Why Empire's Big Season 5 Death May Not Be Who We Expected

Spoilers ahead for the November 28 episode of Empire, called "Master of What is Mine Own."

Empire kicked off its fifth season on Fox with the cliffhanger reveal that a major death is on the way. The death was revealed via a flash-forward, but the identity of the person in the coffin was not revealed. Subsequent flash-forwards have ruled out some characters as the one to bite the dust, and all signs pointed toward one of the Lyons being the person to die. Now, the events of "Master of What is Mine Own" may have hinted that somebody else's end is nigh: Kai.

Kai entered the scene in Season 5 as Jamal's devastatingly charming and intelligent love interest. A war correspondent and journalist, Kai fell in love with Jamal, and the two became engaged. Cookie and Lucious had their reservations about their son marrying Kai after they learned that Kai is H.I.V. positive, but they eventually came around when they realized that Jamal and Kai were being safe and loved each other very much. Jamal could get as much of a happily-ever-after as is possible on Empire if nothing goes horribly wrong.

So, the odds are pretty good that something is going to go horribly wrong. Good things rarely stick for any of the Lyons, and the show already toyed with Kai's potential death once this season when he went missing overseas. He returned for a happy reunion with Jamal, but could he be living on borrowed time? Here are some new reasons why poor Kai could be the one to wind up in the coffin rather than one of the main Lyons who have been around from the very beginning.

In "Master of What is Mine Own," Kai was introduced to the world as Jamal's fiance when Jamal casually dropped the good news to entertainment journalists. It didn't occur to Jamal that a war correspondent like Kai might not want to have his name dragged into the press due to his engagement to "a pop star," and the negative effects were felt by Kai almost immediately. Two of his sources withdrew, and he was mocked at work.

It wasn't enough to actually jeopardize his relationship with Jamal, and it even seemed to push him to want to help Jamal while also continuing with his world as a non-entertainment journalist. He got his chance for just that at the end of the episode, and that could contribute to what may be his doom in Season 5.

Why? Well, that has everything to do with Jeff Kingsley, whose shocking connection to Lucious was recently revealed. In the episode, Kinglsey decided that he was going to "vault" Lucious' music, therefore preventing a whole generation of listeners from accessing his work. Becky gave the Lyons a heads up about the vaulting, leading Lucious to pay Kingsley a visit.

He began to wonder how Kingsley planned to financially compensate for the money he was sure to lose by vaulting Lucious' music, and an angry Becky stepped up to help the Lyons. She snuck into Kingsley's office and manages to distract him long enough to steal incriminating files, which she delivered back to the Lyons.

There, they discovered that Kingsley is selling Empire users' information to law enforcement. By turning every phone into a listening device and then selling access to it, Kingsley is betraying a large (and largely minority) consumer base. Lucious and Co. were anxious for this news to get out, as it would be very good for them and bad for Kingsley, but they realized that it would look bad if the news was leaked by them, and not least because they weren't supposed to have access to the info.

That's where Kai came in. Lucious, knowing that Kai is a respected journalist despite being dragged into the limelight for his role as Jamal's fiance rather than his career, took the dirty details to him. Jamal was not on board with Kai getting pulled into this mess, but Kai declared that he was all-in on exposing Kingsley's shady dealings. Kai is now in a position to become an enemy of anybody who hates the Lyons, and that could put him in the crossfire that resulted in the flash-forward death.

Now, he's hardly the only character who could count himself as a potential enemy of any who hate the Lyons. What marks him as a prime candidate for the big death is just how devastated Lucious has been regarding the death in the flash-forwards. He and Cookie have come to embrace Kai as a future member of the family and approve of how much Jamal loves him, which is a far cry from how Lucious at least would have reacted in seasons past.

If Lucious considers Kai a part of the family and considers the big death to be at least partly his fault, Kai could definitely be the one whose death leaves him in the state he's been in via flash-forward. We already know that Cookie probably isn't going to die, and Thirsty is still alive and counseling Lucious in the flash-forwards. Killing off Kai would allow Empire to deal a devastating blow to the Lyons (as well as to viewers who have come to love the character) without getting rid of a longtime regular.

Do I want Kai to die? Definitely not. He's been a charming addition to the cast, given Jamal a refuge, and served as a foil to a fair amount of the Lyon family drama. He's been an outsider who has come to fit in, and I would be bummed to see him go. We'll have to wait and see. Kingsley will have a motivation to get rid of him if he finds out that Kai could expose his shady dealings, and Kingsley is a powerful enemy to have.

Elsewhere in the episode, Lucious found out that Cookie has been secretly holding onto a valuable property while he's been selling precious possessions and mortgaging his own property to keep their company afloat. The conflict between Hakeem and Blake came to a head with guns drawn on both sides, infuriating Tiana when she found out and driving her to Lucious and Cookie's mansion with their son in tow. Hakeem didn't want her taking their son or Bella, arguing that Bella isn't even her daughter.

There was an ugly confrontation between Lucious, Cookie, Tiana, and Hakeem that only came to an end when Bella wandered in, holding a gun and terrifying the adults. I was on the edge of my seat at the sight of sweet little Bella with a handgun, and I definitely jumped when she innocently turned it around on herself and looked down the barrel. Now, the good news is that the trailer for next week's episode doesn't point toward the little girl accidentally shooting herself, so we have to hope that the incident is a wake-up call for Hakeem.

Tune in to Fox on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET for Empire. Swing by our midseason TV premiere schedule for some upcoming viewing options.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).