On Wednesday’s “Empire,” the family finally attended the highly-anticipated ASAs, but the night was interrupted by bloodshed. Here are the most important things to know about “Rise By Sin,” the 17th and penultimate episode of season 2.
The show began the day before the American Sound Awards, with a tense Lucious leading a band rehearsal. Cookie encouraged him to rest, and accused him of avoiding his mother, who he insisted was “crazy” and “dangerous.” Still holed up at his mansion, Leah saw a news report about the music video she inspired. “He’s always been a liar,” she exclaimed.
Leah then complained to Andre about being left out of the ASAs when the whole family was going, and he said he’d try to score an extra ticket, but warned it would “destroy” Lucious’ “credibility” if anyone found out who she was. Later, just as Andre was going to sneak Leah to the event, Thirsty stopped them. He then locked them inside a security room.
Carol was offended when Cookie said she looked like a “skank prostitute” in her potential red carpet dress, and shared how she reunited with former cop Tariq. Lucious confirmed that he did quit the force in 2010 for undisclosed reasons, and Cookie assumed he was now a fed and after the family. She then met with Tariq before his date with Carol, and warned him not to put the “squeeze” on her sister just to get to them.
He insisted that his intentions were innocent, but taunted her over Lucious killing Bunky. Carol later told Cookie to “back off,” and they argued over whether she was getting “worked.” It evolved into a fight about her falling off the wagon, and whether Cookie stole Lucious from her years ago. An angry Cookie flipped out, ordering her sister out of the company, her apartment, and the ASAs.
Jamal and Freda played their latest song for Derek, who thought they “got something.” He then told Jamal he should let Cookie “go” as her producer, with him taking the reins on his next album. They later bonded in the recording studio, and Derek told him not to be offended when he walks the ASAs red carpet with a model. As Lucious interrupted, Derek acted like Jamal had made a pass at him and stormed out.
Lucious, however, knew Derek was closeted, and teased Jamal about getting turned into his “little bitch.” He then berated his son for being “disgusting” in his studio, and throwing his “intolerable” and “unnatural” “way of his life” in his face. Jamal responded by saying his dad is the one acting like a “sissy bitch” with his mom, which prompted Lucious to grab his throat and spew, “You ain’t nothing but a disappointment. The day you die from AIDs, I’ma celebrate.”
When Jamal went to tell Cookie about the spat, she was more alarmed that he was still working with Freda. She said the feds were still after the family and they all needed to “lay low.” She then confessed that her early release from prison was for snitching on Frank Gathers. Jamal then put two and two together: Lucious then had Freda’s dad killed in prison. Cookie warned him that Freda didn’t “fall far from the tree,” and that she could be “dangerous.”
Meanwhile, Hakeem was clearly uninterested as Laura worked on wedding planning, and told her that her career wasn’t going “to take off the way we wanted it to.” She insisted all she cared about right now was marrying him. Anika called Rhonda out over keeping her distance, and assumed it was because her pregnancy was “painful” for her. Rhonda brushed it off, but asked if they saw each other “that night.”
Lucious offered to be Cookie’s date to the ASAs and surprised her with a diamond bracelet. “Tonight is our night,” he told her. “I couldn’t imagine going with anyone but you.” The show flashed back to their happier times, and she teased him for being a “flirt.” They posed on the red carpet together, as did Hakeem and Laura, but she was insulted when photographers wanted to snap him alone.
Just after Cookie touted to the media that they were the “first family of music,” Jamal announced in an interview on the carpet that he was shelving his album, and this would be the last time he’d been seen on stage with his family. He then cryptically warned Freda to leave Empire.
Watching the pre-show on TV, Leah became increasingly angry seeing Lucious telling “lies” about losing his mother while she was “locked up again.” At the same time, Carol showed up on the red carpet obviously drunk, and Cookie had security escort her out. But before she left, she started a fight with Freda, saying she was only there because Lucious felt “guilty about what he did to your daddy.” With flashbacks, the young rapper put it all together.
She then grabbed a gun from a security guard, ran towards the Lyons, and fired. Jamal stepped in front to protect Lucious, and ended up shot in the abdomen. Cookie burst into tears as he bled on the red carpet, while Andre at home freaked out about not being able to get to him. Thirsty ultimately let them out so they could get to the family.
Jamal was rushed to the hospital and then into surgery as he seemed to crash. Cookie screamed at Lucious that this was his “fault,” and continued to melt down as they waited for updates. With the ASAs on the waiting room TV, the family saw that Lucious and Jamal had split the vote, and both lost Song of the Year. At the same time, Anika was meeting with Tariq at the FBI.
The episode ended with Lucious expressing regret to Cookie over what he said to Jamal earlier as a vigil formed outside the hospital. Leah walked into the media mob announcing, “Yes, I am part of the family.” The promo for next week’s season finale showed Lucious visiting Freda in jail, Rhonda punching Anika, Anika seemingly threatening suicide, Laura and Hakeem at their wedding, Lucious putting the moves on Cookie… and Jamal dead or alive?