Here are a few things you need to remember before we dive into this recap of Empire:
- Lucious has ALS and got injected with an experimental drug.
- Jamal is pretending to be single.
- Andre is bipolar.
- Jamal thinks Hakeem is trying to sabotage him. (But really, it’s Andre.) Jamal says he’s done helping Hakeem.
- Cookie is managing Courtney Love — I mean, Elle Dallas.
- Sparks fly between Malcolm Deveaux (guest star Derek Luke), the new head of security for the Empire building, and Cookie.
- Raven-Symone a.k.a. Olivia shows up claiming Jamal is her baby daddy.
In “Our Dancing Days,” everyone is preparing for an investor showcase featuring cardboard cutouts of Lucious (Terrence Howard), Jamal (Jussie Smollett), and Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray).
We learn that Olivia is actually Jamal’s ex-wife. Lucious forced his middle son, who’s gay, to marry a woman. After they divorced, Olivia became a hairdresser, moved to St. Louis, and recently had to get the police involved in a domestic dispute with some guy.
Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) is outraged that Lucious would force Jamal, who was only 18-years-old at the time, to get married. Add to that, she doesn’t think Jamal is the father of Olivia’s young daughter. “You gotta have sex to make a baby, Lucious.” Lucious thinks otherwise.
Meanwhile, Andre (Trai Byers) — the only son with an MBA and any business savvy — has set up a dinner-meeting with a wealthy investor, and the best way to appeal to him is through family. The only problem is that, ever since their fight, Jamal and Hakeem can’t stand to be in the same room together.
Lucious collapses in the middle of Cookie’s tirade about Jamal’s baby mama drama and has to be taken to the hospital. And he chooses to ride in the ambulance with “soon to be ex-wife” Anika (Grace Gealey), leaving poor Cookie in the dust.
Jamal is suffering through his own heartbreak, as well, when Michael (Rafael de La Fuente) decides to move out/break up with him. Michael claims Jamal loves his music too much and doesn’t have time for anything else in his life.
Elsewhere, Hakeem has dinner with his “bae” Camilla (Naomi Campbell). Camilla’s reaction to being called “bae” is priceless. She wants to go public with their relationship but Hakeem isn’t ready. He promises to put her on the VIP list for the investor showcase, which seems to satisfy her… for now.
At the hospital, we learn that Dr. Mason (the doctor who injected Lucious with the experimental drug) is a fraud and the drug is causing Lucious’ health to deteriorate faster than his ALS. Cookie shows up but they won’t let her in the room, so she watches through the window while Lucious is in excruciating pain.
Andre leads Empire’s board meeting in preparation for the investor showcase, while Lucious participates via phone. He completely shuts down Andre’s idea of leading off with their sports management division. Music is what Empire is all about so Elle Dallas, the company’s first successful artist (after Lucious), will kick things off.
Cookie is scolding Hakeem and Jamal for arguing during rehearsal when Lucious shows up, fresh out of the hospital. He pretends he had food poisoning.
Becky (Gabourey Sidibe) coyly asks Malcolm to help her because the elevator doors appear to be jammed. That’s when they discover that Olivia has taken off and abandoned her daughter at the Empire building.
Elle shows up to rehearse for the investor showcase and she blows everyone away.
Lucious is surprisingly supportive of Jamal, who’s still heartbroken over his break-up with Michael. He tells Jamal that one day he’ll meet someone who is understanding of Jamal’s career and can handle being with someone in the entertainment industry. Of course, Lucious still doesn’t like the fact that Jamal is gay, but he is sorry that Jamal was hurt.
At the investor showcase, Elle is nervous about performing in front of so many wealthy and powerful people. But she’s in terrific spirits, much to Anika’s dismay. That’s when Anika goes from mildly annoying to full-blown evil — she spikes Elle’s drink. Sabotaging an addict’s recovery just to get back at Cookie? Seriously, Anika? Malcolm surveys the table after Anika leaves, but did he see her spiking the drink…?
Cookie is furious when she sees how Elle is acting in the bathroom. She assumes that Elle has relapsed, even though Elle knows she didn’t take anything. Poor Elle.
So now it’s all up to Jamal and Hakeem, who finally make up. They go out to perform. The song isn’t great, if you ask me, and the performance features bikini-clad women with TV boxes on their head. Weird.
During the performance, Lucious gets sick and loses his voice. With no other option, he has to rely on someone else to give his speech. Anika and Andre volunteer, but Lucious surprises everyone because he wants Cookie to deliver his speech for him.
Cookie goes off-script but she does an amazing job, which puts a smile on Lucious’ face. He’s so happy that he blurts out “I love you, Cookie” under his breath, which catches Anika’s attention.
After the investor showcase, Lucious finally decides to tell the family (sans Anika) about his ALS. Andre freaks out and starts pacing the room, lashing out at everyone, including his wife Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday). He asks about the upcoming IPO launch, which angers Hakeem. The two brothers go at it, and eventually Andre has to leave the room. Rhonda chases after him and finds him sitting in the shower still wearing his suit. Those two are all kinds of messed up, but somehow it works.
Lucious dismisses Jamal and Hakeem from the room, as well, so he can talk to Cookie alone. Lucious mentions Cookie saying all those nice things about him during her improvised speech at the investor showcase. They start reminiscing about old times, and they get so caught up in the moment that Lucious kisses Cookie. One thing leads to another and they end up sleeping together… only for Anika to see them through the door when she arrives home early.