Spoilers ahead for Episode 5 of Empire Season 5, called “The Depth of Grief.”
Empire has delivered plenty of high-stakes drama already in Season 5, starting with the death of Eddie and progressing with the Lyons attempting to get back on top in the music biz despite losing Empire. Flash-forwards have revealed that a big death is on the way, and it only gets messier the more we learn about it. In “The Depth of Grief,” however, the drama took a back seat to the personal relationships, and viewers learned some tragic twists about Hakeem and Tiana with potentially long-lasting consequences.
Here’s what happened. Hakeem and Tiana’s relationship has been complicated all season, and they’ve been on the outs more often than not due to Tiana’s issues with Hakeem’s behavior. The season opened with the reveal that Tiana had given birth to a son by the name of Prince, but Hakeem was struggling with his injuries from the shooting in the previous season’s finale.
Hakeem’s temper proved to be dangerous for those around him in Season 5, and Tiana didn’t feel comfortable around him when he was drinking heavily and getting into fights with minimal provocation. At first, his acting out seemed entirely tied to what happened with the shooting. “The Depth of Grief” dropped the bombshell that something much larger and darker had changed Hakeem’s behavior.
The truth came out via flashbacks to when Tiana was enormously (and adorably) pregnant. Along with young Bella, Hakeem and Tiana were excitedly awaiting the birth of their twin babies. Yes, Tiana was pregnant with twins, and Prince was the only tot to appear in the present timeline. Something awful must have happened.
Whey they made it to the hospital, Tiana was in a great deal of pain. The nurse ignored her when she tried to tell her that what she was feeling wasn’t normal. The nurse didn’t do enough to get Tiana the help she needed, despite Hakeem’s attempts to tell her that Tiana was high-risk. Tiana was able to deliver a healthy baby boy, but her daughter did not survive. Prince was born; Princess died.
Later, in Tiana’s hospital room, Cookie and Lucious tried to console Hakeem and Tiana. A doctor came in and asked if they wanted to see their daughter. Tiana immediately said that she didn’t want to see her, leading Cookie to step up and tell her daughter-in-law that she needed to see the baby, even if it hurt. Cookie clearly believed that Tiana would regret it later if she didn’t see her baby girl before she was taken away, and she offered to go with Tiana for the difficult moment.
So, that’s the tragic twist that many of us probably did not see coming. Hakeem has been so broken and helplessly lashing out throughout Season 5 because he was unable to save his baby girl, even though Tiana was in the hospital and should have had the care she needed to safely deliver two healthy babies.
Unfortunately, the strides that Hakeem and Tiana made toward reconciliation in last week’s episode didn’t lead to the two lovebirds getting back together. Tiana was touched by Hakeem’s gesture, and he made the point that he was behaving himself a lot more lately. He even gave her a necklace with “Princess” on it. The potential reconciliation went south when Hakeem’s temper got the better of him after he learned that Blake had recorded a song Hakeem had written and took credit for it.
Tiana didn’t know that Hakeem had written the song and Blake didn’t know that Tiana intended to release the song, so what could have been a single simple misunderstanding escalated quickly. Hakeem reeled back and punched Blake, starting a fight and getting into the kind of violence that drove Tiana away. They had words after security broke up the fight.
Hakeem didn’t seem to blame Tiana for the situation, but he raised the point that he believed Blake has a thing for Tiana and is trying to move in on her. Tiana denied it. Whether Blake really does want to start something with Tiana remains to be seen; for now, Hakeem’s lashing out seems to have driven Tiana farther away then ever. These two have been off-and-on for almost the entire run of the series; still, their romance isn’t looking too great at this point.
The good news is that there was an uplifting plot to balance the sadness of “The Depth of Grief.” Kai was recovered after being kidnapped while on news assignment. Despite signs seeming to point toward his death, he returned more or less okay, and Jamal and Cookie rushed to the hospital. While Jamal and Kai were clearly overjoyed to be together again, it was at the hospital that Cookie learned Kai is HIV-positive.
Cookie panicked at the prospect of her beloved son in a sexual relationship with an HIV-positive man and tried to interfere, not wanting Jamal to get sick. Jamal educated his mom on the steps he and Kai were taking to make sure that he remained safe. Cookie still wasn’t 100% sure. Surprisingly, Lucious was the Lyon parent who was okay with the situation, acknowledging that Jamal is a grown man who can make his own decisions.
Well, Cookie decided to take matters into her own hands and have a talk with Kai, intending to drive him away from Jamal. Instead, Kai impressed Cookie with his love and devotion to Jamal, and Cookie realized that the last thing Kai would ever want to do is get Jamal sick. He received her blessing, and this led to one of the most touching scenes in the run of the show so far: a double proposal.
Yes, when Jamal and Kai were together at Jamal’s apartment later on, Kai pulled out an engagement ring and dropped down to one knee. Jamal didn’t give an answer and instead told Kai that he’d stolen his move. Not understanding, Kai was visibly nervous that Jamal hadn’t answered. He managed to connect the dots when Jamal pulled out his own ring box and dropped down to one knee himself. It made for the kind of happy ending viewers needed after the despair we witnessed from Hakeem and Tiana.