One element that’s always anchored Empire is the music. Episode 4, titled “Cupid Kills,” dug deep in the crates and centered storylines around the classic French opera La Bohéme, which is broken down into four acts. So I decided to break Empire episode 4 into four acts as well. Act 1 Angelo (Taye Diggs) has been dying to take a little nibble off of Cookie and finally gets her to agree to accompany him on a date to hear some music. Cookie does what every girl does when preparing for a first date with a potential boo — go into operation get fly. She settles on one of her specialties: a hot red, short, tight number that’s painted on perfectly. Unbeknownst to her, though, Angelo’s idea of “going to hear some music” actually translates to an elegant opera with his bougie associates. What does Cookie do when she feels out of her element? Order a Hennessy straight up, flaunt her prison bid, give a resounding “you go girl” to the opera singer in a quiet opera house, and then threaten some whoop-ass on Angelo’s bitchy friends in the ladies' room.
Act 2 Cookie is putting pressure on Tiana to hit hard with her “clap back track” to Hakeem after he lyrically murdered her new boo, rapper Gram, using her own song. Tiana’s not into the rap beef and isn’t trying to get caught between two big egos. Going to hear La Bohéme with Angelo did prove to be fruitful for Cookie. Tiana delivers a Rihanna-esque track intertwined with music from the French opera that leaves Hakeem with egg on his face and Empire Xstream with huge numbers. After seeking some advice from Jamal, Angelo ditches the four-piece suit for a more laid back look. He joins Cookie on a more leveled playing field at Tiana’s streaming session where the two agree to see where things go. That’s when Lucious slides in to reveal that from the beginning of his and young Loretha’s union, there have been others who’ve tried to come between them but he assures their bond is strong. Act 3 Lucious and Andre are locked and loaded with a contract for Shyne’s artist Nessa (Sierra McClain) to sign. Instead, they walk right into a label bidding war. Shyne’s packed all the biggest label heads in his hood-based studio, everyone from fake Diddy to fake Rick Ross; there was even a fake Russell Simmons. Hakeem thinks he can finagle Shyne into signing on the strength of his, Nessa’s and Shyne’s studio chemistry, but Shyne fans the flames of the bidding war by flaunting the private financials of the contract that Hakeem revealed to him. Clearly, this leaves Hakeem looking like a sucka. That’s when Andre turns on the suave and convinces Nessa to sign. Shyne is gun-cocking pissed, but before he can squeeze one bullet out, Lucious steps in with some hot sauce in his bag swag. Then he gets a little gun-cocking action of his own, forcing Shyne to sign. Nessa and Andre celebrate by having a freaky threesome with Rhonda’s ghost.
Act 4 Andre snitches on Jamal to Lucious about him going to visit Freda Gatz, and lets him know that Jamal is preparing to see her again. When Lucious offers a simple “thank you for telling me” with a smile, you know some evil shit is looming. Upon Jamal’s next visit with Freda, where he’s coached along by his PTSD sponsor, he discovers she’s been brutally beaten. Jamal’s heartstrings are officially tugged. He arranges for an attorney, via Angelo, to get her bailed out after convincing the judge that Freda was mentally unstable when she shot Jamal, and that she has a family history of mental illness (a story cooked up by the attorney with Jamal’s approval). The judge sides with Freda, granting her bail. That’s when Lucifer Lucious reveals to Jamal that it was he that orchestrated Freda’s jailhouse beat-down, that Freda was in on it, and that, since she admitted in front of a judge that she was mentally unstable, there’s no way they’ll believe her if she ever gets the urge to tell anyone about him killing her father! Cue evil laughter.