Empire begins where last episode’s cliffhanger left off, with Hakeem being kidnapped. The thugs voice that they should have kidnapped Jamal instead, being that he is worth more than this younger brother. Hakeem manages to get the black bag off and sees his assailants from the back, with noted matching bull tattoos. He confronts them about their attack and is cracked above the eye with one their guns. The man chokes him on the sofa, punking him out. Elsewhere, Becky gets cozy with her new man on his balcony. The next day, Cookie desperately tries to reach him to rehearse with his girl group for a big performance they have coming up. Porsha rehearses with the girls and suggests she does Hakeem’s verse just to make the rehearsal a little more authentic. Cookie dismisses her just as she receives a video of her son being held hostage. She believes it is a fake and that Lucious is behind it. At Empire, Jamal gets back in the studio and records a new song with his father playing piano. He is stifled, mind boggled by Michael cheating on him and Staples Concert theater possibly rejecting him. Lucious gets him to out his anger into his music, but when they try to restart their session Cookie interrupts them and demands to know what he has done to Hakeem. Lucious tells her he is not behind it and they immediately leave to retrieve him. They warn Jamal to stay away.
Cookie and Lucious arrange to pay the thugs off. Before they arrive at the drop off point, he tells Cookie that Hakeem is fine, but they are only doing this because she is new to the area and her relationship to him. He warns her she must have a “house dog and junkyard dog” if she wants Lyons’ Dynasty to survive. A van pulls up, but Hakeem is nowhere to be found. Cookie and Lucious demand answers from the driver and knock him out when he tells them he let Hakeem out a few blocks away. Elsewhere, Hakeem walks to Anika’s home with a bloody eye and in a daze from his experience. Andre meets with Becky and the rest of the A&R Staff to discuss the line up for Gutter Life Records. He decides the roster well be based off the an artist’s talent and morality and wants to meet with each of them personally. Frieda is nonchalant in her meetings with him, but Becky’s boyfriend, J-Poppa strikes a positive cord via religion with him. Andre suggests he add more Christian based lyrics to his songs. Hakeem approaches Anika as she is talking to her mother on the phone, telling her she now has no one. He begins kissing her passionately. Later, he goes to his father’s house and admonished by his family for not returning to them sooner. Lucious has a doctor check him out, as he disrobes Cookie sees scars on his back.
Jamal brings on Jamison, a gay former record label his father almost signed with back in the day. Lucious and Jamison exchange verbal jabs, with the former warning his son to be wary of him. Jamal tells him that Jamison sits on the board of The Staple Center and can keep him from being marketing solely as a gay artist. Lucious agrees to allow him to help, albeit reluctantly. J-Poppa performs at Leviticus and adds a verse from Romans to his song. Becky and Lucious are taken aback, with the former questioning Andre’s decision. Frieda performs next and is heckled. She kicks the heckler in the face and then punches him in the balls. Andre demands she be dropped from the label, but Lucious refuses, telling him he is only a figurehead. Lucious goes after Frieda. At Lyons’ Dynasty Hakeem’s PTSD begins to get the best of him while performing with his girl group. Later, he erupts in a rage while rapping at home and breaks his mirror. Laz suggests Cookie hire the thugs who hurt her son to get them off her back and have junkyard dogs around. He also comes onto her. Cookie takes Hakeem with her to meet them. He pulls out a gun on them and threatens to kill them. Cookie threatens to stand in between them and the gun to keep him from damning himself. She then subjugates the thugs and declares herself their boss.
Hakeem’s PTSD flares again at his performance. His brothers rally around him to help him clear his head. On stage he chokes, but Valentina manages to get him to focus and they kill the stage! That night they celebrate their performace with a small party. Anika arrives to check on him and finds he is having a party that he did not invite her too and senses something between she and Valentina. He dismisses her and closes the door. Lucious tells Frieda he is not dropping her and that he feels a connection with her that he does not feel with his sons. Cookie goes to see Laz and they have sex, revealing the same bull tattoo on his back as Hakeem’s assailants!