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Spoilers ahead for Episode 15 of Empire Season 5, called "A Wise Father That Knows His Own Child."
The plot of Empire Season 5 has been all over the place, but there's one twist that has kept everything more or less on track: the big death. Empire revealed way back in the Season 5 premiere that somebody is going to bite the dust by the end of the season, and only a few characters have been ruled out so far.
The death is definitely going to be a Lyon, and probably be both game-changing and heartbreaking. After the events of "A Wise Father That Knows His Own Child," though, I have to wonder: is the big death going to be a good thing?
Now, I'm not saying that I'm looking forward to seeing one of the Lyons bite the dust, although I am relieved that Cookie was more or less ruled out as somebody who could be in the coffin. Would Empire really be Empire without Cookie? No, as sad as the death will likely be, it could work in the favor of the surviving Lyons.
The feds have been getting closer and closer to Empire throughout Season 5, and the dealings with Damon Cross combined with how Lucious totally just beat a guy to death in an alley seemed guaranteed to heat up the investigation. The FBI got bolder in "A Wise Father That Knows His Own Child" by recruiting Kingsley as a wire-wearing snitch.
Kingsley did so willingly... until he came around to believe Lucious' story that he didn't get Tracy addicted to drugs and never knew that Tracy was pregnant. He quit on the FBI and turned up at the Lyon family dinner, which was celebrating good news on the Andre front (for now, anyway) and Jamal's upcoming wedding to Kai.
Fortunately for Lucious and Kingsley, Cookie was in a good enough mood about Andre that she welcomed Kingsley to the table, although not with requiring a very large glass of wine. Still, the episode didn't end on a high note for the Lyons, as the FBI raided an Empire warehouse and told Becky that the Trust tour is done.
Basically, all of the evidence is mounting up and the feds clearly aren't backing down, so it's difficult to imagine how Empire could believably continue into Season 6 without a sizable time jump to explain away the results of the investigation. Honestly, how could the FBI not win at this point?
That's where the death comes in, if my new theory is correct. Perhaps Empire could survive the scandal and investigation if the fault can be laid at the feet of whoever dies. Admittedly, it's kind of a heartless and mercenary theory, but it could work.
The problem with the theory is that Cookie and Lucious almost certainly wouldn't want to let one of their sons take the fall for the company, even in death, and Andre's really the only Lyon son who would have been able to maybe have a hand in all the shady dealings.
That is, Andre is the only son with the Lyon name who could have had a hand in the shady dealings. Lucious' reconciliation with Kingsley in "A Wise Father That Knows His Own Child" already seems to have Kingsley feeling guilty about some of his earlier actions, and he genuinely appeared to want to make a good impression on the rest of the Lyons when he dropped by for dinner.
If he finds out that Lucious and the rest of the family will fall due to the feds' investigation -- and possibly because what Kingsley did to Empire pushed Lucious and Co. to extreme measures to rebuild the company -- then perhaps Kingsley could willingly take the fall. And then die.
Kingsley dying could be sad now that he seems to be kind of an okay guy, and it wouldn't take any of the longtime Lyons out of the game. Jussie Smollett's case was dismissed, so he may not need to be written out and therefore make Jamal a candidate for the death.
I still feel like Andre flatlining in the flash-forward was too early to be anything but a misdirect to make viewers think he's dying. At this point, my money is on Kingsley taking the fall for Empire and then dying.