Since Empire's start, Cookie maintained her role as the hilariously shady, straight-shooting matriarch of the Lyon dynasty. This season, however, Cookie's softer side has begun to unfold amid family flashbacks and her newfound love, revealing a much more complex woman.
In Wednesday night's (Nov. 30) episode, Cookie planned an extravagant dinner to impress Angelo's high-society mother Diana (played by Phylicia Rashad), but a spoiled Hakeem, drugged up Jamal and memories of her fractured relationship with her father threatened to put a damper on the evening.
Elsewhere, Jamal was attacked by Lucious and Charlamagne Tha God for his extended absence from the R&B scene since the shooting, Nessa invited Andre to a family celebration and Freda Gatz finally returned to the stage for Shyne, who remained slighted by his short end of the Empire deal.
Though the other Lyons still had some major messes to clean up, the episode primarily focused on Cookie and her attempt at creating a more fulfilling life for herself.
Zip through Cookie's major moments from this week's episode.
Cookie's past haunted her when Jamal previewed a new song for her with a 360 visual experience crafted from her childhood home videos. As images of her sisters and father flashed across the screens, she flipped out about him "diggin' that stuff up."
Later, during a few flashbacks from the hour, Jamal learned that Cookie blamed herself for her father's death since he died three days after finding out she was involved with Lucious and drug dealing. "My daddy was my life until I met that boy," she told Jamal. "And after that, we were all each other had, your father and I. We practically raised each other."
Cookie cooks up a dinner
Cookie's meltdown caused her to stand up Diana at Angelo's big political fundraiser. "This was was supposed to be a statement to our people that she's not that kind of person," Diana told Angelo while referencing Cookie's naked selfie. "This will never do."
To make a better second impression, Cookie hosted a lavish family dinner with the entire Lyon clan, which predictably went awry the moment they all showed up (except Andre). But despite Hakeem's arrival with his screaming daughter Bella and Lucious' rundown of their family's dirty laundry ("That woman right there is my wife Anika, she just gave birth to my granddaughter," he told Diana), Diana seemed somewhat entertained by Cookie's efforts.
Cookie makes peace with her past
One to never retreat in the face of embarrassment, Cookie owned her family's dysfunction and celebrated it as Jamal sang a song his ode to Cookie's pain, sacrifice and resilience. "This is my family," she told Diana. "Yeah we are a twisted tree but I wouldn't trade one gay, one high, one low, one crazy, one lazy branch of it. This is who we are, take it or leave it."
Before Jamal's intimate performance concluded, Cookie and Lucious silently acknowledged their rocky relationship and accepted that she'd finally moved on.