Empire continued its record-setting first season on television with a soapalicious two-hour season finale that aired on Wednesday night on Fox.
When the dust was settled, the show was watched by over 17 million viewers and the show averaged a 6.9 rating and 17.6 million in its regular 9 o’clock hour (which will count in season averages). The 6.9 rating, was just a tick below last week’s The Walking Dead on AMC, and is the highest for any regularly scheduled broadcast drama since CSI on CBS in October 2008!
Now as for the drama last night, did we not love the performances of Jussie Smollett (Jamal), Taraji B. Henson (Cookie) and Terrence Howard (Lucious)? Showrunner Ilene Chaiken chatted it up with EW.com post-finale to give insight into the storyline decisions which featured a death, a pregnancy, and someone ending up in the slammer! And, we learned just which one of Lucious son was handed the Empire … for now. And in one of the best catfights in primetime soap history, Boo Boo Kitty and Cookie went at it, and we mean, went. at. it!
In story, viewers learned that Lucious ALS diagnosis was a mistake! He actually has Myasthenia Gravis . Was it the plan all along, or did they change his medical condition midstream? Chaiken revealed: “Yep, from the very beginning … of course we talked about the ALS and what’s going to happen because Terrence is the star of the show. And co-creator Danny Strong said, ‘Well I always thought it would be a misdiagnosis. And I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ In the room, we talked about whether or not that was the best story solution and in the end we thought, ‘Yeah let’s just go for it! We researched it extensively to make sure it was credible. But it’s actually quite supportable with research.”‘
As for if Jamal was the Lyon son who would lay claim to the empire, and show his dark side in the finale by almost killing someone on a balcony, Chaiken admitted, “That was not quite so planned. But what (creators) Lee Daniels and Danny put forward in that same group of meetings was we look at him like a Michael Corleone character. We want to see him rise to the occasion, surprise everyone by being the most cunning, the most gangster at the end of the day.”
The catfight between Anika (Grace Gealey) and Cookie was indeed a riff on the Dynasty fights of old between Alexis (Joan Collins) and Krystal (Linda Evans)! Ilene stated, “It was truly an homage to Dynasty in that way and for that we owe Lee. Lee is the devotee of Dynasty who’s always said, ‘I want this to be that.’ I delivered the first draft of the script and that scene was there but the catfight wasn’t there. Lee read the script and said to me, ‘Ilene I want my catfight.’ Taraji then read that scene and came to me and said, ‘Cookie’s been in prison for 17 years—I would clock her and she’d be out.”‘
At the end of the finale, Lucious finally gets arrested for the murder of Bunkie as someone turned him in, but who? In the very last seconds of the episode when behind bars, a vengeful Lucious utters out loud,”Game on, Bitches!” And that according to Chaikenwas improved by Terrence Howard. The creative team loved it so much that they kept it in and it was the perfect button on a whirlwind soapy season.
So, what was your favorite moment on last night’s season final of Empire … the catfight? Jamal ascending to the head of the empire, Cookie trying to snuff out Lucious with a pillow? Lucious final words from jail? Vernon (Malik Yoba) getting clubbed over the head by a now pregnant Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) and dying? Watch a recap of OMG Moments in the Empire video recap below. Then, share your thoughts!