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‘Empire’ Showrunner on Finale Cliffhanger, Season 4 ‘Trumpian’ Theme (SPOILERS)

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched the “Empire” Season 3 finale, which aired on Wednesday, May 24.

Following the first part of “Empire’s” Season 3 finale last week, which killed off Tariq (Morocco Omari) at the hands of Lucious’ mother (Leslie Uggams), the grand finale nearly saw the death of another main character — none other than Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard).

Through the entire season, Andre (Trai Byers) has been plotting to kill his father. Well, Wednesday’s season finale saw that plan come to fruition, but Andre had a last-minute change of heart and ended up saving Lucious’ life within a second. That being said, Lucious knocked on death’s door.

Andre and Shyne’s (Xzibit) plan was to blow up the car that Lucious would be getting into, and though Andre urged him to stop the explosion, Shyne wanted to go through with the plan. Just as Lucious and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) were walking toward the car, Andre yelled at them to run away, but the bomb still went off. Cookie escaped, but Lucious was in the fire — and there appeared to be a leg blown off in the explosion, but TBD if that limb belongs to Mr. Lyon.

Lucious suffered a coma and was surrounded by his family in the hospital, along with his handsy private nurse, played by Demi Moore, who will appear next season in a major role. After some time, Lucious finally wakes up, but he does not remember who his family is — not even Cookie.

To make matters even more heart-wrenching, just before the explosion, the Lyons had gotten rid of Charlotte (Eva Longoria) and Giuliana (Nia Long), and seemed to be on their way to happily ever after. Lucious and Cookie decided to give up the drama and leave the company in Andre’s hands so that they could run off and enjoy life together. If you thought that peaceful ending was too good to be true, you know “Empire.”

Here, “Empire” showrunner Ilene Chaiken talks to Variety about that fake-out happily ever after, and what’s to come in Season 4, now that Lucious may not remember the Lyons…

For starters, was that Lucious’ leg on the floor of the car explosion?

Oh wow. That’s a good question. All I can say is Lucious was severely damaged in that explosion.

Will Lucious end up remembering anything?

I can’t answer that question. I’m just going to say that at the end of Season 3, Lucious comes out of his coma, but clearly he has suffered traumatic brain injury and his recovery is the big question. Will he recover his memory? What other damage has he sustained? When we end our season, Lucious doesn’t know who the hell he is or who the hell anyone in his family is.

If Lucious regains his memory, will he and Cookie be happily ever after?

We got to that perfect moment between Lucious and Cookie where they were finally both in the same place. We know that they love each other and have for a long time, despite all the complications. They had happiness within their grasp, but then kaboom. The question is, will Lucious remember? If Lucious’ memory is completely restored, there are still some questions — will he find out that Andre was behind the bombing? What will the family find out about Bella and about Hakeem’s nefarious deal with the Dubois family? Even if Lucious’ memory were to be completely restored, there are still issues that could complicate their lives. But the first and foremost issue is will Lucious be able to remember that he loves Cookie and will they be able to have that happiness that they had within their grasp for a fleeting moment?

Speaking of Hakeem’s deal with the Dubois family, how deep will he get? They are blackmailing him, but it seems he’ll do anything to be with his daughter.

It can be very dangerous and it will certainly play out in Season 4. The first question is what is Diana Dubois (Phylicia Rashad) asking of Hakeem? What is her plan? She’s obviously planning some kind of an assault on the Lyon family.

Will Andre still be head of Empire when the show returns, even though he’s responsible for blowing up the car?

The question is will anybody find out that Andre was behind it? Will Andre be able to cover up? Given that Andre did try to call it off at the last minute, how will the relationship play out between Andre and Shyne? Will Andre ultimately get what he’s already wanted, which he had for a moment when his parents gave him the company? Or will life become more complicated when people start to investigate what happened to Lucious. Will it ever point to Andre?

The episode didn’t touch too much on Tariq’s murder, but Lucious’ mom did frame Anika (Grace Gealey) for it! How will that play out in Season 4?

All I can tease is that when we start the new season, Anika is still in jail. Whether she gets out in jail and what happens after she gets out is a big part of our story. She’s really been through it at the hands of the Lyons. I just can’t imagine she will want much more.

Demi Moore finally made her debut — and she seems to be getting too close for comfort with Lucious. What can you tease about her relationship with Lucious going forward?

She is Lucious’ private nurse. She is a specialist in dealing with traumatic brain injury and rehabilitating patients. She will be very, very important to Lucious going into Season 4. Now that he’s out of his coma, his rehabilitation is entrusted to her, which gives her a lot of power and a role in the family that’s unfamiliar to the rest of the family and to “Empire.” She’s in a significant number of episodes. She’s a major character in our fourth season.

As for other guest characters, will we see any more of Charlotte or Giuliana in Season 4, or are their storylines wrapped?

I wouldn’t say their storylines are totally wrapped, but I can’t say for certain whether we’ll see them back. They both played a very, very important role, and going forward, their characters and their actions have a big impact on the show and the new season.

What is the theme for Season 4?

I think our theme for Season 4 is history is re-written by the victors. Who controls the narrative of the Lyon family? What is going to be known? What is going to become truth? We’re living in a world right now that is an ephemeral thing. Who gets to define the truth? That is largely our theme for Season 4, so in a sense, it’s a very Trumpian theme [laughing]. You’ve got to get the truth out! But who gets to say what’s the truth.

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