The season finale of "Empire" was jampacked with drama and scandal for the entire Lyon family. Around every commercial break, I clutched my pearls, heart palpitating, stunned at what was happening on my television screen.
Perhaps the greatest development in the story line came when Lucious decided who will be the heir to the throne. While most probably expected Hakeem or Andre to be chosen (because Lucious just couldn’t get over Jamal being openly gay), it was Jamal who was given the scepter. (Of course, this was after he proved he was man enough by holding Creedmoor’s president over the balcony of Hakeem’s apartment, forcing him to sign over the masters to Lucious’ songs.)
Though I would love to say we have seen a change in Lucious motivated by love and understanding, that would be giving him too much credit too soon. With all of the drama between Lucious and the other Lyon cubs, Jamal’s the only one that can be blinded by the (faux) love he’s always wanted from dad.
Side note: Can we talk about the duet between Lucious and Jamal? My mind immediately went to “Zorro” or a hip-hop mariachi band. I don’t know how many times I have to tell the writers of the show, but no one wants to see Terrance Howard trying to sing. It really isn’t his forte.
Meanwhile, the shade-throwing reaches its peak between Cookie and Miss Boo Boo Kitty, Anika. In a secret meeting between the two, and Andre and Hakeem (as they plot a hostile takeover), the ladies get physical (finally!).
True to expectations, Cookie was no one to play with. But Anika held her own – she’s not all finger waves and couture dresses as we may have thought.
Did I mention Anika and Hakeem slept together – and were caught by Lucious, legs wrapped around each other? Hakeem’s mommy issues hit a new level in this moment, as his at-one-time stepmother became his latest sexual conquest. But this came after Hakeem embarrassed Lucious earlier in the week.
Days before Empire’s IPO, Lucious held a press conference announcing a new partnership with none other than Snoop Dogg. After he premiered his latest single, “Peaches N Cream,” Snoop invited Hakeem on stage to freestyle with him.
Stealing the show, Hakeem announced to the world that he would be leaving the company. Not to be upstaged, Hakeem was met with a heart-stopping punch to the jaw from Lucious.
Meanwhile, Andre is out of therapy and ready to give his life over to Christ. His therapist Michelle (played by Jennifer Hudson) has served as his spiritual guide throughout the process. But, after Andre meets with his father to quit, Lucious decides to play hardball: He signs Michelle to a record deal, his way of proving to Andre that he is bigger than God.
Oh yes, Lucious also doesn’t have ALS; he was misdiagnosed. The disease he does have is a serious one, but not deadly. When he announces it to the family, everyone’s face is a little stunned. Just like us, they all were just waiting on him to die.
And just in case that wasn’t enough drama, Andre’s wife Rhonda killed Vernon (in a “How to Get Away with Murder” fashion). The two men were fighting when Rhonda runs in trying to save her husband. She takes a candleholder and delivers a fatal blow to Vernon’s head.
This becomes great news for Lucious, who is arrested by FBI. Though he thinks it’s all Cookie’s fault (because the FBI woman was introduced to him in Episode 1 as Cookie’s parole officer), Vernon was the snitch. The season ends with the FBI trying to locate Vernon as Lucious grips the bars of a jail cell.
Other moments of note:
-- Becky (played by Gabourey Sidibe) is half white, hence her name. (Insert blank stare here.) The writers of the show played us all with that tidbit of information.
-- If I haven’t said it before, the drag queen inside of me squeals with glee at the show’s fashion choices, from Cookie’s signature furs to Anika’s pant suits and cape dresses. I could’ve done without the men’s fashions this episode though.
-- I wished that Michelle would finally take us to church, and my prayers were answered. We got two scenes where Hudson screamed her face off. Then, of course, the good church girl gets corrupted ending the show doing a duet with Juicy J. Like they say, art imitates life.
-- Didn’t Miss Patti LaBelle bless your spirit? Her duet between her and Jamal should’ve been on the soundtrack.
- The final two epsiodes of "Empire" were directed by Hollywood royalty, Mario Van Peebles and Debbie Allen.
Join me in a live chat Thursday at 11:30 a.m. PST with Grace Gealey of "Empire." We’ll be dishing on her role as Anika and all of the drama of the season finale. Tweet us questions using #AskLATimes.