Empire season 4 episode 16 recap: Fair Terms

EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in the “FAIR TERMS” episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, May 9 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Chuck Hodes
EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in the “FAIR TERMS” episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, May 9 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Chuck Hodes /

Cookie reunites with her mother and Lucious battles to maintain control of his Empire in Fair Terms.

Tonight’s Empire was a little slower than I had expected. There were certainly big moments, but they were almost completely reserved for the last 15 minutes. The plus side? Now that Eddie has effectively taken control of the company from Lucious and Cookie, these last 2 episodes of the season are bound to be packed to the brim with drama. How did Eddie pull it off? Let’s dive in to the episode, titled “Fair Terms.”

Mama drama

The episode picks up right where we left off last week: Cookie is standing on her estranged mother Renee’s doorstep. Things are tense between the two for only a moment, and Renee invites Cookie in for some tea.

To Cookie’s surprise, her mother is aware of the heart attack she recently experienced. Renee informs Cookie that her sister Candace passed along the news. Cookie notices pictures around the house of her and her sisters as children after her mother had left. This initially gives Cookie pause, but she looks past it and enjoys the conversation with her mother.

Renee floats the idea that Cookie and her sisters gather for a big family dinner to celebrate their reconciliation. Cookie is reluctant (it’s hard to blame her after witnessing just how nosy Carol and Candace can be) but she agrees and offers to host the dinner in her home.

At the aforementioned dinner, things are going relatively well until Renee brings up all of the traveling that Cookie wanted to do as a child but never went through with. Cookie perceives the comment as a dig and storms out, berating Renee for abandoning her as a child.

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A tribute to Shine

Last week saw the long brewing confrontation between Lucious and Shine that resulted in Shine’s death. Of course Lucious is all about keeping up appearances, so he decides to arrange an Empire Records tribute to the man he just murdered. I am consistently unsure whether I should be impressed with Lucious’ diabolical antics or disgusted – I usually settle somewhere in the middle.

At said tribute, Shine’s niece Nessa shows up to perform a song. It has been an entire season since we have seen Nessa, but the last time we did see her was when Cookie slapped the daylight out of her – so you could say it wasn’t exactly a joyous reunion.

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After the tribute, Lucious approaches Shine’s wife about taking over his now-empty seat on the Empire Board of Directors. She informs Lucious that she isn’t interested, and that Shine always intended for Nessa (of all people) to take the seat should anything happen to him. This is a huge problem as Andre informs Lucious that Anika and Eddie have been plotting a takeover. Their plan? To convince the board that Eddie is the kind of stable leadership that Empire needs.

Cookie tracks down Nessa and stops just short of apologizing for assaulting her. Nessa is still angry and makes it clear that she has no intention of helping Lucious and Cookie with the board. Lucious steps in to sweeten the pot: he offers Nessa a spot in the upcoming Empire House event. She then agrees to help, but assures them that it is only because Shine would want her to.

Elsewhere, Eddie and Anika are plotting a devilish plan over Chinese food – as one does. Eddie asks Anika to find dirt on an Empire artist that they can use to their advantage. On a quick side note: can this season be the last we see of Anika and Eddie? That would be a real blessing.

Empire Season 4 Episode 16
EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard and guest star Forest Whitaker in the “FAIR TERMS” episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, May 9 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Chuck Hodes /

Empire power grab

At the Empire House event, things are going off without a hitch until one of the screens suddenly displays a troubling image: a young Blake (the label’s newest rapper) doing a white supremacy salute with his father. The crowd is in an uproar and the Board of Directors are furious – Eddie’s plan went off without a hitch.

Blake tells Hakeem that he regrets taking that photo and was forced into it by his father. Hakeem doesn’t want to hear any excuses and kicks Blake out of the event.

As Lucious and Cookie are scrambling to figure out their next move, Tiana tells them that the press has already picked up the story and everyone is shaming Empire for profiting off of a racist rapper. Eddie appears backstage and asks if there is anything he can do to help, but Lucious quickly dismisses him by stating that nobody wants to hear what he has to say. Unfortunately, the Board of Directors do want to hear what Eddie has to say.

It is unclear exactly what has gone on between Eddie and the board until he takes the stage to address the press and assure them that Blake’s contract with Empire is finished. He then takes a moment to thank the Board of Directors for “giving (him) the power” to make such decisions. Lucious is hysterical and violently grabs Eddie on stage, but lets him go as he is reminded of the many flashing cameras.

Next: In theaters Mother's Day weekend

With the Board of Directors now on his side, Eddie has won the keys to the Empire. Will Lucious and Cookie be able to take back control? We will find out when Empire returns for it’s penultimate episode next Wednesday at 8/7c.