This week’s episode of Empire featured a subplot that may have seemed unnecessary at first, but was likely introduced to give the Lyons one more obstacle to running a successful company and maintaining respect as a celebrity family.

Empire Season 4, Episode 7 Recap

That obstacle? A strike launched by the record label’s sound engineers and other lower-level employees. Calvin, one of the engineers who works most often on Jamal, Hakeem and Lucious’s songs, is the first one to step up and complain about the long hours and mistreatment from producers like Eddie Barker (Forest Whitaker). Eddie’s insistent one day that Calvin, Becky, Porsha and other studio employees stay up all night to finish Tory Ash’s (Rumer Willis) new song to perfection pushes Calvin past the breaking point, and he decides to rally his colleagues to start a protest against their exploitation at the hands of Empire’s higher-level staff.

Calvin tells Porsha he has seen how terribly Cookie treats her and urges her to stand up for herself. Porsha attempts to do exactly this, but always seems to ask at the worst moment possible. Cookie refuses to let her speak every time Lucious walks in to discuss family matters or business. (Poor Porsha!)

Cookie is particularly annoyed by the strike’s timing, as she is still aiming to develop the “20 for 20″ project to mark Empire’s 20th anniversary, as she is the company’s sole CEO while Lucious continues to fully recover from his amnesia. (Though since last episode, we know he is practically almost there).

Porsha eventually serves as the leader of the protest, in which Shyne Johnson and his goons also participate. Also supporting the employees in the strike is Tory, who stands next to Porsha outside Empire’s headquarters and delivers a short, impassioned speech to advocate for better treatment of Empire’s invisible workers.” Tory also performs her latest song there.

Cookie seeks help from Andre to quell the strike, but unfortunately for her, Cookie’s eldest son is too busy attempting to strengthen his new relationship with NYPD detective Pamela Rose (Teyonah Parris). We learn that Pamela is involved in an officer shooting but escapes seemingly unharmed. She and Andre have a conversation in which she reveals that she planted the other officer’s gun in order to justify shooting and killing him. After telling Andre this, she refutes his claim that she doesn’t trust him because of how notoriously evil his family is.

The strike is settled rather quickly, with Cookie enlisting help from Lucious to gather with all the protesters in Empire’s conference room and remind them of how much she and Lucious have done for them and their families when times are tough, and that the Lyons consider all of them family too. Calvin and Porsha accept the Lyons’ promise to treat them better and decided to end their protest.

Hakeem, meanwhile, is still angry for losing his daughter Bella, and even stalks Anika and Angelo in the park to try and meet her. However, Thirsty stops the impetuous Lyon cub by saying he will only make things worse for himself — legally speaking — by doing that. (Duh, Hakeem) Lucious pays a visit to Anika, who initially refuses to let him into her house, citing his lack of visitation rights for Bella. Nevertheless, Lucious says he is not there for his granddaughter and simply wishes to talk to Anika. He forces his way in and offers his ex-wife a deal, after revealing he has regained nearly all of his memories after the explosion, including memories about her: let the whole Lyon family meet with her, Bella and Angelo in a public place and Lucious will offer in exchane to let Bella become the “co-heir” to Empire with his three sons once she is old enough. Anika says she will consider the offer.

Jamal is still trying to strengthen his own relationship with Warren, and they seem to get along fine — despite their opposing views on engaging in threesomes (stupid!). They even tell each other they love each other, and Warren seems to mean it, since he tells Diana Dubois “I’m out” with regards to using Jamal to hurt the Lyons. The evil witch Diana says she expected Warren to fall in love with Jamal and hints she has a backup plan.

The Lyons gather at a hotel to meet with Anika, Angelo and Bella and right beforehand, Jamal excitedly tells his parent that he is planning on asking Warren to move in with him.

We immediately cut to the Lyons entering the hotel dining room and seeing that only Diana and Warren are present, but not the aforementioned trio.

Jamal is confused by Warren’s presence, and the Lyons realize this was a setup. Diana calls Warren her “nephew,” and Warren attempts to apologize to Jamal and explain the situation, but he gets punched in the face and pinned down — not by Lucious or Andre, as one might expect given their occasionally violent natures — but by Jamal! The middle Lyon son throws fists for the first time ever, and causes a scene in the middle of the hotel, leaving Warren with a severely bloodied face on the floor before security drags him out and he is filmed by several onlookers. “What, his little bitch-ass got his feelings hurt?! Because he didn’t get elected Mayor??!” Jamal yells about Angelo as he is dragged out. “Keep filming me! Keep recording!”

Before the Lyons walk away, Cookie simply points at Diana and says, “We’re coming for you, bitch.”

What will happen next? Will the Lyons strike back even harder and get Bella back? Will Andre continue his relationship with Pamela? Will Lucious or Cookie do something drastic to save their family and company’s reputation?

Find out next Wednesday at 8 pm EST on FOX! (Only two more episodes left this fall!)

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