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‘Empire’ Kills off Another Cast Member — and Who’s the Murderer? (SPOILERS)

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched the episode of “Empire” which aired on Wednesday, May 17.

Empire” is no stranger to saying goodbye to major characters, and the Fox show did it again, killing off the main antagonist of Season 3: Tariq (Morocco Omari), who was stabbed in the neck by none other than Lucious’ mother, Leah Walker (Leslie Uggams.)

Earlier in the episode, Lucious (Terrence Howard) and his half-brother Tariq had finally made up, after a long history of hating each other. Lucious enlisted Tariq’s help to find his granddaughter, Hakeem’s (Bryshere Gray) baby girl, Bella, and Tariq was successful in finding her — with the Dubois family, a.k.a. Cookie’s (Taraji P. Henson) former flame, Angelo (Taye Diggs), and his nutso mother, Diana (Phylicia Rashad).

Moments before Wednesday’s episode ended, Tariq sat down with Lucious to tell him that he found Bella, who’s been missing. He was about to reveal the baby’s whereabouts, but didn’t spill before Leah came up behind him and stabbed him right in the neck. Lucious yelled, “What did you do?” as Tariq fell to the bloody floor and quickly died.

Here, “Empire” showrunner Ilene Chaiken talks to Variety about the decision to kill off Tariq and why Lucious’ mom wanted to murder him. Plus, will we get answers in next week’s finale?

That came out of nowhere! Why did Lucious’ mother kill Tariq?

Don’t underestimate Leah. It’s not random. She has a plan. Leah is also unpredictable — you never know whom she is coming for and how, but we almost felt as if she has promised so many times to do something homicidal and we need her to deliver on her promise.

What will Lucious do to his mother, now that she killed his half-brother?

Lucious has a lot on his plate. He’s going to have to manage his mother without letting anything else fall through the cracks. I would think that Lucious might be considering letting her go down for it, but then again, Lucious has a warped sense of honor and loyalty and responsibility. It’s hard to predict exactly what he’s going to do.

Tariq had the answers of Bella’s whereabouts. How will the Lyon family now find out that the Dubois family has her?

This is a big setback because Lucious is on the verge of finding his granddaughter and Leah derailed Lucious’ agenda. The episode ends with Lucious not getting this information that he’s so desperate for. It leaves a big question mark as to whether or not Lucious will find Bella.

How will the Lyons react when they know the Dubois family took baby Bella?

I think that the Lyons were already at war with the Dubois, but this will step it up. The Dubois family, led by Diana Dubois, are the most formidable advisories that the Lyons have faced. That family rivalry is not going away any time soon.

What storylines can we expect to wrap up in the finale?

Very few things ever get wrapped up on “Empire.” Things just get taken to the next level and left on the edges of cliffs! But we certainly will take the Lucious, Cookie, Giuliana (Nia Long) love triangle to its ultimate Season 3 conclusion — whether Cookie will get her man back or whether she’s lost him for good will be the central story in our finale. The whereabouts of Hakeem’s daughter will be, if not wrapped up, certainly further explicated. And Leah’s purpose in murdering Tariq will be illuminated in the finale. Whether or not Andre (Trai Byers) is going to follow through on his plan to kill his father is a very, very big moment in our finale.

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