At the beginning of the premiere, we see a large group of fans at a concert calling for Lucious Lyon’s (Terrence Howard) release from prison. Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) argues with Hakeem (Bryshere) over Lucious’s involvement in Bunkie’s (Antoine McKay) death. They contemplate their decision to perform the hostile takeover and Jamal’s (Jussie Smollett) potential reaction. Cookies heads outside and receives an apology from Jamal, before she takes to the stage and complains about the corrections system.
Afterwards, Cookie meets with Al Sharpton, who refuses to help. At the prison, Lucious blows off an old friend of Cookie’s. Back at the concert, Cookie meets with Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei) and attempts to convince her to make an investment in the company. Mimi flirts with Cookie, while Lucious watches from prison. After a break, Lucious and the other inmates watch as Frank Gathers (Chris Rock) is brought in. Lucious speaks to Gathers about their old business arrangement and Cookie.
At Empire headquarters, Jamal and Hakeem spar over Hakeem’s record cover art. Andre (Trai Byers) makes matters worse, by telling Jamal about his upcoming meeting. Next, Jamal visits Lucious in prison and admits he hasn’t had time to write songs, since Empire is taking up all of his time. Lucious pleads with Jamal to get him released. Lucious informs Jamal about the business and what moves to make, before he complains about Cookie not visiting. He also questions about Mimi, but Jamal insists he doesn’t know her.
That night, Andre has a nightmare of burying Vernon’s (Malik Yoba) body. Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) calms him down. She insists they’re fine and the case against Lucious will be thrown out, when no evidence is found. At the prison, Frank speaks to Jermel (DeRay Davis), who insists he didn’t commit his crime or kill Frank’s friend. A second later, Frank insists he is hungry. Cookie holds a party to impress Mimi, before Anika Calhoun (Grace Gealey) shows up and commandeers the conversation. Mimi asks Cookie why she is interested in getting rid of Lucious. Cookie insists she is trying to save the company for her children.
Jamal meets up with Michael Sanchez (Rafael de la Fuente). The pair speaks about their turn-ons and one another successes. Michael attempts to make Jamal promise that he’ll make it to the meet, but he kind of blows it off. Meanwhile, Hakeem and crew attempt to impress Mimi, but she isn’t interested. Instead, she dances with Anika. Jermel attempts to call Cookie and ask for protection. He also warns her that she and the kids are in trouble. Carol Hardaway (Tasha Smith) calls and speaks about the ugly flowers, which Cookie received and the crazy guy. Unfortunately, Porsha (Ta’Rhonda Jones) hangs up on her.
Cookie tells Hakeem that Mimi has agreed to put in a massive amount of money and insists Jamal should be a part of it. Lucious meets up with the new prosecutor, Roxanne Ford (Tyra Ferrell), who threatens him. She speaks about Vernon and his information. Lucious insists the woman is only trying to further her run for attorney general. Lucious refuses her offer. Next, Frank has a visitation with his kids. Next, Jamal meets with Michael and the LGBT people.
Afterwards, Andre tells Hakeem that it is happening. They join up with Cookie and Anika, before bombarding Jamal’s speech and informing them that they’re taking over from Lucious. Mimi interrupts and announces that she met with Lucious and got a better deal. Next, Lucious is streamed from prison and rubs in his success. Meanwhile, Frank eats with Jermel. Jermel finally gives in and admits it was Cookie, who ratted him out. Meanwhile, Cookie apologizes to Jamal.
When she returns to her room, she discovers a big present and Carol inside. She learns that the roses are really from Frank Gathers this time. She opens up the big gift box and discovers Jermel’s head inside. Jamal finally manages to get into the studio, but is interrupted by a phone call. Cookie tells him to go to his father’s house, because he’ll be safe there. Cookie goes and visits Lucious. Cookie breaks the news about Frank messing with them. She asks Lucious to fix the problem.
After a break, Lucious meets up with Frank and attempts to smooth things over. Meanwhile, everyone shelters together in Lucious’s house, while Carol tells them what is going on. Lucious attempts to offer Frank a spot for his daughter at Empire. Frank breaks the news about Cookie ratting. Lucious insists they’re at war, before Frank orders his men to kill Lucious. Lucious shows Frank that he now runs the prison and owns everyone, including Guy (Max Beesley).
Lucious orders Frank to be killed. He walks away, as Frank screams in the background. At the end of the episode, Hakeem and Jamal argue a little more. Hakeem insists he deserves to be king, before Cookie arrives and insists everything is over. Jamal kicks everyone out of Lucious’s house. Jamal and Cookie have a spat, before the episode ends.
Overall, the premiere felt somewhat awkward. The time jump wasn’t much, but it changed quite a bit. This forced the viewer to catch up quickly, which was nearly impossible. Then, Chris Rock was introduced to the cast and things got even worse. Unfortunately, Chris was off and didn’t seem comfortable at all. The show will benefit, if he is truly killed off.
In the end, the premiere felt like the same old same old and didn’t really establish anything new or compelling for the upcoming season. For that, a 6 out of 10 is deserved. Be sure to catch up with our previous Empire recaps now!