Empire's penultimate episode ended with a bang Wednesday night, as hip-hop mogul Lucious Lyon squared away his plans for Empire Entertainment's IPO and attempted to do the same in his personal life.
"God didn’t need no help," Lucious tells Camilla when he threatens her in his office. "And neither do I."
Here’s a look at how the Lyon family dealt with the "Sins of the Father" and how the stage is set for next week's show-stopping two-hour finale.
The Empire head honcho continued to try and control his company and everyone in it this week, from shooting down Jamal’s plans for fatherhood to paying Camilla (Naomi Campbell) to leave Hakeem and the country, to a too-little-too-late declaration to Cookie.
"You don’t care about nothing but yourself," his ex rebuffs him when he tells her he wants her back in his life, personally and professionally (and cheated his sons’ shares in the company to do so). "Everything you touch, you destroy. Look at what you did to my sons."
Even his so-called sacrifice at the end was somewhat selfish, telling Olivia’s murderous ex Reg that he was the father of little Lola did nothing to prevent the man’s violent actions and arguably served to splinter his family even further.
"You just don’t want to die alone," Cookie tells him, hinting at the rapidly approaching possibility.
Like Lucious, Cookie doesn’t know what to make of Andre’s bipolar diagnosis, but unlike her hard-headed ex, she almost immediately breaks down and apologizes to her oldest son for not being there for him. She continues to put her family first, when Lucious makes her head of A&R and tells her she can have whatever she wants, her response is immediate: "I want you to be a better father."
Aside from her family drama, Cookie was also dealing with her budding relationship with Malcolm this week, ultimately choosing him over her ex at episode’s end when she asks the head of security to take her away after rejecting Lucious’ offer to share his life and company once again.
The eldest Lyon son was in a dark place this week, despite getting the mental help he needs and his plans for the company’s IPO finally coming to fruition. Lucious’ rejection of his eldest son and his disorder, both in the flashbacks and in the present day, has made Andre despondent. He returns to Empire at the end of the episode, but not even little Lola could bring a real smile to his face.
The middle Lyon son was prepared to take over his fatherly responsibilities this week, even against the wishes of new flame Ryan, before Olivia returned, bringing with her the news that Jamal was likely not the little girl’s father. Lola’s departure should have been a relief that allowed Jamal to focus solely on his budding career, but the bond he had clearly formed with the little girl made it a truly heartbreaking moment.
The youngest Lyon continues to be a bright spot in otherwise dark and heavy episodes. From his adorable flat top in the flashbacks to his concern and dedication to his brothers, the "new sound" isn’t the only impressive thing about Hakeem. Not even Lucious’ betrayal could shake the young impresario.
DISHONORABLE MENTION: VERNON
Lucious’ right-hand man was all over the place this week, and we can only assume that his erratic behavior will come to a head in next week’s two-hour finale. From his growing drug problem to bringing Olivia and her abusive ex Reg to the Lyon mansion, Vernon might know where all of Lucious’ bodies are buried (literally), but it appears he is becoming more trouble than he is worth.
GUEST STAR HALL OF FAME
Both Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson made cameos in "Sins of the Father," the former in flashbacks as a singing star during the start of Empire’s heyday. Hudson appeared as Andre’s music therapist, who seems to be developing a somewhat unprofessional relationship with her client. We can’t wait to see more of both stars in next week’s finale.
Hakeem’s "new sound" was great, but perhaps the cutest moment of the whole series so far came when Jamal and "Uncle Hakeem" went to tuck little Lola into bed, and sang her the song that Jamal wrote for her.
COOKIE OF THE WEEK
The mama Lyon got a few more solid jabs in at "Yoko" Camilla before Lucious sent Hakeem's lady love back across the pond.
"She got her drawers wrapped around my baby’s neck," Cookie tells Lucious when the couple arrives at the mansion to debut Hakeem’s new sound. "He can’t breathe."