Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) didn’t get his best rapper nomination, but boy, did he get back at his father.
Fox

It’s the fall finale for Empire. The first half of season 2 was hit or miss, so last night was the show’s chance to give us something to look forward to until Empire returns in March. There were a couple of surprises that should keep us hanging on.

For Lucious, this episode was “You win some, you lose some.” His day gets off to a fine start when he catches Skye and Jamal getting cozy and could not be more pleased that his son is “hitting that.” Jamal’s response: “I’m still gay, all right? So don’t get weird.”

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When it comes to Lucious, those words are too little, too late. He beams because Skye “fixed” Jamal. This is Empire; this “fix” isn’t going to last long, so Lucious better enjoy it before the hour is up. Sure enough, Skye and Jamal have “the talk.” He’s gay and she doesn’t want to change him, and that’s that.

Mimi and Lucious have a talk about his unilateral decision to sell off pieces of the company to finance his plans to get ahead in the music-streaming business. Mimi actually uses a spy pen to record Lucious as he spouts off about how he can do whatever he wants and the board of directors can’t stop him. Miss Whiteman is shady and a known double-crosser; he should know better than to get in bed with her, so to speak.

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It’s American Sound Awards nominations time, and artists are announced throughout the day. Hakeem is looking forward to his best rapper nomination. The poor thing is literally sitting in front of the screen with a bowl of popcorn, but the nom goes to his archrival and Lucious’ protege, Freda Gatz. Lucious gleefully lords this over Cookie. He’s going to need Hakeem one day. Spoiler: That day is today.

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Cookie goes back to jail to put on a concert for her fellow inmates. The scenes are vexing for so many reasons. There is a reference about the jail having been flooded during Hurricane Sandy after Cookie left. Please excuse this OCD moment, but Sandy hit in 2012 and Cookie’s release from prison was recent, so she would know about Sandy.

Cookie and Porsha get to strut around and mix with the inmates, which seems unlikely. Cookie’s popular, but not so popular that she couldn’t get shivved. Then we get to Jezzy, Cookie’s close prison friend. Jezzy wears her hair exactly like Black Cindy and is one step away from warding off bedbugs with Lysol, so the whole thing is distracting. But we do get Porsha’s, uh, delicious description of her sexual preference: “I only do hot dogs, sausages and Polishes.” That redeems the scene, as far as I’m concerned.

During one of the live ASA events, Lucious takes the stage to talk about Empire’s entry into the music-streaming business. Lucious invites Mimi to the stage. Mimi is such a weirdo and doesn’t add anything to the show. She starts giggling and rambling about her wife and wants to introduce her to the audience. There are so many pauses in this scene, I can’t tell if Marisa Tomei forgot some lines or if this is an acting choice. Either way, it sets up a juicy surprise. The crowd parts and in strolls … Camilla! That redeems the scene, as far as I’m concerned.

Mimi is a tattletale and calls a board meeting to show the video of Lucious saying that he can do whatever he wants, regardless of the board. There will be an emergency vote to unseat Lucious as CEO and chairman. Andre and Thirsty get to work trying to swing votes. It’s supposed to play like a Scandal scene where the gladiators come up with a Hail Mary pass. But there is no upbeat music or montage or Shonda, so it’s a half-assed effort.

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It’s too bad Andre is busy with all this because unbeknownst to him, pregnant Rhonda is home alone and someone shoves her down the stairs. She’s bouncing all over the place, so we know the baby is gone, and it’ll be shocking if Rhonda is still alive. All signs point to Boo Boo Kitty as the culprit.

In the meantime, Mimi’s wife visits her former flame Hakeem to say that his parents made her leave. Everything she did, she did for Hakeem, whatever that means. Did Mimi seduce and wed Camilla with the knowledge that one day the Lyons would need her to invest in Empire and she would stab them in the back? Camilla purrs that she can take Hakeem to “the next level.”

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When Cookie says that she cannot attend the board meeting, she gives Hakeem her proxy so that he can vote on whether his dad stays on the board. You know where this is going. After a series of flashbacks to how horrible Lucious is, Hakeem votes to oust Papa Lyon. Camille is cackling with glee. Mimi has to leave for breast-cancer treatments and needs someone to run things—of course, it’s Camille.

Lucious goes home to shoot up the joint until Cookie gets him to calm down. He won’t take this Lyon—I mean, lying—down. It’s game time, bitches.

Elaine G. Flores is a New York writer, editor and bon vivant. She’s a hard-core shipper and excommunicated soap opera reviewer. Her fictional dinner-party guests include Omar Little, Buffy Summers, Abigail Mills and Ichabod Crane. You can visit her site, TV Recappers Delight.