6:45am PT by Kate Stanhope
'Empire' Primer: Where Things Left Off and What to Expect in Season 4
No one can accuse the Lyon family of being boring.
Ever since the 2015 series premiere of Empire, the many twists and turns of the famed (fictional) family have kept viewers hooked. Whether it's shocking deaths (R.I.P. Rhonda) or hookups (Anika and Hakeem's baby-making affair) or just the many internal family feuds amongst the Lyons since Cookie left prison after 17 years, there's been no shortage of drama on the hip-hop soap opera. However, all those jaw-dropping moments can also sometimes make it hard for viewers to keep track of just where everyone stands. In advance of the show's season four premiere — Wednesday at its new 8 p.m. time slot — THR looks back at where the series left off and previews what's come to come.
Cookie (Taraji P. Henson)
Where things left off: Cookie spent the second half of the third season fighting for Lucious and for Empire after he reunited with his ex Giuliana (Nia Long). However, her fortunes changed overnight —literally — once Lucious broke things off with Giuliana to reunite with her in the finale. Once back together, she and Lucious decided to step away from the company and travel the world — until the car explosion that left Lucious in a three-month coma.
What to expect: Because of Lucious' accident, Cookie will take on more of the top job at Empire. However, her main focus is getting him to remember the commitment they made to each other right before his accident, and getting him away from his overbearing nurse, played by Demi Moore.
Lucious (Terrence Howard)
Where things left off: After putting his sons and ex-wife through hell and back (many times over), Lucious redeemed himself in the season finale when he broke up with Giuliana to travel the world with Cookie. As he stepped away from the company he helped build, he handed the keys to Empire's empire to Andre. However, Andre had already put a dangerous car explosion in motion which put Lucious into a three-month coma and caused severe memory loss.
What to expect: Lucious' severe case of amnesia will result in a serious personality change when the drama returns, with the manipulative and selfish Lucious of yesteryear being replaced by a softer, kinder family patriarch. His health struggles will also bring him closer to his nurse (Demi Moore), despite Cookie's best attempts otherwise. Lucious will also get a blast from his past in the form of Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker, who will recur as a longtime hitmaker who gave Lucious his first break, and returns to help the family during their time of need.
Andre (Trai Byers)
Where things left off: Fueled by his hatred for his dad — stemming back to Rhonda's death — Andre teamed with Shyne (Xzibit) to plot his dad's death by way of a car explosion in Las Vegas. However, when Lucious named Andre his successor as head of the company, Andre was taken by surprise and tried to prevent his dad from getting in the car. It worked (partly) but Lucious still slipped into a three-month coma due to his injuries.
What to expect: Andre will spend the beginning of season four racked with guilt over his hand in his father's health issues. However, Andre will also have to contend with Shyne, who won't soon let the eldest Lyon son forget that he almost killed his father, and almost gave Shyne a piece of the pie.
Jamal (Jussie Smollett)
Where things left off: Jamal met a handsome and charming lawyer, Warren (Terrell Carter), with silky smooth vocals in the season finale. However, little did he know that Warren is actually the offspring of Diana DuBois (Phylicia Rashad), who orchestrated their pairing as a way to infiltrate the Lyon family and get revenge on Cookie for ruining her other son, Angelo's (Taye Diggs), career.
What to expect: Jamal and Warren are still going strong when the primetime soap returns, but it remains to be seen just how Warren (and his puppet master mother) will use Jamal to wreak havoc on the Lyon family at large.
Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray)
Where things left off: Hakeem put off his efforts into finding his missing daughter Bella, only to find she was safe and sound the entire time... in the DuBois household. When he learned Anika and the DuBois family knew where she was, he said he would do "anything" to see her again and was soon reunited with his baby girl.
What to expect: Diana DuBois isn't going to waste any time collecting on Hakeem's open-ended promise, and they'll still be in close contact when the series returns. However, Hakeem (and the rest of the Lyon family) will be preoccupied with helping launch an anniversary special for Empire despite Lucious' health problems.
Anika (Grace Byers)
Where things left off: After having to marry Lucious and pretend to be his one and only at the start of season three, Anika seemed poised to reclaim her life in the final episodes of season three. After getting the paperwork started on their divorce, she finally moved out of his house and away from Lucious and his, ahem, handful of a mother (Leslie Uggams). However, Leah got her revenge by blackmailing Anika for the murder of Lucious' half-brother, Tariq (Morocco Omari), for which Anika was arrested in the finale.
What to expect: Here's hoping Anika has a good lawyer on retainer because her legal troubles aren't going anywhere. And it remains to be seen just how being behind bars will change her. As Cookie says in new season four footage, "jail ain't for the weak."
Empire returns Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox.