TV Review: ‘Empire’ Season 2 Finale

Chuck Hodes/FOX

We’ve finally reached the end folks. Previous season coverage can be found here. Mind you, there’s a new upcoming season this fall, but for now we get the break we deserve. After a long, endless season the climax has finally been bestowed upon us and it was a doozy, to say the least.

Last week’s episode left us on a cliffhanger annoying enough to kick Empire down by 42% since season one’s finale, but an estimated 10.2 million people still tuned in to watch the different plot lines unfold and decidedly, re-fold.

In “Past is Prologue,” the women on Empire strut, leap and walk away from the Lyon men. That’s not to say that Anika, pregnant with Lucious’s grandchild, didn’t have the last laugh (in my humble opinion, she’s just going to be even more miserable from here on out).

But first things first: Jamal did not die. In fact, Jussie’s tweet was a ploy to engage more viewers. I had a feeling it was but, to be quite honest, this is another nail in the coffin for Empire. Lately it seems as though the lack of participating viewers has instilled a sense of fear into the Empire staff, and it shows.

The Season 2 finale was far less applause-worthy as it’s counterpart–the Season 1 finale, where nothing was predictable, the acting was on point, the characters were believable and every line was quote worthy and most importantly, written with purpose.

I’m all for the vengeful, ready-for-pay-back Rhonda as the next person, but what the cliffhanger this episode left us with is not an enjoyable, anticipatory one to sit on. The end of the episode sees Rhonda and Anika on the ledge of a balcony, no one to pull them apart, and a pregnant, now married (she and Lucious were the ones to actually tie the knot this episode) Anika being punched in the face. Someone falls off the balcony.

Apparently, only one lives to see next season.

All signals point to Rhonda, despite what the cut-to-black would want audience members to believe. As much as I would rather see Rhonda make it to next season (all things considered), the future of Empire rests in Anika. Literally. The drama of Season 3 cannot go on without Anika. (This is not what I meant when I said I wanted Anika to be treated better). Also, ending the episode like this was the least creative thing Empire has ever done.

Although the writers have dug a huge hole for Anika since the beginning of the season, and I don’t feel compelled to watch the writers toy with her anymore, the death of Rhonda would beg the question: How would Andre react?

During the course of this episode, Rhonda made it a point to tell Andre to step off until he can bulk up and defend her. What does this mean for Andre’s stability? How will he cope?

Speaking of stability: Laura leaves Hakeem at the altar, funnily enough. Well, not so funny but entirely predictable. It all blows up in Hakeem’s face due to his father’s past making a reappearance. Lucious’ new sidekick Shine, a washed up rapper who knew Lucious back in the day, is introduced– (Season 3 drama here we come). Anika revealed she had been brought into questioning, which not only leads to an abrupt end to Hakeem and Laura’s wedding day but also leads to a quickie wedding, a la Lucious’ brilliant idea to keep Anika’s mouth shut (although he needn’t worry about that). Cookie’s devastated by Anika and Lucious’ nuptials, and another powerful performance by Taraji P. Henson was born.

Also, apparently Tariq (The Freak and The Fed) is Lucious’ half-brother. It’s like they think we needed to add another Lyon to the mix.

I expect an even larger drop in ratings next season. We started out so well.

Season finale: 5/10

Season 2: 7.5/10

Brooke Pawling Stennett is a college student pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism and Creative Non-Fiction in the old Windy City. She tends to lean toward the obsessive side of the tracks when it comes to books and music. She's an avid concert attendee (or at least she tries to!) and rambler. She'd like to travel the world and write about it, but in the only ways she knows how: sarcastically and full of internet jargon. Her opinions are her best ones, especially if they involve boy-bands and Netflix. . .even though she doesn't even have her own account. You can tweet her at @br_stennett and tell her how ridiculous (and totally great!) her opinions are.