Early development is punctuated by a series of pervasive and fast paced transitions. These events reshape a differentiated oocyte into a totipotent embryo and allow it to gradually mount a genetic program of its own, thereby framing a new organism. Specifically, developmental transitions that ensure the maternal to embryonic control of developmental events entail a deep remodeling of transcriptional and transcriptomic landscapes. Drosophila provides an elegant and genetically tractable system to investigate these conserved changes at a dazzling developmental pace. Here, we review recent studies applying emerging technologies such as ribosome profiling, in situ Hi-C chromatin probing and live embryo RNA imaging to investigate the transcriptional dynamics at play during Drosophila embryogenesis. In light of this new literature, we revisit the main models of zygotic genome activation (ZGA). We also review the contributions played by zygotic transcription in shaping embryogenesis and explore emerging concepts of processes such as transcriptional bursting and transcriptional memory.