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Spoilers ahead for Episode 14 of Empire Season 5, called "Without All Remedy."
Last week's episode of Empire ended on a number of wild cliffhangers, with the craziest being Lucious' savage beating of Treasure's manager in an alley and Cookie's apparent decision to hook up with Damon Cross to get back at Lucious. Well, "Without All Remedy" revealed that one of those twists wasn't actually what it seemed, and now Cookie is keeping a secret that could backfire spectacularly on her. The secret? That she didn't sleep with Damon Cross.
Okay, technically that Cookie didn't sleep with Damon Cross is a big reveal that came for viewers, as Lucious doesn't yet know that Cookie went to Damon after seeing him with Treasure in his lap. She did go to him with the intent of sleeping with him, but her conscience and love for her husband stopped her from going through with it.
After learning that Lucious didn't actually do anything with Treasure, she wanted to come clean. When he does inevitably find out, he's not going to be thrilled that Cookie shed a layer of clothing and got to at least first base with Damon before deciding to back out, even if he might be relieved that they didn't actually have sex. Carol talked her out of telling Lucious; notably, Carol believes that Cookie did sleep with another man, as Cookie left out the key detail that she left before any more could happen.
While Cookie came close to coming clean at the end of the episode, she simply told Lucious that she loves him rather than confessing that she made out with Damon Cross in a hotel room. Would she have done something different if the Lyon family didn't have to band together in support of Andre? Maybe. But what matters is that she's keeping a big secret, and it could spell disaster.
Should it spell disaster? Well, not really when compared to the big secret Lucious is keeping. The beating he laid down on Treasure's manager last week did apparently result in his death, and Lucious called a fixer to come and take care of the corpse for him. While Cookie spent the episode conflicted between her guilt about Damon Cross and her concern about Andre, Lucious didn't seem to spare a thought for the guy he killed.
Why Cookie's secret could be a bigger deal on Empire is that there are a fair few people in her life who could handle it very, very poorly. While Cookie probably wouldn't react well to news that Lucious killed a man with his bare hands in an alleyway shortly after realizing the feds could be watching them, I feel like she can keep her cool at least somewhat better than Lucious. She didn't beat Treasure to death after finding her in Lucious' lap, after all.
Should Cookie's secret be less of a big deal than Lucious' secret? Sure. But only time will tell if it will be. Here's why it could backfire on the poor woman in some ways that are disproportionate to what she did.
Lucious really doesn't always handle bad news well, especially if that bad news affects his family and/or takes a shot at his ego. If the flash-forwards are to be believed, then Lucious may not find out that Cookie and Damon are kind of cozy with each other until the feds show him photographic proof. If he sees the pics and jumps to the wrong conclusion, he could act out before anybody can set him straight. Throw in a reveal of Cookie's secret, and bad things could go down.
"Without All Remedy" did set up a way for Cookie and Damon to remain close, even if she seemingly shut the door on hooking up. Damon agreed that what happened between them stays between them, then went on to share the story of when his daughter was diagnosed with cancer, trying to help Cookie as she struggled with Andre's diagnosis. He told her that she couldn't blame herself, as he learned himself that he couldn't blame himself for what happened to his daughter.
Cookie appreciated his words, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that they spend some time together as friends rather than anything else. Lucious could easily misinterpret things, especially if Cookie is noticeably skittish about the Damon Cross subject.
If Lucious takes everything the wrong way, could he attack Damon? One of the flash-forwards certainly is bloody. Alternately, could he turn to the feds with information on Damon? Either option really wouldn't lead to anything good for Empire.
If the tension escalates between Damon and the folks at Empire, it's possible that Cookie finds herself in an impossible situation, as Damon has something on her. He seemed sincere when he promised that what happened would remain a secret; could something happen to make him change his mind? The man has a temper, as viewers saw in Thirsty's flashbacks of Damon snapping and killing a man.
It's also possible that Cookie chose the wrong person to confide in, although it's not like she had a ton of options. Based on how Cookie indicated that she'd gone to another man after seeing Lucious with Treasure, Carol seems to believe that Cookie slept with somebody. If Lucious somehow finds out that Cookie was with another man from Carol, she would likely lead him to believe more happened than what actually did.
Honestly, even if Cookie herself comes clean, everything could go wrong if she keeps the secret for too long. I can already imagine the fight that could happen if Lucious finds out that Cookie almost slept with Damon Cross and then carried on for a while without telling him. It would be more than a bit rich of Lucious to get mad at the long-suffering Cookie for keeping a secret, but he's never exactly been a hero.
Although the biggest secret at the moment may be Lucious' secret, Cookie's could lead to some collateral damage based on the people who would likely have extreme reactions to it. It may not be fair, but Empire rarely is. The flash-forwards do (which are now finished) point toward Lucious not discovering the connection between Cookie and Damon until after the big death; could more than one major character die?
Although Andre got some good news about the chemo working in "Without All Remedy," the odds are still stacked against him. What if Andre is the one in the coffin, and then Empire reveals that another death was going to happen all along? I'm still not sure how the possible writing out of Jussie Smollett fits in, though it is worth noting that Kai is back in the picture and wants to make it work with Jamal.
Find out what happens next with new episodes of Empire on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.