Let me tell y'all how much Lucious Lyon still loves Cookie (aside for the fact that he flat-out states it): Cookie thinks Jamal needs a big hit, but she feels he can't write it himself; it's just not his style. So Cookie visits an old family friend, Dwayne "Puma" Robinson (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), who gives her a song he wrote years ago. It's a song about Puma's unrequited love for Cookie, which Lucious never really took to and couldn't musically tweak (in part, due to a jealousy which never went away).
Cookie gives the same song to Jamal who, being the genius that he is, plays a rearranged version for his father (after a hilarious family dinner, I might add). The look on Lucious's face...no words, y'all. No words.
The nature of this development is very Sun Tzu; Cookie is learning just how much her ex-husband still cares for her, while simultaneously confirming what's she suspected all long. Lucious's biggest gripe with Jamal isn't his sexuality (though it's still major point of contention, mind you). It's the fact that Jamal's musical talent is vastly superior to his own. Lucious is washed-up, living on minimal borrowed time, unable to craft a good track anymore (see the pilot), while Jamal is still young, healthy, charming, and ridiculously gifted.
For people who are complaining that Cookie's role is becoming limited to throwing shade and wearing flashy outfits, they're not seeing the layers of Empire. They see the fun and outrageous Cookie, but not the clever, insightful Cookie. Need I remind folks that this woman went from a being penniless ex-con to a millionaire overnight? No run-of-the-mill, loudmouth hoodrat can do that, children.
They're also not seeing her power. Remember that dinner I mentioned? Apparently, while Cookie was in jail, when the Lyons would sit down to break bread, Anika and Lucious would sit on opposite ends of the dinner table. Tonight, Anika finds Cookie sitting in her seat and is unable to move her. She ends up sitting next to Lucious (after Cookie tells her to go sit next to her "daddy"), as though she were a guest in her own home. After Anika makes a toast, and assumes everyone will get to just start chowing down, Cookie stands up and basically commands the family to cooperate (as in hold hands) while she says grace (repeatedly thanking God for the gift of family, further alienating Anika). And they cooperate! Even Anika and Hakeem! That's power, children!
Shortly after the dinner, Anika and Cookie have one of their "moments", and it's the type of moment I hope is repeated in many episodes to come. Anika tries to lord her highborn roots over Cookie (her father is a doctor and her mother was a debutante), and this happens:
“Do you even know what a debutante is?” Anika asks. Cookie looks the new wife up and down and says, “A bougie ho with a lot of money.” Anika smiles calmly and says, “A ho who can slice your throat without disturbing your pearls.” Game recognize game so Cookie says, “Damn, that made me hot.” As she walks away, Anika says, “I aim to please.” (Source)I'm just saying.
As to how Cookie got out of prison, she snitched on someone we haven't met yet, so that part of her story waits to be fleshed out.
Honorable Mentions, Call-Outs, and WTFs
Serayah McNeill returns as Tiana, the shallow, gold-digging, opportunistic popstar recently signed to Empire whose music makes my ears bleed and who has wormed her way into Lyon family dinners (oh, yes...she was there too), and is apparently Hakeem's new public squeeze.
I emphasize the word "public" because in private, Hakeem has been sleeping with Camilla (yes, THE Naomi Campbell) for a year. There's not enough, "Dear God, why?" in the world to express my horror at this latest development. Like, Naomi...why?
And speaking of "Why, God, why?" the astonishing and amazing Veronika Bozeman (finally) returned this week...as back up to Tiana in a train-wreck video shoot. Bitch, what???? I mean, have you heard the two sing?
Hopefully, this is the foundation of a future storyline which will discuss marketing decisions in the music industry. 'Cause, like...damn.
I'm really glad Ta'Rhonda Jones is sticking around as Porsha because her interactions with Cookie are just too friggin' funny. The two are actually alike in some ways, so I hope Cookie doesn't snap and fire her.
This episode briefly (and rather unceremoniously) introduced Tasha Smith as Cookie's younger sister Carol Hardaway (at least, she refers to Cookie as her "big sister"). According to IMDB, she's destined to return for a few more episodes. Their reunion took place back in Philly when the Lyons headed back for Bunky's funeral. Apparently, after leaving Cookie to rot in prison, Lucious got rich and took nobody with him. Everybody back home is just as broke and wrecked as they ever were.
Here's hoping Cookie's a bit more generous.