The first season of critically acclaimed US musical drama Empire came to a close in the UK last night.
If you haven’t seen the season finale of Empire and don’t want any spoilers, we suggest you stop reading now. If you have seen it and want to hear our thoughts on the next season keep reading.
In the season one finale of Empire, Lucious (Terrence Howard) named Jamal (Jussie Smollett) as his successor to lead Empire Records pushing Hakeem (Brashere Y. Gray) and Andre’s (Trai Byers) noses out of joint. The announcement, along with the news that Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) wasn’t going to be given a seat at the table, pushed Hakeem and Andre to team up with their mother and surprisingly Anika (Grace Gealey) to attempt a hostile takeover of Empire.
Lucious was celebrating the launch of the IPO with a concert celebrating his music when he was arrested for Bunkie’s (Antoine McKay). Believing Cookie to have snitched on him, Lucious was put behind bars but it was actually Vernon (Malik Yoba) who turned him him. Speaking of Vernon he ended up dead after a fight with Andre, which was broken up by Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) when she whacked him over the head. The news of Vernon’s demise hasn’t come out yet and Rhonda opted to cover it up rather than confess.
Elsewhere in the episode Jamal realised that the path that lies ahead of him wasn’t going to be an easy one when one of Empire’s artists refused to perform citing Jamal’s sexuality as the reason. To get him on side, Jamal engaged in a musical battle and won over the crowd leaving his opponent speechless.
Ahead of Empire returning later in the year for a longer second season, we’ve put together our thoughts about what we want to see from the show.
1. Jamal to soar as Lucious’ successor. OK so we know it ain’t gonna be plain sailing for Jamal and he’ll likely have a lot of obstacles to overcome but we want to see him succeed. He’s going to have to contend with the hostile takeover attempt, and his father being behind bars (for however long that goes on for) but he’s proven he’s made of strong stuff. We’re rooting for you Jamal!
2. Cookie, Cookie, Cookie! We all know that the best thing about Empire is Cookie. There are plenty of great potential plots coming up in season 2 particularly around Cookie’s perceived betrayal of Lucious and her on-going feud with frenemy Anika. We want to see Cookie bonding more with her sons and working her way back into Empire to get what she deserves. If she does it with plenty of feisty one-liners we’ll be even happier.
3. Lucious to get out of prison. This one is surely a no brainer? There’s no way he can stay behind bars for long as he’s one of the best characters on the show. Once he gets out though he’s going to be gunning for revenge and we can’t wait to see the fireworks that are just waiting to explode with Cookie. Of course the real traitor is now dead so we’re very interested to see how that’s going play out.
4. Fireworks between the brothers Lyon. As if Jamal doesn’t have enough to contend with in his new role, it looks like his brothers Hakeem and Andre are going to be working together against him. Jamal and Hakeem have always had an intense brotherly relationship but we’ve never really seen Jamal and Andre together. The dynamics are going to shift and it’s going to be explosive.
5. More Tiana (Serayah). After the first half of the season Tiana was barely seen on the show. She’s a character with a lot more to offer and we loved the songs that she contributed to the show. Hopefully her character will have a bigger role in the next season and we can enjoy plenty more of her.
6. Andre and Rhonda to be found out. We’re not going to lie, Andre and Rhonda aren’t our favourite characters on the show. To be fair Rhonda hasn’t really had much character development but neither character interests us all that much. We wouldn’t be sad if they were arrested for Vernon’s murder and put behind bars for the season.
7. Back-stabbing, double-crossing and epic fights. The soapy drama of Empire is part of its appeal and the soap opera theatrics of the plots definitely kept us entertained. We want the whole thing ramped up a notch when it returns for season 2 and the stakes need to be significantly raised in order to top the debut season of the show.
8. More Becky (Gabourey Sidibe). Becky was massively under-used in season 1 but we know the character is a regular for season 2. Now that she’s been promoted to A&R by Jamal, we can’t wait to see much more of her. Actress Gabourey Sidibe is always a joy to watch on screen and we love her in this role.
9. Plenty of big name musical guests. We loved the big names that popped up over the course of season 1 including Jennifer Hudson, Courtney Love, Mary J. Blige and Patti LaBelle. Show creator Lee Daniels is good friends with Mariah Carey so we’re hoping to hear some of her famous whistle notes during the second season.
10. Even more music! Season 1 packed a lot of great songs into its 12 episodes but we want even more of them in season 2. Surprise collaborations between the characters, catchy beats and hard-hitting emotive lyrics. Our spines are tingling at the thought already.
Empire will return in the US and the UK this autumn.