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‘Empire’ Fall Finale: Taraji P. Henson Reminds Us Why She Is Queen; Could Jussie Smollett Return In The New Year?

Photo: Fox Media

If you caught Tuesday night’s fall finale of Fox’s music biz soap opera, Empire, you witnessed a bravura performance by Taraji P. Henson in the pivotal role of Cookie Lyon.  In it, wanting to end her marriage officially once and for all to Luscious (Terrence Howard), she pulls a gun on him, demanding he sign the divorce papers … now! And in true, ‘Empire-style’, the scene does not wind up being just Luscious who is staring down the barrel of a gun, but Cookie too, when a revenge-filled, Tracy (Amanda Detmer) shows up with a gun ready to kill them both!

The episode entitled “Cold Cold Man” saw the final minutes feature Henson’s Cookie pinned to a table by Luscious who pleaded with her that their angst-ridden, twisted relationship is still about love, and that deep down she loves him.  Though she protests, you can see through her anger, tears, and frustration that she still loves Luscious … even after all the woman he has slept with, all the backstabbing, and all the hurt he has caused her and their children.

As viewers of the series know, there has been a flash-forward sequence that had been teased all season long of Cookie and Luscious’ demise. That sequence is different than the ending of the fall finale, leaving viewers to believe that obviously the two survive the fall finale, and then face what looks like certain doom by the end of the series finale, when the show returns for its last episodes in 2020.

In another shocker in the fall finale, Andre (Trai Byers) was revealed to have a duel personality in Kingsley (A.Z, Kelsey)! And, Kingsley is the one who is telling Andre to do all the terrible things he has been doing, which includse being physically and emotionally abusive to women.

However, the emotional high-point of the episode came when Empire’s first trans character, Melody Barnes played by trans actress, Alexandra Grey took to the stage and delivered a powerhouse vocal performance and then following it was questioned in a press conference where she reveals publicly that she is transgender.  Following the airing of the episode, Grey tweeted: “Hope you guys enjoyed @EmpireFOX I love getting to play #Melody thanks for all the love!!!! I can’t believe my life! A black trans woman singing on prime time television!! Wow!!!! Thank you.Hope we’re making a difference!”

Photo: Foc

Meanwhile in other key developments behind the scenes, Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney told TV Line that discussions are underway to potentially bring back Jussie Smollett as Jamal before the show wraps its sixth and final season this spring.

Mahoney offered up: “It would be weird in my mind to end this family show and this family drama of which he was such a significant part of without seeing him.  It’s fair to say it’s being discussed, but there’s no plan as of yet to bring him back. There’s been no decision made.”

Photo: Foc

Smollett landed in a mass of troubling PR and scandal following the incident in Chicago in which he reported he was involved in a homophobic and racist attack on him.  Later, it turned out that police said that Smollett arranged for the attack on himself.  Still later, all charges were dropped against Smollett.

So, what did you think of the season six fall finale of Empire? Would you want to see Jussie back for the final moments of Empire when it ends its run? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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sorry…. if they bring Jussie back… I will not need to watch the finale.

Empire

‘Empire’ Series Finale Brings Lyon Family Together; While Many Viewers Dissatisfied Over Makeshift Ending

Following Tuesday’s night series finale of Empire, which featured once again, brilliant performances from Taraji P. Henson (Cookie) and Terrence DaShon Howard (Luscious), many longtime viewers took to social media unsatisfied with its conclusion.  However, it should be noted that the shows producers did their best to use the footage they had in the can to craft something they hoped would be meaningful.

As previously reported, due to COVID-19, Empire had shot 18 episodes and a half of episode 19, of their 20 season order, when they were forced to shut down production.  Thus, the set-up and focus of the finale had to be significantly changed.

If you have not seen last night’s finale and plan to watch, do  not read any further for spoilers.

In an episode entitled “Home is On The Way,” which now makes complete sense post-viewing, Cookie and Luscious throughout trials, tribulations, realizations, deaths, and wrestling back control of the company, find their way back to each other.  Throughout the episode, viewers are treated to flashbacks of the duo’s long and twisted history – the good, the bad, the ugly, the dirty, and the nasty.

Photo: FOX

To get them back together, the series had to figure out what to do to with Yana, the musical protege with whom Luscious was involved with.  Backstage at a major concert event, Yana realizes that Luscious is not going to come on the world tour with her, because he still deeply loves Cookie.  He does not deny it.  When Yana’s father, Damon sees her backstage in what looks like she is hugging and all into Luscious, he pulls out a gun.  When we come back from commercial, we learn Yana was shot and killed, sending Damon on a spiral to get Luscious once and for all.

Following the shooting, Lucious tries to cancel the premiere of Hakeem’s Lyon legacy movie over concerns for the safety of his entire family,  but the Andre of old steps up and says they won’t let fear force the family to do that.

Earlier in the episode, Luscious had previously requested that in the event something should happen to him to please get a special letter he wrote to Cookie, where he opens up about his feelings for her.  When Cookie gets the letter, it is juxtaposed with the Luscious vs. Damon showdown; which Luscious ultimately wins when he clubs Damon over the head with his own prosthetic leg.

Photo: FOX

With the threat to their ultimate happiness eliminated, the series ends with the entire family attending the premiere party of the film Birth of an Empire, where Hakeem performs a rap, “The Oath,” as an ode to the Lyon legacy. The  lyrics of the song detail Cookie and Luscious’ family story and flashbacks from all six seasons are used throughout the rap.  Then came how to deal with the missing Jussie Smollett and the character of Jamal Lyon in said flashbacks.

While Luscious, Cookie, Andre and Hakeem’s flashbacks showed the actual actors who play their respective roles, Jamal’s flashbacks only showed a young child portraying the middle son of the clan – eliminating any appearance of Smollett from the finale; even via previously shot footage from the five seasons in which Smollett appeared.

Empire showrunner, Brett Mahoney spoke to TV Line as to the decision on ending of the finale: “I realized that the movie premiere, with the family coming together, with Cookie and Lucious recognizing their love for one another, we definitely have the spirit of what I had intended for our true series finale, It’s almost the idea that the family is more important than the empire. That the love that they have for each other is more important than anything else … that’s definitely where we’re headed in terms of the actual series finale.”

As to the premise from the beginning of season 6 that fans were hoping would be answered in the series finale – who blew up Cookie’s car and who shot Luscious – Mahoney shared: “I was not able to answer that in a satisfying way with what we had shot, so that’s why I’m hoping that we can really still shoot our intended series finale and answer those questions.”

The biggest cliffhanger to come out of the series finale from Tuesday night is; will Mahoney and company be able to re-group and shoot the series finale they intended; following any lessening of the COVID-10 safety measures in the coming months? Stay tuned.

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Empire

TONIGHT: ‘Empire’ Series Finale: How It Will Conclude? Even Taraji P. Henson Says She Doesn’t Know

The coronavirus pandemic not only has wreaked havoc on the physical, emotional, and financial well-beings of everyone in our country and around the world, but for TV viewers it really messed with production plans for many of your favorite shows.   For the primetime soap Empire, that could not have been more true.

Faced with having filmed 18 episodes and a part of its 19th (with an originally planned 20 season order), its series finale and story had to be restructured.  So tonight on Tuesday April 21st, the hip hop music drama will say goodbye on FOX.

Empire has had a very twisted road in its six seasons.  For its first few years on the air, it was a juggernaut bringing in huge ratings.  Then in 2019 things took a turn with a behind the scenes shift when one of its leads, Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon), made headlines for his claimed hate-crime attack on the streets of Chicago in the wee hours of the morning.  This led to plenty of revelations in Smollett’s case with the law, and his not returning to the series for the end of its fifth and in its sixth and final season.

Photo: FOX

Showrunner Brett Mahoney told TV Line that if things line up right following the pandemic, he could see trying to give the show a proper send-off: “I can’t guarantee it will happen, but we’re hopeful. And if we don’t actually get a chance to shoot the series finale, I think we’ll find some creative way to get (the information) out there, whether it’s by just releasing the script or finding another way to satisfy fans “= We don’t know what the costs will be in terms of keeping our sets. And then the question becomes who from the cast will be available at that point.”

On Monday’s episode of the CBS daytime series, The Talk, the ladies welcomed Taraji P. Henson (Cookie Lyon) to get a preview of what to expect tonight.  She surprised the hosts by saying she doesn’t really know.

Henson expressed: “We were in the middle of the 19th episode when everything got shut down. So, I used to know how the show was going to end, but I don’t know. They are going to make some kind of movie magic in that editing room. They are going to take all the footage they have already, and just come up with some kind of finale… I will be finding out what’s happening at the same time you guys are finding out, which is kind of fun.”

She added, “I’m a little hurt because I didn’t get to say goodbye to my cast and my crew. I bought them amazing letterman sweaters, that’s my gift to them because it was our senior year.  I hope ‘Empire’s’ legacy will be that African American stories do translate, and they cross over, and they’re international.”

Watch Taraji on The Talk below. Then weigh-in: how do you think the story will conclude for Luscious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie, and the Lyon family in the makeshift ending of Empire? Let us know in the comment section.

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EMPIRE’s Final Season Cut Short Due To COVID-19; Series Finale Now Set For April 21

Will we now ever know just how the lives of Empire’s Lucious  (Terrence Howard) and Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) and their dysfunctional family will resolve now that the series has had to scrap two of their planned episodes in their final season?  The sixth and final season was scheduled to run for a total of 20 episodes.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the production shutdown left them with only 18 episodes tht could be completed.

That means, as first announced during last night’s episode of Empire via voice-over: “Get ready for the shocking final three episodes of ‘Empire,’”  that reveal let viewers of Empire know there was change in plans.”  Now, the shortened season and series finale end on FOX on April 21st.

Reports also note that episode 19 was partially shot and that footage of that unfinished episode will be cut into the finale.

As to what happens with the character of Jamal Lyon played by Jussie Smollett, who everyone knows ran into significant trouble with the law; on last reports executives said he would not be back for the final episodes of the series, although there has still have been mentions of the character throughout season 6.

Come April 21st, there still may be more Empire in our future, if  FOX executives decide to greenlight a potential spinoff headlined Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon; that first came to light earlier this year in January as being in heavy discussions.

So, what do you think of how Empire will wrap-up after 6 seasons? Do you feel short-changed, or glad they are trying to work in everything they shot to deliver some kind of series finale for fans of the primetime soap? Comment below.

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