SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched Wednesday night’s episode of “Empire,” titled “Time Shall Unfold.”
Wait — she’s alive?
“Empire’s” latest episode revealed that Lucious’ (Terrence Howard) mother, who is played by Kelly Rowland in flashbacks, is actually alive, even though it appeared she shot herself in a sad suicide back when Lucious was a child. On Wednesday’s episode, his mother was seen at a special care home where Thirsty (Andre Royo) visited to drop off an envelope of cash for her, as she sat in a chair, looking as if she is not lucid.
“Lucious, who made such a big deal about finally telling his truth, told yet another big lie — but if you analyze it, Lucious hasn’t lied and Lucious is very careful about that,” “Empire” showrunner Ilene Chaiken tells Variety. “Everything he said is true, if you parse it very, very carefully. But obviously he perpetuated a great misconception about what’s true.”
Also in this week’s episode, Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) lost the throne as CEO of Empire, as a shareholders meeting went wrong for him, and Anika — who is pregnant with Hakeem’s baby — revealed her bun in the oven to the entire Lyon family. And it didn’t go so well.
Here, Chaiken tells Variety more about Lucious’ mother, Empire’s upcoming CEO and Anika’s baby bombshell.
Anika came clean about the pregnancy and Lucious isn’t so happy. What happens now?
Lucious’ reaction is complex. We know how badly he wants a grandchild, but he certainly didn’t want one from Anika and Hakeem — his son who just took the Empire from him. I think we can expect Lucious to go through some changes in the psychological sense of the word.
He wants a grandchild so badly that he had his guys pull the hair of the little girl who we thought was Jamal’s daughter (with Raven-Symoné’s character) for a DNA test — but turns out, he’s not the father. What should viewers take away from that short scene?
We should take it as an indication about how serious Lucious is about looking for an heir.
We didn’t see much of Hakeem’s reaction to Anika’s pregnancy. I assume there will be a big moment between them coming up?
Yes. Hakeem’s reaction to the pregnancy is coming later. Hakeem in this episode is consumed with the shareholders meeting and defending his throne. It’s throwing him off his game a little bit and he doesn’t have time to delve into it this week because he’s got to get up on the stage and defend the Empire. It’s a huge piece of business for Hakeem.
Rhonda is very supportive of Anika, even though many viewers still think she pushed her down the stairs. Rhonda just lost a baby — isn’t it tough to see her friend pregnant?
Anika has been a really good friend to Rhonda and Rhonda has risen above her own loss to support a friend. Rhonda indeed may have some personal reactions as Anika’s pregnancy starts to show. That’s something that we’ve talked about and that’s something I think you’ll see. Whether she changes in any other ways, depends on whether she comes to any other conclusions about Anika down the line.
Back to that shareholders meeting, things didn’t pan out so well for Hakeem. He’s no longer CEO. Does that mean Lucious will be back on top?
Hakeem is out, but no one is in. Lucious’ expectation is that he’ll get his throne back. He went about [kicking Hakeem out] in a treacherous way, but it was pretty easy for him. When it comes down to it, that was not a hard-fought battle. But it remains to be seen whether Lucious will get the throne back quite as easily as he thought he would.
The shareholders really like Cookie. Will she become CEO?
Cookie is not after the throne. She is after bringing the family together and preserving the company. She just did what Cookie does — she was a good mother and a good caretaker of all that matters. The fact that the shareholders saw that and loved her is an ancillary effect and not anything that she was seeking.
Last week, Cookie was very upset to learn that Freda Gatz’s father was Frank (Chris Rock), and you warned that the Lyon family should be concerned about Freda. Well, this week, she was very upset with Jamal for kicking her off the record — should we be worried about Jamal’s safety?
Cookie thinks she’s dangerous. Jamal is kind of heartbroken over having had to disappoint her yet again. I would just say watch the family’s reaction and who’s right about Freda — Cookie or Jamal.
Lucious’ mom is alive! Have you known this all along in the writers room?
Yes, we have known all along. We’ve known all along that was where we were going with that story.
You said that Lucious was twisting the truth about his mother, but were all of the flashbacks — drowning in the bathtub, pulling out a gun — true from his childhood?
All of that did happen. All of that is true.
How will Lucious’ mother being alive impact the family?
We’ll find this out going forward, exactly what Lucious’ relationship with her has been and how he justifies the way in which he’s arranged her life and her care. Her being alive and the family finding out that she exists is a huge complication for Lucious. She is now back in the Lyon family lives, and the children have a grandmother they never knew existed. She knows a great many secrets about Lucious and maybe she pushes his buttons — wait and see.
When will the family find out she exists?
Soon. There will be repercussions to her being alive.
Will she have any big impact on Andre, since he struggles with mental illness like she does?
It’s a big deal for him, certainly. How he reacts to it is going to be important.