‘Empire’ Returns With an Explosive Bang

If you could go back in time and change all the annihilation you had caused, would you take the opportunity to do so? And, how long would you keep this act up? Until someone figures out that you are not who you say you are? Until you can longer keep up the travesty? “Empire” is a series that is driven by drama. Catfights, murders and betrayal are some of the elements that unequivocally makes the show a hit. After all, one can’t simply look away from the destruction of the Lyon family. And the fall of the Empire that Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) so gallantly has built is slowly unraveling in front of his eyes. Well, what he remembers of it, that is.

The explosive season four opener begins with the Lyon pack dishing out interviews backstage at Empire’s 20th anniversary celebration with Leviticus. Although Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and her clan maintain a sense of confidence in their interviews, there is the lingering question of whether Lucious would actually be in attendance. And, this is a huge deal folks. No one knows that Lucious has lost all of his memory from a fatal attack led by his own son Andre (Trai Byers) and Shine (Xzibit) 5 months ago. Lucious and Cookie were both caught in the crossfire, but it was Lucious who risked his own life to save Cookies. As a consequence, he slipped into a coma and lost all memory of his prior life. What results is a more calm and collected Lyon who is soft spoken and kind. A definite 360 from his dominating and leading counterpart from his aforementioned life.

Is Lucious Lyon lying? If he is, then someone needs to hand Mr. Howard an Oscar. As the episode unravels, Lucious slowly builds a new life. One that the Lyons are not directly part of. Lucious eventually makes an appearance at Empire’s 20th anniversary. Armed with his cane and slick blazer, Lucious doesn’t know why he is there or he really is, he confesses to Cookie. Lucious has always been part of the spotlight but as photographers grab his attention and flashbulbs start popping off, he really loses it. This is not the confident archbishop we have grown to appreciate.

Then there is the bizarre relationship between Lucious and his rehabilitation specialist Claudia (Demi Moore). The head Lyon seems to be falling in love with her and Cookie is having a hard time dealing with this fact. Claudia has fully taken advantage of Lucious’s handicap and has advised him not to have any conversations of the family because it will impair his healing process. Suspicious indeed and Cookie Lyon is catching on.  Cookie now reigns supreme of the Empire franchise much to Shine’s dismay. After all, the king and queen of Empire were to be dead by now. But, someone is talking and they’re talking to the Las Vegas PD who have been shadily sniffing around Andre.

Hakeem is still being blackmailed by Mrs. Dubois who has taken a stake in Jamal’s (Jussie Smollett) love life. Warren, Angelo’s cousin, has been making his rounds and apparently Andre is enamored by Warren, an attorney by day and an aspiring musician by night (Terrell Carter). But with any Empire plot twist, it becomes apparent that Warren is being controlled by Mrs. Dubois (Phylicia Rashad) who is dead sent on bringing down Cookie’s family and legacy. Not to mention – Warren is part of the Dubois family. “I will pick the meat from their bones as she watches helplessly,” she states to a concerned Warren. Cookie just may have met her match alongside with Jamal.

In one of the more deplorable plot twists, Lucious had to have one of his legs amputated as a result of the explosion and his nurse Claudia is insisting that everyone now call him “Dwight.” At a family dinner, he hears one of his original songs and he can’t believe what a shady and impersonal human being he was at one point in his life. He’s tired of people telling him who he was instead of who he is.

As the episode wraps, Lucious reveals his prosthetic leg for the limb that was blown off in the explosion to the shocked crowd at the 20th anniversary. Lucious’s roar has been replaced with a soft meow that is unassuming and weak. An element that hinders the Lyon empire and the relationship between him and dictating ex. Cookie. Not to mention that the Dubois, the Lyon’s arch enemy, are on the prowl to destroy the Lyon dynasty.

As any viewer can tell you, the Lyon family always throw out that slow burn that will eventually fizzle into something a lot more disparaging in episodes to come. And Cookie’s reign will not be over any time soon.

Empire” season 4 premiered Sept. 27 and airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.