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Mid-season Review: Empire season 2 (Part 1) #Empire #EmpireSeason2

Empire 42By Tre’ Smith
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

In the “Empire” season finale, Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) learned what Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) taught Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) and Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf). The lesson is money never sleeps. It was one Lucious learned the hard way.

Taking “Empire” public on the New York Stock Exchange saw Lucious face all kinds of problems. For a couple of months, Lucious paid for his crime of killing Bunkie. If it’s up to Roxanne Ford (Tyra Ferrell), he will soon be paying in a much bigger capacity.

Dynamics changed during the first half of “Empire” season two, as Lucious turned to Jamal (Jussie Smollett). The two have forged a true relationship and have become best friends, leaving Andre (Trai Byers) and Hakeem (Bryshere “Yazz” Gray) the odd men out. Both plotted against Lucious to take “Empire” from him, bringing Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei) in.

Hakeem’s separation from Lucious came with a blessing, as he and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) are forming a true relationship as mother and son. In response to Lucious blocking the hostile takeover, Cookie and Hakeem formed their own label, Lyon Dynasty, with Valentina (Becky G) as the label star. As the label began to grow, Lucious took over the radio market, including Sway’s show, and signed Valentina to Empire.

While Andre slowly got himself back into Lucious’ good graces, revealing he and Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) killed Vernon (Malik Yoba) and revealing they are expecting, Hakeem grew to truly hate Lucious. However, Lucious hasn’t given up on his son, despite choosing Jamal and Freda Gatz (Bre-Z) over him. Lucious would soon learn he did underestimate Hakeem’s hatred of him.

Each character on “Empire” found themselves in a new situation, with prison being that for Lucious. But, being a gangster at heart, it allowed Lucious to reinvent himself and he met Thirsty (Andre Royo) through the situation. It was with his help that he got Officer McKnight (Ludacris) and Roxanne Ford off his back, of course Andre and Rhonda also helped out with this.

Andre and Rhonda were the schemers who set a lot of what defined season one into motion. However, Andre began a walk closer to God following his heinous actions and he did his best to make amends. While the rest of the family forgave him, even leading to Jamal and Hakeem making amends, Andre had to dig up a dead body to win Lucious back and he was given a label in return for his hard work.

Lucious is responsible for a couple of dead bodies, most recently Frank Gathers (Chris Rock). Getting Cookie out of a jam, Lucious had Frank killed and then he decided to sign his daughter, Freda Gatz, to Gutter Life, a subsidiary of his company, Empire. The Gutter Life label, stocked full of street and hardcore artists is headed by Andre and he is running the company based on morals and faith.

Slowly, Lucious and Andre are beginning to bump heads, but the elder Lyon has dealt with much more. Through flashbacks with his mother (portrayed by Kelly Rowland), the audience learned why Lucious is the way he is. His disdain for Andre comes from his mother also suffering from mental illness and this led to his mother’s eventual suicide, the inspiration for his and Freda Gatz’ “Boom Boom Boom Boom” single.

Back focused on music, Lucious is molding Jamal in his image and he recently landed a Pepsi endorsement. In addition to this, Jamal overcame infidelity, as Michael (Rafael de la Fuente) pressured him about Chase One (Adam Busch) coming on to him, only for Michael to cheat with him. This issue came right before Jamal’s decision to focus more on music, outside of the gay element, and this likely pushed him into the arms of Skye Summers (Alicia Keys).

With his most-talented son now focused on a woman and his eldest son giving him a grandchild, Lucious is on top of the world, but Hakeem is not falling in line. Hakeem’s hatred of Lucious is only growing, as he snaked Valentina in more ways than one, blocked Lyon Dynasty, and constantly insults him. A lot was said about this pushing Hakeem closer to Cookie, but it also threw him into Anika’s (Grace Gealey) orbit.

During the “Empire” season one finale, Hakeem and Anika had revenge sex and it apparently continued into season two. In spite of Anika telling Lucious that Hakeem was not her type, she found herself falling for him, especially after she discovered she was carrying his child. Despite moving on with Laura (Jamila Velazquez), Hakeem ended up having sex with Anika after he was kidnapped.

As Andre focused on doing the right thing, as he is building a family, he invited the whole family to church. For a brief period, even Lucious did right by his son and attended church with no drama. It was after the service that the family truly mended fences, particularly Jamal and Cookie, but Hakeem would get kidnapped by an organization that ended up being the same crew Laz (Adam Rodriguez) was working with to extort Cookie.

Seeing how she built Empire on her own, Cookie decided to start another company when she realized Lucious would never give up. After using Anika to build Lyon Dynasty, Cookie got rid of her and it apparently caused a downward spiral for her. Karma caught up to Cookie when Laz was revealed to be in on the extortion plot and originally only with Cookie as her lover to do an inside job.

Once again, Lucious came to Cookie’s rescue and he was dressed clean for Jamal’s Pepsi deal announcement. In the end, it seems Anika’s only true support came from Rhonda and Andre, by extension. During the last episode, Andre commented on how he and Rhonda should invite Anika to church with them, seeing how badly his family treated her, with Hakeem blowing her off for Laura, with whom Anika stalked and insulted.

Ultimately, all of the season two drama on “Empire” paled in comparison to the final episode. Lucious teamed up with Mimi early on to keep “Empire” and soon he was throwing wild threesomes with the open lesbian. Their trust was soon betrayed, seemingly for no reason and Lucious should have seen it coming when Mimi revealed Camilla Marks (Naomi Campbell) was her wife. Of course, she has an ax to grind with Lucious.

Camilla wanted revenge on Lucious for forcing her out of Hakeem’s life, also the main reason Hakeem hates his father. Forced to move on, Hakeem moved on with Anika, Valentina, and Laura, the latter of which he says he is in love with. This troubled Anika, who informed Laura of Camilla out of jealousy about their relationship and soon another milf was visiting Hakeem.

Lucious’ trust of Mimi would cost him, as he went after SwiftStream without permission from the board. As he detailed his plans, Mimi recorded him as he ranted about firing board members and called a special vote to remove him as head of Empire. Meanwhile, Cookie has had to deal with her sister drama, as Candace (Vivica A. Fox) returned with news of Carol (Tasha Smith) relapsing.

Cookie needed a bailout and turned to Pepper (Rosie O’Donnell) her former cell-mate who helped her find Carol. Her price was for Cookie to do her concert in the prison, which made her unable to aid Lucious in his quest to keep his company. Giving Hakeem her proxy meant the youngest Lyon had two votes and he also has Camilla in his ear, like old times, as she told him her marriage to Mimi is not what it looks like.

When it came down to it, Lucious needed Hakeem’s two votes to retain Empire, but his hatred would not allow him to do it. Hakeem had a flashback of moments of Lucious’ abuse and voted to remove him as CEO and previews showed that Camilla and Mimi used their control to put him in charge. Meanwhile, Jamal is wrestling with his feelings for Skye, as Jamal has seemingly gone straight for her.

All of this and only half of the season is over, so there is no telling what is to come in March.

Watch the “Empire” preview below:

Follow Tre’ Smith on Twitter @MicrowaveNC.

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