“Empire” Recap: “Light In Darkness”
On Wednesday’s “Empire” premiere, it was revealed whether Anika or Rhonda died, and Lucious clashed with Tariq and Shyne. Here are the most important things to know about “Light In Darkness,” the first episode of season 3.
The show began where the season 2 finale left off, with Hakeem fleeing his failed wedding. Just after, a body crashed onto a car from the balcony above. It was Rhonda, who died on impact. “You killed my wife,” Andre screamed as he strangled Anika. He only stopped when her water broke.
Cookie was at home trashing her Lucious mementos when Jamal called to tell her what happened, while a drunk Hakeem went to Tiana, unaware of what went down. At the hospital, Andre was given Rhonda’s belongings, but he was too angry with God to process anything. With Hakeem MIA, Lucious went into the delivery room with Anika, explaining that she was his “wife.”
But as he pretended to comfort her, he actually whispered in her ear that she better lie about what happened with Rhonda to make it seem like an accident. And when the baby born was a girl, he ominously said to Anika, “You lied to me.” And that was all before the first commercial break.
Some time after, Lucious partied with French Montana and Birdman to woo them to join his streaming service. Birdman was disinterested, though, and even criticized Lucious, saying he wasn’t a king because he didn’t have a true queen. At Empire, Lucious was concerned about his “legacy” and angry that a grieving Andre wasn’t there. It was revealed Lucious was the name on Anika’s daughter’s birth certificate, which further fueled the feud between him and Hakeem.
Cookie, caught in the middle, told her son to “man up,” but also told Lucious she didn’t have his “back.” He insisted, “I know we’re still good as long as I see that fire in your eyes.” She retorted, “Whatever you and I had is dead. You’re married now. You ruined it — forever.”
Shyne crashed Hakeem’s recording session and ignored Lucious’ order to leave. Instead, he introduced Nessa, demanding they give her a record deal… or he’d call Tariq. He then broke the hand of Hakeem’s producer, and told Lucious he had until the next day to make the deal.
Cookie found out Tariq “got” to her sisters, and then he suddenly showed up at her apartment. He vowed to prove that Lucious and Anika’s marriage was fake, which led Lucious to arrange for Anika and baby Bella to move into his mansion to keep up the charade. Upon arriving, Lucious’ mother Leah went toward her with a knife, calling Anika a “snake.”
The next day, Lucious and Shyne made up, and they agreed Nessa could perform with Hakeem at an upcoming Empire streaming event. Both sides thought they were playing each other, and Shyne and Hakeem ended up bonding over a music collaboration, as well as their dislike of Lucious.
Lucious actually invited Tariq to dinner, calling him “family.” As the mansion was prepared to make it look like Anika’s home, Lucius assured Cookie that his life with her was actually a “lifetime ago.” Cookie said she’d play along just this one time. Hakeem and Anika were also both clearly hurt when Lucious came in and took the baby away from him.
Tariq called the family dinner a “sham,” and Anika and Lucious shared a very awkward kiss. Leah revealed Tariq used to visit her at the psychiatric home, and Tariq taunted Andre and Hakeem over their relationships with Lucious. Jamal acknowledged Lucious did him wrong, but said his father couldn’t be taken down. Tensions escalated when Tariq’s taunting turned to Cookie, leading Jamal and Andre to nearly take him out. Instead, Cookie gave him one of her verbal beat-downs.
Meanwhile, Jamal was still recovering from his gun shot wound, and struggled during a rehearsal. Over Cookie’s objections, he vowed to perform a song about gun violence and freeing Freda at the Empire event. At the party, though, Jamal struggled with PTSD and had a panic attack. Nessa sang his song instead, which Shyne saw as a victory over Lucious. He and Jamal later had words as they blamed each other for the family’s personal and professional troubles.
Towards the end of the episode, Cookie and Lucious flashed back to their first meeting on a neighborhood street. “That’s the past,” she told him now, adding that she’s “done” with everything and ready to walk away. She said she needed a “wall” between them, and that if he loved her, he’d agree. Which he did.
In the final minutes, Andre had a breakdown over Rhonda’s death, hallucinating her tormenting him over his failure to protect her. The show ended with Lucious holding baby Bella, and telling her everything he’s doing is to protect his legacy. He was seemingly unaware that one of the stuffed animals in the nursery had a surveillance camera hidden in it, and Tariq was watching him.