To say there’s buzz around the return of Empire, Fox’s ballsy King-Lear-meets-Mahogany hit that kicks off its sophomore season on September 23rd, is an understatement. (It’s like observing that there’s a few GOP hopefuls running for President.) All eyes are on the series to see if it can maintain the level of drama, glam and delightful camp that turned it into a ratings powerhouse and Twitter champ. The series hits every pleasure point for successful trashy TV: ludicrous plots, gleaming fashions, breakout performances, and a true gasp of it’s own ambitions to reinvent the glitzy nighttime soap for a new generation. Empire knows what it is, and is keeping it real.
If it’s been a while since you caught Season One, or you missed the first run and want to jump into the game on Wednesday, here’s a quick catch-up on where we left Empire Entertainment’s iconic Lyons.
Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard)
The precisely coiffed founder and CEO of Empire Entertainment spent the majority of last season battling ALS, pitting his sons against each other to inherit the company, belittling middle child Jamal for his open homosexuality, and juggling current girlfriend Anika with ex-wife Cookie — when he wasn’t distancing himself from a past that includes Cuba Gooding Jr. as a romantic rival and his point-blank assassination of cousin-by-marriage Bunkie (Antoine McKay), that is. All of this, while never letting a single hair fall out of place.
But he shouldn’t have bothered. Turns out, instead of the death sentence of Lou Gehrig’s disease, Luther’s suffers from the rarely lethal myasthenia gravis, meaning he’s not going anywhere. After all the Jamal derision, he finally wised up that the smooth singer is also the savviest Lyon, and passed the scepter of Empire’s leadership to him (not a metaphor – he actually gave Jamal a scepter). He also confessed to fathering a fourth child, with Raven Symone.