Empire Season 1 Finale Recap: Arrested Developments

Throughout Empire‘s Season 1 finale, Lucious Lyon seems hellbent on reinforcing the damning assessment of his life — and in particular, his parenting skills — made last week by his ex-wife Cookie: “Everything you touch, you destroy. Look what you did to my sons.

He punches his youngest, Hakeem, right in the face. He attempts to corrupt his troubled eldest son Andre’s spiritual adviser — just to prove he’s “more powerful” than God. And as for his middle child, Jamal, the one he’s repeatedly beaten and scorned just for being gay? Well, good ole Lucious finally bestows on him some paternal kindness — but only after he’s driven the heretofore reasonable young man to the brink of murder.

Did I mention all of the above takes place in the first 60 minutes of the two-hour telecast? You can hardly blame the pragmatic Cookie when she seizes an opportunity to snuff out Lucious’ life with a goose-down pillow. (OK, I didn’t read the actual label, but you don’t think any member of the Lyon clan is slumming it on a polyester blend, do you?)

To quote (future Emmy winner) Taraji P. Henson’s endlessly quotable alter-ego: “Hell wants the devil back — and Lucious is on his way.”

Oh, grrrrrrlllll, if only it were so easy.

Wait a second — I’m burying the lead here: BOO-BOO KITTY IS SLEEPING WITH HAKEEM! No, wait, that’s not the big news. JAMAL IS INHERITING THE EMPIRE CROWN! Actually, lemme try that again. COOKIE AND ANIKA AND ANDRE AND HAKEEM ARE UNITED AGAINST JAMAL! OK, that’s pretty huge, but perhaps even more shocking… LUCIOUS DOESN’T HAVE ALS AND ALSO UNCLE VERNON IS DEAD — AND (A PREGNANT) RHONDA KILLED HIM! (Note I left out the fact that Jennifer Hudson’s music-therapist chick is now a Gospel artist signed to Empire Entertainment — I just cahhhhhn’t with the way her eyelash-fluttering naiveté parallels Olive Garden breadsticks… in that they’re both endless!) AND LUCIOUS GETS ARRESTED IN THE END — FOR BUNKIE’S MURDER! (WHO RATTED HIM OUT, THOUGH?)

Side note: Best. Catfight. Fight Scene. Of 2015.

Porsha, get my damn shoes — because I pretty much threw all of ’em at my TV set over the course of the epic rollercoaster ride called “Die But Once/Who I Am” — and now it’s time to break down the action.

EmpireCOOKIE GETS SOME NOOKIE | Cookie gets her weekend getaway with Malcolm — and despite the snowy scenery, things get so hot it’s like a chocolate fondue for two in front of the fireplace (if I’m not being too subtle). In their subsequent pillow talk, Cookie learns Camilla actually rejected Lucious’ walk-away money — and it’s clear whatever love she had for her ex is just about gone. “I wish he would just drop dead already,” she says, promptly envisioning his legacy concert as a memorial event with jacked-up ticket prices and proving she’s the best businessperson in the Lyon family. Alas, though, when Porsha lets slip to Lucious that her boss is “in the Berk-Shires” (¡same as Malcolm!), Lucious flips out, fires Cookie and has her banned from entering the building. He then confronts her in the lobby and tells her that as a convicted felon, she was never actually allowed on the Empire board — and that Andre knew it when he promised her the position. “You’re on a dark path, Lucious. You’re goin’ down — and I’m not gonna let you take my company with you. Seventeen years, bitch!” Cookie screams, with a gleam in her eye that says she’s just lost a pawn, but it’s far from checkmate. “Everybody’s just waiting for you to die.” With this in mind, she’s not ready to clear the board and accept Malcolm’s offer to run away with him to Washington, D.C., where he’s accepted a government gig. “My time is up,” she sighs. “That’s a phrase I’ve heard many times before.”

Eventually, at Jamal’s urging, Lucious apologizes to Cookie for “overreacting” — but she freaks out when she realizes both Jamal and Hakeem have gone to Beretti’s. It’s a little out of character that she allows Lucious to head to the lion’s den alone – this seems like a good time for our protagonist to take her earrings off and pick up her broom — but perhaps she’s still reeling from the fact that she doesn’t have as much definitive power as she thought she did.

HIS THREE SONS | Lucious is shaken when Beretti tries to stop his legacy concert with a court injunction having to do with ownership of his early Empire tracks. And in his desperation, we see him repeatedly prioritize his business over his children. When Hakeem interrupts Empire’s pre-IPO concert (and announcement that Snoop Dogg is joining its roster) with a scathing freestyle verse (sample lyric directed at dad: “that mofo can’t even keep his family together”), Lucious punches him in the face. Hakeem spits blood, kicks rocks (my new favorite expression) and then hits back where it hurts — vowing to sign with Beretti. Jamal argues that his kid brother should at least maintain loyalty to the Empire label. “I want the company to be around when he’s not,” Jamal says, while offering up a laundry list of ways Lucious has hurt him, too.

EmpireAndre, meanwhile, can’t find the strength to return to work and instead starts hanging around his music therapist’s church — though whether it’s God or J.Hud’s form-fitting dresses that are inspiring him is unclear. Lucious, naturally, is disdainful of the decision — even though he doesn’t try to pretend Andre will ever be more than CFO. “There’s no higher purpose than being a maker of music” he huffs to his one son WHO DOES NOT MAKE MUSIC FOR A LIVING. Damn, Lucious, you’re just the worst. But wait (as all the informercials say) there’s more! When Andre rejects his dad’s subsequent offer to ring the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange — sample Andre zinger about his dad being on the brink of death: “I’ll send a prayer down to you in a flame-proof jar” — Lucious offers a record deal to a blindly delighted Michelle. Andre is crestfallen that this woman who’d been guiding him on his religious journey (ummm… how come Michelle and Andre never discuss his wife Rhonda’s role in all this? #somethininthemilkaintclean) has so easily given in to the lure of fame and fortune. “My father is the devil — and you just spread your legs for him!” he snarls. Then again, it’s a Gospel record — not a cover of Rihanna’s “S&M” — that she’s agreed to record. What’s that “judge not lest ye be judged” line from the Bible, Andre?

Lastly, there’s Jamal — and if we really wanna get biblical up in this recap, it’s very much a case of “The last shall be first.” Lucious has rejected him his entire life — but suddenly, on the day of Jamal’s album release, Daddy Dearest is softening — or at least learning to respect his son’s craft. He’s even quoting reviews saying Jamal might be the one to inherit the crown. “I wouldn’t believe everything I read,” Jamal smiles back — his mother’s penchant for shade-throwing clearly passed down to the next generation. “I saw that you were a devoted husband and father.”

Ultimately, though, we see Jamal is indeed tempted by the idea of taking over as CEO from his father — even after Lucious tells him he “needs to know you’ve got that monster in you that does what he has to do.” (Ugh.) With a promise to bring Cookie back into the Empire fold, Jamal agrees to help his father with his nagging case of writer’s block — bringing them back to the Philadelphia apartment that’s packed with memories good and bad.”You want me to throw your ass in the trashcan again?” Lucious sneers — and it’s absolutely bone-chilling juxtaposed with both men’s flashbacks of the young Jamal being treated like a literal piece of garbage and pleading with his father for mercy. But Jamal is made of stone — or something close to it — now. “I worshipped the way you made music,” he confesses to his father, not taking the bait. And these two men — who are maybe as much alike as they are different — suddenly connect in the most visceral way, cooking up a new track called “Nothin’ to Lose” that I cannot cannot cannot wait to download. As they sing, Lucious flashes back to another murder he committed in cold blood back in the day, which makes it all the more jarring when they finish singing and he exclaims, “That’s how you murder a track!”

empire-jamal-threatens-beretti-rooftopIt’s not enough, though, to fully win over Lucious. He insists Jamal get his masters back from Beretti — by any means necessary — and before you know it, the child who’d been dismissed and abused has unleashed the monster planted within him. He visit’s Beretti’s penthouse, dangles him off the edge of his balcony and gets the scared businessman to sign back the rights to his dad’s music. “My daddy thinks I’m a killer — and I think he’s right,” smiles Jamal, in an absolutely terrifying moment. Does this mean Jamal is “worthy”? Maybe in Lucious’ eyes, but it’s a fork in the road I didn’t want to see him travel.

IT’S A MIRACLE! | In the midst of all this drama, Lucious learns he doesn’t actually have ALS, but rather MG (myasthenia gravis) — a similar but treatable condition. In other words, the Devil’s gonna have to be patient. (Lucious’ subsequent gleeful response at the dining room table proves to be one of Terrence Howard’s great moments in the series.) His new drug regimen, though, causes some powerful hallucinations — and just in time for Cookie to enter the bedroom (looking like a very tough but beautiful angel in white) and to hear her ex do a Robert Durst-style confession to the “Bunkie” sitting at the foot of his bed: “You can’t be here man — I killed your ass.” As he prattles on about being a phoenix from the ashes and Jesus back from the dead, we hear J.Hud’s soaring Gospel soundtrack, we see Jamal and Ryan having sex on Lucious’ desk, we see Anika and Hakeem snuggled together in bed, and Andre taking solace in church. And that’s when Cookie picks up that pillow, holds it over Lucious’ face and says, “It’s over.”

GIFTS FROM DAD | Hour Two starts with Lucious sharing with his sons and Cookie the “good news” that he’s going to live. He gifts them all with apologetic words and symbolic trinkets: A gold-wing necklace for Hakeem (who’ll have a jet with which to tour and promote his music);  a cross for Andre (who’ll run Empire’s new charitable foundation); and a scepter for Jamal (who’s been chosen as the successor). Oh, and Cookie gets a little pillow — because apparently LUCIOUS KNOWS ABOUT THE THWARTED MURDER ATTEMPT. (In his hazy state, he grabbed her arm and stopped her, BTW.) #thiscantbegood

EmpireONE WHO TAKES OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST | Anika puts in Hakeem’s mind that he needs to stage a hostile takeover (because Machiavelli had a disdain for “effeminate princes”?) and he takes the bait. Andre isn’t on for the plan — not until Empire artist Black Rambo crashes a press conference and expresses his disgust at the company being placed in the hands of an out gay man. But when Lucious and Jamal dismiss Andre’s idea that dropping Black Rambo will “alienate so many of our customers” — and when Rhonda expresses her disgust that he gave up his plan to take over as CEO without any fight at all — the eldest Lyon changes his mind. Also in on the plan? Cookie! Yep, after sweeping up after Hakeem’s haircut with THAT BROOM, she throws out the idea that they build their own legacy together. (Did I mention she’s persona non grata at Empire after Lucious shows Jamal video of his mother coming at him with that pillow? I kinda wish Jamal hadn’t been so quick to acquiesce to Lucious’ position. Is it just me?) And that’s when Hakeem lets her in on the takeover scheme.

And yes, let me tell you that all this leads to the best catfight on TV since the Dynasty era — because Hakeem, Andre, Anika and Cookie end up in a room — and the two women THROW DOWN. Cookie throws a drink and a punch that send Anika to the ground as easily as a chainsaw might fell a sapling. (BAM!) Anika grabs Cookie’s hair. (WHOA.) They end up exchanging dozens of body blows on a pool table. (“WHO’S BOO-BOO KITTY NOW, BITCH?”) And Cookie decimates Anika’s pearls — because let’s be honest, fake-ass Halle Berry had it comin’.

Speaking of decimations… Jamal hits a nightclub and challenges a freestyling Black Rambo to a freestyle showdown – and his beautifully sung verse (complete with a sly wink on the line “maybe you need to get on your knees”) sends the iPhone-recording crowd into thunderous applause. That’s how you shut down a homophobic bitch – and add to your street cred in the process! (Definitely this ranks in my Top 5 moments of the finale.)

The IPO launches with Lucious ringing the bell at the Stock Exchange — but little does he know, Team Takeover has met with billionaire type Tony Trichter who specializes in hostile takeovers… and Anika and Cookie promise to launch his “punk ass” grandson’s career if he puts up half the $500 million they need. All they need to do is come up with an additional $250 million, and discredit current CEO Lucious with some type of scandal. (Can I add how happy I am — and can I admit that I cry — when Cookie visits Jamal in rehearsal for the legacy concert to remind him, “I got you.” Damn, Empire’s flashbacks > everybody else’s flashbacks. Though when it’s all said and done, I’m not 100% sure where their beautiful mother-son dynamic stands.)

Also, Vernon reappears and tells Cookie that, yep, Lucious killed Bunkie (a fact she refused to admit previously to FBI Agent Carter). Vernon’s next meeting — a drag-out brawl with Andre — goes, um, less well, especially when Rhonda arrives and breaks it up in the deadliest way possible. (White Woman in the Living Room With the Candlestick!) She doesn’t want Andre to call the police though — ’cause she’s got a baby in her belly! (Now we know why she threw up her bourbon on her salad at the rich-creepy couple’s home a few weeks back!)

At the legacy concert, Lucious gets arrested for Bunkie’s death (and assumes it’s Cookie who ratted him out). Jamal rises up the stage steps to perform his dad’s song with Patti LaBelle (juxtaposed with his flashback self descending the stairs in his mom’s heels), and Agent Carter is all, “Where’s Vernon? He’s our star witness!”

The hour ends with Lucious behind bars — promising that “you may think you’ve gotten away with this” but God, the streets and disease couldn’t kill him. He’ll be back (because there’s a Season 2) and “it’s game time, bitches.” Sounds like exactly the kind of thing Cookie would’ve said while she was behind bars, no? Here’s hoping he brings it just as hard (and humorous) as his ex when he arrives back on the scene.

On that note, your turn. Grade the Empire Season 1 finale in the poll below — then hit the comments with your thoughts!

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  1. TAL says:

    Reblogged this on Cerulean Chronicle and commented:
    Attention ‘Empire’ fans! The following is a recap of the ‘Empire’ season 1 finale courtesy of TV Line.

  2. Matt C. says:

    THAT’S how you do a finale. I think I gasped out loud at least a dozen times. Can’t wait for this roller coaster ride of a show to continue in season 2!

  3. laurelnev says:

    Wow…just wow. Maybe the lesson other shows need to learn is the 13 show arc stand alone forces greatness, tightness, and efficiency. If these 13 episodes were to stand on their own, Empire would still represent some of the best TV in history. And we’re going to get more? Like Michael, I’m left a little add when it comes to picking out the greatest moments. Let me just summarize the fluff. Hmm. Can’t think of any. This is one to go back and weekend binge in order to catch everything you missed the 1st watch. Total awesomeness.

    • Antwon303 says:

      Well, FOX wants 22 episodes now but Lee Daniels wants to keep it to 12. The last I heard was they are trying to compromise and we will get 16 episodes. The show is supposed to come back this fall for eight and then a hiatus and then we will get the remaining episodes in early 2016.

  4. Maya says:

    There were some amazing scenes and moments but a lot of it was too predictable (Lucious not having ALS/getting arrested/Vernon getting killed), I felt really underwhelmed by the finale. Also, I had a hard time buying into a kinder Lucious, because I always felt like there was going to be some twist coming with him but it never did. I do love the idea of Boo Boo Kitty and Cookie having to work together now. The fireworks. I hate hate the separation between Jamal and Cookie – I love their relationship so to see them on opposite sides hurts now.

    • Brendan says:

      I agree. The first hour was amazing, but the second hour felt less impressive than most of the other episodes this season. You could tell it was a season finale episode, it was slow moving and spent so much time building up to a climax that never happened.

      • Annie says:

        I agree. The second hour was a let down in comparison to the first. What sense did it make let us know that the person who was sending Lucious down is now dead. There is no suspense in that. it also would have made more sense to have one of the songs, preferably Jamal, be the one who turned on Lucious.

        • Brendan says:

          Exactly. Everyone else looks guilty and Jamal on stage getting all the glory being the one who real turned him in would have been crazy. But alas, they didn’t do that.

        • Lucious will now seek revenge and probably trample over a ton of people along the way(until it is revealed that the snitch is dead). Plus, the Feds can recruit any number of his loved ones to testify against him. There is a ton that they can do with the death of Vernon so I’m not sure I’d call it predictable until I see where they take it.

      • B says:

        agreed, I think it would have been a stronger finale without the second episode. While I get that the show wants to embrace the dramatics it was a bit too (the hair pulling scene especially…) much for me

    • abz says:

      The Jamal/Cookie separation and tension just didn’t seem natural to me. Cookie has been there for him since day one and she’s his biggest supporter and he is hers. I get that he may be upset or angry about seeing the videotape and what she attempted to do to Lucious, but he also should’ve had more faith and trust in her when she told him the truth about what happened to Bunkie. Since when has she lied to him or hurt him in any way. That’s one part of the finale that I didn’t like.
      Also the ease with which Jamal and Lucious seemingly patched things up just didn’t feel naturally done either. It was one thing when Jamal knew Lucious was dying and not wanting to spend the last few months or years of Lucious’ life wasted fighting with him, but now that he knows he isn’t dying, how can they make him so easily forget and move on from the terrible things he’s done, some of which were just in the past episode with the whole Olivia situations? That’s one thing I hope they work on next season a bit more with the character relationships.

      • Annie says:

        It was poorly done, but I think that from the start the writers tried to make it clear that while Jamal didn’t need Lucious’s love or money, he wanted them, especially the love. Jamal loves his mother, but he was using her just as much as she was using him. She gave him strength, but at the end of the day the thing that he wanted most was his father’s love and respect.

      • TIgerLIL says:

        I agree the final was OK but I didn’t have a hurray feeling at the end like I wasn’t busting at the seems to do a victory lap. I agree abz with nearly everything you wrote here. I’m not super excited about it coming back in the fall I was kinda thrown off by some of the unnecessary drama to even bring some of the alliances together…luke warm for me..

        • jenna says:

          agreed, i’m not sure if I will keep up with the show in the fall. Unfortunately I feel like the show has already had the ‘jump the shark’ moment

    • Sally McLinn says:

      I agree about the health predictability, but I expected it to come later in season 2-3. I didn’t believe that catfight between Cookie and Anika, and then they make up and forge a bond to takeover the company? Nah. Poorly written.

    • david n says:

      Cookie is a trator on to levels first to her ex and her employer and second to her son

  5. CK says:

    I was entertained from start to finish. Talk about setting up a great premise for the second season. I thought the familial alliance realignment was brilliant and I can’t wait to Luscious retaliate. I would be team Cookie/Anika/Keem/Dre because of Cookie, but we all know that Dre is pretty much a powder keg ready to blow and at some point, he’s going to make his play. Hopefully, Cookie jumps ship before she gets dragged down as well.

  6. Nick says:

    Just disappointed with the ending. So obvious he was gonna get arrested & it wasn’t as “OMG SHOCKER” as promos/actors said it was gonna be. Some things didn’t make sense(like luscious being nice) but it was still awesome! Can’t wait for season 2 :)

  7. Diva DIary says:

    This show did a HTGAWM on Vernon. A little upset Luscious didn’t have ALS. I liked the fact the lead was dying. It made it seem like anyone could die on this show, which I guess is still possible since Vernon died, but I didn’t even know he was missing in the first half. Wish they went the GoT way. Loved the finale though.

    • abz says:

      Agreed. I had a feeling from the pilot that they were going to have the ALS misdiagnosed. It just felt like a cop out. It’s like they think the show can’t go on once Luscious is dead, but in fact I can totally see the show going on without him after a few seasons..

  8. relaxxx says:

    Oh my goodness, there was so much awesomeness. I don’t even know where to begin. I need a couple of days and a couple of rewatches to process the insanity. Between all the fighting, killing, backstabbing and sexing my brain is on woahhhh! Fantastic finale. Just so freaking good. I can’t wait for season 2! You just know Lucious is gonna get out of jail. I wonder if he’s the father of Rhonda’s baby. Oh man, I’m beyond excited for the next round. Amazing job to the actors, writers, directors, and Timbaland. Oh congrats to Empire for having the #1 album in the land.

  9. Jala says:

    WHaaat the world. That man dies every time. But it was really good.

  10. Ricky Lee Jones says:

    OMG how am I going to wait til Season 2???? This chit is just cray cray

  11. serena says:

    So mind-blowing!! Loved every minute of it! That catfight was EVERYTHING. It has been coming all season long, so perfect! I really don’t know how I’m gonna be able to wait til Season 2…

  12. Cynthia says:

    Lucious Lyons (aka) Dwight walker from Cynthia walker from Albany Georgia. I should be lucious first before Ms. Cookie…. Lol

  13. analog says:

    Cop out that Lucious doesn’t have ALS.

    • abz says:

      Agreed. It’s not like the show couldn’t go on without Lucious after a few seasons. They should’ve kept his ALS diagnosis.

      • trxxy says:

        While I do agree that it is somewhat of a cop out, I don’t think the story line is completely ruined if the do it correctly. MG (myasthenia gravis) is a debilitating disease that my father suffered from about seven years ago and it is not easy to deal with and takes

        • trxxy says:

          endless hours of treatment, bed rest and surgeries before the condition is dealt with. It really puts your life at a standstill, and even after all that there is a chance it can come back. If they do their research right, the writers can really show the effects the disease will have on Luscious and his family.

    • TIgerLIL says:

      Yeah and then the arrest of Lucius for murder by the feds with Cookie’s fake probation officer leading the charge kinda stupid you ask me. Feds don’t arrest on a state charge unless it is connected to a felony that seem unrealistic. And why pick Cookie up what could she had really told them about Bunky murder, she had no first hand knowledge like Vernon did, really?

  14. Terry hawkins says:

    I want to be in there a hit man for Mr Lucio us while he and jail a guy and a black long coat no one ever see but when they do he kills for Lucio us he have people on the inside of the jail the hit man

  15. We want empire back please love to be a part would be a life’s dream cause I love them both cookie and luciouse I want that part with them that was the greatest show on TV

  16. Tran says:

    I give the season finale of Empire an A. Don’t know if Season Two is going to start in the Fall or mid-season 2016.

  17. Jayme Greenlee says:

    Dewhite white Lucien lyon. ( Lyric )

  18. Was the best out of cookie and Luciouse I would love a part we them 2

  19. Annie says:

    The first hour should have been stretched out over the whole two hours. There were some good plot points that were not fully developed.

    I know that some of the Empire writers also wrote for Revenge, and I think that they made the same mistake with Jamal that Revenge made with Daniel Grayson, when they didn’t have him stay on the moral high ground, when he found out about all of the bad things that his parents did. I’m still a fan of Jamal’s, but his actions just didn’t make any sense. I know that he wants Lucious to love him, but would he actually be willing to kill someone, or even threaten to kill someone in order to get that love? That just didn’t sit well with me.

    I’m interested in where they go next season. Hopefully they will start to take the time to fully develop storylines, and let us understand why people are doing the things that they are doing.

    • Ray says:

      Character assination for plot development sake. Usually a bad move and a tell tale sign of a weak writers’ room.

  20. april says:

    Lucious revealed his real name is Dwight Walker!

  21. Did not like the way the show went. It tried to cover too much ground too fast. I did not like the betrayal from Lucious family. Hopefully they get back on track next season.

    • TIgerLIL says:

      I think I hated that the most! It was too rushed just seemed off.. the final was a downer as opposed to a upper…

  22. abz says:

    For the most part, the finale was pretty good and there were some great scenes. Loved the Cookie/Anika fight and the showdown between Jamal and Black Rambo.
    However, I’m really disappointed with how they’ve made Jamal sort of turn on Cookie like that. Of all people, Jamal has always trusted and believed in Cookie and she’s been his number one supporter. I’m not a fan of how buddy-buddy he’s become with Luscious so fast. It was one thing seeing Jamal being the only one defending Luscious at times when we knew he was dying and wanting to just accept it and move on. But now that he knows he isn’t dying, how can he so easily move on after all the horrible things Luscious has done to him and the family. I mean the guy forced him to marry a woman and then slept with her and made him think that the child was his own. And that was just in the last episode. I’m all for Jamal wanting to have a relationship with Luscious but even though I love Empire, one thing I don’t like is how quickly the show moves. So many things are either forgotten or ignored. Jamal should’ve believed Cookie when she told him the truth about Bunkie and even if he wasn’t happy with what she tried to do to Luscious, I wish he wouldn’t have gone against her.

    • sladewilson says:

      I don’t think Jamal really turned on Cookie. Not like how Hakeem and Andre turned on Lucious (with good reason). Jamal finally had his wish come true and when you want something so bad and think it will never happen? It tests you but Jamal will always love Cookie- that will never change.

  23. sladewilson says:

    They took it old school and gave props to Dallas and Dynasty big time tonight. The #youknewithadtocome catfight, everybody switching allegiances back and forth, a major death #ripVernon , I’m hoping that Jamal learns that it’s not Cookie who snitched early and he at least makes peace with his brothers. Still, he was the clear victor this season…. And lets keep the episode count at 13. Look how much damage was done to Sleepy Hollow and Scandal when they upped their episode count…

  24. I did not like the direction the show went tonight. The family’s betrayal of Lucious was a bad idea. What I like about Empire WAS the way they all stuck together. The show tried to do too much too fast. Lucious not having ALS should have been a bigger plot line. Next season I hope the family gets back together!

  25. Antwon303 says:

    I really enjoyed the finale. But there were things I didn’t love about it. I don’t mind them “curing” Lucious. Come on…we all knew Terrence Howard wasn’t leaving the show. People are misdiagnosed ALL the time. That’s why you always need a 2nd opinion. But I was surprised he told everyone so quickly. He should have kept it secret until S2. I also thought they threw a bit too much into the finale. You would think they were fighting for renewal lol. I didn’t like Vernon being killed. There was way too much Jennifer Hudson in the finale. We hardly even saw Rhonda. I know it was an accident but when she grabbed the candlestick…I knew it. I also didn’t like the use of the word f*ggot. Enough with the gay slurs.

    I did love the cat fight. Krystle and Alexis would be proud. I am also thrilled that the rumors of Cookie killing Anika didn’t come true. I like the actress and Anika has a place on the show. Anika and Cookie make great adversaries. And finally, I have to say that Lucious Lyon truly is JR Ewing!

    I would still give the finale an A- it held my attention the entire time. I cannot wait for season two!

  26. Outis says:

    Huge fan of the show and it’s run. It’s been so juicy and fun, but this was a huge disappointment. Way too many story lines trying to be jammed into a single landscape so it created a muddled and disjointed narrative that felt like it was about 25 single scenes forced together with no sense of flow or coherence. Not only was the story stilted but the characters lacked consistency to a season’s worth of construction. I’m sure the show could have come out with Cookie reading the phone book and folks would have still loved the episode, but if I’m forced to be objective, this was absolute mess…..and not in a good way.

    That said, I’ll still be in for season two, but I hope it figures out it’s pacing, transition, and character issues that it seemed to backtrack on in the final two weeks.

    Game time, beotches.

  27. Ronnie says:

    “You use your inside voice when you talk to Becky.”

    • Outis says:

      Ha. Best line of the night. That was greatness.

      Or, “what kind of name is Becky for a black girl?”

      “My momma was white.”

  28. james gilstrap says:

    Empire is awesome can’t wait until season 2.

  29. Joy says:

    This recap was too hard to follow. It was more of a commentary than anything.

    • Macy says:

      I see it exactly the opposite! Michael has such enthusiasm and passion, and such great humor and skill with words. I don’t think there is a better recap to be found anywhere on the internet.

      • TK says:

        Exactly, Macy! I read another recap and this one is the best by far! I love it when the author is a fan of the show too- it feels like a friend catching you up.

      • abz says:

        Agreed. Michael’s recap/review/commentary are one of the better ones I’ve seen on TVLine and I really enjoy reading them and laugh a lot throughout. I personally prefer a commentary/review rather than a play-by-play of what I just finished watching.

  30. JEF says:

    The catfight was the best! I think there was too much crammed into this episode. Hope they can follow up well with all these reveals at one time.

  31. Ray says:

    That finale was so asinine not even Taraji’s performance could save it.

  32. Could not have found better players only one missing was 2Pac

  33. Chitown_mimi says:

    Michael Slezak, you might just be the BEST recapper I have ever read! Your humor, coupled with the already insane plot & twists of Empire, makes reading the recaps an absolute delight! You are awesome!!

    • Macy says:

      Agree 100% — I love Michael Slezak! I found him with American Idol recaps and now I’m loving the Empire recaps as well.

  34. Jessica says:

    I wish they would have split up the 2 hours over 2 weeks, the first hour was good but then I was bored during hour 2. Too much singing I guess, I know thats kind of the point of the show, but all the stuff at that concert was boring compared to the rest of the plots. I just wasnt that impressed with the finale…

  35. M.S.Peters says:

    Best Cookie line missed by everybody…”Girl, I don’t want no chicken’ to the helpful gofer with the plate of wings at the meeting with the takeover cowboy

  36. Guadianaux says:

    Harvey Levin from TMZ said he was staying up to watch the finale, a show is great when us folks want to watch it live vs just taping it! Then threatened tall dude with suspension if he revealed a spoiler….if only….In the future can we see less of the upcoming episode, the preview of the fight kinda ruined the scene for me. I only liked the part at the bar. I wanted that punch to be a KO not that silly stunt doubles in wigs stuff. And the quick make up is unrealistic because when we women come to blows we rarely make up unless it’s our biological sister/cousin.

    Loved the slower consumable pace of this episode, keep this up next season. Although I knew Rhonda was pregnant from the wheelchair guy incident, she is too strong a person for old saggy pants to turn her stomach, drunk or not. I really like this new twist for Andre, and really like that he has been given more layers as the season progressed. He had 3 of my favorite quotes.

    While many have commented on the harshness of the Lucious with a gay son reactions as a black man, this is not uncommon. A great film that tackles the same subject but in a Latino family is “La Mission” starring Benjamin Bratt, check it out, it’s awesome!

    Vernon story line was great.

    So glad they cleared up the Becky thing because I thought that should have been Anika’s name!

    Michael can we start a list of dream guest stars and their roles. For examples fathers: Chris Williams (Lucious); Giancarlo Esposito (Cookie) and Ed Harris (Rhonda – we need a 5 minute piece on her backstory!)

    #Team Taraji – she better get an Emmy nomination! And can they rush this to DVD so I can clear room on my DVR?

    So awesome that the finale was directed by Mario Van Peebles and Debbie Allen!!! Now can we get her to come back and do some choreography?! “You want Fame? Tell Porsha to bring me my cane!”

    Favorite Quote: I’ll send a prayer down to you in a flame proof jar! #TeamAndre

    The ALS misdiagnosis, would have been better at the end of season 2.
    No reveal on Anika drugging Elle, wanted a knockout after that (think Mike Tyson in the “Hangover”)
    Anika & Hakeem, ewwww! 10x worse than Camilla (& I fast forward thru every one of those yucky scenes)
    No more weekly recap unless…Michael uses my suggestion above.

    • Ronnie says:

      I love your comment lol, but just one thing: In the EW feature article, it says that it was actually the actors fighting in that scene, not stunt doubles in wigs.

  37. JM says:

    Great finale! Loved just about everything in it. Thank you, Michael, for mentioning Terrence Howard’s performance. Everyone is talking about Taraji ( and I love me some Cookie), but I hope Terrence gets some recognition as well, because he is brilliant, and if we didn’t hate him so much, the show wouldn’t work. Many on here stated that if Luscious died, the show would go on, I disagree. Luscious made Empire, he wrote and sang the music that created Empire. I just wouldn’t care about the company (and consequently the show) as much without him.
    Also, Jussie deserves some love, too. Again, some people found his threatening to kill Berretti out-of-character, but I felt it was the culmination of his character built up over the course of the episodes. Awhile back, he stated that he was going to take Empire with a dead serious look in his eyes. All three actors, as well as the writers, editors (yes, Michael, those flashbacks were killer), directors, Timbaland for the music–all need to get some Emmy love, and I hope they do.

    • Jax&Juice's Girl says:

      LOVE the finale! Hakeem that little punk he deserved that smack in the mouth, Cookie vs. BOO-BOO KITTY that sh*t was funny, I’m going to say that Andre is NOT the father of Rhonda’s baby even tho. I’ve missed some eps. was their marriage already on the rocks before Dre was diagnosed w. bi-polar?
      Anyways Jamal is now taking over Empire can’t wait to see how he will react when it comes out that mama, Dre, Hakeem and Annika pulled a hostile takeover. Plus they should’ve kept the ALS storyline with Lucious that’s the only disappointment I have with the ep. Overall awesome finale.

  38. Kisha from Houston says:

    So much of the praise has been based on Taraji P. Henson’s brilliant performance as Cookie, but during the finale, Terrance Howard completely owned both episodes. He is the rock that they all break themselves against. I marveled at how efficiently he is building an empire but destroying his family. He has damaged them in so many ways….

    Really good and juicy finale…lots of everything that you’d want in a finale.

    • Jax&Juice's Girl says:

      Well let’s hope they both get some EMMY and Golden Globe nominations,Plus Timbaland for producing the soundtrack!!!

  39. LeoMom76 says:

    You are a really good blog writer…I’m reading this on the edge of my seat and I watched the dang on show.

  40. kirads09 says:

    Wow they took pretty much everything and turned it on it’s head in this finale.
    If I HAD to pick a favorite moment of the incredible 2 hours, it would be Lucious and Jamal and “Nothing To Lose” at their old home. The sheer intensity was palpable through the TV almost!! Um – so exactly what did Rhonda and Dre do with poor Uncle Vern’s body and cleaning up the scene? They know a guy who knows a guy? Or do you think they set it up so he’ll be found and Lucious will be accused of that murder as well? Guess we have to wait for S2 – when does it start again? I’ll be counting the days. Kinda scared to see that Jamal may have the predisposition to go down the same dark path as Daddy Dearest.

  41. kirads09 says:

    I also loved “You use your indoor voice with Becky” to LUCIOUS LYON. Awesome. Becky and Porsche must form an alliance/partnership somehow. It would be a hoot at the very least.

  42. Sally McLinn says:

    Slezak, as always your recaps are more or equally entertaining to the shows themselves. :)

  43. Michael, you hit the nail on the head with your re-cap. There is just WAY TOO MUCH GOING ON in this series, I get wiplash trying to keep up! The acting is great, the music is great, it looks terrific… but the writing…oy! Characters are not consistent… they do what the writers need them to do, not what feels true. Example: Andre’s wife, Rhonda, leaves… then just comes back, no reason why… in time to clobber Vernon. Lucious telling Jamal “I’ve always really loved you…” Nope, not earned! Hakeem and Annika… um, nope. And were they having sex in public?! Again, nope. Didn’t feel REAL, even in the context of this crazy, over the top series.

    In fact, I missed 2 episodes and I just thought, eh, no reason to watch them because everything will have switched and switched back (Cookie loves Lucious, she hates him… no, wait, she really loves him… nope, she hates… wait, she…) by the time I tune in for the finale.

    I think its success comes down to TERAJI MOTHEREFFING P HENSON, who OWNS the show, and Jessie/Jamal a close second! I wish the writers would let things breathe a little, unfold a little more naturally. Right now, everything feels SO forced, and it’s hard to see where everything goes from here.

    With that said, so happy to see a series with people of color not only succeed but TROUNCE the competition!

  44. Tim says:

    Wow that was horrible. First 11 episodes were pretty good. That last 2 hours was a bomb. Very predictable and just all over the place. This show targets the young black generation and puts bad ideas into these kids heads. I know it’s just a show but it’s sorta real life between what I see everyday sad to say but who am I. But yes seems like writers were all over place and just threw all 11 good episodes away at end with this.

    • Annie says:

      What bad ideas? How is this show worse than Dexter, House, Breaking Bad, Weeds or Mad Men, the Sopranos or Revenge? These shows have many of the same themes and some that are a lot worse. Or is it that these themes are only an issue when the actors are white? By the way, Empire targets younger viewers period. Approximately 40% of the viewers are not black.

  45. uk-usa-tvaddict says:

    I think that I am out. This finale had everything that is high SOAP OPERA. We had the underhanded double dealing, the shady ally, the cat fit, accidental murder, a shocking arrest, pregnancy announcement, attempted murder, slightly incestuous sex and a miraculous reprieve from a near fatal illness. It was just too much! I have enjoyed the ride, good luck Empire for season 2.

  46. Christy says:

    I didn’t like the 1st hour — it felt too rushed and choppy.

  47. Adelele says:

    Disappointed with the finale. It was disjointed and some parts were contrived.
    ALS misdiagnosis… Really? That was sloppy writing
    Jamal running a multi national company? I don’t think so.
    Too much screeching for singing. Jennifer Hudson’s reedy voice should only be heard in small doses.
    I do not see the fascination with Jamal’s singing. He’s frankly not that good. None of them are.
    Too many OMG moments attempts will kill the show, just as it did Scandal. There’s no need to have one in every episode.

  48. What the dads real name again

  49. Ro says:

    Hilarious recap!

  50. shakerbilz says:

    best seasonal movie for me in 2015