‘Empire’ Season 4 Premiere Recap: In ‘Noble Memory,’ Lucious Battles Amnesia
The new season of hit musical drama Empire picked up right where the previous season left off: with Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) awakening in the hospital with severe memory loss after suffering injuries in the car explosion in Las Vegas that Andre (Trai Byers) and Shine (Xzibit) had planned.
Empire Season 4 Premiere Recap
Lucious finds himself unable to recognize his family, or even to fully remember who he is. He responds more quickly to his birth name, Dwight (which his crazy mother Leah only called him). The Lyon patriarch — who also begins using a prosthetic leg after losing one during the accident — is tended to at his home by his suspiciously over-protective and sultry nurse Claudia (Demi Moore), whom Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) gradually grows weary of, as she typically does with any woman who becomes close with Lucious.
Cookie and the rest of the Lyons are hoping to help Lucious regain his memory enough so that he can make an appearance at Empire’s 20th anniversary show. Meanwhile, Andre continues to talk to Shine in the hopes of erasing any evidence that links them to the attempted murder of Lucious.
Also returning this season is the uppity and malicious Mrs. Dubois (Phylicia Rashad), who vows to exact revenge on Cookie and her family for ruining her son Angelo’s mayoral bid (Cookie dated Angelo last season, if you recall). The Lady Macbeth-esque Mrs. Dubois pays a visit to the still-irascible Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) and threatens to show Cookie pictures of him meeting with the Dubois if he doesn’t let her take car of his daughter Bella at least once a week. Hakeem seemingly agrees.
Mrs, Dubois also enlists the help of a dapper young man named Warren to seduce Jamal (Jussie Smollett). However, Jamal appears smart enough to be cautious about Warren’s advances. (Good for you, Jamal!)
We are also briefly introduced to a glamorously dressed talent manager named Carlotta (Queen Latifah) who previously worked with Lucious. Carlotta — one of the characters from Lee Daniels’ other music-themed show Star on FOX — asks him to help her develop a young girl band as a favor to the mother of one of the girls who died of a drug overdose. Cookie declines the request on Lucious’s behalf.
In a surely game-chaning move, Cookie takes advantage of Lucious’s amnesia and lies to him, saying she and him promised to place Andre in charge of Empire after they retire. When Lucious, who is in a child-like state of wonder about many things, begins pondering what he did to deserve being in such a violent accident, Cookie remains silent.
During a family dinner at Lucious and Cookie’s house one night, Lucious hears a song from his old days that Cookie wrote while she was in jail for drug-busting, but for which she received no credit because Empire did not want to be associated with a criminal. Lucious begins questioning why he was credited for writing the song instead of her but none of the Lions tell him the real reason because they have been ordered by Claudia to not bring up any bad memories — which include Cookie having spent 17 years in prison — so as not to trigger any violent behavior. Hakeem becomes frustrated and suggests they all tell Lucious the truth, and an argument quickly ensues. This culminates with Lucious angrily banging his fists on the table and screaming that he’s had enough of all of them. He then proceeds to limp his way to the edge of the lake and nearly jumps in, before his family stop him. They all hug it out in a moment that is honestly quite adorable.
Lucious eventually appears at Empire’s 20th anniversary party, during which he reveals his prosthetic leg to the fans and tells them he will “never be the same” after his accident. Jamal and Hakeem then perform a track called “Love Me,” which is the aforementioned song Cookie wrote for Lucious all those years prior.
The episode ends with Andre calling Shine, who is shown killing their accomplice in the attempted murder of Lucious who physically helped plant the bomb in the car. It appears Shine does this because the man took a payoff from the Las Vegas police department to rat out him and Andre. (“I hate snitches,” says Shine after fatally shooting the man)
What will happen next on Empire? Will Lucious gradually regain more memories? Will Andre and Shine be found guilty of the bombing? Will Jamal and Hakeem be hurt by Mrs. Dubois? Will Cookie do something drastic to get rid of Claudia?
Tune in next Wednesday at 8 pm EST on FOX to find out.