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Empire – S1E11/S1E12 – Die But Once/Who I Am

Previously on Empire, ‘Sins of the Father’

In the first hour of the finale, story pacing died but fifty times.


Cookie’s best line: “Hell wants the devil back and Lucious is on his way.”

Lucious B. Lyings: He offers Jamal the respect he’s always wanted, but is manipulating him to be a substitute Vernon.

Number of times you wanted to slap Hakeem: Slap him? Oh, you mean slap him on the back for publicly shaming Lucius? Let’s do that after we kick him in the groin for hooking up with his common law step-mom.

Most triflin’ character: Anika has been with Lucious since Hakeem was a pubescent boy. To quote Porsha, “That’s nasty!” It was completely out of Anika’s character, but nothing is impossible in a nighttime soap opera musical.

Health check-up: Lucious was having double vision. An extra that we’ve never seen in our lives appeared out of nowhere like a State Farm agent. He knew that double vision was not a symptom of ALS. Lucious and a doctor had an exposition scene; the doctor reminded us that State Farm extra is the nurse Lucious yelled at last episode. Lucious doesn’t have ALS. He has a similar disease called Myasthenia Gravis. The doctor said, “It’s a chronic, but highly treatable condition.” Lucious was like, Chronic? Yes, I need some.


Who should jump the line for relationship counseling: Malcolm is totally a codependent.

Lee Daniels Extraness: All of this heavy-handed religious extraness. Lucious compared himself to God fifty-eleven times. While Jamal and Ryan got intimate, J-Hud sang, “There ain’t nothing too hard for my God.” Message! Christians think homosexuality can be cured, but it can’t. Get it? Before I leave this topic, I must confess to cracking up when Lucious pretended to catch the spirit from J-Hud.

Best Cameo: Snoop Dogg serving you funk.

Best minor character moments: 1. Porsha calling Lucious, “LuLu.” 2. They finally allowed Gabby Sidibe to look like the executive assistant of a music mogul. The dress was flattering and office appropriate. The shoes looked alive and well.

The BET award goes to: It’s a tie! “Nothing to Lose,” featuring Jussie Smollett and Terrence Howard; and “Peaches and Cream,” by Snoop Dogg.

Most unbelievable moments: First of all, those metal trashcans from Jamal’s youth haven’t rusted or been upgraded to plastic. Lucious fired Cookie! Then he punched Hakeem in the face! Jamal almost threw Beretti off the balcony! Anika and Hakeem?! Ghost Bunkie! Cookie is about to smother Lucious (but not really)!!


And that, ladies and gentlemen, was only the first half of the finale.

The second half of the finale had fist fights, manslaughter, a pregnancy announcement, an arrest, and the incomparable Patti Labelle.


Cookie’s best line: “Tell me why I shouldn’t throw this drink in your bitch-ass face?”

Lucious B. Lyings: He’s been lying about his real name so long, not even Cookie knows. His name is Dwight Walker. I thought he said, “The White Walker,” so I was wondering why Empire was referencing Game of Thrones.

Number of times you wanted to slap Hakeem: He gets a play-slap upside the head for asking his brother, who has an MBA, if he’s ever heard of a hostile take-over.


Most triflin’ character: Black Rambo and his unreliable Jafaican accent.

Health check-up: No one’s happy about Lucious living except Jamal. Vernon returned – presumably from rehab – only to be killed by a one pound candleholder that looked like it was made of particle board. Rhonda is pregnant, chile.


Who should jump the line for relationship counseling: Andre and Rhonda stay having the most messed up relationship ever. I just can’t.

Thank You, Lee Daniels: Although I’ve complained about the heavy-handed treatment of Christianity and homosexuality, I know my perception is skewed because I’m well-informed on these topics. This show is doing work on the general population when it comes to challenging homophobia. It’s challenging the people we’re tempted to hide from our Facebook timelines. I’m very happy that it is. They may take as long as Lucious to finally get it, but having this conversation present in this show is making them think.

Best Cameo: Patti! Patti! After name-checking Black Lives Matter, Patti Labelle gave a soul-stirring performance that harkened back to her 1989 single, “Yo Mister.” Her voice sounds the same way it did before I was born, because her voice is the diety Lucious keeps claiming to be.


Least subtle reference to a real-life celebrity: Lucious mentioned a shooting incident involving someone named Shyne.

The BET award goes to: “Nothing to Lose,” featuring Pattie Labelle and Jussie Smollett.

Most unbelievable moment: Lucious was arrested for Bunkie’s murder. He ended the episode in that dark, abandoned prison Cookie used to live in. There’s just one problem – Vernon was the star witness. Oops.


The episode ends with everyone in what we’d think is their rightful place, including Lucious. With Vernon dead, though, it’s highly unlikely he’ll stay there. More importantly, can you believe Patti is 70 years old? Who won the fight between Cookie and Anika? What about Andre v. Vernon?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the finale, so share with us in the comments below!

About Nikki P (18 Articles)
Nikki is a fan of children’s books, graphic novels, British police procedurals, French cinema, and TV marathons.

11 Comments on Empire – S1E11/S1E12 – Die But Once/Who I Am

  1. Imagine my surprise when Rhonda yelled, I’m pregnant. And here I thought she only swallowed babies, not conceived them. #ThatBibTHO

    Other than that, I was not impressed with the two hour finale. Both episodes felt rushed. Too much happened too soon and in such a short period of time.

  2. Empire!!! I swear Empire took me to some extremes last night. You would have thought my couch had a spring in it, as much as I was jumping up! And I screamed at the TV so much, I scared my husband away. It was a decent finale: the first hour was gold and the second, bronze. I almost wish I had watched Arrow that second hour but my mind wouldn’t have been able to grasp it. The rest of the night, I was on autopilot.

    Lucious is the biggest asshole in the history of assholes and I wish he had died. I have a sneaking suspicion he was supposed to then the writers flipped the script (pun intended) and kept his evil ass alive. I need him to die. However, the show needs a good villain, so I welcome him back for season two.

    Cookie is a FOOL! Let Derek Luke ask me to go away with him. Scratch that, that Brotha wouldn’t have had to ASK!! I would have been on the first thing smokin, buying underwear when I get to my destination. Shiit, she crazy. All for this company? Nope; she could have easily come back to take over the company when all the other shot went down. She’s still in love with Lucious’s trifling ass. And that makes her sus.

    Andre needs to pop those meds, take a break from the church, and get his life and his wife right. Maybe Rhonda should have broke out that bib and old boy wouldn’t have forgotten her existence. He fighting Uncle Vernon, wildin out and shit. I have one word for his ass: LITHIUM!

    Hakeem the dream! I actually liked him better than every other character on these last two episodes. He should have knocked Lucious’s ass out, but he did one better…Annika! That was hi-larious!

    I don’t know what to think about Jamal. I wanted him to get control of the company, but I don’t like how he started acting afterwards. It seemed like it became more about him than anything else.

    How they gon kill Vernon and then keep on keepin on like nothin happened? And how much time passed between the IPO/Lucious getting arrested to the montage at the end? And was he in the same jail Cookie was in? Didn’t he kill Bunkie in NY? Seriously this show almost had me in the hospital last night. Shakespeare is applauding in his tomb. I was hoping for a better wrap up or cliffhanger but I think they got caught with their pants down. They didn’t think it would be this big and they sure as hell didn’t count on a season two so they re-wrote a few things. I’ll let that slide. Can’t wait to hear how you guys held up during your viewing.

  3. Hakeem, we really need to talk about your debilitating Mommy Issues. But hey, I kinda like him with Anika. He needs a strong woman to bring his man-child brattiness to heel.
    THAT fight between Cookie and Anika was a long-time coming and I was screaming, cheering, and fist-pumping like I had front row seats to a UCF match.
    In two hours, Empire switched from being a production of “King Lear” to being “the Brothers Karamazov.” I can’t believe half the stuff that went down in this finale and I can’t wait for season two.

  4. Great recap!

    First, let the record show that I’m a rapidly aging suburban snowbunny and I’m pretty sure I could kick Black Rambo’s ass in a rap battle. Having said that, Jamal cheated by singing and bringing his autotune with him.

    Things were moving quickly on this episode, but of all of the things that came and went, I’m gonna miss Malcolm the most. That cabin where he took Cookie reminded me so much of the cabin in “The Bodyguard,” I think I heard Whitney singing in the background.

    When they kept cutting between JHud sangin’ the gospel and that sweet Jamal on man action, I cackled. SUBTLE, EMPIRE. Waiting for Jamal’s remix of “Take me to Church.”

    Cookie and BooBoo Kitty almost brought the Alexis and Crystal Carrington realness – all they were missing was a pond. Bless this mess.

  5. Loved the recap!!

    I guess I’m the only one ok with Hakeem getting into boo boo kitty’s nootsie huh? I mean yall saw dem cakes!! Speaking of boo boo kitty that fight with cookie had a ninja making life decisions!! My love for cookie was seriously tested bc I didn’t know who I wanted to win!!

    Also can I say I’m happy the show ended with the white Walker( I also thought “what does game of thrones have to do with anything!?”) being hell bent on vengeance bc I was not here for this evolved Dwight!! I can’t wait to see what he has in store for this family when they realize uncle Vernon gone!! It’s been said before but last nights episode was totally like a black Dallas and I’m here for every minute of it!!

    Question, why does Malik yoba die in every movie he does? I mean does his agent just look for roles where he is disposed of in a gruesome way?

    Next is Andre? Are we supposed to believe him locking himself in the church house and praying at the alter of j hud has cured him?

    Last thing is Jamal! I really hope this hostile takeover doesn’t ruin him and turn him into a villain!! I think we all agree they all should have equal shares but I just see this drama never being resolved and him resenting his family for pushing him out!!

    That’s all I got can’t wait to hear the show! Oh and before I forget what in the actual fuck was that black Rambo bullshit?!! It was seriously cringeworthy!!

  6. Vote for Lucious’ new nickname: LuLu or The White Walker?

  7. I’m all for calling Lucious, Dwight from here on out. You could pick any name and you CHOSE Lucious? Nah You Dwight. Ya mama named ya Dwight Imma call ya Dwight

  8. Hope I’m not too late.

    I probably am so I’ll keep it short.

    Lucious is the devil! And he ain’t dying! That’s gonna be some shit next season!

    Jamal ain’t need to be that gangsta!

    Cookie still ain’t snitch on Lucious! Damn! She still loves that fool!

    Ewwwwwwwwwwww!!! My reaction to Boo Boo Kitty & Hakeem. He needs to stop messing with these older women!

    Fake ass Kelly Ripa done kilt Uncle Vernon! I think they should have called the cops. But, I think why she didn’t is because she probably has an outstanding warrant or something & Rhonda probably ain’t her real name. And now her & Andre having a baby. Smh.

    All the performances were awesome, especially Miss Patti & Jamal.

    Phew, that was one crazy finale! Lucious got arrested. Jamal blames Cookie. And they’re plotting a hostile take over! Just WOW!!

    That’s it. Hope it’s not late & I can’t wait to hear y’all’s thoughts on this sucker!

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