Empire is a powerful drama about a family dynasty set within the glamorous and sometimes dangerous world of hip-hop music. The show revolves around the Lyon family and their media company, Empire Entertainment. The founder, Lucious Lyon, is the king of hip-hop, but his company and reign are constantly threatened by his family, including his ex-wife, Cookie Lyon; his sons, Jamal, Hakeem and Andre; and a volatile and competitive music industry.
In celebration of Empire's 20th Anniversary, Lucious makes his first public appearance since the explosion in Las Vegas, but still has no memory of his family, Empire or his life before the accident. A devastated Cookie struggles to rebuild her relationship with him, while keeping a close eye on his nurse, Claudia (guest star Demi Moore). Meanwhile, Andre is faced with an investigation by the LAPD surrounding the night of the explosion, Diana DuBois (guest star Phylicia Rashad) continues her war against the Lyons and the worlds of EMPIRE and STAR collide when Carlotta (guest star Queen Latifah) comes face-to-face with Cookie and Lucious.
With Leah still insisting that he is a monster, Lucious sneaks away in hopes of finding out what type of person he was before the explosion. Cookie panics that Lucious has gone missing on Claudia's watch, until she realizes he found his way to Uncle Eddie, a music icon who has since become family to the Lyons. Meanwhile, with Anika still behind bars, Hakeem and Tiana grow more comfortable as a family, and Becky makes a rash decision regarding Jamal's new song.
When Cookie is denied a line of credit, she flashes back to her years in prison and compares her past struggles to her life now. Lucious continues to struggle with demons of his own and begs his family to tell him about the ways he's wronged them, but they are reluctant to tell him the truth. Meanwhile, the NYPD is still on Andre's case about the events that transpired in Vegas and one officer in particular catches his eye.
The race is on when Cookie announces that the number one album for Empire's 20-For-20 will be a competition between all of the label's top artists, giving Jamal a bold idea for his newest song. On the heels of Bella's first birthday, the family plans a special "Prince and Princesses"-themed birthday party, including a special Prince tribute, but the special day brings back haunting memories for one of the Lyons. Meanwhile, Lucious is at a crossroads, as he tries to put to rest the anger from his past life.
When the secret about Lucious' memory is exposed, Cookie attempts to convince the board that he is fine by inviting the press to watch him produce the first 20 for 20 album. Eddie Barker (guest star Forest Whitaker) jumps in to help Lucious get back in his groove and make music in the studio. Just as Andre's feelings for Detective Pamela Rose (guest star Teyonah Parris) intensify, she reveals information that's been uncovered regarding the explosion. Meanwhile, Hakeem worries about his secret involvement with the DuBois family and Claudia (guest star Demi Moore) helps Lucious with a breakthrough.
The Lyon family stands together as Anika and Hakeem begin a custody battle for Bella. Although they're confident in Hakeem's ability as a father, no one is prepared for the revelations her team brings to the trial. Meanwhile, Claudia grows more possessive over Lucious, who has unlocked a new way to understand music through his paintings. Also, Jamal introduces Warren to Lucious, Andre begins seeing a new therapist, and one of Becky's old flames returns.
Production comes to a halt on Empire's 20-For-20 when Calvin and Porsha, feeling overworked by their new producer, Eddie Barker, call for a strike, leaving Cookie to find a solution to the issue. In an attempt to prove that he can still be the man he was before the explosion, Lucious arranges a deal on Hakeem's behalf, not knowing the repercussions that could follow. Meanwhile, love is in the air for Jamal and Andre, who each express their feelings for their significant others, not knowing the secrets that are being kept from them.
Cookie and Lucious take matters into their own hands as they watch Diana DuBois' master scheme unfold. Meanwhile, Andre begins to spiral out of control, wondering what she could have in store for him. Also, Jamal's sobriety is put to the test and Shine gives Hakeem advice on how to maintain a balance between his work and personal life.
Cookie and Lucious devise an elaborate plan to take down Diana Dubois and her family once and for all. Andre recovers from his mental breakdown in the hospital, Shine tries desperately to protect his secret and Eddie Barker is concluding his tenure at Empire. Amidst the chaos, someone's life hangs in the balance.