(Spoiler alert: Please do not keep reading if you haven’t seen Wednesday’s episode of “Empire”)
In this week’s “Empire,” the Lyons have regained control of their company but Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) wants to celebrate another major event: her first birthday as a free woman in almost 20 years.
She asks her sons and Lucious (Terrence Howard) to set aside any animosity they may be feeling toward each other so that she can enjoy her birthday with them, but the chances of that happening look slim.
Later, she and Lucious head to Philadelphia to Lucious’ old neighborhood to prep for his music video. He tells Cookie about how he ran away from home and how he chose the name Lucious Lyon, but remains unwilling to talk about his mother.
Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) and Jamal (Jussie Smollett) head to the inner city to track down Frida Gatz (Bre-Z), as Jamal wants her to collaborate with him on a song. She refuses out of loyalty to Lucious.
But her loyalty is tested when she arrives on the music video set to find that Lucious has cut her verse out of his song. She eventually decides to work with Jamal on his new album after all.
On the music video set, Cookie presses Lucious to tell her the story of what happened with his mother. He finally gives in and reveals that she was mentally ill, once trying to drown him in a bathtub. When she realized what she had done, she shot herself in front of him.
Rather than be taken by social services, Lucious went out onto the streets. There he met Frank Gathers, who turned him on to drug dealing. Fans will remember that Lucious ordered Gathers killed in prison at the beginning of this season after he threatened Cookie.
Laura (Jamila Vasquez) is out on tour with Tiana (Serayah), but the two are constantly butting heads. Hakeem tries to calm things down by visiting them and brokering a peace, which seems to work. After all three perform together one night, Hakeem shocks Laura by proposing. She accepts.
Cookie begins editing Lucious’ video when she is visited by Jamal. He tells her that he can’t attend her birthday party as there is too much bad blood with Lucious. She says that once he sees the video, he will understand his father much better. Jamal accuses Cookie of falling in love with Lucious again, which she denies.
Cookie goes to Lucious’ house for what she believes to be a birthday dinner for two. But Jamal, Hakeem, Andre (Trai Byers) and Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) are there waiting for her as well. The family celebrates and Cookie plays a rough cut of the music video for them.
Andre realizes that his grandmother was bi-polar and becomes furious that Lucious never told him. Lucious lashes out and says that he was embarrassed by his mother just as he is by Andre. Andre storms out and leaves Rhonda behind.
With no one else to call, Rhonda calls Anika (Grace Gealey) for a ride. She does not want to return home, so Anika offers Rhonda the chance to stay with her.
The episode ends with Cookie sitting on a recording session with Jamal and Frida. But when Frida mentions her father — Frank Gathers — and how she doesn’t know who killed him, Cookie panics and leaves without an explanation.