Tonight on FOX Empire premieres with an all new Wednesday January 7, season 1 premiere episode called, “Pilot,” and we have your weekly recap below. On tonight’s episode 1, a music mogul plans for the future of his empire after learning he has a disease in the series premiere of this drama, which follows his struggle to choose an heir as his three sons and his ex-wife battle each other to take over the hip-hop throne.
For those of you who don’t about the show, Empire is a powerful new drama that follows LUCIOUS LYON (Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard, (“Crash,” “Hustle & Flow“), the head of a music empire whose reign has been unchallenged for years.
On tonight’s episode as per the FOX synopsis, “the head of a music empire whose reign has been unchallenged for years. But all that changes when he learns he has a disease and must choose one of his three sons to take over: ANDRE (Trai Bryers, “90210”), JAMAL (Jussie Smollett, “North,” “The Mighty Ducks”) or HAKEEM (acting newcomer Bryshere Gray, a.k.a. Yazz The Greatest). Complicating matters is their mother and Lucious’ ex-wife, COOKIE (Academy Award and Emmy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson, “No Good Deed,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), who emerges from prison to claim her share.”
Don’t forget to join us for our live recap tonight at 9:00 pm when Empire airs on Fox. While you wait for the recap, check out a sneak peek of tonight’s episode below!
Tonight’s episode begins now – Refresh Page often to get the most current updates!
A woman is in a studio laying down a track. Lucious Lyon watches her session. He cuts her off and tells her she needs to sing like she’s going to die tomorrow and it’s the last song she’ll ever sing. She restarts. We see him in a hospital room being treated for something. The doctor talks to him and there are scans hung up nearby. He says it’s not there yet. He yells at Bunkie to wake up then walks into the room with the singer.
He tells her to go back to a year ago when she just found out her brother had been shot. He asks how it felt when she had to identify his body. He tells them to restart. She does a much better job and sounds like she’s in genuine pain. Later, on a yacht, there’s a party. Two guys are working on a song downstairs. Andre and Rhonda watch them and he says Hakeem usually likes to save it for when their dad is around. He tells her that they need to find the old man.
Lucious blows off Becky who’s trying to talk to him. She asks if things went okay at the doctor. She says the president called and he tells her to cancel his meetings and have his sons meet him at his house. He holds a press conference where he says he started selling drugs at nine years old to feed himself but says the music that played in his head kept him alive when he was sleeping on the streets. We see a kid gangster rapping.
He says music saved his life. He says the internet has destroyed artists’ ability to earn a living and says he’s going to change all of that. He says Empire Entertainment is going public. Andre comes in and talks to his brothers Jamal and Hakeem. Their dad comes in and yells at Hakeem for having his feet on his $40k dining room table. He tells them the company is going public and he needs someone to take over. He says he’ll only pick one of them and will groom them.
Lucious tells one of them they have to man up and lead. Jamal asks if this is King Lear and his dad calls him a smart ass. Andre is offended that he’s in competition with the other two. Cookie is released from prison. She signs her release papers and walks out happy and free. She says she’s coming home. Two guys spar in a ring while Andre and Lucious watch. Lucious tells his son they’re going to make a fortune off him. He tells Bunkie to step away while he talks to his son.
He tells Andre he remembers when he was 11 he used to dress up in a suit and try to run the company. Andre says he’s the most qualified to run it and Lucious says it’s celebrity driven and may need a celeb to run it. Andre disagrees then tells his dad that Cookie is out. Lucious chews Bunkie out for not telling him Cookie is out and about. Lucious tells Bunkie to let him know everything she’s doing. He agrees and then Bunkie asks for $25k.
[15-01-07 9:37:25 PM] Rachel Rowan: Jamal tells his BF that his dad won’t ever pick him to lead because of all the homophobia. His BF fixes him some food, comforts him then kisses him. There’s a call and the woman says – let me in. It’s Cookie. We see a flashback to Lucious sending Jamal in to visit his mom in prison. She asks where his dad is and Jamal says he’s not coming to see her today. She asks about school and he tells her kids are picking on him and taking his lunch.
Cookie tells him he’s different and that’s something just she knows. She says his life is going to be hard sometimes but tells him – I got you. He leans in and she says again – I got you. Jamal and his BF scramble to pick up the place and he asks Jamal if he told her about him. Cookie gets off the elevator and hugs Jamal tight. She looks around and says he’s messy for a queen and says he needs a good maid. She asks if he’s cooking chicken.
His BF runs up and he introduces her to Michael and says they’re living together. She says he didn’t tell her that he was dating a little Mexican and says he needs to make La Cucaracha clean up some. He asks what she’s wearing and she says it’s what she was locked up in. She says she got out early for good behavior. He asks what she’s going to do know and she says she’s going to get what’s hers. Cookie shows up at the office and pushes in past Becky and into Lucious’ office.
She looks around at all his awards and photos of him with famous people. He comes in and says the queen has returned. He says 17 years later and she’s still beautiful. He asks when she got out and she say two days ago. He tells her that he sacrifice made a lot of this possible and says she’s not the only one who’s suffered. She says he owes her what’s hers and says half the company is hers. She says her $400k paid for half and she did 17years for it.
Lucious tells her it doesn’t work like that and this is not the same company they started. He says he only controls about 10% of it and they’re about to go public. She asks what that means. He says he can give her a huge salary but can’t give her half his company. She rails and says she started it and says he can stop playing her. She says she wants $5 million and wants to be head of A&R. He says it’s too much and says he can maybe do three but says he has someone in A&R already.
She asks if it’s this little Halle Barry he’s got photos of. Anika comes in and Cookie calls her Boo Boo and asks what’s going on before she sweeps her way out past her. She was already angry to see photos of Lucious and Anika looking lovie dovie set around the office. Cookies next goes to see Hakeem in his swanky apartment with huge dogs roaming around. She looks around and tells his hair stylist to get out. He asks what’s up and she tells him to shut off the music.
He mutes it and asks – what. She says she wanted to see him and he asks if she’s done. She asks why he stopped taking her calls years ago and says she wants him to know she did everything for them. He asks if she wants a medal bitch. She says she wants respect and picks up a broom and beats him down with the handle. Hakeem tells Lucious his mom is a psychotic animal. He says she was supposed to get 30 years and says Dottie came along and wanted to raise them like hers.
He says Cookie isn’t a bad person, they were just in a bad situation. Lucious tells him that Dottie got shot and tells him that he needs to get his act together. He tells him he’s wasting his talent on bitches and booze and tells him he’s spoiled. He says he wrote some stuff for Hakeem and they’re going to record it. He agrees and gives his dad some skin. Cookie finds Bunkie sleeping in the SUV. He was supposed to be watching her. She gets in the car and asks why he’s there and says he looks a mess.
She asks if he’s been drinking. He says Lucious is keeping him down and says they used to be like brothers. He says he raised the kids but Lucious treats him like a butler. Cookie asks if he’s got him following her and he admits it. He says he’ll tell him that he didn’t see her. She says he’s her dawg. He tells her that Lucious is on the warpath and that there’s something going on. She tells him to get on a treadmill and gets out. Becky tells Jamal a story about a bathhouse then Lucious comes in.
He asks why he called and Lucious tells him that his sexuality is a choice and says he can sleep with women if he wants. He says he’s saying this to help Jamal. Lucious says white kids make up 75% of their sales and tells Jamal to stop calling himself a sissy. Jamal says he needs to get to know him but Lucious says to release another album if he wants to spend time with him. We see a flashback to him holding a young Jamal and Cookie coaching him on his singing.
He tells her that he loves her gangster ass. He hands off the baby to her. We see Jamal playing in her heels and scarf when he was little and the family giving him odd looks. Lucious grabs up the boy and takes him another room and beats him for dressing like a girl. Now, Lucious is getting an MRI.
Rhonda comes down dancing for Andre who ignores her. She tells him to take his pills and hands him his meds and some water. He tells her his dad loves his brothers more than him and is going to leave it all to Hakeem. She says Jamal won’t object because he’s too passive but Rhonda asks what if Jamal made a play for the company and he and Hakeem went to war which would leave him the last man standing. She pulls her shirt off and crawls onto his lap.
Cookie hears a knock at her door and carries her gun with her. It’s Andre and she stashes her gun. He comes in and asks if dad set her up. She tells him she’s proud of him for making something of himself. He says he’s sorry he didn’t come to visit and she says he was ashamed of his dope dealing mom. They hung and swap I love yous. Later, she asks why he married that white girl. He says he met her at school and she’s brilliant.
He tells Cookie she should manage Jamal and she says Lucious won’t let her do A&R. Andre says she can make Jamal a star and she says she has no leverage to make him hand over Jamal. Andre tells her what to do. Cookie busts into the board meeting and tells Vernon to kiss her black ass. She goes to the head of the table and says they need to talk business. She tells Lucious not to touch her like that. He sits with her and Vernon and asks if she’s out of her damned mind.
She says she wants Jamal. He says no and she says he’s messing with the wrong bitch. She threatens to tell the SEC that the company was started with drug money. She tells Vernon to shut up when he starts to speak. Lucious asks why she’s doing this and she tells him not to call her baby and calls him a two faced bastard. She says she’s been living like a dog for 17 years. She says – give me Jamal. She strums the piano and Lucious finally tells her she can have him.
She straightens her fur coat and tells Vernon it was nice to see him. Lucious says he never wanted Jamal anyway and she says she knows. Later, Jamal is singing in a club. We see him thinking about his dad taking him to visit his mom in prison and beating him for wearing his mom’s heels. Cookie watches him with appreciation as he belts out the heartfelt song so obviously about his dad rejecting him. We see Lucious take the boy out and throw him in the trash.
Cookie screams at him that he’s out of his damned mind and pulls the boy out of the garbage can. She takes the crying child back inside as his dad stomps off. Becky watches and loves it. The crowd loves him. Cookie tells Jamal he has it all and they just need to show the world. She says he should be selling out stadiums. Becky asks Michael what he knows about Cookie and he says she seems genuine. She tells him he’s got to share what God gave him with the world.
He tells her he loves her but says he’s not that guy. She tells him to go hang with his friends. He goes and she calls him a stupid sissy. Hakeem tells Jamal that Cookie beat him with a broom. He says Cookie wants to manage his career and he says he told her he’s not ready to release an album. Hakeem says with dad running him and Cookie running him, they’ll try to get them to kill each other. Jamal wants Hakeem to leave but he says he’s got to party and it’s part of his creative process.
Next day Hakeem is in the studio with his dad. He’s recording and Andre tells Lucious he’s hung over again. He can’t remember the lyrics and his dad tells him he’s a disappointing mess whose wasting his time. Hakeem says the song is whack and it’s his dad’s fault. Hakeem goes to see Jamal and says the music is bad. Hakeem says their dad is pushing and he’s lost his confidence. Jamal asks if this is what he wants to be and he nods.
Jamal starts playing on the keyboard and then Hakeem starts singing along to what he’s playing. He says to lay it down for his dad and he’ll be fine. Bunkie bangs on Lucious’ door late at night and tells him he forgot him and left him behind. He says he’s been there since the beginning and he won’t even give him 25 large. He says he’d lose it all to a bookie. Bunkie says he wants three million and Lucious says he wouldn’t give him three nickels.
Bunkie says he’ll burn him down to the ground. He says he knows all about the dealers he killed and pulls a gun on Lucious. He says he wants what’s his and Lucious is livid. Hakeem is in the studio recording. Jamal is into the track and is bobbing his head. Lucious listens and then goes in. He grabs Hakeem and tells him he’s beautiful. He says Jamal helped him with most of it. Lucious says it wasn’t Jamal, it was his genius that did it. Jamal walks out.
He goes to see Cookie and tells her she wins. He says he’s doing it. She says they are going to play up the gay angle about him not accepting him. Jamal says he’s going to come out and she smiles. The doc tells Lucious that his test results aren’t good. He’s got ALS. He says there’s no cure and she says it’s so rare, there’s no cure in sight. She says he has maybe three years. Flashback to Cookie and Lucious. She’s got a bag of money but says something was off.
She says Panther was acting like something was going down. Lucious tells her it’s nothing. She says if she goes down, promise her that he’ll keep playing. She says she knows his album is going to be big. He tells her to stop worrying and promises nothing will happen to her. He says nothing will tear his family apart. Cookie signs papers agreeing never to disclose that she helped start the company in exchange for a fat salary and control of Jamal.
Vernon and Andre watch them sign the papers. Vernon tells Andre that he’s the only one that he’s the only one that can run the company and asks Andre not to forget his Uncle Vernon when he’s running things. Later, Vernon shows Lucious photos of Bunkie with Shyne Johnson and says he’s into him for $150k. He says the guy is dangerous and it won’t be easy to get him to go away. Lucious walks up on Bunkie and shows him the photo. Bunkie says so.
He tells Lucious he’s been a sellout for years and says he knows Lucious is nothing but a punk ass gangster. He asks if he’s going to give him his money and says Shyne won’t stop til he gets it. Lucious says they’ve been friends since they were 14 and nothing can come between them except a bullet. He puts one between his eyes and Bunkie falls back into the river and is gone. Lucious asks Cookie about her hair and she says Jamal made her get a weave.
He says he’s sorry he didn’t visit her in jail and says he misses her honesty. He plays her Hakeem’s song and she says it’s hot. She says that’s a big fat hit. He tells her to quit with the Uncle James thing – she says she’s related to James Brown and he calls her a liar. He says Jamal doesn’t have it and won’t ever make it no matter what she does. She says she’s going to make him a star and take anyone down who gets in her way. He says he ain’t got time for this.
She tells him he better make time. He asks why she’s doing this and she says she wants to show him a faggot really can run this company. Wow. Lucious welcomes back Cookie at a big party. He says this year, his two sons – Hakeem and Jamal – are releasing new albums. Jamal stares at his dad and then Lucious toasts – to Empire.