What happens when you invite the entire Lyon clan to what’s supposed to be a fancy dinner? Chaos and a really good ballad.
In Season 3, episode 7 of Fox’s “Empire” Cookie tries to impress her boyfriend Angelo’s mom by hosting a swanky dinner party, but things go downhill fast. The episode also reveals a lot more about Cookie’s childhood, including a heartbreaking revelation about the relationship she had with her father.
The episode kicks off with Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) on the phone with Tiana (Serayah). Tiana is apparently agitated about something, and Cookie doesn’t have time for it, telling Tiana she needs to get in the studio ASAP. Tiana hangs up on her. Cookie gets a knock at her door and it’s Angelo (Taye Diggs) with two cups of coffee. She grabs one, invites him and asks him what he’s doing there. Angelo tells Cookie that he got her text about the press conference he did, and tells Cookie that she already knows how he feels about her but he wants to know if she’s “in or out.” Angelo clearly wants to get back together with Cookie, and kisses her. They start making out and Cookie tells him that she’s in. Aww, Cangelo (we like the sound of that) is back together.
Meanwhile, Lucious (Terrence Howard) is having a meeting a meeting with Jamal (Jussie Smollett) and other Empire execs about Jamal’s declining numbers. Lucious isn’t happy that Jamal isn’t bringing in the numbers he’s supposed to for Empire Xtreme. Lucious also plays a video of radio host Charlamagne tha God giving Jamal “turkey of the year” for falling off the radar after getting shot.
As Lucious is meeting with Jamal, Andre (Trai Byers) is taking a phone call in his office. He ends it when Nessa (Sierra McClain) walks in. She invites him to a memorial party her family is having for the death anniversary of her brother. She tells him that Shine is going to be there, and then warns Andre that Shine wants to kill him. At that moment, Shine walks into the office and tells Andre that Lucious tried to play him because Freda Gat (Bre-Z) refused to work with Empire again. Andre says he has no idea that Freda felt like that but he’ll fix it. Andre suggests that he invite Freda to the memorial party. Shine doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but Nessa is onboard with it.
Jamal is still struggling with his post-traumatic stress disorder and almost fatal overdose. After his meeting with Lucious, he heads home to find Phillip (Juan Antonio) and D-Major (Tobias Truvillion) in his kitchen arguing over Jamal’s near-death experience. Phillip wants D-Major to take it more seriously. As D-Major is leaving he hands Jamal some pills and tells him that it’s not as strong as what his doctor has been giving him.
Cookie walks in and Jamal tells her that he wants to show something he’s been working on. It’s a song he recorded with videos from Cookie’s childhood. At first Cookie loves it, but when she sees her father in the videos she gets really upset. “Your dad seems so cool,” Jamal says but Cookie tells him to turn it off and says he can’t use those videos.
“You had no right digging that stuff up,” she says storming out of his apartment saying she’s running late to meet Angelo’s mother.
Because Cookie was caught off-guard with the videos she never makes it to the event to meet Angelo’s mother. Angelo is mad, but Cookie tells him that she’s going to make it up to him by inviting them to dinner. Angelo says that his mom is big on family so he asks Cookie to invite her children to the dinner.
Throughout the episode, there are a couple flashbacks to when Cookie was younger. In one flashback she has while explaining to Angelo why the videos Andre used to upset her so much. Viewers see Lucious dropping Cookie off at her house. Cookie gets on him for bringing her home so late but kisses him and gets out of the car. As she tries to sneak into her house, her dad flings the door and drops a suitcase in front of her. He wants her to move out because he found a gun and money in her room. Cookie’s dad tells her that he’s not going to let Lucious ruin his other daughter like he ruined her. Cookie begs her dad to let her stay, but he closes the door in her face.
Another flashback reveals that Cookie’s dad died a few days after he kicked her out. In the scene, Cookie and Lucious pull up to her father’s house and see him getting taken away in an ambulance. Cookie runs up to her sisters to ask what’s going on and one of her sisters tell her that their dad had a heart attack. The sister tells Cookie it’s her fault and their dad was heartbroken over Cookie choosing Lucious over her family.
A third flashback reveals that Cookie’s father had big plans for her and wanted her to go to medical school. Cookie thought her dad was too hard on her and put too much pressure on her.
The night of Cookie’s dinner — which had to be held at Cookie’s home where Lucious can try to sabotage it —arrives and she’s extremely nervous. Jamal is the first one to show up, but he’s really high on the new pills D-Major gave him. Angelo and his mother Diane (Phylicia Rashad) are next to arrive. Diane tells Cookie that she knows she redecorated her home for the dinner. Jamal, still very high, tells everyone that Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) isn’t coming to the dinner, but suddenly he barges through the front door with a screaming baby Bella. Hakeem hands Bella to his mom and greets Diane.
Diane asks Hakeem where the mother of the baby is, and Jamal tells her that she’s being shady. Cookie tells Jamal to shut up and informs everyone that dinner is ready. They’re having seafood, but Angelo tells Cookie that he forgot to tell her that his mom is allergic to seafood. There’s another knock at the door and this time it’s Lucious and Anika (Grace Gealey). Anika is frantic about baby Bella and Lucious yells at Hakeem for taking Bella and not telling anyone. Lucious then greets Diane and tells her that Anika is his wife but also the mother of his son’s baby. Lucious wants to know where Andre is.
It turns out that Andre skips the dinner to go to the memorial celebration for Nessa’s brother. He also gets Freda to come along with him. At first, Andre plans to leave the party early to try and make it to Cookie’s dinner, but Nessa convinces him to stay. She performs a tribute song for her brother and then invites Freda on stage with her. As they perform, Shine secretly records the duet.
Back at Cookie’s dinner, she tells Diane that she knows her family can be a little crazy but she wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. She then asks Jamal to sing a song, and he tells them that he’s going to perform a song he wrote about Cookie. As he’s singing, it becomes evident that it’s a track about Cookie’s father dying and her meeting Lucious. Later, Diane tells Cookie that she knows Cookie tried to impress her and she can see why Angelo is attracted to her. Diane says Cookie has a fire in her, but warns her not to burn her son with that fire.
“Empire” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on Fox.