Well, Empire’s latest episode, “What We May Be” has shown once again that Lucious Lyon (Terence Howard) truly knows how to go out of his way to make his family miserable. Whether it’s by putting them in an awkward/uncomfortable situation by showing up to Cookie’s personal life events unannounced, or reminding his three sons of their flaws, the Lyon patriarch’s mercilessness seems to know no bounds.

‘Empire,’ Season 3, Episode 7 Recap

First off, the episode begins with NYC councilman Angelo Dubois (Taye Diggs) visiting Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) in order to make one final attempt at wooing her. It is revealed Cookie sent Angelo a thank you text about the press conference from the previous week where he took off his shirt to “stand in solidarity with Cookie Lyon and women everywhere” (alluding to the leaked nude selfie of Cookie resulting from Empire being hacked). The two kiss and they become a serious couple.

Meanwhile, Jamal (Jussie Smollett) attends a meeting at Empire with Lucious and the company’s board about Jamal’s gradual decline as a musician. Lucious grills his middle son for neither performing live nor bringing in sufficient subscribers to his much-beloved Empire XStream streaming service.

Andre (Trai Byers) and Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), for their part, continue to fight over Nessa (Sierra McClain), although it appears rather clear at this point that she is with Andre. Hakeem focuses instead on attempting to spend more time with his and Anika’s (Grace Byers) baby daughter Bella, but struggles.

Angelo invites Cookie to come meet his mother at a fancy party related to his bid for mayor, but Cookie doesn’t show up until everyone is gone, and Angelo becomes angry with her after his mother expresses disappointment over her son’s girlfriend’s no-show. Cookie explains that the reason she couldn’t make it relates to an ’emergency that came up:’ Jamal shows her some visual demos he is planning to use as part of the music video for his new song. The videos are of Cookie’s upbringing with her sisters, Candace and Carol. Cookie is delighted by this until she sees Jamal’s project includes clips of her late father, and then she immediately becomes anxious and angry with her son for digging that up without her permission.

Jamal then goes to visit Carol, (Tasha Smith) who gave him those videos, and asks his aunt to explain to him what exactly happened between Cookie and their father. Carol reveals that it was Lucious that caused her father– Jamal’s grandfather– to ultimately give up on trying to raise Cookie (whose real name is Loretha) as a good, smart and educated girl who could have had a bright future but decided to throw that all away by dating Lucious, who was a gangster-in-the-making. Flashbacks reveal all this, and most shockingly, one night in which a 16-year-old Cookie returns home late one night from a date with Lucious. Before Cookie can even step inside her house, her father rushes out, angry and in tears, and says he has given up on trying to raise her right and kicks her out.

Cookie then further reveals to Jamal one day at lunch at his apartment that her father died of a heart attack just three days after he kicked her out of the house. A flashback shows a young Candace blaming Cookie for this because of her relationship with Lucious, and tells her to just stay with him and not come anywhere near her or Carol, who stayed with their father in the hospital until her dying moments. The young Cookie is shown sobbing, desperately begging her sisters to join them in being with her father, and the present-day Cookie tells Jamal that she still feels guilty about her father’s death, and that she thinks Candace was right.

Cookie decides to make it up to Angelo by having him and his mother over for dinner at her apartment, and Angelo and his mother request that Cookie’s immediate family be there. Cookie then begs all three of her sons to attend this very important dinner, and makes an effort to make both her apartment and herself seem more classy in order to make a good impression on Mrs. Dubois (Phylicia Rashad), and does so by enlisting help from Candace (Vivica A. Fox), her assistant Porsha (Ta’Rhonda Jones), and a whole crew of elegant servants.

The dinner unfolds as a disaster, unsurprisingly, as Angelo’s mother gets a taste of what the Lyon family is like. Jamal shows up strikingly high off his pain medications and begins acting overexcited, and Hakeem arrives late and with his baby, using his time spent with her as an excuse for being late. Lucious and Anika then unexpectedly roll in, saying they were desperately searching for Hakeem and Bella.

Andre never arrives because he chooses instead to attend an informal street memorial service Nessa has invited him too. Nessa says it’s to honor the anniversary of the death of her brother Stone. Andre arrives at the memorial with Freda Gatz (Bre-Z), whom he is still attempting to sign back to Empire and convince to record a duet with Nessa. Shine (Xzibit) attempts to convince Nessa that Andre doesn’t care about her when Andre initially doesn’t come to the memorial, which is filled with rappers who perform some of their music. After Andre shows up fashionably late with Freda, Freda eventually decides to perform an impromptu duet with Nessa at Stone’s memorial, and Shine secretly records this.

Back at the Lyon/Dubois dinner at Cookie’s place, Lucious formally introduces himself and Anika to Angelo’s mother, and begins telling Mrs. Dubois all about his family. Lucious calls his sons ‘the gay one’ (Jamal), ‘the irresponsible one’ (Hakeem), and ‘the crazy one’ (Andre). (Crazy for being bipolar, of course) Lucious also tells Angelo’s mother that Anika is his wife and that Bella is in fact Hakeem’s daughter that he had with Anika after being left at the alter by another woman. Mrs. Dubois is unsurprisingly shocked, but luckily, Jamal manages to somewhat-salvage the debacle at the dinner by playing the piano and performing his new song, ‘Mama,’ which is an ode to Cookie.

In the end, Angelo’s mother seems to cautiously accept Cookie and the Lyons, after Cookie says she is not embarrassed by her family despite all of their problems.

Next week’s episode seems to strongly suggest Lucious will attempt to hurt his mother in some way, probably because of something relating to his half-brother Tariq still trying to arrest him.

Empire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX. Two more episodes are left in this season!

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