andre, Shine and Dain-ja go meet Raphael for the deal in a sketchy warehouse one night, and after Raphael, visibly a violent alcoholic, becomes enraged and paranoid that he was set up for this negotiation because he didn’t expect a Lyon to be there, the deal goes south. Raphael brings out his wife Juliana (Nia Long) from the shadows, and accuses her of setting him up, and even physically beats her. The crying, terrified Juliana swears she doesn’t know Andre and had nothing to do with him being there. Andre confirms he has no idea who Juliana is, though he tells Raphael he “doesn’t appreciate” him hitting his wife like that.

Raphael attempts to shoot someone on the other end of the deal, either Shine, Andre or Dain-ja, but before he can, Juliana surprises everyone by pulling her own gun out of her purse and shooting her husband in the back of the head. Furious, Dain-ja attempts to retaliate by drawing his gun to shoot Juliana, but Shine stops him by firing several shots at Dain-ja from behind, saving Juliana. After Juliana thanks Shine and Andre, as the two other men lie dead in a pool of blood on the floor, she shakes Andre’s hand to take over Raphael’s position in the deal, surprising both Shine and Andre that she still wants in. Andre gently puts his hand on Juliana’s face, though we can’t tell at this point if it’s a romantic gesture or simply one of concern.

What will come about of this deal? Will Andre actually kill his father Lucious when all is said and done? Will Anika testify against Lucious and avoid jail time? Will Lucious’ mother try to hurt her son and/or Anika? How will Cookie’s relationship with Angelo be affected by Tariq and the FBI’s pursuit of her? Will Jamal and Phillip end up together, and will he find a new producer/music partner now that Tory has moved on to other things? Will Hakeem finally become a responsible father for Stella while her mother Anika is away testifying?

Get the answer to these questions by watching the next few episodes of Empire, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on FOX!


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