“Empire” recap: “Die But Once/Who I Am”

Like so many season finales this year, I literally don’t know what happened, even though I’ve watched every minute of it. Let’s go down what happened in bulleted points, because I’d be writing for days if I went second by second.

• Lucious doesn’t have ALS after all; he has a treatable ALS-lookalike disease

• Jamal is now the head of Empire Entertainment

• Empire Entertainment is now public

• Becky is now Head of A&R, thanks to Jamal

• Lucious now respects Jamal and even apologized to him for being a homophobic a**hole

• Lucious gives out redonk-gaudy gifts. Exhibits, A,B, and C:

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• Andre and Hakeem are now against Lucious for various reasons

• The other brothers, Vernon, Anika, and Cookie have staged a hostile takeover

• ANIKA-COOKIE FIGHT! Cookie clearly won the battle

• Vernon or Andre set Lucious up to get arrested for Bunky’s death

• Lucious’ real name is Dwight

•  Lucious is now in jail (HALLELUJAH!)

• Rhonda killed Vernon in self-defense (he was about to beat Andre to death)

• Hakeem slept with Anika to get back at Lucious (he was also considering going to Baretti), now they’re both trying to forget what happened between them

I think these are all of the important high points. Other notable moments include Michelle (Jennifer Hudson) getting swayed to the Dark Side(aka Empire Entertainment) by Lucious as a way to get back at Andre for threatening to leave, Cookie puts her relationship with Malcolm on the backburner in an effort to get what’s owed to her, Patti LaBelle makes Lucious songs sound better with her golden voice, Rita Ora shows off her pipes, Snoop Dogg is still cool, #BlackLivesMatter gets a shoutout (and a big donation from Empire Entertainment), and a strange Lucious-Jamal duet that looked a bit too incestuous for comfort.

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What is there to say, really? The two episodes just kept pulling hit after hit after hit. I don’t know what was good or bad, honestly, but all of it was crazy.

I will say one thing: I’m kinda surprised, happy, and oddly disappointed in Jamal. I’m surprised that Jamal finally earned Lucious’ respect and was actually given the title of Head of Empire Entertainment.

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Do I think Lucious has really gotten over his homophobia? Time will tell, for sure. I think he was sincere enough when he said his anger towards Jamal’s sexuality stemmed from his fear of what would happen to him since Lucious himself had it rough as a kid. But I think his apology comes more from realizing Jamal has the real Lucious Lyon talent and the muscle (literal and figurative) to nearly throw someone over a balcony (I was definitely surprised our sensitive R&B singer was about to kill someone in honor of the Lyon name). In short, I think his apology comes from realizing that not only is Jamal the real heir to the throne, but from the fear that Jamal could kill him if pushed and wouldn’t think twice about it.

I was happy that Jamal did finally got a chance to show the full scope of what he can do. He seems like a competent leader and, of course, we know he’s a great showman (although the Michael Jackson scream at the end of the “What the DJ Spins” performance, and that entirely too-long durag, left something to be desired for me).

 

I was disappointed Jamal turned his back on his mom so easily. After all she had done for him, building him up, supporting him when his father didn’t, and to just so quickly turn on her when he sees half of a security tape showing her about to suffocate Lucious? Why not ask Cookie why she was willing to kill the man she had once loved? Why not get to the root of that? Cookie even said Lucious killed Bunkie; why not ask Lucious why Cookie said that? Jamal, you’re good at a lot of things, but sometimes, you’re stupid. Jamal and Lucious seeing eye-to-eye came about too fast for me. Or something.

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I was very happy Hakeem and Andre decided to get back at Lucious and take over the throne. Maybe I have some problems I need to work out, but I was internally cheering on their plan to usurp the king and his prince. I wish Vernon could have been around to see the plan play out; he was owed that after being disillusioned by Lucious revealing he killed Bunky. Whenever you see a candlestick in a character’s hand, you know someone’s got to die.

Speaking of candlesticks, I’m fairly certain Rhonda’s baby is not Andre’s. I just have a feeling that it’s not Andre’s. It would make too much sense if the baby was Andre’s.

Anika and Hakeem…that’s weird. That’s all I really have to say about that.

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So what did you think about this finale? What parts were your favorite? Give your opinions in the comments section below.

Photo credit: Chuck Hodes/FOX

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