The Lyons, the dynasty around which Empire is centered on, have been known in recent episodes to take the Malcolm X approach to fighting their battles: by any means necessary.

Empire Season 4, Episode 9 Recap

In episode 9 — the mid-season fall finale — Lucious, Cookie and two of their children hatch a devious scheme to fire back at their rivals, the Dubois for taking away Hakeem’s daughter Bella.

The only missing Lyon child, of course, is the eldest and bipolar son Andre, who was put in the hospital after suffering a mental breakdown and enduring several hallucinations (which his parents realized was the work of Andre’s psychiatrist, who raised the dose of his medication upon request from Diana Dubois). We begin with an Empire rapper introducing the label’s most successful artist, and we think he means Hakeem or Jamal, but he surprises the viewers by presenting Andre, who performs a smooth R&B song that has all the girls going wild. However, we suddenly see Andre getting off the stage and yelling “Pop?!” upon noticing his father his the only one from his family who is absent from his performance.

If you were confused by that last plot point, don’t worry, you’re not crazy: it turns out to be a dream Andre has in the hospital, (although Trai Byers can actually sing!) since the eldest Lyon son has long wished he could have as much artistic talent as his two brothers.

Lucious goes to visit his comatose son and promises to the sleeping Andre that he will exact vengeance on the Dubois and their cronies for hurting him.

Meanwhile, Empire is throwing producer Eddie Barker (Forest Whitaker) a sweet goodbye party to thank Lucious and Cookie’s old friend for his brief stint at the company.

Diana Dubois is busy organizing everything for the Captain’s Ball, a huge gala-type event with high-profile guests designed to thank her for everything she has contributed to the city. She enlists help from Anika and also has her large posse of bodyguards ensure maximum security on all fronts the night of the Ball, and instructs them to not allow the Lyons in under any circumstances.

The perennially sketchy Thirsty soon finds out how tight surveillance will be at the Ball, and as the Lyons convene to devise their revenge, Lucious suggests a musical performance from their family should be included in their plan at some point.

Warren comes to visit Jamal at his penthouse, and says he got in by paying the doorman $10,000 (part of the money Diana gave him to hurt Jamal). A still-furious Jamal takes his knife and demands Warren leave despite the latter’s attempt to ask for forgiveness and insistence that he loves Jamal. “You deserve to die,” says Jamal. However, Warren says he will leave him alone but that he has crucial information about the Dubois he should know. Jamal accepts to hear what that info is, but we don’t see Warren reveal it (although we know what it is).

Lucious and Cookie ultimately catch Angelo off guard by somehow sneaking into his limo and posing as his driver and someone else from his staff.

The Lyons take Angelo to an abandoned ally and threaten him by making him sign a confession that his mother kidnapped Bella and that she also caused Andre harm. Angelo brings out his old politician self and says such a confession would never be accepted in a court of law because he would be signing it “under duress.”

“We have more in common than you think,” says Lucious to Angelo, referring to his mother who was also a crazy, evil woman.

“The only thing you and I have in common is that we bagged the same bitch in bed,” Angelo retorts, but obviously Lucious will never tolerate anybody talking about Cookie like that, no matter how many problems he may have had with her (and at this point we know those two had a lot of beef with each other).

Lucious knocks Angelo to the ground and punches him repeatedly, leaving the young Dubois with a bloodied face before pulling out his gun. Cookie was hesitant on whether Lucious’s participation in this plan was a good idea because of the possibility of him still being the soft “Dwight” rather than the vicious Lucious, but why did she doubt her ex-husband at all? Angelo signs the confession and the Lyons drag him to the Ball.

There, Diana’s bodyguards initially refuse to let Cookie and Lucious in but Angelo, who still looks beat up, says they’re ok to enter.

That’s when we see Diana’s devilish smile turn into a look of horror and concern for the first time in a while as soon as she sees the Lyons enter the ballroom.

Cookie and Lucious begin dancing (waltz? or some other form of classical dance) in the middle of the spacious venue and everyone gives them space as an orchestra plays. Diana orders her goons and Angelo to call the police, but no cops show up… just yet.

We soon realize the Lyons have compromised the orchestra — which was supposed to be the New York Philharmonic — as well with some of their Empire employees, and Jamal and Hakeem take the stage dressed in dapper tuxedoes to perform an incredible and funny rendition of their song “Trapped,” with a symphonic band backing them. Before they begin, however, the younger two Lyon sons introduce themselves and urge everyone to get up and dance. “Our brother Andre couldn’t be here unfortunately, because Diana Dubois put him in the hospital,” says Hakeem with his microphone, as guests gasp and turn to look at Diana.

After Hakeem and Jamal’s rousing performance, (Hakeem coming off the stage to fire fake gunshots at Diana and witnessing her reaction is definitely GIF-worthy) Cookie takes the stage and introduces herself. She then reveals in a long monologue who Diana really is: a criminal. She states Diana abducted her granddaughter Bella, and also singles out the psychiatrist she hired to drug Andre.

Diana says the Lyons have no proof of these allegations, but Cookie then says Angelo signed a confession and then has Warren call in via Skype to lambaste his family, saying his aunt Diana is an evil woman and confirming she kidnapped Bella. Angelo urges Warren to stop talking and offers his cousin money, but Warren rejects it and suggests Angelo stay away from his mother too. Angelo, however, promises to his mother right then that he will go and “take care” of Warren.

New York police finally arrive after Diana’s request and she looks relieved, convinced they will take the Lyons away, but then one officer says: “Diana Dubois, we have a warrant for your arrest in the kidnapping of Bella Lyon.” (Ooooohh snap! Whoop, there it is!) She is thus escorted out by the police, and refuses to be touched by them (although you do know police have a right to hold you and handcuff you if you’re under arrest, right Diana? Such an uppity witch).

Hakeem then takes Bella back from a sobbing Anika, and promises to let her be a part of Bella’s life as long as she vows to never again use their baby daughter as a “pawn” to help the Dubois or anyone else besides the Lyons. Anika signs the agreement and Hakeem walks away with Bella.

Cookie and Lucious agree to take their relationship slow this time around, upon Cookie’s request.

Jamal then goes to visit Warren at the motel in Long Island he is holed up in, but Angelo arrives first and points a gun at his cousin. When Jamal walks in and sees what’s going on, he pushes Angelo just as he shoots Warren, whom he hits in the shoulder. Angelo and Jamal struggle and push each other against the walls before the gun goes off again and Angelo crumples to the floor. Horrified, Jamal attempts to save him but is too late… Though Warren seems only mildly hurt, Angelo looks as dead as can be and Jamal calls 911.

Meanwhile, Lucious visits Andre in the hospital again, just after Shyne does. Lucious tells his still-asleep son that the people who hurt him have been punished, but then Andre half-wakes up and reveals his deepest secret to his father: that he planted the bomb in the car in Las Vegas to try to kill Lucious.

Before Lucious can fully process this, someone behind him injects him with a needle in the neck (a tranquilizer?) and he passes out. Cookie wakes up in her bed the next morning to find Lucious absent.

If you’ve been paying attention to this season, it seems pretty evident that only one person would want to do this to Lucious: his former nurse Claudia (Demi Moore), and it is indeed her!

Clearly, Claudia is hellbent on helping “Dwight” make a full recovery, although she is late to the party since Lucious has obviously returned to his former mental state.

In the preview for the second half of season 4, we see most of the Lyons’ story will revolve around Claudia’s abduction of Lucious, whom she appears to take to an abandoned cabin in the woods. Cookie will seemingly attempt to rescue Lucious and fight Claudia to the death for it.

Catch Empire when it returns next spring on FOX!

 

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