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‘Empire’ Pops the Question With Surprise Engagement (SPOILERS)

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched the latest “Empire” episode, titled “The Tameness of a Wolf,” which aired on Wednesday, April 13.

Following last week’s shocking episode in which Camilla (Naomi Campbell) and Mimi (Marisa Tomei) were killed off, “Empire” this week kicked off with the Lyon family at Camilla’s funeral — and with Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) taking over her role as the boss of Empire fashion.

So much can change in one week. Last episode, Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) was filming a secret sex tape with Camilla. Tonight, he proposed to Laura (Jamila Velazquez).

The surprise proposal — and engagement — came after Laura’s debut on tour with Hakeem’s ex Tiana (Serayah) who was none too happy to share the stage with her ex’s new girlfriend. The pop star’s jealousy was evident and a girl fight broke out, even causing news to leak that Hakeem is in the midst of a love triangle and trouble is bubbling up on the tour.

Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) was working with Lucious (Terrence Howard) on his music video, which took a very personal look into his childhood. Flashbacks with his mother (Kelly Rowland) revealed that not only did his mom kill herself, but she also tried to kill him.

When the music video was presented to the Lyon family — at Cookie’s birthday celebration, nonetheless — Andre (Trai Byers) flipped out when he found out that his grandmother had mental issues and that his father Lucious never told him. Struggling with mental illness himself, Andre got into a huge fight with Lucious over his secrecy, and his wife Rhonda ran to Anika (Grace Gealey) to comfort her amidst all the pressure.

Here, “Empire” showrunner Ilene Chaiken tells Variety what’s next for Lucious vs. Andre, plus the newly engaged Hakeem and Laura.

Hakeem is engaged! I didn’t see that proposal coming.

We have funerals — we need a wedding!

Does that mean there will be a wedding on “Empire”?

You can expect a wedding and there will be a marriage. We can expect that this season. (More on that here.)

Tiana is clearly jealous by the attention Laura is getting from Hakeem — and now he proposed. Will Tiana become a problem for the newly engaged couple?

Yes, but no. It will be a long, slow burn for Tiana with Hakeem. It’s been clear for some time that she regrets having lost him and she’s going to make some small moves and make her feelings known in a subtle and interesting way.

Random question, but is Tiana’s tour outfit inspired by Britney Spears’ “Toxic” bodysuit?

You would have to ask our costume designer whether he was inspired by that. I just know that she looks fabulous in it!

Hakeem is doing a good job as CEO, but will he stay at the top of “Empire”?

I think Hakeem is a damn good CEO! In the next episode, Lucious makes his moves against Hakeem. Lucious is now ready to come back and take it back.

Why didn’t Cookie know about Lucious’ backstory?

Lucious is a man of secrets. All of the story that is getting unveiled in this episode and all of the things that Cookie is learning about Lucious preceded their relationship. I would imagine that when Lucious and Cookie met, he had already decided who the man was that he wanted to be.

We’ve never seen Lucious so emotional before. Is this a whole new side to him?

I would describe this as the un-peeling of an onion. Lucious has revealed some big personal secrets. He’s always trying to control the story. Now that Cookie knows the story, she’s pushing him to tell the real and true story. Telling the truth is where real art comes from.

It seems that now Cookie knows so much about Lucious, they are getting closer. Is this leading into a rekindled romance?

I think that the flame between them will never die. Whether it actually results in romance is the bigger question — but there’s a decided spark getting reignited here, certainly on Cookie’s part. It’s like she’s falling in love with him all over again and she’s getting to know him, as she’s starting to understand there’s a reason for some of the terrible things that he’s done. There’s nothing more lovable than person than a person struggling with his demons and overcoming them.

Will we learn even more from Lucious’ childhood?

Further secrets to be revealed — more secrets from his past with his consequences in the present.

Andre found out that Lucious’ mother was mentally ill. Is this the breaking point for him?

It will be enormous for Andre. This little detail that his father withheld from it, it couldn’t be a more aggrecious admission for someone struggling with mental illness. Andre always thought he was the freak of the family, he never understood why he was who he was and always felt everyone looked at him with horror for having this illness — to find out that his father grew up with a mother that has a very same illness and recognize that his son has the same, it’s huge. It makes it both better and worse for Andre. More than anything, just the anger of having been deprived of that knowledge is a very big thing with Andre to live with.

Rhonda seems to have hit her breaking point also. Is she going to be able to handle Andre struggling?

I think that she wants out mainly because it just never ends and she’s been through so much and she’s not sure how much more she can handle, as her husband’s life continues to unravel. I think it’s safe to say it will continue to put a strain on Andre’s relationship, particularly as Andre becomes more obsessed with learning who his grandmother was.

It’s interesting that Rhonda called Anika for help in that situation, especially since many viewers believe it was Anika who pushed Rhonda down the stairs.

Whether she pushed Rhonda or not, Anika is Rhonda’s only friend right now. Anika is giving Rhonda a place to reside and regroup and she’s doing what a good friend does. She’s listening, she’s not judging. She’s Rhonda’s best friend and Rhonda is grateful and trusting. Should Anika end up needing Rhonda — and we all know that’s going to come out at some point because she’s going to start to show
soon — she’s certainly earning Rhonda’s friendship.

When will she start to show? She can’t hide this pregnancy forever.

Let’s say next episode, Anika will no longer be able to keep her pregnancy a secret and she’s going to figure out what the hell to do.

Why did Cookie have such a strong reaction to learning that Freda Gatz’s father is Frank (Chris Rock)?

Up until now, Freda has been the girl that Lucious has plucked out of nowhere and he believes in her talent and he’s nurturing her as an artist. No one knew where she came from. It’s terrifying that Lucious
plays with fire constantly. He plays God and he plays with people’s lives. This girl is the daughter of a man that the two of them murdered — that’s all very dangerous. That’s Lucious messing with everybody’s lives. To bring the closest living relative to the man who caused such havoc and was dangerous is certainly something that Cookie is afraid of.

Does she have reason to be afraid of Freda?

Whether or not Freda is like her father and as murderous as her father was or whether she’s connected to his people, Cookie knows this is going to come back at them. Cookie’s whole mission has always been to
protect her family and she’s gone to great lengths. She took care of Frank Gathers because she knew her family was in danger. Cookie’s intuitive fear, that will pan out. Cookie is not wrong.

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