Empire begins with three of the Lyons defeated. Cookie, Andre, and Hakeem all clean out their belongings as Jamal has fired them from Empire. They decide to start their own company, but struggle with what to name it. Hakeem tells his mother he wants to be more than an artist and wants to produce talent. He recruits Anika, despite Cookie’s protest and with a nudge from Rhonda, Andre comes aboard. She finds a space to be their new headquarters and recruits new talent beginning with V, much to Anika’s chagrin. Later, Jamal performs a new song during an interview with Spilling The Tea. Cookie interrupts it when he begins to talk about Lucious. She tries to convince him to give Hakeem his album and then tells him they are starting their own company.
Lucious begins to suffer from his lack of medication, but is protected by his fellow inmates from an overzealous guard. Elsewhere, Hakeem does auditions for a girl group he wants to produce. One girl captures his attention. Andre admonishes Hakeem for holding auditions without consulting all of them first. Hakeem dismisses him, telling him they are all partners. Andre takes his complaints to his mother, but she praises Hakeem’s hustle. She informs him Jamal is giving Hakeem his album. In prison, the guard goads Lucious about his health, slyly revealing the prosecutor is keeping him from getting it. Hakeem pitches his girl group his mother, brother, and Anika. Cookie tells Anika she does not want her there and insults her until she leaves. Lucious tells Jamal that Hakeem belongs at Empire and if he wants his album heard he will have to return there. Jamal notices something is off about his father, but the latter plays it off telling him he is working on a tune. A lawyer at an adjacent table, Thurston, says he believes he can help Lucious and warns him about the prosecutor.
Tianna rehearses a new song while Hakeem looks on. He tries to recruit her for his girl group, but she feels insulted. Outside, Jamal meets with Hakeem and tells him he wants him to come back to Empire and they will release his album with a huge push. Cookie spots them together, but Jamal ignores her. Later, Hakeem hooks up with his new artist in his huge tub, while Rhonda meets with Jamal. She tells him she is scared for her husband without Empire. She pleads with him to forgive his brother and tells him she is pregnant. He becomes excited and tells her he will welcome him back. Thurston manages to get him his medication via a guard. The guard informs him he has a lot of friends inside of there. The guard then escorts him to a closet where he records a new song with his crew. When they finish the guard attack them and throw Lucious in the hole. Lucious threatens the guard and warns him he knows everyone he knows. Later, the guard is attacked and kidnapped at Thurston’s command. Hakeem declares he is free of Empire and leaks his album online. Andre furiously quits, much to Cookie’s chagrin.
Cookie finds a new space for her company. Meanwhile, Andre visits his father and asks for his forgiveness, but he refuses to. Andre questions why he hates him, while flashbacking to his mother. He tells his son he does not hate him and leaves. Hakeem hangs with Jamal while he sings a new song. He reveals he leaked his album and Jamal promises to sue him. He tells him the name of their new company is The Lyons Dynasty. Hakeem and Cookie clean their new space and realize Lucious will come after them hard for their betrayal when they hear his new song. In court, Thurston provides the judge with evidence that immediately prompts him to release Lucious on bail!