If there are two things I can say in all confidence after this week's explosive episode of Empire, those two things would be that Taraji P. Henson is brilliant and there's no way we are losing a Lyon.
Not yet, anyway. But before we discuss which Lyon specifically is most certainly not dying right now, suffice it to say, this article will contain spoilers — don't say I didn't warn you.
Let's rewind for a minute back to two weeks ago, when the hit Fox series first aired a sneak peek teasing the fact that "a Lyon will fall." At the time, I hypothesized that perhaps the person who was going to get shot at the ASAs was a lesser known or perhaps even secret member of the Lyon family.
'Cause, really, how are you gonna kill off one of our favorite characters in the second season? But I did concede that there was a distinct possibility one of the core members would find themselves in mortal danger and, if they did, "it would only serve as a dramatic cliffhanger and possibly an extended story line involving their long road to recovery."
After this week's penultimate episode, I'm more convinced than ever that there is no way Empire would let the Lyon who took a bullet lose his life for it. And, as you know if you were watching, that Lyon is Jamal.
At this very moment in the Empire universe, Jamal is lying on an operating table fighting for his life. Whose fault is that? Well, on a surface level, you could obviously say the blame goes to Freda Gatz. As the Lyon family and some of its artists, including Freda, were making their way down the red carpet prior to the start of the ASAs, Cookie's drunk-ass sister showed up and spilled the beans about how Lucious handled Freda's father, Frank Gathers, in jail.
In a flawless scene, the sound cuts in and out as Freda realizes Lucious killed her father and then manipulated her after his death into believing he always had her back. In one fell swoop, she takes off running, snatches a security guard's gun and fires a shot toward the hip-hop mogul's back.
Of course, the bullet missed its mark, because Jamal jumped in front of it and, oh dear God, you guys, Jamal just got shot!
Understandably, fans are both shocked and saddened. Many are on the verge of staging a viewership coup if Jamal doesn't pull through.
if they kill off Jamal, they losing my views— Jessica Ashley (@Jessi_Ashley) May 12, 2016
If Jamal dies I'm never watching empire again— Linds (@Lindsay_Lofton) May 12, 2016
IF JAMAL DIES I'M RAISING 50 SHADES OF HELL— Mecca (@bigdaddylana) May 12, 2016
if Jamal dies , it's not a show anymore— forever3:20 (@officialdoll_) May 12, 2016
If Jamal don't come out alive in the next episode, me and every executive producer at Fox is fighting. idc, idc. pic.twitter.com/DLQO0iXYng— ma•lay•jha (@ChildishLayjha) May 12, 2016
So why am I so convinced Jamal isn't, in fact, going to die? For a few very compelling reasons.
The show is responsible for really setting fire to Smollett's music career, thanks to Jamal's legion of super-fans. Since we've yet to hear anything about problems with contract negotiations and since Smollett is still using Empire to promote his music and vice versa, it doesn't seem like he'll be biting the hand that feeds him any time soon.
During a searing conversation between Lucious and Jamal shortly before the red carpet, Lucious told Jamal, "You're nothing to me. And when you catch AIDS and die, I'm going to celebrate." Damn, Lucious. That wasn't just cold; that's the kind of thing there's no coming back from. So the fact that Jamal jumped in front of a bullet to save the man who just wished death upon him is way more likely to lead to a long and dramatic change in perspective for Lucious, who will undoubtedly be grateful when Jamal does finally wake up. Plus, we know Jamal already had daddy issues to be worked out.
I've got nothing against Hakeem and Tiana — they're both phenomenal artists. However, there's no denying that when it comes to the musicality of this show, Jamal's character is the cornerstone. Can you imagine if he wasn't around to lend his voice to each episode? Producers would surely never risk tanking the show by writing out the singer whose artistry truly gives this show life.
Tonight could very well have been the end of whatever it is that Jamal and D-Major have going on between them, given that D-Major basically threw Jamal under the bus when Lucious walked in on them. Not to mention, later on the red carpet when he flaunted a supermodel beard. But the fact that Jamal is now clinging to life just begs for a dramatic show of affection from D-Major. Besides, showrunner Ilene Chaiken recently told Variety that this was "the beginning of a story" and that "we will definitely see more of it." So there.
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