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Major spoilers below for Empire's fall finale, so be sure to catch up before reading on.
For Empire's dysfunctional Lyon family, Season 5 has been as hectic and chaotic as any that have come before it, thanks to everything happening with Empire Entertainment and its new CEO Kingsley. Visions of the future have also added a layer of doom-laden immediacy to the storyline, but that's all changing in the back half of the season. According to showrunner Brett Mahoney, the remainder of Season 5 will firmly remain in the current-day timeline as it nears the reveal of its big funeral mystery.
By the end of the season, I promise we'll definitively know who's in that casket. it's really just sort of like a testing of the family as we move forward into the back half. You know, there are quite a few people, quite a few candidates who might be in that casket. Let me also say that we are done with flash-forwards at this point. Everything that we'll have in the back half of the season will be catching up to flash-forwards.
Empire has made good use of flash-forwards in the first half of Season 5, and it's somewhat surprising that the rest of the episodes will eschew that narrative conceit. The prophetic sequences all started during this season's deadly premiere, in which it was revealed that someone close to Lucious will be locked up in a coffin six months from that point. In the next episode, Lucious talked with the FBI about whatever murder took place that is presumably tied to the future funeral.
In "Had It From My Father," viewers took a shocking three-month jaunt to discover Andre is in the hospital, without a pulse and seemingly dead to the world. If that's actually the final flash-forward in Season 5, it was certainly an effective one to end things on.
Not only are viewers now worried about Andre's fate in general, but there's the presumption that he may end up being the body in the casket. And we won't even get any more future-set clues to tip us off. Why you gotta be so cold, Brett Mahoney?
The timing of Andre's hospital trip was quite intriguing. The scene occurred soon after A.Z. Kelsey's bloodied Jeff Kingsley made his admission about being Lucious' son. Amidst the shock and chagrin of most in the club, Andre got in his newly discovered half-brother's face and threatened to end him. To which Kingsley responded with his own ominous threat.
Because things are being set up so directly like that, I can't really believe that Kingsley will be the one to put Andre in the hospital. Nor do I believe that Andre is the body in the casket. But it'll take a short while for either of those notions to be confirmed or denied.
Showrunner Brett Mahoney told Deadline that Empire's next phase will be focused on Lucious potentially coming clean with his side of the story about Kingsley's origins, and how Cookie and others will handle this shake-up to the family tree.
In general, here's what Brett Mahoney said the narrative thrust will be for the remainder of Season 5 leading up to the big reveals.
The question will become if the Lyons retake Empire, what will it cost them? We've seen through the first half of the season the Lyons come together and appear where they've gone back to where they were underdogs and back to trying to launch something new and create something new. OK, but if they get back Empire, what will it mean for their relationships? Because, previously, we've seen them drawn together, but at what cost will it take for them to retake the throne?
Something tells me Cookie won't be impressed if Andre's death is included in the cost of keeping Empire in the O.G. Lyon family. I can't wait to see how she handles everything else, though.