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"Empire" Season Finale: "Hell Is Missing The Devil"

PREVIOUSLY, ON Empire.

Note - For our purposes, these recaps will focus mostly on Jamal's story.

Because this was a two-hour episode, we're just going to look at the highlights. I'm only one man.

Jamal is at a record signing, once again being filmed for posterity by Ryan (which explains the posterior shots). In a very sweet scene, Jamal is approached by a young man named Joe, who tells Jamal he was so inspired by Jamal's coming out he decided to come out himself. Jamal is stunned ... happily.

The giddiness of that moment is offset with Lucious, who is growing more nervous as the day of the IPO approaches, and he's frantically trying to make all of the preparations for his tribute concert, which will coincide with the IPO, as well as the release of Hakeem's debut album. Plus ... he's trying to write a new song for the concert, but is having trouble getting started. To top it off, he's experiencing a new side effect of the ALS - double vision, which confuses his nurse, as that's not usually associated with the disease. Hmm ...

But first things first, as he throws a pre-IPO party for the press, complete with a Snoop Dog performance (it's too bad Snoop dropped the "Snoop Lion", it would've made a nice tie-in). But he gets bad news when he's served with an injunction from Baretti, who owns the master tapes of the old Empire catalog, and is refusing to let Lucious perform those songs at the concert. Lucious wants to confer with Malcolm, but he's in The Berkshires for the weekend. Hmm ...

But hey, he can always count on Hakeem, right? He puts his youngest up on the party stage to perform, but Hakeem is still royally pissed that Lucious drove Camilla away, and lashes out ... the best way he knows how:

"That poor fool can't even keep his family together. The say that he's the king? Well I'm the prince. I'm going to run the Empire, and leave with your bitch. I'm gone."

Hakeem literally drops the mic, and walks off stage, but Lucious catches up and punches him to the floor. But Lucious' very bad day continues when he tries to find Cookie, and Porsha tells him "she's in the Berkshires." He puts it all together and realizes that Cookie and Malcolm are together, and When Cookie returns (after a weekend of hot sex by a roaring fire), she discovers that Lucious has kicked her out of Empire. She tries to protest, citing her place on the board of directors, but Lucious tells her "You were never on the board. Andre knew the day he made you that offer that a convicted felon can never serve on the board of a publicly traded company."

Lucious continues his descent to hell when Andre tells him he's leaving Empire to do church stuff, as Jennifer Hudson has taught him the healing power of gospel and it's finally brought him peace. Lucious responds by seducing her over to the dark side (the recording industry) by offering to let her record a gospel album with him. Andre now knows that Lucious will go to Faustian lengths to get what he wants.

So let's see ... so far we have Cookie, Hakeem, and Andre all pissed enough to go through with a "Who Shot J.R." scenario (or at least, a "Who Shot Mr. Burns" scenario), as Lucious has burned every bridge in his family.

Except Jamal. And this is where things take a surprising turn.

After seeing the great reviews of Jamal's album (which compare him to his own early days), Lucious approaches Jamal and tempts him with the implication that perhaps Jamal is ready to take over Empire, but he needs to know "you’ve got that monster in you that does what he has to do."

Jamal offers to help him with his writer's block if he promises to let Cookie back into Empire, and the two of them head back to where it all began. As they climb the steps of the dilapidated house, Lucious quips "Oh I get it, you want me to throw your ass in the trash can again?"

Actually no, Jamal has taken his dad back to provide inspiration for writing, and he succeeds, as the two of them manage to work exceedingly well together.

But Lucious still needs convincing that Jamal is ready to take over, and gives him the ultimate test. He needs to find a way to get the master tapes back from Baretti.

So Jamal does just that.

He heads over to Baretti's penthouse (where a party for Hakeem's defection is taking place), and drags Baretti to the balcony, where he dangles him over the side, threatening to drop him if he doesn't sign the master tapes back over to Empire. Baretti doesn't believe that Jamal will go through with it, until Jamal tells him "My daddy thinks I will. He think I'm a killer. I think he's right." By this time, Lucious has arrived and witnesses it all, and is ordered by Jamal to find Hakeem and get him out of there. That may be difficult, as Hakeem is a little ... busy. WHAT?

Oh, BTW ... LUCIOUS DOESN'T HAVE ALS. He was misdiagnosed, and while he does have a condition that is chronic, and will require treatment, it's not fatal. So that's that.

One of the side effects of the actual condition is insomnia, and apparently ... sleep confessing. After being heavily medicated, Lucious starts babbling in his sleep, just as Cookie enters the bedroom. She starts berating him for what he made Jamal do, then realizes he's knocked out ... and talking. As we see a vision of Bunky on the bed, Lucious says "No Bunky, don't ... you can't be here ... I killed you." He then gives Cookie a very helpful recap of everything we've seen so far, including "I'm not dying. I don't have ALS. This is going to be my comeback concert. I'm going to rise like the phoenix and come back from the dead like Jesus." So this medication causes him to channel Kanye West?

Cookie does the only thing a person can do in this situation.

She doesn't go through it with it, of course, and the next morning Jamal, Hakeem and Andre are summoned to the mansion, where Lucious presents them with gifts. For Hakeem, wings, so he can command the Empire jet fleet, and tour anywhere he wants. He apologizes for trying to come between him and Camilla. For Andre, a cross, so he can manage the Lyon Foundation, and have a 100 million dollars at his disposable. He apologizes for trying to seduce Jennifer Hudson to the dark side.

And for Jamal, THE LYON SCEPTER, FOR HE NOW IS KING! Andre and Hakeem are thrilled for him.

Cookie comes in, and Lucious announces the good news about his misdiagnosis. Plus he has a special gift for Cookie, too, and in the episode's funniest moment, Cookie open it to reveal ... a tiny pillow.

Jamal meets with Andre and Hakeem and promises them that even though he is totally in charge now of everything they do in the company, he's going to treat them right and not let it go to his head. But he really thinks Hakeem should push back his album release so it doesn't take the spotlight off Jamal's album.

Meanwhile, Cookie's reinstatement at Empire is short-lived when Lucious shows Jamal the security tape of her almost smothering him with the pillow. As she's escorted out by security, she tells Jamal that Lucious killed Bunky, but later she refuses to cooperate with the Feds when they inquire into Bunky's death.

Lucious holds a press conference to announce Jamal's promotion, but it's interrupted by Empire recording artist Black Rambo. Wait ... what? Black Rambo? Yes, and apparently he's pissed that a "Battyman" is leading the company, and every real MC will leave if they allow a "fairy" to run things.

Lucious holds a board meeting and wants to release a statement denouncing bigotry at the label and kicking Black Rambo off, but Andre doesn't think that's wise so close to the IPO, as it will alienate a large part of the Empire fanbase. Gee thanks, big brother! Jamal is insulted, but he another plan, anyway. He's going to meet Rambo on his level.

So Jamal wins the rap battle with Black Rambo, but considering how pedestrian and stupid Rambo's rap was, it wasn't hard to do.

And now we get to the moment we've been waiting since Episode One to see. Hakeem, Andre, Anika, and Cookie meet to discuss a hostile takeover of Empire, but first Cookie and Boo Boo Kitty have a few things to get off their chests.

With that out of their systems (and Anika did get in a "Who's Boo Boo Kiitty now, Bitch?"), the four of them team up to decide how to proceed. Anika knows someone who can give them half of the cash they need, if they promise to sign his untalented rapper grandson. They agree, but the hostile takeover may be tricky. The easiest way is to replace the CEO with a shill, and the easiest way to do that is for the CEO to somehow become embroiled in a ... scandal.

Cookie visits Jamal, and tells him that no matter what happens between her and Lucious, he should rememberthe one thing she's always told him - "I got you."

Vernon heads over to Andre to try to smooth things over, and they get into a fist-throwing, body slamming altercation (sadly, with no pool table), and Vernon has the upper hand until Rhonda comes in and slams his head with a candlestick. Diagnosis: Death.

Andre wants to call the police, but Rhonda is all 'But they'll be an investigation, and bad publicity, and oh yeah, I"M PREGNANT!"

The Lucious Lyon Tribute Concert gets underway, but first he meets with Jamal, and reveals his real name, "Dwight Walker," something Cookie doesn't even know. He created Lucious Lyon to be able to survive on the streets. He apologizes to Jamal for all of the nasty things he's done to him, and that he's proud of him. Jamal forgives him, and the two of them look well on their way to a healthy relationship.

RECORD SCRATCH

OOPS, spoke too soon. Just then the Feds rush in with a warrant for Lucious' arrest for the murder of Bunky. Lucious blames Cookie, who denies she had anything to do with it. But Jamal is pissed, and squarely in his father's corner. Lucious tells him to perform his song for him, and "kill it!"

Which he does, with help from Patti LaBelle.

As Lucious is carted away, and we see him in prison, we get a montage of Jamal being CEO, Andre and Rhonda getting an ultrasound, Anika producing Hakeem's recording, and Cookie being all luxurious in the mansion.

We end with a Lucious voiceover "You may think you've gotten away with it, but don't fool yourselves, this is only the beginning. The streets couldn't defeat me, disease couldn't stop me, even God couldn't kill me. The day will come when Lucious Lyon will return. Game time, bitches!"

So what did you think? I could have done without the "misdiagnosis." I thought Lucious dying was a crucial part of the storyline. I'm not sure how long Jamal's tenure will last, especially with his brothers gunning for him. There's a lot to look forward to in Season Two, but they did seem to pile on the last second twists and turns.

BLINK AND YOU'LL MISS IT MOMENT. Ryan and Jamal got busy on Lucious' desk.

COOKIE MOMENT OF THE WEEK. Be afraid. be very afraid.

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