It looked like Cookie Lyon was all set to move on from the decades-long rollercoaster ride that was her relationship with Lucious and start over with a new man – the kind of man her disappointed daddy dreamed she'd end up with, before he died.
Even Lucious agreed to give Cookie his blessing to marry New York mayoral candidate Angelo Dubois, though not without a few caveats – mainly, that their relationship, while perhaps less tumultuous and toxic, would never rival what Cookie and Lucious had.
Cookie sat her boys down for a family meal to inform them of the likelihood of Angelo's proposal. Jamal, her biggest cheerleader, couldn't stop gushing about the wonderful life Cookie and Angelo were guaranteed to have together.
Everyone around her seemed to agree that a future with Angelo – a society golden boy with, yes, a few skeletons of his own in his closet – was the best future for Cookie, a way for her to finally put her past behind her and get a fresh start.
Whatever you and him got, it ain't nothing compared to what we had.Lucious [to Cookie]
But, as we are all too aware at this point, leaving Lucious behind is easier said than done. Especially for Cookie.
On Empire Season 3 Episode 14, Cookie blew up not only her relationship with Angelo, but his entire mayoral race, when she confessed to still harboring feelings for Lucious.
This in itself wouldn't have necessarily been too terrible; after all, they had quite the history. Until Angelo, Lucious was the only man she'd ever been with. She has three sons with him. It's no wonder he still holds a place in her heart.
But, then she told Angelo that she and Lucious had kissed. And then, Angelo blew up.
My mama was right. Your whole family is poison.Angelo [to Cookie]
Even then, all of this could have potentially been smoothed over if it weren't for one tiny detail: they were in the green room of a television show, and one of their microphones accidentally turned back on, broadcasting everything – live.
Said broadcast didn't just include Cookie's disloyalty to Angelo; it also included the various ways Angelo had illegally used his political influence to help Cookie and her family, spewed out by Angelo in his anger.
Why were they on live television together? Well, Angelo took Jamal's advice to go big and dramatic with his proposal in order to impress Cookie, and decided live TV was the way to do it.
But, rather than be impressed with his chutzpah, Cookie was so shocked that she couldn't even stammer out a yes – she just sat silently while Angelo took the liberty of sliding a diamond the size of a pool ball on her finger.
Maybe you and him will have a much smoother ride than we did.Lucious [to Cookie, on Angelo]
Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but only a slight one.
This is just one example of how this episode struck me as, frankly, quite ridiculous. We're talking silly season two levels of ridiculous, not the special, wonderful type of ridiculous that was season one.
Cookie spent the entire episode courting everyone else's approval of her impending engagement to Angelo, only to decide once the diamond was on her finger that she couldn't go through with it?
And no one bothered to check their microphone packs when they went into the green room, or to run in and stop them once their argument started being broadcasted?
Lucious: I was a bit of a romantic then.
Cookie: Was that before or after you divorced me?
Lucious: Does it matter? I mean, we both know that love and romance is all bull, right?
The entire scene just felt silly, especially when mama's boy Angelo started wailing to Diana about how everything was ruined. Never has Taye Diggs been less attractive to me than at this moment. (He was still pretty attractive, to be fair.)
The only good thing to come out of this entire situation? More Phylicia Rashad! And not just any Phylicia Rashad: angry and vindictive Phylicia Rashad!
Lucious: What's your end game?
Giuliana: I'm my own end game.
We know Cookie will do anything to protect her boys; it's clear that Diana Dubois will go to similar lengths for her beloved Angelo. What kind of vengeance does she have planned for the Lyons? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out.
Rashad wasn't the only badass woman to guest-star on this episode.
Nia Long's Giuliana returned to work on the Vegas deal with Andre despite Lucious' vehement objections, while Eva Longoria popped up as tough-as-nails Vegas Gaming Commissioner Charlotte Frost.
More ridiculousness was on tap with the big reveal of Giuliana and Lucious' past together.
Lucious, you haven't changed a bit. You look almost as good as when we met.Giuliana
Apparently, Lucious and Giuliana hooked up, only for Giuliana's husband, Rafael, to emerge from the shadows, reveal that Giuliana was married to and working for him, and steal the $10 million that Lucious had laid aside to purchase a club.
Needless to say, I can understand why Lucious was pissed off at her and didn't want anything to do with Vegas, where he assumed Rafael was still kingpin.
But, since Rafael's demise, Giuliana is in charge – and she promised to repay Lucious once Empire's Vegas deal succeeded. This promise convinced Lucious to ally himself with Giuliana – and against Andre.
Rumer Willis' snarky songstress Tory Ash returned to write a song for Nessa to perform at the Vegas showcase. The demo was so good, Lucious insisted that Tory's demo be released via Empire Xstream instead of given to Nessa to re-record.
Let me guess, I bet you liked my generic pop anthems. They made you feel empowered.Tory [to Giuliana]
Hakeem and Tiana took great delight in revenging themselves on Andre and Nessa by assisting with the big song launch. And Tiana seemed to enjoy some other things about Tory, too...
So, has the show finally remembered that Tiana is bisexual, or did they just want to steam up the scene with two attractive girls getting cozy? I'm not sure, but goodness knows Hakeem enjoyed the show.
I found it amusing that the rest of the characters were so shocked that the white girl could sing soulful R&B, mainly because the exact same thing happened on Star.
In the age of Adele and Amy Winehouse being chart-toppers, white girls singing soul is nothing new. But, clearly Lee Daniels and company still see the novelty in it.
The only reason I'm not smacking you out of that buy one, get one free suit right now is out of respect for Lucious.Shyne [to Thirsty]
Tory ended up getting the star spot at the Vegas showcase instead of Nessa, but her victory may be short lived. Now that his girlfriend has been screwed over by his father, Andre has decided to move forward with his plan to kill Lucious.
Oh, and also, Lucious finally seems to have beaten Tariq, with the help of Anika. I'm very glad to see the back of that plotline, that's for sure. It grew tired and repetitive by the end. And the beginning.
There is only one episode left in Empire's third season, and it's set up to be quite bananas. Hopefully the finale will end on a high note that whets our appetite for season four, instead of something stupid.
What did you think of "Love is a Smoke"? What do you think Diana has planned for the Lyon family? How will Cookie bounce back from her big reveal? And, most importantly: will Andre and Shyne succeed in taking down Lucious?
Giuliana: I'm Giuliana. My friends call my Giusi.
Lucious: Well, I'm going to call you Giuliana, because we're going to be much more than friends.
Well, I think we already know the answer to that one...would Empire really kill off Lucious at this point?
I think the show is much more likely to kill off Andre, especially after rumors that Trai Byers wanted to leave the show began circulating in the middle of last season. Sure, he denied them, but who wouldn't?
Either way, someone will likely die in the season finale. It wouldn't be Empire without enough carnage to rival the Romans.
Remember, you can watch Empire online via TV Fanatic.
Lee Jutton was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in July of 2017. Follow her on Twitter.