Major spoilers ahead for the Season 5 premiere of Empire on Fox. Seriously, if you haven't watched the crazy episode yet, you may want to check out some of our spoiler-free stories until you get the chance to tune in.
In case you were concerned that Empire ran out of crazy plot twists at the end of Season 4 with the Lyons losing control of Empire, Andre killing a woman, and Hakeem and Tiana in potentially mortal danger from a shooting, the Season 5 premiere definitely proves you wrong. The insane hour of television picked up after a two-year time jump and saw the death of Eddie just when Lucious and Cookie were poised to gain control of Empire back from him thanks to some classic blackmail, with Giselle letting him die. The biggest twist, however, came at the end of the episode with a flash forward. This time, the action picked up six months in the future, when Lucious is seen standing grimly over a coffin, and then says "I'm sorry" to the casket.
Since this was just the season premiere, Empire naturally didn't give a sign of who exactly is in the casket. We can rule out Eddie (who was cremated and then had his ashes dumped into a sewer by a not-so-mournful Giselle) and Lucious, but that's about it. Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney has explained how long fans will have to wait to find out the identity of the person in the casket, saying this:
The mystery will play out the entire season. We will know who is in the coffin by the [finale]. The flash-forwards will play intermittently as we move through the season and provide puzzle pieces [to the mystery].
So, don't expect Empire to reveal who died in the next couple of episodes or anything. The show will stretch the mystery out all the way through to the season finale, so we should prepare ourselves for the long haul. The show will undoubtedly drop plenty of hints during the six-month gap between the time of the premiere and the time of the flash forward. We'll have to pay attention to any details about who might and might not bite the dust.
At least we don't have to wait all the way until the finale for more content on what's going on in the time jump. Brett Mahoney's comments point toward multiple flash forwards as the season progresses. They may not reveal definitively who dies, but they may help us rule out candidates for the coffin. Empire seems to be indicating that Cookie, Andre, Jamal, or Hakeem will die; we'll have to wait and see.
[This twist] certainly lives in that world, but it was actually Lost that inspired me. There was that pivotal season when they did that flash-forward and you were like, "What? The flashback was actually a flash-forward?" That's what made me think of it.
Interestingly, Brett Mahoney also revealed that the actor playing the character that will die has not yet been informed of their character's fate, so the cast won't be good for any juicy spoilers about the coffin just yet! It's possible that somebody other than one of the Lyons will die, and Mahoney would only say that he hopes the eventual reveal "will be satisfying." The person to die might not be a major character, but the death will clearly be major with regard to its repercussions. You can find out what happens next during new episodes of Empire in the fall TV lineup, airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.