Empire begins with a concert to free Lucious. Cookie enlists Jamal and Hakeem to perform, but the latter feels they fronting, reiterating he killed Bunkie. She assures him they are only doing it for appearances and to get the 250 million dollars they need to take Empire from Jamal. Jamal apologizes to his mother for ever believing she would sell his father out and tells her she should visit him. He reminds him how Lucious never visited her while she was incarcerated. Cookie begins the concert in a gorilla suit trapped in a cage and gives a speech on wrongful imprisonment. Later Jamal, Hakeem, and a rapper perform together. Meanwhile, Lucious looks on from prison. In prison, Cookie’s cousin informs Lucious a new prisoner is coming, Frank Gathers (Chris Rock) and asks him for protection, but he refuses. Cookie and Andre meet with Mimi and her father, the investors who may provide the money they need. Mimi flirts with Cookie, admiring her Gucci dress.
The prison grapevine buzzes as Frank arrives. Lucious flashbacks to when he and Cookie use to work for him. They greet each other and catch up. At Empire, Jamal finds himself overwhelmed with the demands of the company. Hakeem gets angry over Jamal’s comments over the artwork for his album cover and knocks a tablet out his hands. Jamal visits his father in prison and laments over how his album has fallen on the charts because he is too busy to tour due to his responsibilities to the company. Lucious warns him about Mimi and tells him his mother is up to something. Andre wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat from a nightmare about Vernon’s murder. Rhonda tries to assure him everything will be alright and warns him not tell his pastor anything. Frank confronts Cookie’s cousin, Jamel, about killing his friend and asks him of he’s hungry. Elsewhere, Cookie, Andre, Hakeem, and Anika (much to Cookie’s chagrin) try to woo Mimi to Empire. Cookie tells her she is deposing Lucious to save the company for her sons. Jamal meets with Michael for dinner and kisses him. He tells him he misses him and that Ryan was a mistake. At the party, Mimi rebuffs one of the waiter’s advances towards her and asks Anika to dance. Anika is reluctant to but does so to win her over to their side.
Jamel calls Cookie and warns her that she and her sons are in danger from Frank. Hakeem continues to complain to his mother about Jamal, but she reminds him they now have Mimi on their side and she needs Jamal in line to help them. In prison, the prosecutor tries to persuade Lucious to sell out his criminal cohorts. He insults her, refusing to help. Frank visits with his daughters, the older one, Daisy, raps and Lucious tells her she has skills. At Empire, Jamal meets with Michael and Miss Lawrence. The latter suggests they do a duet. Later, Cookie, hers sons, and Anika announce their attempt to take over the company. They are double crossed by Mimi when she reveals her allegiance to Lucious and that she slept with Anika. Lucious makes fun of them from prison. Elsewhere in the prison Jamel tells Frank it was Cookie who sold him out. Back at Empire, Cookie tries to smooth things over with Jamal, but realizes he is turning into Lucious. Later, she arrives home and finds her sister Carol and her nieces waiting there. Carol tells her that the roses come from Frank. They open the box and find Jamel’s head!
Michael tries to get Jamal to perform with Miss Lawrence, but he is nervous and gives him the money he needs for his program. He goes to the studio and records, but is interrupted by a call from Cookie. She warns him he is in danger and will be safe at Lucious’ home. Cookie goes to visit Lucious. There, they trade insults and discuss Frank. She tells him she needs him to “fix it.” Lucious meets with Frank to try and resolve their issue. He refuses Lucious’s offer to make Daisy apart of Empire, and declares Cookie is a snitch. Lucious tells him if he has war with Cookie then he has war with him. Frank orders his men to kill Lucious, but they refuse because the latter has paid them all off in some way. Lucious then orders them to kill him loud and painfully. Jamal tells Hakeem he is burying his record, who in turn tells him he should be the king. Cookie tells them the danger has passed, but Jamal throws them out. Cookie tries to plead with him, but when he refuses she slaps him twice and leaves tearfully.