From catfights to royal scepters to Lucious's Carlos Santana impression

Credit: Chuck Hodes/FOX

Was there ever any doubt that the Empire finale would be absolutely bonkers?

In just two hours, Empire crammed in approximately six seasons’ worth of material – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The finale was a bit of a convoluted … not mess, per se, but certainly something that requires a brief recap. Here’s what happened in the season 1 finale of Empire, as told in 9 GIFs (and 3 Tweets!).

Snoop Dogg Made an Appearance

His appearance in the finale was basically superfluous, but Snoop Dogg wasn’t alone in showing up and playing himself for no real reason other than to lend legitimacy to the idea that Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is an actual force to be reckoned with in the music industry. (Also looking at you, Rita Ora and Patti LaBelle.)

Andre Discovered Religion

Through the power of Jennifer Hudson (who played Michelle), Andre (Trai Byers) discovered religion and drove away his wife, Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday), in the span of what felt like a week. The timeline on this finale was absolutely incomprehensible.

Anyway, Lucious decided to taunt him for it, because Lucious sucks.

Lucious Ousted Cookie

For the crime of not wanting to love him or put up with his nonsense and for running into the arms of his (now former) bodyguard, Lucious ousted Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) from Empire Entertainment entirely. She was most displeased.

You might ask, “What about her position on the board?” Well, a convicted felon can’t sit on the board. Or something business-y to that effect. Do all amorphous “boards” work like that?

Cookie Spoke the Truth

But then we found out that Lucious didn’t have ALS after all and that he will continue to terrorize his family for years to come. His condition – myasthenia gravis – is entirely treatable.

Jamal and Lucious Found Common Ground

And they recorded a song so flamenco-y that “Carlos Santana” briefly trended on Twitter. Don’t believe us? Here’s a sample:

Even though Lucious’s death was no longer imminent, he decided that Jamal (Jussie Smollett) would be his successor. Did not dying cure Lucious’s homophobia? Not that we’re mad about it, but we can think of a few people who might benefit from a near-death experience.

Lucious Gave His Family Some Hilarious Gifts

To prove that he was willing to turn over a new leaf, he gave his sons – and Cookie – some incredible gifts. For Hakeem (Bryshere Gray), a pair of golden wings symbolic of his freedom – that Lucious will no longer try to control him. For Andre, a gilded cross – Lucious’s apology for trying to step in on Michelle and for making fun of his newfound – like, seriously just found – religion.

For Jamal, a scepter. Lucious handed his metaphorical throne to his middle son with an actual, royal scepter.

Oh, and Cookie? She got a tiny pillow. Earlier in the episode, she had found out that Lucious had killed Bunkie (Antoine McKay) – her cousin – and was this close to smothering him while he was knocked out on sleeping pills. Lucious caught her in the act on camera, however, after she chickened out. Should’ve gone for it, girl.


Cookie threw wine in Anika’s (Grace Gealey) face and punched her. Cookie doesn’t mess around. Anika had started getting to know Hakeem – in the biblical sense – and successfully convinced him to try a hostile takeover of Empire.

Empire Finally Went Public

Good. So sick of hearing about that IPO. However, the stock quickly tanked because …

Lucious Got Arrested

For the murder of Bunkie. Can you believe he’s actually going to be put away for something he did? Something tells us he’ll be leaving jail with a kinder, gentler outlook on Cookie’s 17-year sacrifice.

The snitch was not Cookie, but Vernon (Malik Yoba). He and Andre got into a fight, and Rhonda arrived just in time to whack Vernon in the head with a candlestick to get him off of her husband. He did not survive the experience. Vernon, didn’t anybody ever tell you that snitches get stitches?

Also, Andre and Rhonda reunited after their brief (or interminable? What was the timeline on this finale?) separation – killer secrets bring couples together – and Rhonda revealed that she’s pregnant.

Lucious Was Dramatic Even in Prison

Season 1 of Empire ended with Lucious saying “Game time, bitches.” To no one. Those kinds of theatrics will not serve you well in prison, Lucious.

Our thanks to Giphy for the GIFs!

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