Roughly 15 minutes into Empire‘s Season 3 finale on Wednesday it’s revealed that Andre and Shyne are planning to murder Lucious not with a bullet but with a bomb. What’s more, the I.E.D. is slated to be detonated outside of an event space (in this case a casino) following a musical performance. The eerie and, of course, unintended parallel to this week’s horrific terror attack in Manchester was impossible to ignore, and it remained so as the episode built to the inevitable, explosive climax. Should Fox have pulled — or at the very least tweaked — the episode in light of recent events? I don’t have the answer to that. But I do know it was challenging to escape into the fictitious, heightened world of Empire when the episode’s central threat involved a bomb going off outside of a concert venue.
I’m curious to hear if anyone else had a similar experience while watching the episode. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. In the meantime, let’s rewind to the start of the hour…
Luscious ‘copter’d off to Vegas with Giuliana for the launch of Leviticus Resort & Casino, but made sure to keep his mother — fresh off of murdering Tariq — heavily guarded back at the Lyon Estate, just in case she has another “episode.” The captive life is not sitting well with her though. “I’m not having an episode,” she scolds her son, before reminding him, “I put steel in the skull of your enemy.”
Crazy Leah then makes eye contact with Corpse Tariq and alerts her security detail, “It’s not sanitary to keep that in here.” (Side note: How much fun is Leslie Uggams having with this role?)
We quickly learn that there’s a method to Mama L’s madness when she invites Anika over to the house to retrieve her mail and, more importantly, smear her fingerprints all over the nearby letter opener (aka the murder weapon). Next thing you know Boo Boo K is getting framed for Tariq’s murder.
Prior to Anika’s arrest, Hakeem — who suspects his baby mama may know more about their daughter Bella’s whereabouts than she’s been letting on — follows her right into the vestibule of the Dubois Estate. His suspicions prove spot-on when he spots Bella on the premises. Yep, Anika’s known for (presumably) some time that little Bella has been in the unlawful care of vengenance-fueled baby-napper Diana. Hakeem’s pissed, but he’s mostly just relieved Bella’s A-OK. Diana promises Bella will remain “safe and sound” if and only if he does her bidding (i.e. helps her take down his family). He seems shockingly cool with this arrangement.
Even more shocking? When Hakeem informs the rest of his family that Bella has been found not a single one of them — not Cookie, not Lucious, not Jamal — press him about where the hell she’s been all this time. It all feels very rushed.
The episode’s big twist arrives at the midway point when Lucious announces to Giuliana — with Cookie looking on — that he’s been using her all along. He needed her help getting through Vegas’ front door but, now that he’s inside, he’s cutting her out of the whole equation. He dumps her on the spot, professes his love for Cookie and then surprises his soul mate half with orchestra seats to the opening of When Cookie Met Lucious.
Cookie’s beside herself with joy, so much so that she nearly forgets all about her and Andre’s plan to disrupt Lucious’ big night by inciting a riot inside the concert venue. She orders Shyne to “call off your boys” just in the nick of time. Of course, Cookie doesn’t know the side deal Shyne and Andre hatched to murder Lucious. Speaking of which…
Andre later experiences his own change of heart when Daddy Dearest announces that he and Cookie are essentially retiring from the business to travel the globe and they’re giving their eldest son the “keys to the kingdom —literally.” It’s everything Andre always wanted, so, naturally, he orders Shyne to drop the bomb plot. But Shyne refuses. “You started it,” he shouts. “I’m going to finish it.”
Cut to Andre racing to the front of the casino to get Lucious and Cookie out of harm’s way before their car explodes… but he’s (sorta) too late. Cookie’s escapes injury but Lucious is critically injured. And, after jumping forward three months, we learn than he remains in a coma under the care of a very hands-on nurse that looks a lot like Demi Moore (because it is Demi Moore). In the closing seconds, Lucious wakes up and pretty much declares, “I’ve got amnesia, y’all!”
* A very married Charlotte is aghast when Andre informs her that he recorded them getting it on and plans to use it as a weapon of mass extortion.
* Diana has dispatched another, heretofore unseen son of hers (also Taye Diggs-level hot) to woo Jamal, all part of her Lyon Takedown plan.
* What was the deal with Moore’s nurse? And why didn’t Cookie and the rest of the family have more of a reaction when she proceeded to go to first base with him while he was asleep? And why isn’t she “at liberty” to disclose his test results? Until Season 4…