‘Empire’ season 3, episode 13 recap: United we stand, divided we fall

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Nobody does dysfunctional drama better than “Empire” and this week’s episode on FOX brings it on like a speeding freight train. Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) has a wakeup call about the message he’s sending after Kennedy sues Empire for being punched and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and Andre (Trai Byers) take advantage of Lucious (Terrence Howard) being compromised by an unexpected illness. But, Papa Lyon is furious and claps back with family-dominance fury.

Hakeem Stands Up For His Queens

The Lyons scramble to recover from the fallout of Hakeem’s 21st birthday party gone wild. The youngest Lyon is prone to sparking fights. But this time, an innocent girl gets caught in the crossfire. Who can really blame Kennedy for suing Empire for getting punched in the face?

She’s seeking 50 million dollars in damages and Papa Lyon, even from his intubated sick bed, wants to “shut it down” as fast as possible. Hakeem is really uncomfortable when Thirsty attacks Kennedy during a legal meeting. She storms off and Hakeem seeks counsel from his only level-headed sibling, Jamal.

Jamal tells him he’s been sending the wrong message to all of his female fans with his antagonistic lyrics and he suggests sending a better one. Oops, brother Andre shut Hakeem’s Xtreme channel down. So, (with Cookie’s blessing) Hakeem sends a straight-up apology song (“Special”) via Jamal’s channel.

We’re so glad to see Hakeem man up and do the right thing, for the right reason, for once. Tiana is proud of him too. Does this mean the youngest Lyon is changing? It looks like he’s sincerely trying. But of course, big brother Andre is mad and only worried about the bottom line and the financial havoc Hakeem’s “change of heart” is going to have on the company. We hope it goes well for Hakeem in this case. We’ll see.

Andre vs. Lucious – May the Best Lyon Win

It’s a cringeworthy moment when Andre faces off against his sick father in an impromptu “board meeting” about Empire’s impending Vegas venture in Lucious’ bedroom. Lucious doesn’t even look at the lucrative proposal. He just stares his eldest son down and fires him. The only problem is, he needs another board member to second the motion and no one volunteers. Not even Cookie. Empire, as a whole, appears to be united with Andre. But, we have a feeling this solidarity simply can’t last.

Terrence Howard rules at delivering Lucious Lyon’s cold and calculating stares and this sequence proves no exception. Lucious is furious. It’s pretty clear Andre may have won this battle. But, his father won’t soon forget this perceived betrayal.

Also, we’re pretty sure Andre doesn’t fully know who he’s climbing into bed with by partnering with Giuliana (Nia Long). She gloatingly tells a shocked Nessa about the "arrangement" Andre offered her. Nessa stands up to Andre, though, and tells him she’s not going to share him with anyone. Good for her!

The question is, will she stick by her convictions? Andre is a cunning manipulator and we would hate to see Nessa’s good, innocent core become tainted by Andre’s dark and evil intentions.

An Awkward Upstaging

Under Cookie’s direction, Jamal releases a teaser video of the first track for his Cookie and Lucious album. It highlights the early phase of his parents’ troubled relationship. Young Cookie and Lucious are madly in love. Cookie likes what she sees and so do we. We think Jamal’s family history project is fascinating – especially since it parallels the history unfolding in the series.

Angelo (Taye Diggs) catches a glimpse and is understandably bothered by Cookie’s deep, enduring connection to her ex. Cookie tries to reassure him he’s got nothing to worry about. He doesn’t totally buy it and who are we kidding? Neither do we.

But, yay for Andre! He wins the election and celebrates for a matter of minutes, only to be upstaged by Lucious Lyon, newly risen from his sick bed. He makes a grand show of Empire befriending the newly-elected New York City Mayor. We know his speech is born of revenge, though. Lucious is furious with Cookie and he’s not about to let "the happy couple" have a shining moment.

Things get totally awkward when Lucious plays a song he wrote for Cookie for the happy (but confused) crowd. We’re elated – and surprised – when Giuliana throws some shade of her own on the moment by asking Lucious to play the song he wrote for her instead.

What?! What kind of connection do these two share? Honestly, they seem connivingly suited for each other. However, will Lucious ultimately pay a fatal price for rekindling a relationship with Giuliana? Especially if she’s’ working with Andre to ultimately take down. This could be the worst alliance Lucious Lyon has ever made.

“Empire” airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/8C on FOX.