If you are a human and have an internet connection (careful what you search now!), then you are generally aware that we are living in desolate times. If it’s not a story about your internet searches being auctioned off (just keep typing in “Empire recap” and you’ll be fine), it’s the news that a favorite TV show has left us too soon. So, given the dire climate, does it feel odd that a show about a backstabbing and plotting family can bring us peace… or at least distraction? Because on tonight’s episode of “Empire”, there was backstabbing and plotting a plenty.

We open with Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) having serious regrets about what she did back in Lucious’ (Terrence Howard) office. Not so much the smashing of all his personal possessions, but more the smashing of their two faces together in passionate embrace. Still reeling from the fight while having tea with her sister Candace (Vivica A. Fox), Cookie admits she needs to tell Angelo (Taye Diggs), who she’s trying to hard to move on with. “You’re addicted to that man,” Candace admits. “But you don’t need your life ruined twice by Lucifer Lyons.”

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Lucious, meanwhile, is doing his best to pretend like the whole incident never happened. We open on him having the whole thing swept away by the Empire Records cleaning crew (these guys must be getting overtime at this point); as staff begins strolling in to start their day, including Lucious, Anika, and Mama Lyon, we hear Lucious mutter something about a break in and how they destroyed his “baby.”

To his credit, Lucious does not use this prime opportunity to destroy things between Cookie and Angelo, even after Angelo stampedes into Lucious’ apartment to let him know that the contest is over, he “won” Cookie. Instead, he claims that he’s moving on with his own life, and letting Cookie come to her own realizations that she’ll never be over what they had/have/etc. A noble gesture, but it ends there…

empire s3 cookie Just how long can Cookie & Lucious pretend that kiss (and the property damage) never happened?

While this is going on, Jamal (Jussie Smollett) and Tori (Rumer Willis) have made sober sanctuary in a studio and are starting to record what promises to be a pretty hot album. They’ve written an addicts anthem, of sorts, about fiending for “love,” but can’t agree on how “dirty” they should get. Tori really wants to include something called a Devil’s chord while Jamal wants to keep it clean (like them!). Cookie listens in to what they’re putting down and vibes with it, coming up with a compromise before telling Tori to “get on with your white self.” She also warns that they need to erase the hard drives every night so Lucious doesn’t hear what they’re working on. It’s sound advice, which means Jamal immediately disregards it.

This comes back to bite Jamal in a big way — after hearing what they’ve recorded, Lucious manages to talk Tori into working on his Inferno project, laying down the “Devil’s Chord” she had previously shown Jamal. Jamal sees her practicing with Lucious’ group at Inferno and immediately writes Tori off. (Jamal, she’s only human. Music is her new drug! She just wants to play!! They’ll be back together…..)

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Meanwhile, Becky (Gabourey Sidibe) is still pissed about not being named the head of A&R, but manages to come around when Anika (Grace Gealey) admits that she trusts Becky to make creative decisions and gives her free reign over Tiana’s video. And, as it turns out, Becky might not have to wait too long for another opening, since Anika pretty quickly decides to split town with a little help from Tariq (Morocco Omari).

Having cornered her on the street, Tariq slaps Anika with a subpoena… and an offer. He knows that she can’t testify against Lucious, but Anika can take down Cookie. He offers her witness protection in return for helping him, and warns it won’t be pretty if she doesn’t take the deal. Not thinking too long about it, Anika shows up to their meeting place the next day to board a bus to her new future (which, to be honest….a bus? Witness protection can’t at least spring for a town car?) Anika does all this, but not before she drops her Bella off with her father, Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), imploring him to finally “man up.”

On the Andre front, things are a little murkier. He’s ready to take the next steps in his plane to take out his father, which means starting some sort of shady deal in Las Vegas. Shine, Andre, and shine’s “friend” Danger meet with Shine’s contact Rafael to work out a deal. Given that they chose to meet in some wet warehouse doesn’t exactly spell legit business transaction, but it’s an end goal to kill Lucious, so… fitting. It also spells the introduction of Nia Long.

Gia (Nia Long), the wife of Rafael, comes out of the shadows as Rafael is going off on her about how Lucious Lyons’ son is here and Gia set him up, hinting at a deeper connection that not even Andre is aware of. After Rafael pushes her around, she shoots him dead. When Danger starts to go after Gia, Shine shoots him dead. Despite the bloodbath, Andre still wants to do business.

So, if nothing else, we’re pretty sure this is going to be an entertaining partnership.

“Empire” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

Posted by:Raef Harrison

TV lover. Dog whisperer (I talk to my dog a lot). Neither proud or ashamed of what I watch. TV words to live by: "Blerg"