Lucious ain't Lucious!!! But that's a good thing.
The Lyons of Empire roared back in the Season 4 premiere, well, all but one. Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) returned with a meow, recovering from the sudden case of amnesia he got in the Season 3 finale after his car blew up with him almost in it.
The Season 3 premiere picked up months later with Lucious still unable to remember his past and recovering from the explosion. That includes a prosthetic leg for the limb that was blown off, which is the perfect trick to give Lucious what he's always needed — a mack daddy cane! But Empire — the company — doesn't stop for no man, so it was business almost as usual for the rest of the Lyons. It also happened to be the label's 20 year anniversary, a big deal for sure and unfortunate timing to have your head honcho out with memory loss.
But Lucious played the part for Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and attended the event as the old blustery and brave Lucious, taking one for a team that he didn't even know. And after pretending to be the old Lucious, he went back to not knowing who he was.
After initially balking at this soap opera tactic, I'm all in on Lucious' amnesia. Why? Let's get to it.
Terrence Howard Gets to Go Full Terrence Howard
Howard is one of the great/weird actors of our generation. Yeah, we've watched so much Empire that we're used to Howard as the bully of the bunch, but as the new Lucious, Howard has transformed on camera. He speaks in whispers, his shoulders don't command the room anymore and he's more of a fuzzy slipper wearing grandfather than a former gangster. Howard appears to be loving it, swallowing up the role and playing an entirely new character. It's a blast to watch.
This New Lucious Shows What Could Have Been
This new version of daddy Lyon is the anti-Lucious. As mentioned above, he speaks softly and in a slightly nasally voice, making him nerd Lucious when compared to the man we knew. He even wants to help strangers, as proven when Star's Carlotta (Queen Latifah) showed up to ask for help and Lucious — not even knowing who she was — really put in the effort to help her out. [Side note: THAT was the Star crossover? Latifah saying two lines and that's it? WEAK.] Would old Lucious have done that? Nahhhhh. New Lucious even gave a "love is love" speech to Jamal (Jussie Smollett), which was full approval of Jamal's homosexuality. Say WHAT? Who is this guy? Is this who Lucious truly is deep down? Empire has a shot to explore how people are affected by their past and the decisions they make, and make a real statement on nature vs. nurture. But it will probably just give Lucious his memory back after a piano falls on his head or something, and then Lucious will kick ass again.
The Lyons Don't Know How to Deal With New Lucious
There was a dinner scene — a ridiculously opulent dinner scene where the Lyons were eating outside of their mansion — that really showed the tension that new Lucious will cause this season, and it was frickin' awesome. Lucious asked to hear a song from his old love song days (back when he wore lipstick HAHA), and Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) just about lost his damn mind. He said he wanted his O.G. dad back, "Not this bitch ass hopping on one leg singing love songs!" That started a family fight during what had been a delightful evening, forcing Lucious to freak out and wonder why there was so much hate in the family. Cookie's particularly confused, because she and Lucious were about to mend their broken relationship just before he lost his memories. Those feelings remain with Cookie, but to Lucious, Cookie is a stranger. Uh oh. Look, Empire was repeating itself every season with its family dynamic, but amnesia Lucious changes things up for the better.
This New Lucious Is Hilarious
In order to jog Lucious' memory, the Lyons asked him to listen to some of his old music, and new Lucious' reaction was priceless. "Are all my songs this violent and hateful, and why would I write something like this?" This is the same guy who was recording songs about killing people in jail not too long ago. Now he's all, "Ewww, this is too mean! Am I a meanie?" Later he added, "Most of the songs just game me a terrible headache." Ha ha, this guy. It's like if Dr. Dre suddenly became Erkel.
Claudia Adds a New Wrinkle the Show Needed
Lucious' caretaker is Nurse Claudia (Demi Moore), and Lucious is already falling for her. He even asked to kiss her at one point, which Claudia said was Lucious "confusing" his feelings while his memory tries to block out his tragic past and repress his memories. You think Cookie accepted that answer? NOPE. Cookie is not playing that! And come on, we all are thinking the same thing Cookie is thinking: this girl is up to something. These two are about to take out their earrings and pull some hair. Meanwhile, Lucious has a medical excuse for trying to get a piece of Claudia. DRAMA.
Empire airs Wednesday nights at 8/7c on Fox.