TV Review: “Empire” – Family Affair

Written by Samah Ali March 28, 2015

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It was the end of an empire on Wednesday night. Lee Daniel’s finished his notorious and juicy success, “Empire”, with a double feature of back-to-back episodes with “Die But Once” and “Who Am I”, leaving the next six months a painful deprivation of luscious R&B songs and terrible rap tracks.

In the two-part finale, “Empire” resolved minor plot developments: the relationship between Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) and Malcolm (Derek Luke); Andre Lyon (Trai Byers) fighting with his new, religious sidepiece Michelle (Jennifer Hudson) after Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) offered her a job; and Hakeen Lyon (Bryshere Y. Gray) continuing to complain about Camilla (Naomi Campbell). The real drama began after Lucious announced which son – Jamal (Jussie Smollett), Andre or Hakeem – would take the record company. The show was a compilation of betrayals after that, including a hostile takeover of Empire.

“Everybody’s just waiting for you to die, Lucious.”

Flashbacks, memories and dreams were relived, and reflected the rise and fall of the major characters. The anti-hero, Lucious – from gangster to record mogul – he dodged the bullet of death with the misdiagnoses of ALS. Andre: the beloved scholar whose bipolar episodes got the best of him. Jamal is the incredibly talented R&B singer who finally proved himself to Lucious as an artist, not a sissy. Hakeem: the Daddy’s boy turned hater, as he rapped his way from his father’s apprentice to his father’s enemy. And the favorite, Cookie, an innocent convict with the wicked tongue, finally got over her fantasy of a happy family including Lucious and realized he was the poison that kept them apart.

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The backstabbing in this family has never been so ruthless. Lucious is still in love with Cookie and he expects her to come back after his lying and deceit with his ex-fiancée Anika (Grace Gealey). Andre and his wife are fighting and the blood of Vernon on their hands doesn’t look good for their future…or for Andre’s supposed faith. Jamal won’t be able to run a company with his passive attitude and play-nice mentality. And the apple does not fall far from the tree since Hakeem mirrors the same callous decisions of his father. The set up for the second season of “Empire” is layered with questions. and can only lead to speculations as to what will happen next season and who will come back. Lee Daniels, what have you done?

“I’m inviting you to be there personally so you can witness as Empire becomes synonymous with American culture.”

With all the drama consisting in that limitless time slot, the amount of guests featured in the finale was impressive. Snoop Dogg, Rita Ora, Patti LaBelle and Jennifer Hudson flexed their musical talents with performances in the show and soundtrack. “Empire” is truly an empire, the ultimate marketing plan for a show. Not only is it a television series about music, but also the sound branches beyond the screen as Smollett picked up a recording contract after the world win of a season. Who knows, maybe Jennifer Hudson will become a main character and redeem her acting after “Smashed” was cancelled.

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“Empire” has become Fox’s runaway hit featuring a star-studded Black cast with a predominantly Black production team and reflects the intense environment behind a family-run record label. Lucious Lyon is a music label tyrant. Lucious Lyon is also a felon. Season Two of “Empire” has a lot to live up to after a massive season, and every second until the premiere will be another moment for the empire to rise again.

 My Rating: 9/10

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About Samah Ali

Samah Ali

With a deep admiration for film, television, and music, Samah spends most of her free time expressing and sharing her love for the arts. Studying Creative Writing at Western University, she enjoys writing about film & music and shapes her passions with the latest movie or album available.

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