Fall TV Preview
Empire Anika Rhonda

Empire EP on Rhonda-Anika Cliffhanger Fallout, Cookie's 'Pygmalion' Arc

Two women. One high-rise balcony. A violent struggle and a terrible scream. That’s where Empire left its startled fandom at the end of its Season 2 finale last May, as Rhonda went into street-brawl mode in an attempt to get revenge against Anika for previously pushing her down the stairs and causing her miscarriage.

Fans will learn if one (or perhaps both) of the fan-favorite characters meets a grim fate within the opening minutes of Wednesday’s Season 3 premiere (9/8c on Fox). And while showrunner Ilene Chaiken is reluctant to give any definitive spoilers, she’s clearly troubled by the thought of a future without Kaitlin Doubleday or Grace Gealey’s alter-egos.

“Rhonda and Anika are both such sexy, dark, interesting characters,” Chaiken says with a sigh. “I can’t imagine saying goodbye to either one of them.”

We pressed Chaiken for further teases about the Rhonda-Anika fallout (emphasis on fall), asked about Season 3 arcs for Cookie and Jamal, and got the skinny on what’s in store for new cast additions Taye Diggs, Phylicia Rashad and Mariah Carey.

TVLINE | I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you to tease the outcome of Season 2’s monumental cliffhanger. In our episode post-mortem last May, you said that someone would die.
Did I say that? Oh gosh.

TVLINE | Well, to be specific, you said, the look on Andre’s face “says somebody went over that railing” and that “it would be ludicrous to say that would be a survivable fall.”
Well, if I said that, I’d better make good on that promise. [Laughs]

TVLINE | Does it break your heart to lose Rhonda or Anika?
I’m devastated at the thought of saying goodbye to either one of them. And I’m not even sure how we’re going to get through it.

empire taye diggsTVLINE | You’ve got some new characters entering the scene this year. Taye Diggs will be playing a potential love interest for Cookie, and Phylicia Rashad has been cast as his mother. What can you tease about this romance? How hot, explosive, tormented, etc, will it be?
It will be all of those things — and Lucious plays a big role in all of that, too. The history of when Cookie met Lucious intersects with this story in the present day. And there’s one other shade for Cookie in this story with Taye Diggs’ character Angelo: Pygmalion. It’s a Pygmalion story that’s unique to Cookie. We wanted to see and tell a story for Cookie that we’ve never told before. And if you think about Cookie in Season 1 and all she faced, we wanted an arc that was just as big, that talked about facing new challenges.

TVLINE | What can you tease for Jamal? You’d hinted to me last spring that his recovery from being shot by Freda Gatz would continue to have a ripple effect.
Jamal’s story for Season 3 is very much one of recovery. Even though we have a lot of fun on Empire, and we can get a little wild sometimes, there are things we take very seriously, too. And getting shot is a serious thing. We weren’t going to make light of it or minimize it. We wanted to talk about the meaning of that incident in Jamal’s life and in the world, and look at the process of coming back from that. It’s going to be a long and harrowing journey, and it’s going to be a journey that brings him into an even sharper reckoning with his family and Lucious’ own darkness.

Mariah Carey EmpireTVLINE | Probably the buzziest casting of the season thus far involves Mariah Carey, who’ll be playing pop diva “Kitty.” Was it fun to write for her?
She’s fun and fabulous. She’s in Episode 3, and there might be a second appearance. We’re working that out. But the first episode it’s really a delicious musical moment, conspiring with Cookie.

TVLINE | Do Kitty and Cookie get along?
In this episode, they do.

TVLINE | You’ve also cast younger versions of Cookie and Lucious. What can you say about their appearances? Will they be similar to the snapshots of Lucious’ boyhood with his mother that we got in Season 2, or will they be more fleshed-out?
It’s more than what we’ve done in the past. They’re flashbacks, but they don’t take us out of the story, they take us even deeper and inform the stories we’re telling in the present. They’re fleshed-out characters. These are actual scenes and a story that we’re telling.

TVLINE | What’s something you can tease that no one knows about yet.
Lucious and Cookie have an unexpected adversary.

TVLINE | How quickly does that adversary come into play?
You should look for it right away, but you won’t see [the adversarial nature] ’til much later. But again, you should be looking for it all along.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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20 Comments
  1. JM says:

    Preparing myself for the fallback the show will get for possibly killing the only white character off the show.

    • Dude says:

      It’s definitely going to be Rhonda, seeing as they set up a new story for Anika in her marrying Lucious right before that cliffhanger. However, I’m not as disappointed at them killing the only white character as I am at them killing the better character. There’s still a lot of story left in Rhonda but Anika has run her course. They’ve effectively destroyed her as a character to the point where she’s pretty hard to take seriously. Killing her off would be a mercy killing.

    • Crys says:

      I don’t think they are going to kill either one. Mainly because they need both to continue that storyline and two the EP’s have already shown that they will lie to us viewers. Remember when we ALL knew Boo Boo Kitty pushed Rhonda and the EP, the same one in the article above I think, said that it WASNT Boo Boo Kitty and that we will be so surprised when we found out who it was and then when it WAS BBK, she retracted saying we discussed other people but BBK was the only logical choice. I believe nothing they say now.

      Let’s remember this isn’t season 1&2 Scandal writers, who write themselves into a corner and then give us all a WTF response. Empire writers write tropes. It’s a soap opera (one I LOVE by the way) but there will be no WTF moments. Neither actress is leaving this show.

      (If I’m wrong; I will pull a WW and eat crow lol)

    • maypu acosta says:

      White people don’t make it an to a racial issue when someone dies in a show. They are smart enough to realize its a show. I love the fact they involved the “Black live matter” movement into the story. I don’t think it should have been done to represent what Jamal is going through with the Freda shooting because that just black on black crime nothing to do with what “Black live matter” represent at all.

  2. wrstlgirl says:

    Jury is still out for me on whether I will stick with Empire for another season. Season two was horrible IMO, I completely lost all the interest that I had from season one. Each episode was a chore to watch. I’m going into season three with an open mind so we’ll see. I know the show is still quite popular with a lot of people so here’s hoping.

    • WrektYa says:

      Wow, I watched season 1 & 2 over again and I’ve never done that before, I love empire

    • Kristen says:

      I somewhat agree with you… it’s getting to be a little too much. I don’t consider it a legit drama. I feel it’s pretty cheesy, but I stick with it b/c I love the musical aspect of it. I’m not a huge fan of Mariah Carey as an actress, so I’m not looking forward to that, and while I LOVE Taye Diggs as an actor, I worry he is too good for a show like this.

  3. Brian says:

    Rooting for this show to get back on track.

  4. SUSO says:

    It’s obviously Rhonda. Which sucks because she basically was brutally attacked, lost her child then layed there for hours unable to move with the dead baby in her belly, had to go through months of therapy, found out who did it only to have no one in her family believe her… and is now murdered by the woman who killed her baby. Wow, that’s depressing.

  5. Jazzy says:

    Well since shows with primarily white cast members get accused of racism when they kill off black characters can we say the same for empire if they killed off Rhonda? I mean let’s be real, she was the only white main character and the writers treated her like crap from start to finish for no reason……

    • Edward says:

      You think reverse racism is a thing? Can’t relate. And btw, every character from the main cast has gone through some type of traumatic event. It’s not only Rhonda that suffered from any unimaginable pain. Stop making this about race when the executive producer is a WHITE WOMAN.

    • shilohlyric says:

      Really? ONE show with a mainly black cast, of which there are very few, might have killed off a white character, and white people should be upset about that because black actors are constantly under employed and probably under paid in Hollywood on pretty much a daily basis, and the 2 should be comparable? Is that the gist of your post, because that is utterly ridiculous. And that’s coming from a white woman.

  6. TV Gord says:

    I think both will survive. There must be a particularly bouncy awning down there or something.

  7. MB says:

    Prediction; Miscarriage two traps Anika with Luscious and puts Rhondda and Andre back on his hit list. Rhondda and Dre lose the shirt off their back and Anika realises how screwed she is

  8. rhonda is going to die because there is a scene that anika nearly loses her baby

  9. Kristen says:

    My opinion is it’s Rhonda. Other than her knowing that Anika pushed her down the stairs, she had nothing going as far as a decent story line. Not only is Anika now married to Lucious, but she will still be harboring this dark secret that she was the reason Rhonda lost her child and her life. It’ll be interesting to see how this all goes down with the family knowing what Anika did. Hopefully they will address the fact that she killed Rhonda’s baby and not just brush it under the rug.

    Can I just say how excited I am for Taye Diggs to be on the show now!? Agh!!!!

  10. onome a john says:

    Am a fan of empire and its the 2nd movie i ever watched and am still watching after prison break. am waiting for the lyon family to resume empire 3. well done guys