Empire: Die But Once & Who I am

Season 1, Episodes 11 & 12 [Die but once & who i am]

SORRY FOR MY LONG OVERDUE POST YET AGAIN. (Maaan, will I ever kick this procrastination bug?) I had this all typed out on my computer but just kept stalling posting it…

The first ever 10 episodes of Empire has been loud, vibrant and all packed with dynamite surprises. Makes me wonder how they can top each episode after the next. It’s amazing. Let’s just hope this tune they’re playing doesn’t become old or run off key in season 2 after this especially thrilling season which ended in such a high with this 2-part season finale which I am about to sink into…

Die But Once

Double Vision

In the beginning of the episode, we see Lucious trying to compose a new song but he gets double vision, freaking out about how he needs Cookie to help with his writers block. He stumbles around Empire trying to find Cookie… Porsha slips and tells him that Cookie is at the Berkshires… Lucious might have been having double vision, but man he saw this clearly and got to the conclusion quick… that Cookie is with Malcolm (who he was just told of is at the Berkshires as well).

This leads Lucious to kicking Cookie out of Empire when she gets back… “You think you still own me?” That was uncalled for. Cookie has done nothing but helped him… he even MOVED ON with ANIKA, as far as to PROPOSING to her while Cookie was doing time for him. And when she moves on? He takes everything she deserved away from her. He’s a narcissistic bitter man who must always get his way, he doesn’t deserve Cookie from that display. I mean, HOW MANY TIMES has he said that he’s God in this season alone? Heck, in ONE episode?

The Lyon Pull

With Lucious being her first love, her first husband, the father of her children… the MAN she did 17 years of jail time for! It shows how Cookie will always have a soft spot for Lucious… even after Jamal told her that he’s a man that cannot be loved.

So, it was a pleasant surprise to see Cookie taking the fast lane to Malcolm town (he works out!) on her journey to moving on, showing her vulnerability (telling Malcolm that he’s the 2nd man she will have ever been with) because she deserves better! She’s not perfect but she has sacrificed a lot for her mostly ungrateful family.

Release of Baby Lyons

Jamal releases his album which becomes a monster hit! Gaining much praise and is even compared to Lucious. Not only that, he also becomes an inspiration to all the closeted and fearful people out there, making him that much more relatable and opening up new demographic to his music. I’ve been rooting for Jamal with Cookie, so it’s a glorious moment to see Jamal making it on his own.

However, it may seem that the fame is getting to Jamal’s brain and ego quick… after an intense jam session he had with Lucious – just him on the Piano and Lucious on the guitar… (it was a rockstar moment when we finally see this father and son duo bond… where Lucious shows his vulnerable side to Jamal and finally sees how Jamal can be as powerful as him without prejudice) Lucious indirectly enlists Jamal to get the rights to his songs from Beretti… this baby Lyon is tame no more and released from his cage after being told to release his inner beast as survival, what does he do? HE HOLDS BERETTI OFF THE BALCONY OF A BUILDING, THREATENING TO DROP HIM IF HE DOESN’T HAND THE RIGHTS OVER. This was that defining point… that point that shows the lengths for Jamal would go to gain his father’s approval… is it a point of no return? Has he stoop to Lucious’ scrupulous ways and can’t turn back from this? We can only hope Cookie or someone can pull Jamal back from crossing that line. This may be what Lucious had to do to survive, but does Lucious really need to subject his sons to this life if it can be avoided?

While Jamal is busy gaining Lucious’s approval, Hakeem is busy trying to hurt him in every possible way. Whether it was rapping smack about Lucious or having sex with Anika… it seems Hakeem’s anger towards his dad runs deeper than just Camilla when he tells Jamal that he’s considering signing with Creedmoor.

As for Andre? NO, I did not forget about you big guy! It seems that he’s released from Lucious and Empire’s dark and manipulative grips, finding a new path in religion with the help of Michelle. Where is Rhonda in this life altering decision of Andre’s? We see in part 2 of this finale…

Die Another Day

At the end of this episode, Lucious’ doctor reveals that double vision is not a symptom of ALS… and that he actually only has a very curable illness which symptoms seems like ALS. He laughs at this revelation… think about it, all the bridges he’s burnt, the damage he’s done to his family, the lives he has ruined… he did all that thinking he was going to die without further retribution. Karma at its best! Now he HAS to live with all the consequences. Coming in to this show, I had a hunch something like that would happen. I mean, Lucious is the core of this show, surely he wouldn’t die THAT soon! However, I thought his illness would be prolonged, not misdiagnosed! I guess keeping him alive with the damage he’s done is a more fitting and torturous punishment than just taking his life. Death just played a joke on you, Lucious. This is KARMA, it’s not you being God.

Did anyone find that moment where Lucious was hallucinating Bunkie hauntingly good? That was such a ‘ghost of Christmas past’ feel done well. After Cookie learns that Lucious killed her cousin – Bunkie, I guess that’s the moment where she decided she can’t love this man anymore… the man who has done many wrongdoings that claims it’s for his family… but now that she finds out he’s taken the life of a family? There’s nothing of him he can love anymore. She holds a pillow over his face…

Who I am

New King Lyon of Jungle Empire

Lucious shares his good news that no one seems genuinely happy to hear about. With the news, he has Gifts for everyone of the family! And we’re treated with flashbacks of the relationship between each son with Lucious. This gives chills. It’s amazing how the writers have us invested in each of the Lyons’ character already (from 10 EPISODES!) as they all have such rich background and personality that even these flashbacks are impactful, showing how Lucious was to his sons and how he wish to change those dynamics was a powerful juxtaposition.

And the story of this episodes is that BEHOLD, Jamal gets a cane… which symbolizes that he gets Empire! I guess Lucious finally could see Jamal’s potential without prejudice clouding his judgement. Jamal deserves it as much if not more than his brothers… I mean, look at the way he handled Black Rambo? With a RAP OFF, beating Black Rambo at his own game and gaining that much more respect!  Faggot you say? Fag GOT it! He even found success on its own, without Lucious’ blood money! Still, after all he’s done to pit his sons against each other, I was shock at this move because I thought that he would do the right thing – give Empire to all three of his sons to co-run! Has Lucious not done enough to destroy his family?

Jamal seems quick to defend Lucious when Hakeem question Lucious’ stepping down… is it because Lucious gave him Empire? Or that he finally has Lucious’ approval? Either way, this seems to refuel Jamal’s love and faith for his dad… even when Cookie tells him that Lucious was the one who killed Bunkie after Lucious shares a surveillance footage of Cookie trying to kill him with a pillow, he remained by Lucious’ side.

After all they have been through, I’m astounded that Hakeem can’t be happy for Jamal… he is hella pissed that he didn’t get Empire and it seems will do anything to reclaim Empire as his own. Andre seemed sincerely content and happy for Jamal… until Jamal doesn’t take his business advice and Rhonda diminishes his ego. I thought Rhonda has forgotten her ambitious agendas in the pursuit for happiness? I guess I was wrong. This pushes Andre to team up with Hakeem on his plan of a hostile takeover… with Cookie and Anika. YES, of course Cookie and Anika were hesitant on working together at first… hesitant enough to breakout a catfight! OH YES, there was alcohol face splashing, face slapping, pool table pin downs and let’s not forget, disturbed pearls! But they finally agreed to work together in the spirit of their mutual hatred for Lucious.

Anika I get, but doesn’t this hostile takeover mean taking down Jamal as well? You always say you got him… how is taking over Empire with hostility having Jamal’s back, Cookie? I also can’t believe Cookie said that Lucious should’ve given Empire to Hakeem and Jamal… are you forgetting your FIRST SON? Team Hostile takeover might be saying that they’re doing this to take down Lucious, but don’t tell me they not aware that Jamal will be caught in this crossfire. HELL, Lucious might even just use him as human shield! And if this hostile takeover is successful, does it mean that both Andre and Hakeem will run Empire… TOGETHER? Will they be content with sharing?

You’re No God

“Even God can’t kill me.”

But the Feds can. Cookie is pulled in by the feds again who are building a case against Lucious and would like Cookie’s testimony. Cookie keeps her mouth shut; she doesn’t want to be the rat. I guess even if Lucious killed Bunkie… even if she wants revenge against him badly… she’s still loyal and wouldn’t want to put the father of her children away.

The  Lucious Lyon Sound starts without a hitch! With Jennifer Hudson (as Michelle), Jim Beanz (as Titan) and Patti LaBelle (as herself) performing Lucious’ greatest hits, not forgetting Jamal and Hakeem. Before Lucious was suppose to go on stage, he has a naked moment with Jamal… he shares that his given name is Dwight Walker (which not even Cookie knows), that he was an orphan. He also further apologizes to Jamal.

Perhaps Lucious truly is trying to repair his relationships with his family after what he has done, but we will never know now that hatred and anger has filled his heart again, having been arrested for Bunkie’s murder. It’s about time Karma kicked in! I guess it was accumulating it all for a big pay day? Lucious calls Cookie the rat and now Jamal thinks she snitched too… Could you blame her if she did? Hakeem and Andre didn’t seem that shaken up by his arrest… they seemed… satisfied. The feds mentioned that VERNON is the star witness. I guess Vernon couldn’t look the other way for long, but it looks like this arrest isn’t going to hold up for long then…

That White Girl

Rhonda has done a lot… she might have been the drive behind Andre’s ambition and manipulative ways… but you cannot say that she doesn’t loves Andre. Afterall, she was the one person who stood by him through his bipolar disorder and all his hardship in Empire when all the other people he calls family didn’t. Just when Andre seems to have found happiness and be content with what he’s got… he has to be tied to a murder! Rhonda might have been scared especially now that she’s pregnant, they have more to lose… but they should have called the police! They have nothing to hide! It WAS self-defence (it’s always a candlestick with these cases isn’t it). Don’t they know by now, these secrets have a way of coming out!

 

Final Thoughts

I would’ve condensed my recap/review… but every minute of the 2-episode finale was riveting and significant going into season 2, that it’s hard to cut anything out!

The writers sure did good, having leave soo many strong stories hanging; also showing how each decision a character makes consequently affects the people around them, allowing us to identify with them much more. Hostile takeover, Vernon’s death, Cookie’s endangered relationship with Jamal… and of course, Lucious’ arrest! This show has gone beyond showing how fame and wealth can destroy a family, it ties in with family values and making life-altering decisions, from love to loyalty to doing everything to protect your family. I can’t wait to see how each wrongdoing will unravel each character and if they can stray from the wrong and make the right decisions.

So what are your thoughts about this finale? Did you wish there was more of Porsha? What was your favourite musical moment? There were many powerhouse guest stars but my favourite HAS to be the jam session between Lucious and Jamal!!!

Which story arc are you most anxious about? Frankly, I am most anxious about the relationship between Cookie and Jamal…

Can you not wait for Season 2? NEITHER CAN I.

No apologies,
Sum.

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