The World Series may have kept us from a new episode of Empire last week, but the drama, music, and, of course, fashion, returned in a big way last night. Although Becky (Gabourey Sidibe) has a hunky, freely shirtless new love interest (which we learn of just seconds into the show)—it's Hakeem who sparks all the fuss. The youngest Lyon protégé was kidnapped by masked culprits and both Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and Lucious (Terrence Howard) embark on an emotional mission to save him.
Dressed in a white Stella McCartney printed blouse with graphic leopards on it and a matching Topshop skirt, Cookie, who's pressed with keeping up her new label Lyon Dynasty, and Luscious enter a mysterious alley awaiting Hakeem's release after handing over ransom money. "It's sort of like a Bonnie and Clyde moment in the script. She was at work and then she had business to attend to," Empire costume designer Paolo Nieddu tells InStyle. "It was a cool way for her to do leopard print. It was a nod to cookie's prints in a new, summer way."
Surprisingly, Hakeem runs into Anika's arms and after a quick medical checkup, he returns to the Lyon household seemingly healthy. However, the rapper spirals out of control as the episode unwinds and he rehearses with Mirage à Trois. Meanwhile, Jamal continues to struggle with his music and is distracted by his relationship with Michael. Andre, on the other hand, is confidently taking charge of renewing Gutter Life Records.
Proving to be the diva that she is, Cookie arranges a meeting with Hakeem's kidnappers and though things almost seem to take an unexpectedly negative turn, she proves to ultimately run "the streets" and shoos them away. The drama doesn't put a stop to the music, though. Lucious hosts another jam-packed late-night concert to introduce Freda Gatz to new audiences despite some petty physical drama.
Cookie, on the other hand, also does the same for her label and puts together a show for Mirage à Trois, but the showdown continues when Hakeem refuses to reconnect with Lucious and the formerly married couple fights over their son's future. The Lyon brothers come together and well, the show goes on as the all-female group slays the stage.
And, as usual, just when we think things may take a turn towards the positive road, that's not exactly the case. The episode winds down with Lucious giving Freda Gatz another chance. It's what happens at the end, however, that shocked us all. Cookie reunites with Adam Rodriguez, who portrays the promoter Laz Delgado who convinced her of helping her new label. The big plot twist? He sports the same tattoo as the men who kidnapped Hakeem, suggesting that he's ultimately up to no good.
Click through the gallery above to get all the details behind Nieddu's spot-on fashion looks, and catch Empire every Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.