Empire returns Wednesday, September 23 for its second season. But because its first season jam-packed just about every scandalous plot detail Lee Daniels could dream up into its two-hour March finale — Hakeem and Boo Boo Kitty slept together! Jamal nearly pushed Baretti off a roof! Lucious isn’t dying! — the rest of the season probably feels like a blur. To jog your memory, here are the most salient details to know going into season two, captured in 21 GIFs — along with a few less-important moments worth reliving, because Cookie.
Last season on Dynasty — er, Empire …
Cookie finally got out of the pokey after 17 years, and had nothing but revenge on her mind, of course.
We learn that many years ago, Lucious took out his raging homophobia on a young, high-heel-wearing Jamal and a trashcan. Poor Jamal. Poor trashcan.
Bunkie, Cookie’s cousin, gambled with Lucious’s money and got snuffed. RIP.
Except Lucious isn’t the only one with a murder rap looming over his head. Cookie witnessed another drug dealer murder an FBI agent and snitched, landing him in prison. Afraid he’d have her killed from the inside, she has one of his hit men offed.
Season one was all “Drip Drop” this and “Drip Drop” that. How did Pitbull and Ne-Yo end up doing songs for season two, you ask? Hakeem would like to think it was all thanks to the “Drip Drop” Effect.
Jamal almost ended up on Maury.
And Lucious thought ALS was killing him nearly all season.
Remember that time Lucious briefly had a love triangle? Boo Boo Kitty does.
Jamal finally has the coming out that nearly stopped Lucious’s frozen heart. Bravo!
Payback for the trashcan!
Andre’s bipolar disorder landed him in Jennifer Hudson’s music-therapy treatment (among other things) by season’s end, but not before he (sort of) pulled the trigger.
As for Raven-Symoné’s megaadorable daughter — whom Jamal has spent half the season bonding with — Lucious, you are the father!
In a drug-fueled state, Lucious confesses to murdering Bunkie, and Cookie overhears. Leave it to the ex-con to come this close to adding a second murder charge to her résumé in one season.
Lucious, by the way, never had ALS. And he reacted to the misdiagnosis accordingly.
“I want to show you a faggot really can run this company,” Cookie threatened Lucious in the season opener. Eleven episodes later, when Lucious finally picks his successor, it happens.
Cue the trashcan flashback!
Back at House Andre and Rhonda, things get messy. You’re not a real Lyon until you’ve killed, after all. Vernon is offed, but not before he confirms to Cookie that Lucious did in fact kill her cousin Bunkie.
With some help from Cookie’s friends at the FBI, we last left Lucious as he got hauled off to prison for Bunkie’s murder. Meanwhile, Cookie, Hakeem, Anika, and Andre have been setting the groundwork for a hostile takeover of Empire, which, with Lucious now in prison, is in a better position than ever.
On to season two!
Bonus! A few GIFs you probably won’t need to remember, but will never forget: