With one week to go before what's sure to be an epic two-hour finale, "Empire" has plot twists for days. The drama has officially reached a new level.
Perhaps the most jaw-dropping moment was Olivia's trouble-laden return. Though I craved for my favorite Cheetah Girl (Raven-Symoné) to come back, she could've left the drama where she came from.
After walking into the Lyon mansion, with her sketchy boyfriend Reg in tandem, she alludes in a conversation with Jamal that Reg has been hurting her too-cute-for-words daughter Lola. Jamal's clued in further after seeing a tattoo on Reggie's arm similar to the creature Lola is scared of. In another attempt at proving his manhood (or maybe he was just reacting as any protective father would), he lunges toward Reg but is met with a gun pointed in his face.
But Jamal doesn't back down, causing superwoman Cookie to try her hand at saving the day. She couldn't overpower the gunman, however, and found herself in a headlock, the gun pressed against her temple. (At this point my hands are sweating and I sit up in my bed.)
Then enters papa Lyon. Lucious reveals a secret he probably was planning to take to his grave: He is the father of Olivia's daughter, not Jamal as everyone thought. (Here I popped up off the bed, my heart making somersaults, screaming in disbelief).
Now, I've been calling for a Maury Povich cameo for a paternity test since Olivia surreptitiously crept onto and off the scene. For some reason, my spirit just didn't agree that Jamal was anybody's father especially after he said early on that he slept with her once. It turns out that Lucious, in addition to forcing Jamal into a sham of a marriage with Olivia, promised her fame and fortune (and some midnight cuddling).
Security man Malcolm actually ends the ordeal with a single fatal shot to Reg's head. Though Lucious tries to take credit for saving everyone's life with his secret, all are upset (as they should be).
Amid all of this, Andre is still in rehab. At the moment he perhaps needs the entire family's support the most, Lucious is nowhere to be found. Andre's visibly withdrawn nature at the empty spot on the couch in a meeting with his doctor is disheartening. Part of me wishes Lucious would have an a-ha moment of realization that he's lacking in the father role, but if he had that this early, what would Season 2 be about?
Meanwhile Andre's rehabilitation is heating up on its own. While working with his music therapist Michelle (played by Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson), Andre appears to be falling for her. At one point, she slinks in between his legs as if to seduce him, but prompts him to pray. I'm interested to see what develops, if anything, between them.
Other moments of note:
— I'm still torn on Camilla and Hakeem's relationship. Every time I see them on screen together, I cringe. I'm not going to take Lucious' stance that Camilla is out for Hakeem's money, but something is fishy. We most likely won't be seeing her in the finale, though, as Lucious had her shipped away.
— To quote a popular rap song, Vernon's "in love with the coco." He's reached his breaking point with Lucious' continual erasure of his role in Empire and reverted to drugs to quell his pain. If it continues, it won't bode well for Lucious as Vernon knows where all of "Empire's" bodies are buried (including Cookie's cousin Bunky).
— Mary J. Blige's quick cameo was cute. I do wish I got a little more of her — without Terrence Howard's vocals.
— Cookie is finally getting the attention she deserves, and from Malcolm, no less. He's the knight in shining (chocolate) armor she needs.
Follow the reporter on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson.