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Lucious Lyon

Die But Once
Season One, Episode Eleven
Air date: March 18, 2015
Writers: Ilene Chaiken
Lee Daniels
Director: Mario Van Peebles
Sins of the Father
Who I Am

Die But Once is the eleventh episode of the first season of FOX television series, Empire, and the eleventh episode overall. The episode aired on March 18, 2015, airing together with "Who I Am" as a 2-hour finale.

Jamal and Lucious are on their way to forming a music-centered relationship, but once again, Lucious has a secret that's about to change everything. Hakeem decides to flirt with the enemy, while trying to figure out what the best move is for his career. Meanwhile, Cookie is cooking up a plan of her own.


Lucious is struggling to write one last song for the “Cookie Lyon Presents: The Lucious Lyon Sound,” his tribute concert that would be his final performance, timed to the IPO kickoff. Despite experiencing double vision, Lucious blows off his medication. As he keeps looking for Cookie to be his inspiration, Lucious is furious when he receives an injunction from rival Billy Beretti, trying to stop the show. At the same time, Cookie and Malcolm are on a romantic getaway, during which she reveals she’s never been with anyone but Lucious.

Hakeem takes out his anger and frustration onstage.

Hakeem is beyond angry with Lucious for extorting Camilla, though what he didn’t know is that she didn’t take his money. To get revenge, during a big Empire show with Snoop Dogg, Hakeem does a rap putting his father on blast: “They say he the king/Well I’m the prince/I’m gonna run the Empire/And leave with your bitch/I’m gone.” After storming off stage, Lucious punches him in the face.

Meanwhile Jamal’s album was met with great success from fans and critics alike, but he continued to be shafted by his father. The hatred between them was mutual, however, after the revelation that Lucious had fathered Lola, whom Jamal thought was his. Despite that, he thought Hakeem’s actions were harsh and would only hurt Empire and, by extension, them. But Hakeem didn’t care, and with no contract keeping him at Empire, he vowed to score his own record deal.

Cookie packs her office after learning that she had been lied to by both Lucious and Andre.

The next day, Cookie came back to the office to excitedly show her sister around, only to have security refuse to let her in. It led to a confrontation with Lucious, in which he revealed he knew about her and Malcolm. Lucious, accompanied by his lawyers, said she had no claim to Empire and revealed she wasn’t actually put on the board of directors, because she was a convicted felon. She promised to destroy him, and said, “Everyone’s just waiting for you to die, Lucious. You’re going to die a lonely man, just like you deserve.” Cookie was all the more disturbed later to find out that Malcolm wasn’t also fired, but he asked her to move to Washington, D.C. with him where he would take a new job. She tearfully turned him down, saying she couldn’t leave all that she worked for.

Andre bonds with his music therapist Michelle (Jennifer Hudson) at her church, unable to bring himself to go back to the Empire office in the wake of his breakdown. He later told Lucious to find a new CFO, and his father pleaded for him to stay with the company, even though he admitted he wouldn’t become CEO. Andre said he was finding a higher purpose through God, which Lucious belittled, saying there’s no higher power than music.

Lucious and Jamal form a music-centered relationship.

Afterward, Lucious, still suffering from writer’s block, tells Jamal that he was in a different place in his life, and that he believes his son is the future of Empire. In an attempt to help Lucious with his creativity, Jamal took him to their old home, where Lucious made a homophobic remark and made reference to abusing him when he was little. After more back-and-forth jabs about their past, the two actually jammed together. As they created a powerful song together, the show flashed back to Lucious murdering Shyne's boys.. “That’s how you murder a song!” Lucious exclaimed afterward. Jamal, however, refused to let his father have the track as his own unless he brought Cookie back into the fold. Lucious countered that he wouldn’t agree unless Jamal helped get his masters back from Beretti, something necessary to keep Empire going.

Lucious catches Anika and Hakeem sleeping together.

Lucious later told Cookie he overreacted and that she could still produce the concert, but became distracted when he found out that Hakeem was at a party with with Beretti because he wanted to join Creedmoor. Jamal went to the bash, too, where he shockingly held Beretti over the edge of a balcony, demanding he sign over the masters. Lucious oversaw, and was pleased see this tough, scary side of his son. But immediately afterward, he found Hakeem hooking up with Anika. Even more shockingly, during a meeting with his doctor the next day, Lucious found out he does NOT have ALS, but that the double vision proved he’s actually suffering from a less serious and treatable condition called myasthenia gravis. Initially angry, Lucious then broke into laughter, thrilled that he didn’t have a death sentence after all.

Cookie tries to suffocates Lucious for killing Bunkie.

Keeping the news to himself, Lucious went to see Andre at church, asking him to come ring the bell at the stock exchange in honor of the IPO announcement, explaining he wanted both him and Jamal, but not Hakeem, there. After he refused, Lucious quickly realized the role Michelle was playing. “Let’s see who’s more powerful: your God, or your daddy,” he declared, before introducing himself to a star-struck Michelle and inviting her to record a gospel album with him. Andre angrily told her after she agreed, “My father is the devil. And you just spread your legs for him.” Later, after taking sleeping pills, Lucious hallucinated that Bunkie was there, and after referencing murdering him, Lucious said he didn’t have ALS, wasn’t dying, and that his tribute concert would actually now be his comeback. Unbeknownst to him: Cookie was there and heard the whole thing. The episode ended with Cookie crying upon realizing Lucious had murdered her cousin and misled all of them… and going to suffocate the sleeping Lucious with a pillow.


Main Cast

Recurring Cast

Special Guest Stars


Major/Highlighted Events

  • Lucious finds out that he is not dying of ALS, but was merely misdiagnosed.
  • Cookie is removed from Empire's payroll after Lucious finds out she was with Malcolm.
    • She is also removed from the Board of Directors, a position she did not formally and legally hold due to Empire's policy against having convicts on the board.
  • Jamal gains Lucious the rights to his masters from Billy Beretti.