The Empire season 3 finale was filled with both unexpectedly sappy and predictably suspenseful and violent moments. Read our Empire season 3 Finale recap, for full details.

Empire Season 3 Finale: ‘Toil and Trouble Part II’

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises was that Lucious (Terrence Howard) finally decided to ditch Giuliana (Nia Long) and start over with Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) after initially banning his ex-wife from Laviticus Las Vegas for causing a ruckus at the club in the previous episode. (Well, maybe it’s not entirely shocking since the promo following “Toil and Trouble Part I” last week seemed to very clearly hint that Lucious and Cookie would end up together).


A furious Giuliana leaves Empire’s Las Vegas club after being escorted out by security following Lucious’ explanation that the reason he chose Cookie over her is that Giuliana stole $10 million from him.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas gaming commissioner Charlotte Frost (Eva Longoria) reminds Lucious that she will not allow any “thugs” to enter Empire’s Laviticus club on the scheduled opening night for Lucious’ Inferno show. Frost explains to Lucious and Giuliana that on the same night Tupac died in 1996, her family was shot down in cold blood in Sin City by criminals, hence her hatred of violent people associating with rap/hip hop artists and moguls. Frost even threatens to shut Empire down entirely in Vegas and remove it from the Strip if its clubs and casinos become overrun by thugs.

Andre (Trai Byers) continues pursuing his plot to murder his father with help from Shine (Xzibit) and his Philadelphia thug friends, who even hire a bomb expert to set off an explosive in Lucious’s car in order to kill the Lyon patriarch. Frost is revealed to be having an affair with Andre, but then angrily slaps him and cuts ties with him after the eldest Lyon son confesses he is planning on extorting her by releasing a tape of the two of them together in order to sabotage her position as the Vegas gaming commissioner. Clearly, Andre has gone full bipolar crazy at this point, and almost looks like his father, given Lucious’ Machiavellian tendency to do almost anything it takes to get what he wants, even if it means hurting others.

Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) grows angrier and more terrified each day that he continues to be separated from his baby daughter Bella, but Anika (Grace Byers) calms him down. Anika, for her part, is still being tormented by her “soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law,” Lucious’s mother Leah, whom we know killed Tariq in cold blood last episode by stabbing him in the neck.

Unsurprisingly, Leah hatches a plan to frame Anika for her murder and sure enough, the police show up at Anika’s parents house and arrest Lucious Lyon’s confused and bewildered ex-wife for Tariq’s murder. However, we are not shown exactly what Anika’s fate is after this.

Before Anika’s arrest, Hakeem is finally reunited with Bella after he tracks Anika down to the Dubois’ home and there, Angelo’s (Taye Diggs) mother (Phylicia Rashad) vows to return Bella to the Lyons as long as they meet certain conditions, which are never revealed. The Dubois are also revealed to be partnering with another seemingly upper-class black couple named the Halls. The man from that couple, Warren (Terrell Carter), is a lawyer who also sings R&B for fun and performs at Empire’s Laviticus club in order to woo Jamal.

During opening night at Laviticus Las Vegas, Lucious surprises Cookie by revealing that the first song of the show is not from his Inferno project, but rather from Jamal’s (Jussie Smollett) supposedly postponed When Cookie Met Lucious album. Jamal performs the track “Mama” to pay tribute to Cookie, who is thrilled and even more elated after Lucious sings his own praise of the Lyon matriarch.

After Cookie and Lucious run into Cookie’s ex-boyfriend Barry from Philadelphia — whom Lucious viciously beat up in an attempt to steal Cookie from him — after the Empire opening-night show in Las Vegas, they find that Barry is now married to a woman named Michelle who like him is a successful doctor. Barry explains he and his wife are about to retire and hand their family practice over to their daughter who just graduated from medical school.

Following a selfie with Lucious and a cordial goodbye, the Lyons decide to take a page out of Barry and his wife’s book. Cookie and Lucious announce to their three sons that they have decided to abandon their day-to-day duties as co-CEOs of Empire and turn over the label to Andre, who is just as shocked as we are that Lucious finally decided to grant him control of the company.

Just as Cookie does earlier in the episode following Lucious’s serenade for her, Andre tells Shine and his men to call off the surprise attack on Lucious, and a furious Shine pulls a gun on Andre and threatens to kill him if he refuses to go through with the scheme. Andre desperately explains to Shine that his father is not as bad as he thought since he just handed him control of Empire, but Shine and his cronies pursue their plan and detonate the bomb in Lucious’s car seconds before he and Cookie are about to step into it.

Andre shouts to warn his parents of the bomb, but as he is yelling at them to back away, the car bursts into flames and though Cookie is unharmed, Lucious is left badly injured and unconscious.

After being transported to a local hospital, a rather sketchy nurse (Demi Moore) treats Lucious while the rest of the Lyons watch over him. Jamal sees Lucious struggle to open one eye and the other two Lyon sons and Cookie surround Lucious’s bed as he awakes. However, we are shocked to learn that Lucious does not recognize any of his sons or his ex-wife! Did he suffer a traumatic brain injury that induced memory loss during the explosion? We may have to wait until season 4 to find out because that’s how the episode ends, believe it or not! Very suspenseful and frustrating, right?

Will Lucious eventually regain consciousness and recognize his family again? Or will the rest of the Lyons disappear from his memory forever? Will Anika end up going to jail or Leah be arrested? And how will the Dubois retaliate against the Lyons? Will Shine attempt to kill Andre for not going through with the scheme to destroy Lucious should the Lyon patriarch end up healthy again?

Find out when “Empire” returns for season 4 this fall!