Sex, lies, death, and some very upsetting character developments: The finale of Empire has arrived and it didn’t pull any punches.
Split into two parts, the finale dealt with Lucious trying to bring everyone together for the launching of the IPO and his legacy show. Too bad everyone hates him. Hakeem gets punched in the face after dissin’ his father in a rap battle and ends up hooking up with Anika. Andre has given himself to God (and Jennifer Hudson’s voice), while Jamal…well he’s actually the ‘good son’ now and trying to throw people of buildings. Cookie managed to get a nice getaway with Malcolm before Lucious turned into a hater and fired her. It’s not until the doctor reveals that there is no ALS, Lucious actually has MG. While getting his first treatment, in a drugged up haze, Lucious reveals that he killed Bunky and two other people to Cookie.
Raise your hand if you are upset that Lucious Lyon (aka Dwight Walker) isn’t dying and was cheering with glee when Cookie put that pillow over his face.
Part II is somewhat of a revival show for Lucious. He has decided to choose Jamal as his heir, setting the other brothers and Cookie against him. Andre, Anika, Hakeem, and Cookie (after Cookie and Anika duke it out), team up for a hostile take over again the patriarch.
Andre and Vernon get into a fight over loyalty and Rhonda accidently kills Vernon, revealing her pregnancy. It ends with the show being put on, Lucious being arrested and Jamal finally proving he is good enough and performing the song he did with his father earlier. Lucious is last seen in jail but that bastard will survive.
We've yet to decide if Jamal’s loyalty to his father is great writing or not. While it makes sense that he has always longed for his father’s approval, this is the same man who: put him in a trashcan as a baby, forced him to marry a woman, constantly belittle his sexuality, and the list goes on and on. The parallel between Jamal taking the stage and young Jamal walking down the stairs in heels towards the end is supposed to show him finally being ‘good enough’, but has he turned his back on the people who were actually there for him in the process?
Cookie, once again, is the real star of the episode and, if we're being frank, the show. Inside and out, Cookie is Empire: She is a complex, fun character who has struggled and sacrificed in order to the company flourish. She may not have the education or the social background that is typical of a businesswoman, but her character has proven that she is not the talent behind the man: She IS the talent.
While the female characters of Empire may not get to interact nearly often enough, they are really interesting women who are all willing to do whatever it takes to survive. From Anika to Elle to Olivia, what could have been played as one note ended up being more symphonic and dynamic set of characters. Even if we didn’t like what they did, we respect the hustle.
Next season seems SO FAR AWAY. But at least we have the soundtrack to keep us going. Drip-drop.
Image c/o FOXPrincess Weekes is a part-time bookseller and a full-time writer with a Master’s in English from Brooklyn College. A former intern at BUST magazine, she has since written articles for The Mary Sue, BUST and maintains her own video channel under the name Melina Pendulum, discussing the intersection of pop culture, feminism and race. She is currently working on a fantasy novel about black witches during the Jim Crow era, while attempting to purchase every liquid lipstick the world has to offer.