Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lyon Lessons: Empire and the Consequences of Hate (and Predictions for Season 2)

Yes, it's been days since the insane Empire finale, and yet my brain is ignoring my attempts to move on. When this happens the only way to cope is to blog it out.

So, this isn't a recap of what happened (if you don't know by now, kudos to your ability to keep your head in the sand) or a deep-dive analysis of what Empire means for diversity on television or whether the show is  relying on or shattering stereotypes. 

These are my thoughts on lessons learned or reinforced through art. In the case of the Empire finale, and really the whole inaugural season, the overarching theme seems to be you can only hurt people for so long before whatever love, affection or respect they had morphs into the ugly cancerous organism known as hate. In other words, folks go from 0 to 100 real quick when pushed one too many times.

The finale left me feeling some kind of way. Not because there was A LOT going or that the show may not come back until January (time to catch up on  black-ish!), but because the brothers, specifically Hakeem and Andre, are setting up themselves for a war with Jamal. Just a couple of episodes ago, the brothers came together for Andre during his breakdown. Now, they're probably going to break any brotherly bonds they have left. Why? Because they, along with Cookie and Anika, hate Lucious with a capital H.
Loathing Lucious is totally understandable. Let's recap:

Anika: Loved Lucious, despite being cheated on multiple times before Cookie even showed up; Accepted his marriage proposal only to walk in on Lucious taking a bite of Cookie's cookies; Still believed they had a future together before finding out Lucious lied about going back to the cookie jar.

Cookie: Lawd, do we need to even discuss this? "17 years, bitch!" Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Oh, and all the harm Lucious has done to her children, firing her from the company because she dared to explore a relationship with Malcom, killing her cousin, Bunkie , know, that ish. 

Hakeem: He seems to be operating from two wells of hate: He hates his father for sending away the woman he loved and hates Camilla for what he thinks she did (she didn't actually take the money). He also resents being controlled like he's a puppet instead of a young adult, as spoiled and bratty as he may be. Annnnddddd...Lucious promised him the "kingdom" that ultimately went to Jamal.

Andre: Poor Andre. While Jamal got the worst of it physically (being beaten and thrown in the trash can for being gay), Andre got the worst of it mentally and emotionally. On one hand you've got mental illness and a father that refuses to acknowledge it. Don't forget that after Andre's second psychotic break, Lucious doesn't even bother to visit him at the clinic, even at Cookie's insistence. Being a loving father is clearly not a Lucious Lyon strength.  

Then, despite the fact that Andre is smart and developed business acumen in the absence of musical talents, it still isn't good enough for Lucious who sees making music as life's only purpose (uh, OK). Because Andre is not musically inclined, he's ignored by his family and put in a chief financial officer box that he desperately wants to escape. Add to this the fact that Lucious tells him he was never in contention to run the company because he brought a white woman into the family. Andre knows this is BS, and is so devastated that the company he poured his heart and soul into will never be his that he attempts suicide. And then, when Andre tries to forge his own path and get close to God, Lucious sabotages his efforts by offering his spiritual mentor, Michelle, a record contract. Y'all, Andre has been through it!!

Yeah, Lucious tried to apologize when he found out he wasn't dying with jets, money for foundations and whatnot, but those were material gifts that only addressed current  transgressions and not the pain that had been building in the brothers from years of Lucious' selfishness and mistreatment. Once Jamal got the Empire Hakeem and Andre's pain took it's final turn into hate, and the rest is Empire history. 

Hakeem said it best after the epic Cookie/Anika catfight: "We're all here because we hate the same man." That's powerful. Andre, Hakeem and Cookie each stated their desire for Lucious to die at various times in the finale. That's heavy, heartbreaking and horrific. But..Andre, Hakeem, Cookie and Anika are all operating out of a profound sense of hurt and loss. They've been pushed too far, and now the cancer has spread 

Even though these are fictional TV characters, seeing these dynamics play out on screen resonated with me because I've been pushed to the brink of hate with some of my family members and people I trusted. Fortunately I didn't stay there, but I understand how a person can get to that place and take up residence. 

As a Christian, I know hating someone is not godly. I also know that hurt people, hurt people. I've done it and have had it done to me. But, I'm constantly trying not to be the person that causes hurt in the lives of others, especially family and friends. I fall short, but I'm trying. I'm also trying to be more forgiving and more decisive in separating myself from people and situations that aren't good for me. I ain't trying to be like the Lyons. 

OK, now that I've gotten all deep about a TV show, let's have fun and make some predictions for Empire Season 2:

  • Without Vernon, Lucious will get out of jail. Duh!!
  • Once free, Lucifer, I mean Lucious, will be so hell bent on revenge that he'll actually try to kill at least one of his sons. After all Lucious did say during his hallucination, "I kill anyone who crosses me."
  • Lucious' real name is Dwight Walker, and it will mean something for eveyone involved. 
  • The hostile take over will blow up in everyone's face, and the family will lose the company.
  • Jamal's hookup with Ryan in Lucious' office will have negative consequences for him and the company.
  • Tension between Jamal and Andre will grow and may lead to another physical confrontation. 
  • Rhonda's real reason for telling Andre not to call the police will be revealed, and it won't be pretty. 
  • Somebody else will die in the season 2 finale.

What are your predictions?

Lemme know in the comments and stay random,