Nothing to lose. That was the name of the song Jamal and Lucious collaborated on and that was also the overarching theme in Empire’s two-part season-one finale “Die But Once”/”Who I Am.”
On one hand, it seemed like Lucious had nothing to lose. He’d already lost Cookie to Malcolm, Anika to Baretti – and later Hakeem – and Andre, Jamal and Hakeem were all mad at him. But he did have something to lose. His dignity.
With the world against him, Lucious suffered one humiliation after another. First, Cookie and Malcolm ran away to a remote cabin in the woods for some steamy bump and grind. Then, Lucious found out when Porsha accidentally let it slip. Whoops! So he fired Cookie, Malcolm quit and the two broke up. But at least they ended their forbidden love affair on a high note. Hunty, that love scene was giving us life! There was even an oversized bearskin rug or two and a fire. A fire!
The other wonderful thing about Cookie’s firing was when she cursed out Lucious and called him a bitch. “Everybody’s just waiting for you to die,” she screamed. But Lucious was probably just taking out his anger on Cookie because Hakeem had embarrassed him in a freestyle rap with Snoop. And then Hakeem slept with Anika aka Boo Boo Kitty. Ugh! Gross! Who would’ve thought either of them would’ve stooped so low?
But Snoop’s song “Peaches and Cream” sounded great, huh?
Andre also wanted nothing to do with Lucious and instead chose Michelle (guest star Jennifer Hudson) and the church over his dad. He even told Lucious he would send him a message in hell in a fireproof container. Burn!
But Lucious later exacted his revenge on Andre by wooing Michelle with a record contract and breaking Andre’s heart. Dang. Back to Rhonda. That only left Jamal, who despite everything Lucious did to him, still helped his dad shake his writer’s block and pen the song “Nothing to Lose.” Lucious (or should we say Terrence Howard) even snuck in a “Hustle and Flow” reference with “Whoop that Trick.” Nice one.
You're not real if you didn't catch that Whoop THAT TRICK reference. #EmpireFOX
But that scene was not flawless. For instance, why were those same garbage cans at the house all those years later and why did Lucious threaten to throw Jamal in the trash can again? Insane.
Despite all of this, Jamal went HAM and got his dad’s master recordings back by dangling Beretti over the side of a building Suge Knight style. Oh. Jamal is gangster, huh? And just like that, Jamal was Lucious’ favorite son. He not only rose to the occasion and fought for his dad but he is a musical genius who collaborated with Lucious. That’s why Lucious made Jamal his successor. It’s also why Lucious told Jamal something he hadn’t told anyone else: his real name. He was born Dwight Walker and became Lucious Lyon. Whoa. While it was vindicating and long overdue seeing Lucious and Jamal make peace and bond, it also seemed like an obvious choice because Jamal is the only one who genuinely loves Lucious.
For instance, when Lucious learned that he doesn’t have ALS but Myasthenia Gravis or MG and isn’t dying, he laughed like the devil. More to the point, when he told his sons he wasn’t dying, Jamal was the only one who actually smiled about the news. Cookie also wasn’t smiling. She had tried to kill Lucious the night before when he let it slip during a sedative-induced haze that he killed Bunkie. But Lucious stopped her from suffocating him with a pillow and then the next morning, he gave her a little pillow as a mean spirited gift and fired her again.
Cookie givin "pillow talk" a new meaning...#EmpireFOX
The saddest part about Jamal and Lucious becoming close is that it ripped Jamal and Cookie apart. By the time the FBI came and took Lucious away in handcuffs – Cookie didn’t snitch. It was Vernon – Jamal gave up on Cookie completely. Speaking of Vernon, yeah, he’s dead. Rhonda accidentally killed him when he was fighting with Andre and Andre didn’t call the cops because Rhonda said she’s with child. That poor unborn baby. And poor Malik Yoba. Le sigh. It sure was good seeing you again, New York Undercover brother. We hope you get another gig really soon. So Vernon was the one who snitched to the FBI, not Cookie? Try telling Lucious and Jamal that. They think Cookie rolled over. But as we know, the only rolling over Cookie did was when she beat up Boo Boo Kitty like they were in a musty old motorcycle bar. Fans, meanwhile, couldn’t have been happier – bad stunt doubles and all.
Fans however were not happy with that dude Black Rambo. Sure, Jamal put him in his place during their battle but Black Rambo’s rap style was crunchy and weak.
With so many intense and humorous moments in the season-one finale, what was your favorite scene and are you bummed season two isn’t slated to return until 2016? Weigh in below.