Beyoncé saved Us! In an hour-long HBO special on Saturday, April 23, that was rife with religious symbolism, famous faces (we saw you, Zendaya and Serena Williams!), rare home footage and Bey’s signature perfectionism, we learned all about how the star turns life’s lemons into sweet, sweet lemonade.
Queen Bey’s lyrics delved into pain from relationships — she used the word “cheating” multiple times — and watching her parents’ struggling marriage. There was denial and anger, but later there was forgiveness and resurrection too. Between those were plenty of other stages, plus all-new music and dance sequences. Read on for Us Weekly‘s minute-by-minute roundup of the powerful, emotion-packed event.
10 p.m. ET: “Redemption”: “With every tear came redemption, and my torture became my remedy. So we’re gonna heal. We’re gonna start again.” This Beyoncé was quite a departure from the truck-driving, bat-wielding Bey we saw earlier. The scene was bright and full of sun. We were treated to more old footage and even got to see Bey and Jay Z getting their “IV” tattoos. We’ve already seen that, but this at least disputes claims that she had the tattoo removed because she wanted to divorce him.
Following that, there was footage of happy couples kissing that even included Bey’s mother and her new husband, Richard Lawson. Then after some rare footage of Beyoncé’s pregnant belly, out came Blue to play football with Jay at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The entire production ended on a shot of a very content Queen Bey with her family. Consider Us happy subjects of the queen once more.
9:52 p.m. ET: “Hope”: “I’mma keep runnin’ ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves!” she sang as a driving beat played. Winnie Harlow and Amandla Stenberg were on hand to lend their beauty to this segment, while Beyoncé sang about freedom and breaking chains. They and the rest of the ensemble stood resolutely, facing forward, as the camera panned out.
9:49 p.m. ET: “Resurrection”: This scene began with a woman asking about the future before concluding that it’s actually all about the children, so they must be taught to love. Women were shown holding photos of young men. Some cried. Among those in the scene were Lesley McSpadden, the mother of the late Mike Brown, and Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mom. The message was clear: We really must teach the children to love while we have them here.
9:45 p.m. ET: “Forgiveness”: “Baptize me. Now that reconciliation is possible, if we’re gonna heal, let it be glorious.” She sat in a room at a small piano, surrounded by old knickknacks that surely held some meaning for her. This is Beyoncé. Nothing appears in a video of hers without some meaning.
That being said, the camera panned to some wilted flowers. Then there was a flashback to her in bed with Jay Z himself. They were laughing. He caressed her. She hugged him. Beysus just taught Us all how to truly forgive with 15 minutes left in the program. Amen.
9:41 p.m. ET: “Reformation”: Beyoncé laid on a football field as she questioned why she allowed herself to be treated incorrectly. Did she not know her worth? “You are the love of my life …” she breathed. She remembered, then, how powerful she and her partner were and could be again.
9:35 p.m. ET: “Accountability”: The scene switched from color to black and white as Bey described a young girl who wanted to be just like her mother, but didn’t look like her. “You want to be like your mother, but women like her cannot be contained,” she sighed. Then the color came back, but it was grainy. It was old footage.
Is “Accountability” about Blue? Is it about a young Beyoncé? It was hard to tell. “Am I talking about your husband or your father?” Bey asked. Even she doesn’t know. When she began to sing a twangy-sounding country song, it was about her father guiding her through life and telling her to protect her sister. Old footage of the Destiny’s Child alum with Matthew Knowles played, and it became obvious who the young girl who wanted to look like her mother was all along. That child had learned from her mother to be patient when mistreated by her husband. Bey should remember, though, that even Tina Knowles reached a breaking point.
9:29 p.m ET: “Emptiness”: It started to rain. Beyoncé sat surrounded by fire, quietly narrating some very, very intimate details of her sex life. It became clear as she then walked down a dark hallway that “Emptiness” was the perfect choice for this portion; the sex is fleeting, but the pain stays with her.
And wait, what was that? Who was singing? Was that The Weeknd? “Stacking money, money, money everywhere she goes …” he sang as Bey rode through a city lit in red light. If the red light wasn’t symbolic enough, she writhed around on a bed in a lace bodysuit, singing about a woman who stacks paper, grinding Monday to Friday, working Monday to Sunday, wearing 6-inch heels. Still clad in lace, she walked down another hallway, but this one seemed to be a hotel. Flames leaped from the door behind her as she sang, “Come back, come back …”
9:22 p.m. ET: “Apathy”: “So what are you gonna say at my funeral now that you’ve killed me?” she asked as her dancers swayed on a bus, and haunting music trilled in the background. She referenced herself as the mother of her cheater’s children, both living and dead, which gives credence to the theory that this really is all about Jay.
With her middle finger up, she danced with her girls, insisting, “I ain’t thinking ’bout you!”
9:17 p.m. ET: “Anger”: Beyoncé chose crazy over jealous, then driving a monster truck over some cars and quietly whispering, “If it’s what you truly want, I can wear her skin over mine, her hair over mine, her hands as gloves, her teeth as confetti, her scalp a cap, her sternum my bedazzled cane …”
A troupe of beautiful, baton-twirling girls marched down the street. Queen Bey came to tell Us one thing: She will not be cheated on. She took out an hourlong slot on HBO to let Us know. Now we know.
After concluding, “I’m just too much for you. You just gotta let it be …” she said, “This is your final warning: You know I give you life. You try this s–t again, you gonna lose your wife.” Uh, Jay Z, are you hearing all this?
9:11 p.m. ET: “Denial”: Beyoncé swam through the water as she described all she did for weeks while denying to herself that she was being cheating on. She abstained from sex. She sought solace in the Bible. Finally, she burst from a building, and the water poured out of the doorway around her as she demanded, “Are you cheating on me?”
A freed Bey stomped through the city with a baseball bat, smashing a window as she sang, “What’s worse, looking jealous or crazy? Jealous or crazy?” With everything she destroyed, she stopped denying what she knew to be true and grew more confident. She kept repeating, “They don’t love you like I love you. Can’t you see there’s no other man above you? What a wicked way to treat the one who loves you!”
9:07 p.m. ET: “You can taste the dishonestly, it’s on your breath…” Beyoncé sang as she sat before a red curtain, nearly bare-faced and in a hoodie. The word “intuition” flashed on screen as she said, “I tried to make a home out of you, but doors led to trapdoors. A stairway leads to nothing.”
There were closeups on Southern women wearing vaguely Victorian clothing. The song seemed to be all about the unease of not trusting someone’s words. Bey appeared to doubt her own intuition as she threw herself from a building … and landed in water!
9 p.m. ET: Grab a glass! Beyoncé’s Lemonade will be airing on HBO Saturday, April 23 — but what exactly Lemonade is, though, is anyone’s guess! Even the trailer sparked more questions than it answered.
A few sources say it’s a docustyle film that gives viewers a behind-the-scenes peek at Queen Bey like Life Is but a Dream did. Others say it’s a “concept video,” while some people speculate it is another full-length album reveal or maybe a concert movie similar to HBO’s On the Run Tour: Beyoncé and Jay Z.
Knowing Bey, the mysterious special will involve dancing, singing and slaying, and will be expertly planned and pulled off. Whatever it is, you can count on Us Weekly to catalog every moment and be the first to tell you each big reveal, so be sure to refresh this page throughout the special!
Get the hot sauce from your bag, tune into HBO and follow along with our Lemonade live blog starting at 9 p.m. ET.
Lemonade airs on HBO Saturday, April 23, at 9 p.m. ET.