Ahh, Empire! It's that time of week again. Let us all rejoice, put on our furs, and take it all in.

At the beginning of this week's episode, all of Lucious's charges are dropped publicly and Vernon's death is officially ruled a suicide. Lucious throws a rager at Empire Records to celebrate his victory, and welcomes Andre back to the company with open arms as CFO. He then sends an army of strippers with champagne to subdue him, but really all Andre wants to do is go to church and repent for his sins (the strippers are also all wearing sparkly lame, so, this is just a quick shoutout to the costume designer for this show).

Tiana, while leaving a photo shoot, is mugged right outside of Lyon Dynasty, and a video is uploaded on YouTube by a masked man and the two muggers claiming Lyon Dynasty is going to have to pay to continue to use the space to record. Cookie mentions they have been "marked," but in true Cookie fashion, she says she's going to take care of it — AND SHE DOES SO BY ENLISTING THE HELP OF THE TASTY, TASTY ADAM RODRIGUEZ.

As a concert promoter/bodyguard/man who is unafraid to get his hands dirty, Adam (okay fine, Mr. Delgado) is hired by Cookie in hopes of protecting herself and more of her artists from these attackers. Ne-Yo, one of the guests of the week, is helping Lucious produce Jamal's album to get him ready to go on tour. When asked if he's going to bring Michael along, Lucious makes a quippy remark about never bringing your "girlfriend" along on tour, but Ne-Yo, being the levelheaded businessman that he is, seems completely unfazed by Jamal and his homosexuality, and eventually recommends he bring Michael with him. LOVE YA, NE-YO. THANKS FOR BEING AN #ALLY.

Chuck Hodes, FOX
Chuck Hodes, FOX

Andre spends a lot of time in this episode trying to make up for his past mistakes with his family. It's kind of sweet, kind of creepy, and kind of not what you'd expect from Empire. That being said, when he tells Rhonda about his desire to be baptized and "forgiven" for his sins, she tries to distract him with her vagina (which is exactly something you'd expect from Empire). It doesn't work, but Rhonda isn't one to take things lying down (possible poor taste in words).

After a quick scene where Cookie and Lucious bicker over who is responsible for Vernon's death and who is going to take his ashes, Jamal and Ne-Yo have a *really* touching scene in the recording studio. Ne-Yo recognizes how torn Jamal is about bringing Michael on tour, and eventually recommends he does it.

Flash forward to later that evening, Jamal catches Michael hooking up with the creepy artist/photographer on the balcony of his apartment after having previously turned his advances away earlier in the episode. Personally, I am so upset by this. YOU'RE TRASH, MICHAEL. T-R-A-S-H. #Justice4Jamal

Anyway, Cookie and Mr. Delgado catch two burglars in Lyon Dynasty Records who claim to have been sent by Thirsty (read: Lucious). Andre continues his crusade of forgiveness by visiting Jamal, Hakeem, and Lucious respectively and invites them all to his baptism. Jamal and Hakeem are easily persuaded to go, whereas Lucious isn't feeling it. He plays up his God complex a few times in this scene, mentioning people have to "check their faith" before they walk through his door.

At the baptism, Cookie and Jamal have their first confrontation in what seems like the whole season. She's grateful to have Jamal and Hakeem there to support Andre, and makes a great joke about the whole church catching on fire if Lucious shows up. He does, nothing burns, and Lucious begins having terrible flashbacks to his childhood, where his crazy mother Kelly "Mother of Lyon, Child of Destiny" Rowland is seen giving him some terrible quasi-baptism in a crappy bathtub.

To end the episode, and possibly change the stakes of the entire season, Hakeem is kidnapped by the masked men who originally threatened Cookie. In broad daylight! He's just kidnapped. Now, I'm not usually one to speculate, and I know Hakeem/Cookie and Jamal/Lucious are in different camps at the moment, but if I remember correctly, when you f--k with a Lyon and you aren't in the family, the whole pride comes after you.

I'm *very* excited to see where this is leading.

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