Empire is a wild roller coaster. Seriously. This show stresses me out — in the best way possible. Last week, Lucious told everyone about his ALS. Andre took it badly and ended up having a breakdown in the shower, while Lucious and Cookie had (sentimental?) sex. And Anika, Lucious’s biracial fiance, knows about it.
“The Lyon’s Roar” starts with a flashback scene of Cookie awaiting her sentencing, 17 years ago. This is her only chance to say goodbye to her family. She hugs and kisses all of her sons and Lucius sings, “You’re So Beautiful.” Cookie loves her family so much. It’s heartbreaking knowing she’s going to be locked up for the next seventeen years and that her family eventually stops visiting her. That’s harsh stuff.
Now that Lucious and Cookie have slept together, Cookie wants Lucious to ditch Anika. She doesn’t just want to be his side-piece. She says she’ll make him immortal by producing a legacy album and documentary about him. That involves recording a family song featuring Jamal and Hakeem. That song? “You’re So Beautiful.”
Lucious agrees to break things off with Anika. He also admits that despite all of the women he’s slept with over the years, none of them could compare to Cookie.
Knowing that his father is going to die, Hakeem has turned to God. He asks Jamal to meet him at a Catholic church, where Jamal reveals that he’s decided that he won’t come out until after Lucious dies. It’s the one thing Lucious would want from him.
At the recording studio, Cookie and Lucious sing the “You’re So Beautiful” chorus with Jamal and Hakeem. Poor Andre watches from the shadows. It must suck feeling like an outsider in your own family.
Lucious meets with documentary filmmaker Ryan Morgan (Eka Darville).
Anika knows about Lucious making her father commit fraud and threatens to ruin Lucious (and, by extension, Empire) if her father gets in trouble for what he did. She then confronts him about Cookie. Lucious completely changes his tune from that morning and apologizes to Anika, saying it was all a mistake and Cookie just caught him when he was in a vulnerable state of mind. Anika reluctantly forgives Lucious, but she demands that Lucious marry her tomorrow to make up for his transgressions. Lucious is caught off guard and manages to convince her to push it up to the following weekend. But he agrees to make the wedding announcement at the White Party, the big event everyone is getting ready for this week, in front of Cookie and all of their guests.
Elsewhere, Andre and Vernon cook up a scheme that involves Andre becoming interim CEO, which would make it a lot easier for him to become the permanent CEO. They just need the board of directors to vote on it. So Andre enlists his wife Rhonda to help him get one of his votes. And by “help,” I mean have sex.
Hakeem and Cookie get into a huge argument at the recording studio. Lucious demands they fix whatever issue they have by airing out their grievances. Hakeem doesn’t like that Cookie walks around like she’s the boss but, most of all, he thinks she loves Jamal more than him. Cookie tries to reassure him that she loves them both equally. She just doesn’t know Hakeem as well as she knows Jamal. That seems to satisfy Hakeem, and they finally make up.
Meanwhile, Ryan asks Jamal out for a drink and Jamal accepts. Jamal warns Ryan about his father’s homophobia, but it doesn’t seem to phase Ryan at all. Ryan says Lucious is lucky to have him for this silly vanity project.
Despite everything he said to Anika, Lucious seduces Cookie and they continue their affair.
Andre and Rhonda visit the couple they’re going to… have sex with? The husband turns out to be a geriatric in a wheelchair. Rhonda isn’t happy about that at all. During dinner, Rhonda drinks herself into a stupor. And apparently neither Rhonda nor Andre have ever heard of Stephen Hawking before? They’re surprised to learn that he has ALS (just like Lucious).
When the geriatric in the wheelchair continues to hit on Rhonda, she ends up throwing up on her plate. In the car ride back home, Rhonda tells Andre that she doesn’t want to play their sex games anymore. She wants Andre to “be a man” and handle his own problems from now on instead of treating his wife like a whore.
Camilla (Naomi Campbell) buys Hakeem a fancy blazer for the White Party. He wants her to be his date and she accepts. She also tells him that he should go last on the song he’s recording with his family. Because the best always go last.
The next day, Cookie reluctantly agrees to put Hakeem last on the track. Jamal hangs out with his daughter, who is adorable. During the board meeting to decide who the interim CEO will be, Lucious votes against his own son. Andre is shocked.
At the White Party, Cookie comes up with a comprise — she’ll put Lucious last on the track. From that, Jamal figures out that Cookie and Lucious are sleeping together and he warns Cookie that Lucious is incapable of loving anyone but himself. That’s when Cookie sees Lucious arriving with Anika.
Lucious tells Cookie that he can’t break up with Anika for her. So Cookie lets Anika know about her sleeping with Lucious in the studio the night before, which was after Anika warned Lucious to stay away from Cookie.
Hakeem introduces Camilla to Cookie. The women do not get along. Cookie doesn’t approve of Hakeem dating a cougar and susses out that it stems from Hakeem’s mommy issues. When she figures out that Camilla is responsible for Hakeem wanting to go last on the track, she nicknames her “Yoko Ono.”
After talking to Lucious, Jamal uses the “You’re So Beautiful” song to finally come out. He injects his own verse into the song and sings about men loving men. Everyone — besides Lucious — claps and cheers for him.
The next day, Lucious is furious with Andre and Vernon for going behind his back. He dismisses Vernon so he can talk to Andre alone. He says he can’t trust Andre — not since he married Rhonda, a white woman. But Andre knows the truth. It’s because Andre isn’t musically talented. Instead, he went to school and got good grades. Lucious warns Andre that no matter what he does, he will never be accepted by them (white people).
Hakeem visits Jamal to tell him how proud he is of him and that Jamal coming out what was the bravest thing he’s ever since. Awww. Hakeem is so much more bearable when he gets along with Jamal.
As the episode closes, we see Andre playing Russian roulette under a single light in the recording studio. He’s screaming and acting crazy.
Lucious confronts Cookie about Anika, who left the White Party early. (We learn that Anika went to meet Billy Beretti, Lucious’s rival.) Cookie denies saying anything to her. An angry Lucious declares that the legacy album is dead.
The last scene of the episode is another flashback scene. We see Cookie in her cell, pictures of her family above her bed, singing “You’re So Beautiful.”