Empire Episode Guide

Here is the episode guide for Empire. Each episode has the title, writer, director, and a description listed. The descriptions are sourced from official press releases

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18 - Past Is Prologue

Written By: Lee Daniels & Ilene Chaiken Directed By: Sanaa Hamri
Rating: 4.1 Audience: 10.88
After a life-changing experience, Jamal refuses to make music until his family ends its seemingly endless cycle of violence and fighting. Meanwhile, the Feds are tailing Anika because they want to force her to testify against Lucious. In order to protect her family, Cookie organizes a meeting at Hakeem and Laura's wedding with various people from her and Lucious' past

17 - Rise by Sin

Written By: Ayanna Floyd Davis & Jamie Rosengard Directed By: Paul McCrane
Rating: 3.7 Audience: 9.81
Hakeem feels the pressure of his underwhelming fiancé, Laura, as he struggles to find a place for her both in his family and his career. Cookie finally reveals to Jamal the truth behind what happened to Freda's father, prompting Jamal to warn Freda of his family's ulterior motives. Meanwhile, despite his frustration with the family, Jamal makes a sacrifice for Lucious from which it will be hard to recover

16 - The Lyon Who Cried Wolf

Written By: Joshua Allen Directed By: Millicent Shelton
Rating: 3.6 Audience: 9.39
A wrench is thrown into Lucious’ deeply personal music video about his mother, when Andre discovers a dark secret. Meanwhile, Hakeem and Jamal are compromised after tempting themselves with new or rekindling, but secretive affairs. Then, Rhonda starts to suspect who her attacker was

15 - More Than Kin

Written By: Eric Haywood & Malcolm Spellman Directed By: Sanaa Hamri
Rating: 3.8 Audience: 10.03
With help from Andre, Lucious hosts a fundraiser, as part of his campaign to prove to the board that he should return as Empire’s CEO. Meanwhile, Hakeem must decide whether he wants to be a father to his and Anika’s child

14 - Time Shall Unfold

Written By: Ayanna Floyd Davis Directed By: Cherien Dabis
Rating: 3.7 Audience: 9.56
Lucious releases his new music video, as he manipulates and sabotages those around him to regain his CEO position at Empire. Meanwhile, Andre learns more about his grandmother's mental illness in order to understand his own struggle with bipolar disorder, Anika reveals a big secret to the family and Hakeem leads the big shareholder meeting

13 - The Tameness of a Wolf

Written By: Attica Locke & Joshua Allen Directed By: Paris Barclay
Rating: 3.8 Audience: 10.11
Tensions between Lucious and his sons continue to rise. Back at Lyon Dynasty, Lucious aims to direct his most emotional and honest music video yet and recreates a traumatic interaction with his mother for the new single. Meanwhile, on the Mirage a Trois tour, Tiana and Laura begin viciously fighting over the spotlight, forcing Hakeem to mediate between the two divas

12 - A Rose by Any Other Name

Written By: Ilene Chaiken Directed By: Michael Engler
Rating: 4.3 Audience: 11.34
With Hakeem acting as Empire’s CEO, Camilla sinks her claws further and further into him. The rest of the Lyon family tries to get him to rejoin their side, but Hakeem has his own plan. Meanwhile, Jamal receives backlash from his fans and Andre and Rhonda’s marriage is tested

11 - Death Will Have His Day

Written By: Danny Strong Directed By: Danny Strong
Rating: 4.8 Audience: 12.46
After losing the company he built, Lucious announces he will stop at nothing to regain his power, but Cookie has her own way of handling things. Meanwhile, Rhonda, Andre and the rest of the Lyon family come to terms with a horrific, life-changing tragedy that changes their lives as they know it. Don’t miss the aftermath unfold

10 - Et Tu, Brute

Written By: Radha Blank Directed By: Sanaa Hamri
Rating: 4.5 Audience: 11.81
Lucious makes a reckless play for the streaming service that he believes will make him the most powerful man in music, only to learn that the entire business strategy was part of a scheme that might bring Hakeem’s ex, Camilla, back into the picture. Meanwhile, Cookie decides to plan a concert at the prison where she spent 17 years locked away from her family and a tragic “accident” leaves Rhonda in a scary state

09 - Sinned Against

Written By: Eric Haywood Directed By: Sanaa Hamri
Rating: 3.2 Audience: 9.21
Cookie and her sister, Candace, team up with a former prison mate to rescue their sister, Carol. Back at Empire, Jamal and critically acclaimed pop star Skye Summers begin collaborating and soon share a deep connection. Meanwhile, Laz has truly fallen for Cookie, but things get complicated when she finds out the truth about him

08 - My Bad Parts

Written By: Malcolm Spellman Directed By: Sanaa Hamri
Rating: 4.4 Audience: 11.34
Lucious, eager to assert his power, releases a rap by Freda challenging Hakeem as his heir. Not to be outdone in Lucious' eyes, Hakeem fires back at Freda with a rap battle challenge that could put Lyon Dynasty's future in danger. Meanwhile, Cookie gets a special visit from her spitfire sister, Candace, Jamal is working on landing a major sponsorship deal and Anika receives some life changing news

07 - True Love Never

Written By: Ingrid Escajeda Directed By: Sylvain White
Rating: 4.2 Audience: 11.20
Lucious begins to strategize the ascension of Empire from record label into global music monolith, so he looks into starting a partnership with Jago, the founder of a music streaming company. Meanwhile, Andre has to twist his newfound values to achieve a delicate balance between his faith and his career, Hakeem begins to work with Laura to turn her into a star and Cookie sets her sights on having Lyon Dynasty be a part of an epic televised charity music event

06 - A High Hope For A Low Heaven

Written By: Robert Munic Directed By: Mario Van Peebles
Rating: 4.6 Audience: 11.68
Lucious and Cookie must put aside their differences and work together as parents to protect their family and keep them out of danger. Jamal does his best to get back in the studio and break away from being defined solely as a gay artist, while Hakeem struggles with how to feel and act like a man. Meanwhile, Andre works to shut down a division at Empire, until he discovers a disciple in the midst of Lucious' Gutter Life records

05 - Be True

Written By: Wendy Calhoun & Janeika James & Jasheika James Directed By: Kevin Bray
Rating: 4.8 Audience: 12.28
Ne-Yo and Adam Rodriguez Guest-Star! Over at Lyon Dynasty, Cookie and Anika work together with Laz to throw “Cookie Lyon’s Block Party,” a big event to launch their company, showcase their artists and premiere a signature Dynasty anthem written by Hakeem. Meanwhile, Jamal gets busy working on his music with Ne-Yo. Also, Hakeem begins a tender romance with the lead singer of his girl group, and Andre takes steps to rid his soul of past sins

04 - Poor Yorick

Written By: Danny Strong Directed By: Danny Strong
Rating: 4.7 Audience: 12.22
The Lyons are still split into warring factions, but they all decide to shoot a music video that will capitalize on Hakeem and Jamal's duet from Hakeem's leaked album, a collaboration that will benefit both companies. Meanwhile, Lucious trades his real handcuffs for virtual ones. However, knowing he can't fully control his company with a federal murder case hanging over his head, he sets out to find Vernon and make him permanently disappear

03 - Fires of Heaven

Written By: Attica Locke Directed By: Craig Brewer
Rating: 5.1 Audience: 13.10
Anika secretly work together behind Lucious’ back to pull off a surprise performance that catches the eye of Pitbull. Meanwhile, Lucious tracks down Frank Gathers’ daughter, Young Ma, to try to convince her to sign with him at Empire, while Hakeem is hard at work on his girl group, Ménage a Trois. Also, Andre and Rhonda hope their baby-on-the-way will be the key that unlocks Lucious’ cold heart and opens the door for Andre to return to the Empire fold

02 - Without A Country

Written By: Carlito Rodriguez Directed By: Dee Rees
Rating: 5.5 Audience: 13.74
Cookie and her cohorts decide to start their own small record label, but it’s off to a bumpy start as everyone has different visions for the new label. As his first project for the new company, Hakeem decides to form a girl group and woos a hot Latina lead singer, proving that he can be more than just an artist. Meanwhile, Lucious, feeling extra pressure from a bloodthirsty prosecutor, hires a new lawyer and records an epic track from inside jail. In Lucious’ absence, Jamal neglects his music and makes business moves that further his journey toward becoming every bit as ruthless as his father

01 - The Devils Are Here

Written By: Danny Strong & Ilene Chaiken Directed By: Lee Daniels
Rating: 6.7 Audience: 16.18
Season Two picks up three months after the shocking arrest and incarceration of Empire Entertainment head Lucious Lyon. Still in federal lockup, Lucious is trying to run Empire from inside, while a headline-grabbing state prosecutor hangs her political ambitions on bringing him down - no matter what it takes. Meanwhile, Cookie stages a star-studded #FreeLucious concert in his support, while scheming with Andre, Hakeem, Anika and the business savvy Mimi Whiteman to finalize the hostile takeover of Empire
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12 - Who I Am

Written By: Danny Strong & Ilene Chaiken Directed By: Debbie Allen
Rating: 6.9 Audience: 17.62
Jamal and Lucious are on their way to forming a music-centered relationship, but once again, Lucious has a secret that's about to change everything. Hakeem decides to flirt with the enemy, while trying to figure out what the best move is for his career. Meanwhile, Cookie is cooking up a plan of her own

11 - Die But Once

Written By: Ilene Chaiken Directed By: Mario Van Peebles
Rating: 6.1 Audience: 15.82
Jamal and Lucious are on their way to forming a music-centered relationship, but once again, Lucious has a secret that's about to change everything. Hakeem decides to flirt with the enemy, while trying to figure out what the best move is for his career. Meanwhile, Cookie is cooking up a plan of her own

10 - Sins of the Father

Written By: Eddie Gonzalez & Jeremy Haft Directed By: Rob Hardy
Rating: 5.8 Audience: 14.90
Andre forms a new musical relationship with Michelle (guest star Jennifer Hudson), and a woman from Lucious' past, Angie, comes into the picture. Meanwhile, Lucious invites the whole family over to his home. However, everyone arrives with their own agendas. Hakeem, under the influence of Camilla, sets out to show his father that he's a true artist and a good businessman. Then, Cookie prepares to state her own agenda for Empire and for her family, when Olivia arrives

09 - Unto The Breach

Written By: David Rambo Directed By: Anthony Hemingway
Rating: 5.8 Audience: 14.33
It's an all-out war when Cookie uncovers Anika's big backstabbing secret, and Lucious must come face-to-face with his longtime rival, Billy Beretti. As the Lyon family rallies to save Empire Entertainment, all three sons take drastic measures: Jamal gets close with famous artist Delphine, Hakeem works hand-in-hand with Cookie and Andre is pushed way beyond his limits

08 - The Lyon's Roar

Written By: Danny Strong Directed By: Danny Strong
Rating: 5.4 Audience: 13.90
It’s time for the Lyon family to come together and record a legacy album with Lucious, Hakeem and Jamal. Cookie and Camilla finally come face-to-face, Andre struggles with some inner demons and Jamal steps into the spotlight with news that surprises everyone

07 - Our Dancing Days

Written By: Attica Locke Directed By: Sanaa Hamri
Rating: 5.2 Audience: 13.02
Tension mounts between Hakeem and Jamal, as Lucious attempts to brand Empire Entertainment as a tight-knit, "family-run" company. Meanwhile, Cookie and Anika don't hold anything back when it comes to taking over the company

06 - Out, Damned Spot

Written By: Eric Haywood Directed By: Michael Engler
Rating: 1.8 Audience: 11.96
Vernon is caught in the middle of a very sticky situation. Meanwhile, Jamal is rising to stardom, but his newfound drive and ambition might stir up trouble in his relationships. To make matters worse, a mystery woman from the family's past shows up with a huge surprise

05 - Dangerous Bonds

Written By: Malcolm Spellman Directed By: John Singleton
Rating: 4.6 Audience: 11.47
Cookie receives an anonymous gift from an admirer that she believes might be a veiled threat from a person from her prison past. Meanwhile, Lucious takes charge of Hakeem's first video shoot

04 - False Imposition

Written By: Wendy Calhoun Directed By: Rosemary Rodriguez
Rating: 4.3 Audience: 11.36
Lucious reveals to Anika he has ALS. With Empire's reputation being threatened by the Creedmore label, he makes poaching their star rapper Titan his priority, despite Titan sitting in jail on an attempted murder charge. Meanwhile, Jamal and Michael move into a tiny apartment to begin their life together outside of Lucious' payroll. Discovering that the media is lit up over the romance between Hakeem and Tiana, Lucious books them to perform a duet on the Teen Choice Awards nominations show at Leviticus, and orders them into the studio to record. Seeking to lure Titan over to Empire, Lucious and Anika meet with his managers and get caught in a drive-by shooting. Separately, Cookie appeals to Titan's strict Muslim family, who reveal the shooting Titan was involved in was in retaliation for the torching of a community center. The police question Lucious about his whereabouts the night of Bunkie's murder, and Andre lies to provide an alibi for him. When word gets out that Anika approached Titan in jail, Creedmore label head Billy Beretti confronts Lucious and tells him he'll never get the rapper; a flashback reveals Beretti ripping off Lucious of millions. Tension rises between Anika and Cookie about her intervention into the duet between Hakeem and Tiana, but Lucious backs his ex-wife up. When Hakeem is late for dinner, Tiana goes to his apartment to discover him with Camilla. They perform their duet anyway, to rapturous response. During the show, Lucious visits Titan in jail and convinces him to join Empire, telling him he’ll rebuild the community center that burned. Lucious later thanks Cookie for her help in signing the star, but when she seeks validation from Hakeem as well, he refuses to acknowledge her role in either his career or family.

03 - The Devil Quotes Scripture

Written By: Ilene Chaiken & Joshua Allen Directed By: Sanaa Hamri
Rating: 4.4 Audience: 11.07
The Lyons head to Philadelphia and get a taste of what their life could have been if Lucious hadn't made it big. Lucious promotes Hakeem's new relationship with hip-hop star Tianna, but tensions rise when another woman tries to catch Hakeem's eye

02 - Outspoken King

Written By: Danny Strong & Ilene Chaiken Directed By: Lee Daniels
Rating: 4.0 Audience: 10.32
Lucious announces that he will take Empire public, coinciding with the opening of his new club Leviticus. Despite the objections of Cookie, he won't allow Jamal perform. Cookie turns to Jamal, intent on convincing him to steal his brother's spotlight. Meanwhile, Rhonda grows concerned about Andre’s erratic behavior and convinces him to have his bipolar medication checked. With just days before Empire goes public, a public shooting in which the gunman claimed to be inspired by the lyrics of Empire recording artist Kidd Fo-Fo causes a whirlwind of negative publicity for the label. Lucious finds himself in the midst of a media firestorm about the responsibility of rap music, and the bank backing Empire's public offering gets cold feet about supporting him. A sudden shock hits Empire when a close family member is found dead, with no clue as to who could've been responsible, briefly sobering everyone. Still convinced that Jamal must be in the spotlight at the club opening, Cookie hires a top publicist to stage a media event where Jamal will publicly come out of the closet, but when Lucious gets wind of this, he threatens to cut off Jamal financially. A few days before Leviticus opens, Hakeem goes out with friends and gets drunk and is taped going on a racist rant that goes viral, causing more publicity nightmares for Empire. Lucious decides to be interviewed for Fox News about all the controversy and, with help from the outspoken Cookie, manages to turn the debate around and express his honest feelings about hip-hop and his own history on the streets. The moment succeeds in turning the bank in their favor, and for Lucious to tell Kidd Fo-Fo how he really feels about him. Leviticus opens as planned, but a secret Cookie holds comes back to bite her.

01 - Pilot

Written By: Lee Daniels & Danny Strong Directed By: Lee Daniels
Rating: 3.8 Audience: 9.90
Musical legend Lucious Lyon has risen from teenage drug dealer to become the head of Empire Entertainment. He credits music with saving his life, and he's just taken the company public with a promise that it will be a haven for young musical artists. Lucious announces to his three sons that he has to pick a successor, but who will it be? His youngest, the brash and commercially successful Hakeem? The middle child, sensitive and brilliant musician Jamal, who is gay, much to Lucious' disapproval? Or the eldest, cool and calculating Andre, who has business sense but no musical talent? Each of them must prove to Lucious over the next several months that they can lead the company, before he makes his decision. Things are complicated when Lucious' ex-wife, Cookie, is unexpectedly released from jail after nearly twenty years, during which Lucious divorced her – Jamal was the only one who visited her in prison (aside from her cousin and Lucious' aide, Bunkie, who has a gambling problem) – and she's here to get what's hers; namely, half the company, as it was started with her money. As Bunkie warns Cookie that Lucious is watching her, Andre's scheming wife, Rhonda, suggests pitting Hakeem and Jamal against one another... and Andre also has the support of his Uncle Vernon, who is Chairman of the Board. With Andre's encouragement, Cookie blackmails Lucious into forcing him to let her manage Jamal. However, Jamal, who is happy playing small clubs, doesn't agree with Cookie's grand plans for him. Hakeem loses his confidence when Lucious pressures him to cut an album, but Jamal helps him out, writing a song for him and playing on the track – the two brothers are close... though when Hakeem starts tearing it up in the recording booth, Lucious refuses to acknowledge Jamal's contribution, crediting it all to Hakeem. Lucious finds himself the target of blackmail once more when Bunkie demands money for his gambling debts. And as Lucious tries to come to terms with the Lou Gehrig's disease that will eventually take his life, a disease he was just recently diagnosed with and has been keeping a secret, he realizes that he and Cookie are going to be at war.
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