“Empire” Recap: “Past Is Prologue”
On Wednesday’s “Empire” finale, Jamal’s fate was revealed and major drama went down at Hakeem and Laura’s wedding. Here are the most important things to know about “Past Is Prologue,” the 18th and last episode of season 2.
The show began three weeks after the shooting, with a wheelchair-bound Jamal welcomed home following his release from the hospital. He told his family he wouldn’t be singing at Hakeem’s nuptials, and had no intention of making music until they break the “cycle” of “death and incarceration.” And while Lucious thanked him for taking the bullet, Jamal insisted Freda was a “victim,” too. Leah blamed the dynamic on Lucious’ own father, but he cut her off before she could spill any beans. And it was revealed that Thirsty had stopped her from talking to the media at the hospital.
Anika told Lucious and Cookie that the feds questioned her, but the chat was interrupted by Rhonda attacking Anika and accusing her of pushing her down the stairs. When Andre wouldn’t stand up for her, Rhonda stormed out as Anika protested her innocence. Rhonda then told Andre to use his “killer instinct” and take care of Anika.
Lucious confessed to Cookie that the feds were likely after him for hits he, rapper friend Shyne, and two other cohorts were involved in years prior. Cookie later told Shyne that if one went down, they all would, but in order to back Lucious up, he wanted a publishing deal for his nephew. He also demanded an invite to Hakeem’s wedding, where the other two old pals would be.
Meanwhile, Lucious visited Freda in jail, and outright denied killing her father. He insisted he truly wanted to help her, and then asked her to now help get Jamal back on track. They recorded a rap right then and there, after which Lucious told Jamal she had accepted his legal help and had made a song for him. He then insisted that he had “ended the cycle.” Sure enough, the track inspired Jamal to start writing again, and then rehearse for Hakeem’s wedding with Derek’s help. But he nearly collapsed during one of the sessions.
On the eve of the nuptials, Laura’s parents objected to Shyne attending since he had a violent reputation. Lucious said his pal wouldn’t be a “problem,” and Hakeem insisted he planned to end the “cycle” connected to the Lyons’ history. But there was a more immediate crisis when Anika threatened to jump off the Empire balcony. “I rather kill myself than be forced to testify on Lucious,” she said, saying that the feds wanted to put her in the witness protection program.
Lucious said she only needed to make it through another two days as he expected the grand jury to come up “empty,” and Cookie talked her down, telling her she’s a “Lyon now,” just like she always wanted, and wouldn’t be “alone.” With things then calmed again, Cookie told Lucious that maybe he wasn’t “the devil after all,” and he told her, “I should’ve never let you go. There’s a reason I never married anybody else.”
On the day of the wedding, Jamal and Andre tried to get Leah to spill on their grandfather. “Joe got what he deserved,” she ominously said, with a flashback implying Lucious’ dad was killed in front of him. He interrupted, though, telling his sons not to “believe” anything she said. Then, just after the pre-ceremony had a beautiful start, Shyne showed up with three “hookers.” Lucious’ old friends objected to his presence, but Cookie said they had to keep Shyne happy. They agreed, but warned “nothing good could come from his punk ass.”
And then, just as the actual ceremony was about to start with Laura walking down the aisle, a process server disguised as a wedding staffer served Anika. As the woman ran away, chaos erupted and Shyne flipped out. Laura’s dad called them all “thugs,” and she told him this is why she couldn’t marry him before running off in tears.
After most of the people left, it occurred to Lucious that if he and Anika married, she wouldn’t have to testify against him. Hakeem objected, saying this was meant to be HIS wedding and Anika, after all, was having his baby. Cookie also exclaimed, “I didn’t save this bitch’s life so she could ruin mine.” Lucious insisted this didn’t change where *they* were at, because they were “ride or die.” Cookie, however, was not swayed, told her sons she would always be there for them, and walked out.
Lucious and Anika then wed in place of Hakeem and Laura, a union sealed with an awkward kiss on the cheek. Lucious whispered afterward, “I know you pushed her,” and Anika excused herself. Towards the end of the episode, Tariq showed up to offer congrats on his “unholy matrimony.” Leah then asked, “Dwight, what’s your half-brother doing here?” In the final minute, Rhonda attacked Anika on a balcony, and their fight led to one of them going over as Andre shouted, “No!” But was it Rhonda or Anika who fell? We’ll find out in season 3 this fall!