In the fall season finale of “Empire,” titled “Et tu, Brute?,” a number of things come full circle. But the drama is here to stay.
We start the episode at Empire Entertainment, where they are getting ready for both the American Sound Awards nominations (hosted by Jason Derulo) and the announcement of the streaming company deal -- because Lucious is petty and can’t let his son Jamal, who’s guaranteed a number of nominations, shine on his own.
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Jamal grabs a number of nominations early on in the day, but all Lucious can think about is Skye Summers (Alicia Keys) calling his son “babe.” He thinks Jamal is “fixed.”
Meanwhile, Mimi is turning on Lucious. After realizing Papa Lyon has liquidated many of Empire’s assets to solidify the streaming deal, she begins to plot his demise.
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As nominations continue, Hakeem and his crew at Lyon Dynasty are expecting a nom for Rapper of the Year. He’s gooped though when Freda Gatz gets nominated instead of him.
Now no shade to Miss Gatz, but she didn’t even put out an album.
Needless to say, Hakeem ain’t happy. And since Cookie’s boo thing Laz is now dead and she’s lost the venue for Cookie’s Cookout, she’s not either.
But she made a commitment to return to the jail she spent 17 years in to do a special concert for the ladies. So she’s got to get her life together with the quickness. It’s been a year since she got out and it’ll be her first time going back.
While Cookie tries to piece things together for the concert, Jamal and Skye premiere their Black/All Lives Matter duet, “Powerful,” at a nomination celebration event. She thinks she’s fallen in love with Jamal after one “beautiful” hookup, but when she sees him flirting with a guy at the bar, she knows whats up.
Following their performance, Charlamagne makes a cameo. He (verbally) attacks Skye for being black when it’s comfortable, as in when she has a new R&B song to promote. Backstage, Twitter has joined in, photoshopping Rachel “What’s Her Name’s” (Dolezal) wig on top of Skye’s head. The scene also has a tinge of Taye Diggs’ recent comments about how he wants his biracial child to identify.
Jamison, Jamal’s manager that hates Lucious, returns for his client's big day. He promises Lucious that he’s going to make his son bigger than him, off of his first album. The shade of it all is that he ensures Jamal will get a Song of the Year nomination, a nom Lucious never got.
At the Empire event, following another performance we could’ve done without, Lucious brings Mimi on stage to discuss the streaming deal. She delivers a blow by introducing the crowd to her wife who has been helping her fight cancer -- Camilla, Hakeem’s old boo.
Following this revelation, Mimi calls for a board meeting. She plays a video of Lucious saying that he hates the board and will clean house after the streaming deal is done. She calls for a vote to remove him as president and chief executive.
This sends Lucious and his allies, Thirsty and Andre, into overdrive. They need all the board members to show up to the 9 p.m. vote, including Cookie and Hakeem.
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In the world of Lyon Dynasty, Cookie’s experiencing a number of flashbacks as she walks her old stomping grounds in the jail. But the ladies are happy to see her. And they’re happy to see Porsha, but she makes it known that she only does “hot dogs and sausages.”
On stage, Cookie has a small monologue about the incarceration of women and how they are still mothers, daughters and sisters despite the circumstances that landed them in jail. Hakeem shakes off his own disappointment for not getting a nomination -- though he and Jamal share a best music vid nom -- to support his mom’s event. He and Laura perform their song “Miracles.”
Andre pops up at the jail to inform them of the impending takeover by Mimi. Cookie signs over her voting rights to Hakeem so that she can stay and chat with one of her former cellmates, who now has a life sentence.
Hakeem commits to showing up to the vote, and voting to keep his father as lead. Because even though “Lyon Dynasty is our company, Empire is our legacy,” Cookie said.
When Cookie finally gets to see her friend (played by Da Brat), she gets dragged for the monkey costume and posturing about black male incarceration, particularly at the expense of erasing the female inmate.
Back at Empire, the vote is going down. In an act of defiance -- and manipulation by Camilla, who somehow convinced Hakeem that she was plotting for his takeover all along -- the youngest Lyon votes to depose his father. Can’t say we didn’t see this coming.
Other moments of note: