Series Update: Download Empire Season 4 Episode 1 {Premiere}

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Getting reacquainted with the Lyon family this week, I felt like I had amnesia right along with Lucious. Who’s Jamal’s new boyfriend? Ohhh right. Why is Phylicia Rashad talking to Hakeem? Ah, gotcha.


But overall, this new story line is a lot more interesting than I expected, which might solely be a testament to Terrence Howard’s phenomenal acting. Amnesia-stricken Lucious feels like a completely different person: He’s soft and innocent, in a way. Is this what Dwight would have been like if he hadn’t suffered so much abuse at the hands of his mother, or taken to the streets to survive?


We open at Empire’s 20th anniversary celebration at Leviticus, which they’re modeling after Motown’s famous 25th anniversary TV special. Cookie and her sons are filming their interviews backstage. They’re talking about how Lucious is Empire’s legacy, but everyone’s skirting the question of whether or not he’ll actually be at the event.




He shows up, walking with a cane (in a slick Alexander McQueen blazer), and then we get our brief Star crossover as Miss Carlotta (Queen Latifah) implores Lucious to get Star’s girl group on a couple Empire tracks. She reminds him how her own girl group sang the hook on some of Lucious’ songs back in the day, and he is confused but agrees to help out. As she walks away, he tells Cookie, “I don’t know who that was.” (Neither did any of the viewers, Lucious.)


The relatively calm bubble doesn’t last long — between the flashbulbs and the people shouting his name, Lucious gets overwhelmed and starts yelling, “Get away from me! Get me out of here!”


Cut to 24 hours earlier. Andre is in Lucious’s his office at Empire, and Thirsty tells him the Las Vegas PD is coming back to question him one more time. (Lest you forgot, Andre, with Shine’s help, planned the explosion that stole Lucious’ memories because they were trying to kill him. Andre tried to cancel it at the last minute, but Shine didn’t call it off.) Apparently Giuliana had been on the run, but the police are “getting ready to bring her in.”



Later, Andre confronts Shine about why the police are still investigating. Someone must be talking, right? Shine is angry because Andre promised they’d be running Empire after he carried out his side of the deal, but as of right now, with Lucious out of commission, Cookie is still in charge.


Over at Hakeem’s, his playboy paradise apartment has been transformed — just slightly — into a child-friendly place. By this I just mean there are diapers and burping cloths all over his pool table. He has Bella right now while Anika sits in jail, and Mrs. DuBois comes over to remind him that he has to continue bringing Bella to their house every Tuesday. She has photo evidence of all these visits, which she tells Hakeem will feel to Cookie like “taking a knife and stabbing her in the heart.” I mean, will it? It’s not great, but they’re literally just visits. It’s not that deep…


And Jamal, free of his D-Major/Philip love triangle, has moved on to yet another tall glass of water in Warren — Angelo’s hot lawyer cousin. Although I don’t think Jamal knows he’s Angelo’s cousin, right? Jamal seems smitten and has apparently been leaving things at Warren’s apartment as excuses to see him again. It would be cute…if we didn’t know Mrs. DuBois was controlling Warren’s puppet strings.




Later, Warren goes to see Mrs. DuBois as she’s getting a massage, and he tries to explain that things are moving slowly because of complications with Lucious. But Mrs. D makes it clear she doesn’t care about that. She wants to destroy Cookie’s children and family one by one, just like Cookie destroyed Mrs. D’s life’s work (a.k.a. Angelo). “I will pick the meat from their bones as she watches helplessly,” she purrs. Clair Huxtable, is that really you?!


Finally, it’s time for Lucious’ grand entrance. He pulls up in a Rolls Royce with creepy nurse Claudia (Demi Moore) by his side, and we see that he’s lost something else besides his memory: part of his left leg. And he’s a completely different person. Claudia insists the family call him “Dwight.” When Cookie pushes back and reminds him that millions of people are waiting to watch Lucious step onto the stage, he seems to look straight through her. “That’s not me,” he says. “I don’t even know who that is. Sorry.”


To try to jog Lucious’s memory, the family sits with him, looking through old photo albums and playing his old records. Hearing it seemingly for the first time now, Lucious hates his violent rap music. “Are all my songs this violent and hateful? Why would I write something like this?” Fortunately, he does like some things, like Baby Bella and Tiana (who he thinks is Bella’s mother). He wonders why Cookie isn’t in so many of the photos, and she quietly explains that they were apart for 17 years. It’s painful for everyone, but what’s more painful is that they’re not supposed to discuss any difficult memories — just the nice ones.


Outside, Cookie sees Lucious trying to put the moves on Claudia (who doesn’t reciprocate but doesn’t seem to be rejecting them). She storms over. “Okay, you’ve got 30 minutes to pack your bags and kick rocks, bitch,” she says. Claudia says it’s just transference, but Cookie isn’t buying it. She’s seen Lucious go after plenty of women before…

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