‘Empire’ Midseason Finale: Will the Lyon Family Fall After Camilla’s Shocking Return? (SPOILERS)

Empire renewed Season 3
Courtesy of Fox

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched the midseason finale of “Empire,” which aired Wednesday, Dec. 2.

“Empire” wrapped up the first half of its second season with the return of a cougar, the fall of an empire and a potential death — or two.

Picking up from last week’s cliffhanger, in which the openly gay Jamal (Jussie Smollett) kissed Skye (guest star Alicia Keys), the midseason finale opened up with the duo back together, but not in a romantic way. Though Lucious (Terrence Howard) was delighted to see his son “fixed” by a woman, Jamal ended up telling Skye that he’s still in love with his ex-boyfriend Michael.

Keys wasn’t the only woman to step back into “Empire” Wednesday night. Naomi Campbell reprised her role as Hakeem’s much older former lover Camilla, who was booted out by Lucious at the end of the first season and came back with a vengeance.

Turns out Camilla was the voice on the other end of Mimi Whitman’s (Marisa Tomei) phone call that night when she was partying with Lucious — because she’s Mimi’s wife. Shocker of all shockers to the entire Lyon family, the two powerful women had teamed up for a very strategic relationship with their eye on the prize, in the form of taking Lucious and his Empire down.

Mimi gathered Empire’s board and called a vote to kick Lucious off his throne. At the end of the episode, the Lyon brothers gathered with their fellow board members to vote — all in favor of Lucious, other than Hakeem (Bryshere Gray), whose vote was the final straw. Well against Cookie’s (Taraji P. Henson) wishes, with Hakeem’s “nay,” Lucious lost his title — and quite possibly his son, who shamed his father worse than he could have ever imagined.

“Hakeem just committed the cardinal Lyon family sin, and I would say that he stands alone at the end of this episode,” showrunner Ilene Chaiken tells Variety.

As if Lucious losing Empire’s reigns wasn’t a big enough cliffhanger, a Lyon may never come back. After hanging out with the secretively pregnant and very jealous Anika (Grace Gealey) in her unborn child’s nursery, Andre’s (Trai Byers) expectant wife Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) got violently pushed down the stairs by a mysteriously hooded figure who broke into her mansion, which Lucious has bought for his oldest son and daughter-in-law. Before the midseason finale came to a close, Andre called Rhonda, whose phone rang and rang next to her lifeless body.

Though the motive points to Anika, Chaiken says it’s “not definitive” who pushed Rhonda. “We never see who actually pushed Rhonda down the stairs, and it’s possible that it was someone other than Anika. But Anika having a motive is certainly true.”

Here, Chaiken talks more about Rhonda and her baby’s possible deaths, plus teases what’s to come for the Lyon family now that Hakeem has burned Lucious so badly.

Let’s just clear this up: Is Rhonda dead? Is her baby dead?
I would say based on that fall that we should be concerned about Rhonda and her baby.

You said Anika was not definitively the person who pushed Rhonda, but she certainly has a motive, carrying Hakeem’s child. Will Hakeem and the Lyons find out about her pregnancy when the show returns?
I think it’s safe to say that at some point the Lyon family will find out.

Where does the back half of the season pick up? Is there a time jump?
We can’t let too much time elapse because if we were to jump ahead in time, then we wouldn’t be answering those questions. Everybody needs and wants to know what’s going to happen immediately. If we did our jobs well, these cliffhangers demand those answers.

So viewers won’t have to wait a long time to find out if Rhonda is dead or to find out what happens with Hakeem and his family?
We’re going to see how everybody reacts to those moments in which we leave each of our characters.

Is there a theme for the back half of the season?
The Lyon family coming together against an external adversary and regrouping to reclaim their company and their bond.

Where does the family stand now? Is Hakeem disowned from the Lyons?
That remains to be seen, of course. Where the family stands at the end of the episode is that everyone is stunned by Hakeem’s actions. One of the things we know about the Lyon family is that they can fight with one another, slander, destroy one another, until someone attacks them or the empire and then they all band together, and none of them from within has destroyed the family.

Why did Hakeem vote against his father? 
It was impetuous. It was not something that he planned or anticipated, but I think that the question is answered in the moment. The way that the scene is edited — the flashback sequence, the thought process that Hakeem goes through — he finds himself in this position with the fate of Empire in his hands and his alone, and the ability to finally pay Lucious back for all of the humiliations and indignities and everything else. The many things that Lucious has done to control him that have hurt him; he finally has the opportunity to hurt him back and to accomplish the thing that he set out to do in the every first episode of this season, which was to take down Empire.

Should we expect Hakeem to continue to side with Camilla or will he regret his decision and run back to his family?
That remains to be seen. We find out going forward. He and Camilla haven’t been planning this. This is as much of a shock to Hakeem to anyone else in the family. I don’t believe that Camilla has Hakeem in her thrawl — I believe that Hakeem makes an impetuous decision realizing that he has to act now or else he may never get the chance to again.

If he does regret his decision, is there anyway he can turn back? Or what’s done is done?
I don’t know that you can take back a corporate vote. I don’t know that the bylaws allow you to unvote.

Were Camilla’s motives with Hakeem twisted from the get-go? Was she using Hakeem to take down Lucious?
I think that up until the moment that Lucious banished Camilla, Camilla was ambitious and perhaps her relationship with Hakeem had in part to do with ambition. I think sometimes it’s hard to distinguish love from ambition. I think that she genuinely wanted to be with Hakeem and believed in their plans, and those plans were cruelly dashed by Lucious in our first season. I think that her relationship with Mimi is the scheming, strategic relationship.

So Camilla and Mimi met after Camilla was hooking up with Hakeem?
Yes, they got together post Camilla and Hakeem.

How did Mimi and Camilla meet each other?
This isn’t a story that we tell on camera, but we could possibly say that they’ve known one another for years and Mimi hit on Camilla years ago and Camilla rebuffed her, but remembered how crazy Mimi was because we’ve seen that Mimi can be obsessive about the women she sets on. So let’s say that they’ve known each other for a while and Mimi made her interest in Camilla known, and then Camilla went to Mimi when she needed someone that could help her.

Is there any romance involved with Mimi and Camilla or their relationship is purely strategic?
I would say that it was strategic. I don’t think that it was distasteful to Camilla, but I think that Camilla is certainly using Mimi to get what she’s after.

Since she was a big part of Lucious’ take-down, will we see more of Marisa Tomei in the back half of the season?
In the final boardroom scene, Mimi gave Camilla her proxy and said she was leaving for Rancho Mirage to undergo chemo and radiation. Marisa won’t be back except in spirit.

How much more of Naomi Campbell will we see in the second half of season two?
I’m not sure if I should tell you because it spoils the latter half of the season!

How will Camilla’s return impact Hakeem’s relationship with Laura (Jamila Velazquez)?
We’ve seen that Hakeem loves Laura genuinely, and clearly the return of Camilla is going to force a reckoning for him. What choice he makes is something that remains to be seen, but we should definitely know that this is going to be a challenge for Hakeem to figure out where his affections and loyalties lay, and also what sacrifices he’s willing to make for ambition.

Speaking of relationships, Skye brings up Michael’s name to Jamal, but we haven’t seen him for a while. Can we expect him and Jamal to get back together?
We haven’t seen the last of Michael. He is certainly, to date, the love of Jamal’s life.

And another relationship: Jamal and Lucious. Both were nominated for a major award against each other, and there seems to be a lot of tension. Should we anticipate bad blood between father and son when the show returns?
They’ve been aligned with one another for quite some time, but this is a tension that neither of them — especially Jamal — didn’t anticipate. We saw Lucious do something to undermine Jamal before he even learned that they were pitted against each other. This definitely is a new tension in the relationship and one that they’re both going to have to grapple with, and that threatens to pit them against each other.

The final scene when Cookie consoles Lucious seemed to go back to the old Cookie and Lucious. Is there any chance for a rekindled relationship?
The way that the events throw Lucious and Cookie back together are with deep feeling. The scene in which she comforts him is a very big scene in our world, and one that I think reminds us of the deep bond between them and possibly marks the beginning of reigniting of some kind.

Weigh in: What did you think about “Empire’s” fall finale? Do you think Rhonda is dead? What about her baby? Leave a comment below.

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  1. estelle rogers says:

    I think Boo Boo Kitty pushed her down the stairs, remember the red bottom shoes, those are for women

  2. Rachel says:

    I do not think Rhonda is dead, she is very much alive and she’s going to come back with a vengeance who I think pushed her down the stairs is that crazy lawyer that Lucius has running around with him that’s the mystery

  3. Nikki Tate says:

    I love Empire and this is what I think Hakeem will reunite with the family, he and Laura will stay together, Rhonda is probably dead but the baby is for sure dead, and Laura’s group,will stay.

  4. Timex lyon says:

    Rhonda aint dead… Nd if paradventure sm 1 dies,it wil b her child… Nd i tink d pusher wil b fishe or figured out… Nd i tink hakeem will stil cm bk to his real lover..#laura

  5. Anthony says:

    I think that Hakeem will leave Camilla

  6. Shanta J says:

    I think Rhonda and her unborn child are dead. In the scenes for the next episode Andre is on his knees crying in the nursery which leads me believe his wife and son are dead. I think we can expect at least one or two members if the supporting cast to be killed off each season.

  7. shania gaines says:

    I think rhondas baby is dead bot her I think that hakeem will go back to Camilla based on their past relationship.

  8. Thelma Randall says:

    I think Rhonda didn’t die. The baby did and think. Thirsty is crooked and dugged. Up Veron when they thought they killed him. And he pushed Rhonda.

  9. Mariah says:

    The fall finale was pretty amazing! Camilla’s return was something that I did not expect at all so kudos on that show writers. :) Regarding the final scenes, I don’t think Rhonda is dead but, the baby most likely will be. Oh and this wasn’t asked but… at the end of this show, whenever that might be, I definitely think that Rhonda or Andrei will be imprisoned for Vernon’s death. Just a thought. Overall, love the show.

  10. Lily says:

    I hope cookie and luscious get back together really hope Rhonda and the baby don’t die can’t wait for new season and I hope they get empire back 😉

  11. crystal says:

    Ok rhonda was pregnant she went for her ultrasound and confirmed it by doctor so that wasn’t a lie!!

  12. crystal says:

    I’m not.sure whats going on.but im hopeing.something.comes.good.of rhonda and the.baby and im not sure who.pushed.her and I.do.hope.cookie.and.lucious.get.back.together and I.hope.karmella.gets offed or.something

  13. Nicole says:

    I think Rhonda is dead and that Vernon pushed her.

  14. Chinyere says:

    Rhonda’s demise is one big juicy conundrum for viewers to pore over till next season of Empire. Oh dear, I’ve wracked my brain for hours but picking out the vicious culprit is tough. Empire’s unpredictability rules out Anika – or does it? And then (omg) I looked at the much bigger picture, and at the devil incarnate Luscious. He maybe the culprit because he fears his precious unborn ‘heir’ may carry the same mental illness that Andre suffers!

  15. Jbwalker says:

    Personally, would like to see Lucious and Cookie reunite. Then, the viewers would get a good perception of how their past interactions were during the formative years of their marriage even though struggling they persevered.

    Need to focus on Andre and Rhonda.

  16. jackie says:

    no one I know wants rhonda or the baby to die. Damn give andre a break

  17. Mike says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen Boys and Girls this was a great way to end the fall finale this everyone that watches Empire shocked and ready for March to see what will happen to Lucious Lyon’s kingdom( Empire)and will Lucious and Cookie get back together.

  18. Mychal says:

    The deputy mayor pushed Rhonda!

  19. dietra says:

    Thirsty pushed rhonda down the step, luscious told him too.

  20. Jenna says:

    Is the finale coming back on cause I missed it 😭

  21. Unofficial Empire Reviewer says:

    This episode vote: 8/10.

    First, the Jamal and Skye. I really liked their chemistry on stage and what not. They hit it off. I do feel that the Charlamagne black antics was forced, not really needed. When in an award nomination would a host completely bash one of the performers? However, I feel it was a good bridge for Jamal to talk about humans being ‘branded’ and what not.

    Next, Cookie’s jail visit. For the most part, it was enjoyable. The female rapper she wanted to visit getting life over toothbrush was a bore. Didn’t find it interesting whatsoever. Was forced like the Charlamagne interaction. I did find the scene when Cookie first meets her fellow inmates again hilarious. When the lady was like, “Hakeem is fine!” And started singing Drip Drop. Really funny. Hakeem and Laura’s performance once again bored me. I really am starting to hate Hakeem. His attitude, his raps, his clothes. Not the actor, but Hakeem. I’m still made he won the rap battle with Frieda. She destroyed him. Her nomination for Rap Artist however was forced too. Maybe if last episode they talked about her releasing an album or something. Something like that.

    Ronda’s pushing. Why must this have happened? I am in my feelings right now. I was liking Ronda and Andre’s romance. It was great. I was genuinely happy for them and Luscious. Now, someone had to go and ruin it for them. Probably was Anika, but I could see it being someone else. I do clap it up for the editing team and director, they really really made a great scene where it looked like it was Anika, but you could never be too sure.

    Hakeems Betrayal and Camille’s return. First of all, Mimi is a snake. A snake fooled by love however. Camille is given way too much power and when Cookie spit on her, I felt some joy. Seriously, it was great! Would’ve rather seen a cat fight, but whatever. Hakeem turning on his father shows how much of a little sissy girl he is. Sacrifices the whole company just to prove something to his father? I do not wanna see the family rekindle with him. He doesn’t deserve a free pass whatsoever. He stabbed the Lyon’s in the back, not only Luscious, but Cookie and Jamal and Andre. They all owe their life to the company. I felt like he spending some time and performing in the place where his mom spent 17 years for the company would bring him some sense. Can’t wait for the Cookie scene where she rips and disowns him for his selfish ways. Props to the writers and director. This is the feeling they want you to feel about a show. As if you are there with them.

    Again: Good episode. Can’t wait for march.

    8/10

  22. beans says:

    Victor Newman pushed her down the stairs….remember Dre telling him to stay away from his fathers office???? Anika is too predictable! Cant stand Hakeem, hes always been a brat who cant keep his mouth shut.

  23. Briana Rodriguez says:

    It seems like it would be Anika to push her being that she has a motive BUT it did look like Jamal from the back and he did have a devilish eye in one scenes so who knows. It may be too predictable for it to be Anika. I was so in shock, my mouth literally dropped when Rhonda was pushed, I think the baby is no longer alive because of the fall she took as for her maybe serious injuries. I also think that in some way the Lyon family will come together to fight against mimi and Camilla but Hakeem will do it in a way she will never see coming. Anika will certainly let it out that she is pregnant by Hakeem.

    • Jackson says:

      U do realize jamaal was with andre at lusciousespecially house right?

    • Shakeera says:

      I would think that Micheal did it because people wouldn’t expect him too, when baby comes there goes Jamal career.Not Anika too easy, the lawyer yes, Jamal yes Cookies assistant yes or the dude cookie was with yes too

  24. Anne Ahmad says:

    I mean I definitely believe Anika did it. I think y’all are forgetting the scene where she was by herself with newspaper cutouts and all sorts of stalker shit, so she’s capable of doing anything. But, she might not have, who knows. I really hope Rhonda isn’t dead, she actually grew on me and I ended up really liking her this season. And yeah, the Sky and Jamal thing was kind of pointless, unless it was to show how much Jamal loves Michael… but then they should’ve just had him hookup with another guy. I’m guessing they were trying to switch it up a bit, since they already played that card not too long ago. The jail scene though wasn’t pointless, I imagine it’s gonna play a part later, since new characters were introduced.

  25. catyrakelly@gmai.lcom says:

    i hope aneka rott in h***

  26. Debry Powell says:

    That was a low down and cold malicious ordeal that Hakeem did to his family. You just don’t go against your family, because Loucious put his spoil behind on the map. He:s history, no coming back to the family. He gets his father ex pregnant, then team up with his enemy and get him out of own company, which he build from the bottom. Loucious need to talk to Victor Newman and get a few points and bring them all down, including who:s responsible for Loucious and Cookie’s daughter in law fall.

  27. Tinka says:

    Well as for me I was really trying to figure out if Rhonda was actually pregnant, or if she was faking her own pregnancy so that she would be accepted by Lucious. It would of been nice to see Sky and Jemal make something out of there kiss besides the fact of knowing they hooked up one time. I really enjoyed there chemistry on tv.

  28. Anne says:

    The hug between Lucious and Cookie was very sweet. That was a great scene, even though Lucious is oblivious to the fact that he’s the one who turned his sons into ungrateful kids.

    Anika should be involved in the takeover, as should Andre. I hope that the show focuses more on these characters next season.

    It was a very good episode. The Sky and Jamal story would have made more sense if it had stretched over several episodes, and we really didn’t need to see the jail storyline. It didn’t serve a purpose.

  29. I’d be willing to bet that they leave Rhonda in a coma and the baby’s life in jeopardy for an episode or two to build suspense. Definitely has to be Anika, but who knows. Many possibilities.

    Seems like the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to Hakeem voting “I” (not ‘nay’, Writer) was the moment when Freda Gatz got the nomination over him. Lucious has taken so much from Hakeem, but that was probably his last chance and having his own moment and Lucious inadvertently took that away from him as well. He felt Lucious needed to finally feel the pain he had caused others and will probably end up finding out that it was the right thing.

    • cadavra says:

      Well, if you’re gonna correct someone, BE correct: “Aye,” not “I.”

      • joy karen says:

        Right about the misspelling. But i was still very glad to see the post by Felonious Spunk because when I read the summary article above, my own OCD made me notice the error attributed to Hakeem immediately. Still, this was one of the Best episodes I’ve seen in a while [and that even includes other shows].

  30. Wouldn’t surprise me if they go a completely different route as far as who pushed Rhonda down the stairs. It was probably Deputy Mayor Alvarez. Last time she saw Andre and thought she was getting sex from him, he told her that he and Rhonda secretly taped Andre’s trysts with Alvarez and he used that to blackmail her into dropping a charge against Freda Gantz (sp?). He threatened to show the footage to her boss.

    • Meka D says:

      I agree that the Deputy Mayor may have pushed Rhonda too. I think the baby will survive and Rhonda will not for all the swinging dirt they have done in the past.

  31. Crystal says:

    I think she atleast lost the baby. Come on, she fell right on top of her bump. I hope season 3 answers all my questions

  32. roddy roddy says:

    I think Rhonda might still be alive but the baby died & I def believe it was anika because Rhonda told her how crazy lucious is about the baby & how he’s already calling him “the heir” so now if dre & Rhonda don’t have a baby & anika has hakeems baby then their baby will be lucious’ first grand child & the new heir – anika is a crazy bitch

    • Drei says:

      Although everything you said makes a lot of sense– it’s expected to happen that way. So I believe they are going to do what is least expected…

  33. Koko says:

    I Don’t think Rhonda is dead but possibly the baby could, but then again after seeing the preview of the next half of the season It did show Andrew coming home to hee laying face up. I do not belive that Anika did it just because Rhonda told her that you should do whatever it takes to get what you want, i feel as if that was going more towards Hakeem New girlfriend Laura because they’re together and Anika is pregnant by him.

  34. Sylvia says:

    I think Rhonda is alive but I think the baby didn’t make it… I believe Anika attempted to kill her ..she got that idea from Rhonda since Rhonda told her she will do what ever it takes for the one she loves..

  35. Ann says:

    Empire made me cry. What a powerful episode.

  36. John Smolin says:

    Well yes Rhonda and her baby is dead sadly.But it was definitely Anika because she was very lonely and very jealous of her. She was jealous that a man loved Rhonda and not her.Cannot wait til March!!

  37. Nyiasia Addison says:

    I think that rohnda is not dead but the season finale was crazy and I really think anika did it honestly

  38. Lil says:

    I can’t wait til March!! Yes I think Rhonda is dead. Did you not see all that blood on her head and body? I hope Hakeem doesn’t lose his relationship with Laura becaustof Camille’s ugly ass.

    • joy karen says:

      hey hey now. Camille is a lot of things. but she AINT ugly.

    • Chocolatechile says:

      I think Camilla is in for a rude awakening! Even though Hakeem will be in the dog house for some time to come, (as far as the family is concerned, because of that little stunt that he just played with Mimi and the board. He will eventually side with his family the Lyons. Once Hakeem finds out that Annika is
      pregnant; Camilla’s ass is grass because Hakeem doesn’t have room for two cougars in his life; however Camilla will also make Anita reap what she has sown, when she finds out that Annika is pretty and pregnant! (She just may try to kill Annika and still that baby from the womb to have it for her own. However, on the other hand Hakeem has true love for Laura and he will also love his and Annika’s unborn
      child, which will force him to form a rather awkward relationship with Annika (Even after they haul her but off to jail for hurting Rhonda) — And No Rhonda isn’t and has never been pregnant by Andre; that was a pillow that she was wearing. The clincher to the whole deal will be when Camilla tries to still the Lyon dynasty all of the Lyon clan will pull together — including the ones in commas and the unborn smile.)

  39. Chloe miller says:

    I think Rhonda is dead and that anika pushed her down the stairs I kind of thought that way because Rhonda knew something was up with anika and when Rhonda left the room anika pushed the teddy bear down like she was up to something.😱

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