Empire returned in big way on Wednesday, setting up the back half of its whirlwind second season with almost too many shocking twists to count.
The episode kicked off right after last fall’s finale, in which a very pregnant Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) was pushed down the stairs by an unseen mystery assailant. While Andre’s wife was unable to identify her attacker, she was able to save her own life by throwing her phone to break a window and alert the alarm company.
Unfortunately, the couple was faced with more tragedy at the hospital, where Andre (Trai Byers) and Rhonda learned that they lost their baby. Strangely, in recounting what happened, Rhonda left out the important details of her attack, telling everyone, including her husband, that she “slipped” down the stairs.
The tension between Empire and Lyon Dynasty continued to grow as newly appointed CEO Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) and “Yoko” Camilla (Naomi Campbell) began their reign after dethroning Lucious (Terrence Howard) as the head of the family’s company. While tensions were running high between Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and her youngest son --especially after another epic broom beating -- Hakeem still agreed to make Cookie head of Empire A&R in exchange for allowing the label to release Jamal’s (Jussie Smollett) latest album.
Things didn’t go as smoothly between Hakeem and his father, however. Lucious pulled a twisted move, even by his own standards, asking his son to meet him by the train tracks, where the former mogul shot and killed his best friend, Bunkie, last season.
“Kill your father and sit on his throne,” Lucious instructed Hakeem, handing him a gun. “It’s life or death, so if you don’t shoot me right here, I promise you next time I see you, I will do my best to take your life. Shoot me so I don’t have to do it to you.”
Ultimately, Hakeem didn’t pull the trigger, telling his father, “I ain't gotta do what you want.”
“Watch your back, baby boy,” Lucious called as he walked away. “I keep my promises.”
The drama-packed episode, along with the teaser scenes for the rest of the season, left us with plenty of questions about how Empire’s sophomore run will wrap up all the drama. Here are just a few:
-Is Lucious going to make good on his promise to take out Hakeem? Or Camilla? Or both?
-Will Rhonda remember who pushed her down the stairs? The red sole of the shoe she spotted sure looked like Louboutins, but the figure seemed to be a man in profile. Whodunnit?
-How will the family handle the major upcoming revelation that Anika, a.k.a. Boo Boo Kitty (Grace Gealey), is pregnant with Hakeem’s child?
-Speaking of Hakeem, did he REALLY remake the Empire logo with his own face? Kid’s got guts.
-Will Rhonda and Andre recover from their heartbreak and Rhonda’s crisis of faith?
-Are Jamal and Michael getting back together? Are Lucious and Cookie getting back together? Will anyone on this show get a happy ending?