‘Empire’ Season 4, Episode 4 Recap: Cookie Faces Her Past, Lucious At a Crossroads, Anika Wants Custody, Andre Mourns Rhonda
While Lucious has been struggling through his amnesia, Cookie has also been forced to confront her past. On this week's episode of Empire, we got another glimpse into what Cookie's life was like in prison.
Cookie tells Lucious—aka Dwight—about one of her first fights in prison. Cookie was watching BET's 106 & Park in her maximum security rec area when an inmate named Poundcake walked in, eyed her and changed the channel to cartoons. Cookie's Philly friend told her to relax, but she's never one to listen. She addressed Poundcake, a D.C. chick, and was quickly dismissed. So, she did what anyone else would do who's trying to earn jail respect—serve a right hook.
Inevitably, a fight breaks out, but no one snitches on Cookie for starting it all. She risked her visit with Lucious for respect in the pen, but in her mind it was worth it. Unfortunately, Lucious couldn't handle seeing the multiple bruises across her face, and decided he would never look at her in prison again. He didn't tell Cookie at the time, but she learns when he brings Jamal to see her for his birthday and decides to avoid going inside.
After listening to Cookie's tales from the pen, Dwight apologizes for leaving her alone in prison. He says he can't change the past, but wants to be there for her now and opts to spend the day at Empire to support her. She agrees, and minutes later we see Lucious being welcomed back by a lobby full of people. Before Lucious returned to Empire, Nurse Claudia appears and objects to the entire idea. Cookie ignores her and honors Dwight's request, by the end of the day she regrets the entire thing.
Cookie tells Claudia she was right to say Dwight wasn't ready to see Empire, and asks what to do next. Nurse Claudia says Dwight's reached a crossroads - where he's stuck between reconnecting with the person he used to be and staying the compassionate, humble man he's become. Cookie informs Claudia she believes she knows what will push him to overcome his crossroad: facing the lion statue he slept under the first night he was homeless.
Dwight continues to have flashbacks to vital points of his past - shooting Bunkie, life on the street, Cookie going to jail - and tells Nurse Claudia, "I don't wanna be him. He's not a good person. I don't like him." Claudia tells Dwight he doesn't have to go back to being Lucious. She tells him," You can choose a different path." He responds by asking her to join him on his new path, and she eagerly says yes while hugging him with another peculiar look in her eye.
While her ex works on his developing his inner-self, Cookie decides to host a competition between Empire artists - pitting them against each other to fight for the alpha spot in the labels 20-for-20 campaign. Dwight sits in on the auditions to help Cookie and Becky find their best artist. Unfortunately, he's not the same hard ass he used to be, and doesn't help Cookie the way she wants - with the exception of Tiana's performance of course. She kicks off the auditions with a new track, and proves that she can dance - but they're looking for someone with a killer song and immaculate vocals.
In the words of Dwight, "She sure can shake a branch, but she's not the root of the tree."
While Cookie is encouraging artists to "fight to the death" for the alpha spot, Dwight is wondering why she's so cruel and keen on hurting their feelings. She let's him know she's just trying to live up to being the man he used to be before the explosion. Ultimately, they choose Jamal to represent label as the alpha artist after he performs a duet with Warren.
Though Empire's 20-for-20 promotion is priority, it isn't the only Lyon's only priority.
Baby Bella is getting ready to celebrate her first birthday. While Anika is running around New York - making plans for Bella's party - Boo Boo Kitty runs into Angelo on the street. He asks her about the loyalty she pledged to his mother, Diana, in the their living. Anika reminds him Diana left her rotting in jail for five months, implying there's nothing left to say about the situation. Angelo retorts by reminding her that the Lyon family has bitten her before and they'll bite again. So, Anika does what any self-respecting person who's been mislead and victimized would do: lawyer up.
Anika hires Angelo to represent her as she opts to file for full custody of Bella.
While the family is in a frenzy about Bella's party, and subsequently Hakeem's custody battle, Andre has a breakdown. The Lyon family forgot that baby Bella's birthday is the same day Rhonda was murdered - by Anika no less. He starts to attack Anika in Cookie's office, but his brothers step in the calm him down. He kindly reminds his family that the same woman they're celebrating is the same woman that killed his wife and child.
Although his family didn't remember the day, Detective Pamela Rose did some digging and discovered the importance of the date. She anonymously sent crimson flowers so that Andre wouldn't feel alone. He realizes she's the one who sends the flowers when she shows up outside Bella's party.
As Andre struggles with the anniversary of his wife's death, Jamal thinks he's found the one. At least that's what he tells Tory Ash while trying to write a song for the 20-for-20 auditions. The next day, Warren realizes Jamal might really love him when he says he wants to write a song about what it's like for him to be in love.
It looks like Jamal is starting to have second thoughts about helping Diana DuBois take Cookie and her empire down.
Watch the Preview for Empire Season 4, Episode 5: