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empire cookie lucious season 6 cliffhanger

Major spoilers ahead for Empire’s Season 6 midseason finale, “Cold Cold Man.”

Empire’s Season 6 winter finale escalated what was an already precarious situation and ended on a cliffhanger that saw both Cookie and Lucious staring down the barrel of Tracy’s gun. In the midst of a season that has included flash-forwards alluding to both of the Lyons' deaths, Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney thankfully discussed the midseason ending to let fans know when we will get answers.

Empire’s midseason finale, titled “Cold Cold Man,” left viewers shocked and confused about the episode’s final moments, which seemingly take place before the flash-forwards that have been teasing Lucious and Cookie’s deaths. Based on those sequences involving Cookie's explosion and Lucius' gunshot wounds, does that info take away from the impact of the episode's cliffhanger? Showrunner Brett Mahoney doesn’t think so, though, and here’s what he said regarding when all will be revealed:

It could. But we don’t know that those two things aren’t connected in some way. . . . It’s not beyond the pale that they could be connected. But I will tell you that in our midseason premiere you will see who shoots Lucious [in the flash-forward] and you will also see who is responsible for the car bombing of Cookie.

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Brett Mahoney’s answer sounds a lot like Tracy may not have been responsible for shooting Lucious, or at least not for the gunshot wounds that we're already aware of. It’s not unusual for this show to pull some trickery to fool the audience, only to give up answers in later episode. Plus, this wouldn’t be a very good cliffhanger if the future was 100% already known.

If Tracy didn’t shoot Lucious, arguably the next big suspect on the list is Cookie. Prior to Tracy walking in with the gun, Cookie was just about ready to shoot her husband, who refused to give her the divorce she wanted. In fact, in his interview with TVLine, the Empire exec seemed to imply that Cookie might be the one revealed to have pulled the trigger after all.

That’s a debate I had with the network and the studio and in the [writers’] room. I think she was so frustrated [about Lucious refusing] to sign the divorce papers that, [although] she definitely doesn’t plan on it… could she be pushed to it? I don’t know.

All signs seem to be pointing towards Cookie crumbling, and it wouldn’t be surprising if she did shoot Lucious. The pair has had a toxic relationship for many years, and if she got driven to the edge, Cookie may have pulled the trigger on him as a desperate way out of her marriage, or just plain vengeance. While the circumstantial evidence is all there, I imagine the midseason premiere won’t play out the way fans might expect, but perhaps at least one character might get a happy ending.

Empire Season 6 will return to Fox in 2020, and it appears Jussie Smollett’s return has been discussed, though no premiere date has been scheduled yet. For more on what to watch, be sure to check out our midseason guide to see what’s new and returning.