Empire has returned to FOX and it’s crazier than ever. Hey. How about those Lyons? How dysfunctional can a family actually be? Pretty damn dysfunctional.
The premiere was jam packed with a ton of twists and turns. The biggest moment came in the first 5 minutes. Yes. Empire went there. They killed off a major character. I’m going to bullet point major talking points then ya’ll can go ahead and discuss in comments.
- Season 2 ended with a cliffhanger: After realizing it was Anika who pushed her down the stairs and killed her baby, Rhonda attacked her on the balcony, grabbing her by the throat. The two hung precariously over the balcony as they fought. Andre rushed out screaming. Did someone fall over the balcony? YEP. RHONDA IS DEAD. It happens in the first few minutes of the episode. She falls off the balcony, landing on top of a fancy car parked in front of the fancy club where Anika married Lucious and Hakeem stormed off after HIS frightened bride left him at the alter.
- Anika flips out as Andre begins strangling her, and her water breaks. She is rushed to the hospital and has Hakeem’s baby….wait for it…daughter. She lied about carrying a boy. Lucious is not happy. But he gets over it after he cuddles her in his arms. Oh that’s right–while Hakeem was off getting drunk, grandpa stepped in to help deliver the baby AND put his name on the birth certificate as the baby daddy. Her name is Belle.
- The sweet nothings Lucious whispered in Anika as she delivered: Instructions–delivered as a threat–on what to tell the cops. Rhonda jumped and tried to take Anika with her. The cops swallow it.
- Lucious’ fellow music moguls have no interest in making deals to stream their music on his new xStream service. It’s readily apparent to them Empire is about to come crashing down. Or so they think.
- Cookie remains super bitter that Lucious married Anika.
- Luscious’ childhood “buddy” Shine, who crashed Hakim’s wedding, resulting in his bride running off, crashes his studio session. He beats the crap out of the producer (Lucious lets him!) and takes over production of his album. Part of the deal: A collaboration with his niece, Nessa, who needs a record deal. If Lucious doesn’t play along, he’ll tip off Tariq, the fed determined to take his half-brother down. No wonder Lucious is so screwed up: He learned Tariq was really his half brother when he watched his father be gunned down by the man who was cuckolded.
- If the feds figure out Anika and Lucious’ marriage is fake, she’ll be compelled to testify against Lucious. So, they move her into Chez Lyon. Crazy mama lives in the house too. “I don’t know why my son married you…you’re as trust worthy as a snake,” says Mama, wielding a butcher knife at Anika. Gulp.
- Tariq is staking out Chez Lyon. Lucious invites him to dinner. BIG MISTAKE. A ton of shade is thrown. When Tariq verbally attacks Cookie Jamal wants to go after him. Of course, Cookie can take care of herself. Verbally sparring with the queen is always a mistake. Tariq thinks he can manipulate the family into turning on each other. Lucious tries to bribe Tarique. Nope on both.
- Speaking of Jamal. He’s still hurting from Freda’s gunshot wound. Lucious asks him to perform at the streaming service launch and Jamal decides to use the performance to make a statement about gun violence. Key lyric: Free Freda. Part of Nessa’s deal is to sing back-ups and the bridge on “Freedom.” During the performance, Jamal has a PSTD flashback and leaves the stage. Nessa takes over the song and kills it. Lucious is furious–her triumph gives Shine even more leverage over the family. Lucious and Jamal have one of their regularly scheduled blowouts. Constantly guzzling pain pills. I see a struggle with addiction in Jamal’s future.
- Big flash back to the Philly hood. When Cookie met Lucious! She says she wants to separate, but she still has a thing for him.
- Andre, without the love of his life Rhonda, is a complete mess. He’s lost his faith…and he’s losing his mind. He hallucinates Rhonda in the room, chastising him for “letting that bitch murder me.” Without Rhonda to take care of him, he can’t cope. And he’s totally guilt ridden about blowing off her suspicions about Anika.
- Oh. When Tariq came to dinner….he planted a bug in the house. Like I said–BIG MISTAKE.