Post Mortems
Empire Recap

Empire Producer Talks Andre's Latest Crisis, Teases 'Badass' [Spoiler]

Man, Andre Lyon can’t catch a break. In the final minutes of Wednesday’s Empire, Cookie and Lucious’ eldest son — still reeling from the tragic death of wife Rhonda — was racially profiled by two white police officers, who arrested him on suspicion of burglarizing his own home.

Below, co-producer Carlito Rodriguez, who penned the episode with Cherien Dabis, spoke to TVLine empire-cookie-jussieabout the decision to make the beleaguered, grieving widower the entry point for the #BlackLivesMatter-themed storyline. The scribe also weighed in on the installement’s other big development: The arrival of Taye Diggs’ Angelo Dubois as Cookie’s new foil-turned-crush interest.

TVLINE | Talk to me about the decision to tackle the Black Lives Matter movement via Andre.
I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re tackling the Black Lives Matter movement… We wanted to talk about how the Lyon family deals with [issues of] class. Just because they left the hood, are they immune to some of the [realities]? And Andre felt like a good entry point for that story. He has done everything quote-unquote right. He got his Wharton MBA. He’s proper, respectable young man. So we wanted to challenge him with, “Do you think you’re immune? Did you forget that you’re black in America?”

TVLINE | It seemed odd that given how prolific the Lyon family is that the cops — and the neighbors — didn’t know who Andre was or that he lived on that block…
Do you know who Skip Gates is?

TVLINE | I do not.
He’s a scholar and a professor who lived in the same upper middle class neighborhood for a long time. One day he was in front of his house and the cops didn’t know who he was and they arrested him. They were embarrassed, but they did it. I only say that because, yes, it’s surprising, but them’s the rules.

TVLINE | Has Andre made peace with Rhonda’s death? Or will she continue to haunt him?
Andre [still] needs to work to make that peace. Andre and Rhonda’s relationship was very much a partnership. It wasn’t like one was leading the other. And to have a partner taken from you… is horrible. [But] at the end of the episode he tells his brothers, “I have to let Rhonda go.” That was his first step.

TVLINE | I found the Andre-Jamal scene particularly moving.
One of the things we say in the writers’ room is, “We know where our money is.” Any Cookie-Lucious scene — we know there’s money there. Those two actors are just incredible. [The same is true for] any scene with the brothers, whether it’s two of them or the three of them.

TVLINE | Is Angelo Dubois too good to be true? Is a DUI really the only skeleton in his closet?
[Laughs] It’s Empire. I don’t want to give anything away, but [Angelo] has to earn her trust. And Cookie’s a badass. So you have to be a little bit of a badass yourself. So we’re going to see if Angelo is up to the task.

TVLINE | Is Anika off the hook for her role in Rhonda’s death?
Is anybody ever really off the hook on Empire?

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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32 Comments
  1. Just a guy says:

    I can’t believe empire would end there episode like this. When you turn the tv on / news all you hear about is how our country is split ( again) why would you end your episode on a black lives matter issue… it’s not just black.. it all!!!!
    And to make people ponder on your ending of excessive police actions before they go to bed tonight.. why? Why keep this going.. didn’t you think about the people that just got worked up watching the end of this episode? Or maybe that’s what you want for ratings. Money. I just don’t understand.

    • Eupha says:

      Ratings are going to plummet

    • Sally McLinn says:

      I thought the ep was very well written. This season has been a step up above the other 2. More characterization and background how Lucious and Cookie met and why she’s still devoted to him.

    • Crys says:

      Sorry people, but I don’t think this is a BLM storyline. I was watching the preview for next week and it appears Lucious’ half brother was behind this mess with Andre. I hope this is not the social issues story actually because I don’t trust the Empire writers with it. They are more “Unreal” than “Orange is the new Black”. Empire would screw it up.

    • KAD says:

      I’m not sure why you have such a problem with this episode. It’s a daily reality for so many of us – even if you’re not black. You still can see it on the news everyday. I’m not sure of your ethnicity but black folks have lived with this level of racism for our entire lives. We’re just glad that so many cases are finally coming to light. And I can’t think of a better show to tell the truth of our interactions with the police than Empire. I was just glad Andre didn’t get shot – which is not the way most of these innocent-folks-minding-their-business-and-still-get shot situations usually pan out. Kudos to the writers for this one!

    • Shut the heck up.

      I am so tired of this “ALL LIVES MATTER”

      DO your research “black lives matter” was not started as a racial propoganda to make BLACK LIVES MATTER more than any other race

      wanna know the difference between “All lives matter” and “black lives matter”

      When police wrongfully shot 18 shots at an completely unarmed man in his vehicle with his 6 year old son who btw HE HAD NO WARRANTS and they KILLED his SON (they were both white the man and his son)

      Wanna know why you didn’t hear about that but you heard about Trayvon Martin?

      JUSTICE was served!!!!

      Those officers will ROT in Prison for what they did and while nothing will bring happiness to ANY of these tragic stories but to play this “all lives matter” card is ignorant as hell.

      If you are in poverty and of any race you are subject to the most wrong doing by police period.

      BUT the facts show that for EVERY “INNOCENT” and “WRONGFULLY” “KILLED” Black man there is no “JUSTIC”

      those are key words you need to learn the definition of and context.

      Because even those that are not “model citizens” don’t deserve a bullet in the back or head when pressed against a cold cement ground.

      By all means ALL LIVES MATTER but to accurately portray the issues at hand over these past few years “BLACK LIVES MATTER”

      now I’m not going to call you a racist but you are ignorant as!!!

      • Get Over Yourself says:

        It’s totally racial propaganda, anyone who believes any different is naive.

        • Then you are naive because unlike ME you were not paying attention 3 years ago when this started

          imma give you some advice

          get on twitter and follow any of the “anons” and they promote and spread the truth as it happens

          the VOCAL MINORITY

          is like yourself and they promote Racial Propaganda

          BLACKLIVESMATTER is a movement to bring awareness to atrocities happening to Black lives in poverty that the public will NEVER SEE

          not promote black lives over white or any other race…..

          you are so ignorant but according to your name not only do you not have any education you lack respect..

          You are the typical guy who HEARS the vocal minority and says to yourself (i’m tired of HEARING about this crap)

          well guess what? aside from you hearing about “this crap”

          people are tired of going to bed without there loved ones in there lives

          so “get over yourself”

  2. Harriet says:

    The storylines are intriguing! I love the fact that you’re dealing with social issues such as mental illness, family issues, emasculation (Luscious to Jamal my opinion), love and most importantly, how black lives matter!! You know mental illness and racial profiling often go hand in hand. Thanks Empire, keep up the good work!

  3. Judi says:

    I lost a lot of respect for Empire, it’s writer’s, and producers tonight. I am a white woman with a biracial grandsons and dear black friends that I love like crazy. Understand that in MY life, I don’t refer to them as biracial or black, nor do they refer to me as white. I only do so here because color identity is a problem that people like the ones who make this show have.

    If they had chosen to bring up the issue of racial strife in any way other than through the ridiculously racist hate filled race-baiting, riot instigating lens of the BLM movement and instead had chosen to bring it up in a more realistic, truthful way, I might have not lost all respect for them. The movement led by the late great Martin Luther King was dignified and honest. MLK fought for change for ALL of his people. It wasn’t about lawsuits, payouts, riots, and burning down and looting the very town they reside in like a pack of fools.

    With the power that BLM has attained, they could do so very much for their people. They could fight for innocent children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters getting slaughtered in cities like Chicago. Instead, they choose to build up into saint or martyrs career criminals (NO COLOR JUST CRIMINALS) who have a record as long as my arm who refuse to obey commands from the police, ending with getting themselves shot. More white men get shot by police than black men, but I rarely see more than a whisper about it on the news and I have yet to see the BLM movement March for one of them, although their life ended in exactly the same way. So, these guys don’t get built up or marched for or riots started in their name because we white people we the facts and know that that person should’ve made better life decisions and their end was pretty much written in the star’s because of those choices.

    I do hope Empire writers will choose a more worthy, ethical movement to follow and if they won’t, if they are going to be so ridiculously asinine and unknowledgeable about the majority of white people, that they will just go ahead and follow their hearts and put KKK hoods on all white cast members and let them do a big musical number every episode. Sheesh!

    • Denae says:

      I think you are sorely mistaken about the intent of the last scene. You stated that the incident in question was unrealistic and untruthful, but how many times have we heard about black men being accosted by police, and in many instances, killed? Just look at the last two weeks alone in the US, then look at even this year as a whole. How many black men were murdered by police when they posed no imminent danger to themselves or the public, yet people of other races (who were far more dangerous) had their lives spared? It’s lovely that you, a white woman, have close ties to mixed race and black people, and that you cherish them and see their lives as valuable. That’s great. But guess what? Not everyone is like you. Not everyone thinks like you. Not everyone sees and believes as you do. I know this because I am a young BLACK woman, and I have experienced racism in MY life. I was called a n*gger by a white person when I was in the second grade. Grade 2. So you can’t sit there and correctly say that colour identity is only an issue because black people and Hollywood money grubbers are making it one. Colour identity is an issue because racist people and institutions make it one. While I do agree that BLM is a pile of donkey crap (the leader of my local organization said she wanted to kill all white men), I believe the name of the movement is important. Not because black lives matter more than others, but because they matter just as much and everyone needs to acknowledge and respect that fact. To your comment about the writers being “unknowledgeable about the majority of white people”: they never, at any point in time, said (or implied) that those two white cops represented all cops, or all white cops, or all white people. Two prejudice white cops represent the prejudice system; nothing more, nothing less. The fact that you jumped to the most extreme conclusion and started getting defensive proves that (while you are not racist,) you have no understanding as to why this issue is so important for the black community and needs to be addressed. Now, whether or not the writers delve into the movement itself is yet to be seen, but regardless, it serves to shine a light on systemic racism to bring about positive change. I may have problems with many of the ways black people are portrayed on this show, but this is not one of them. I can stand behind this, and you should too, if colour identity problems and racism are really to be irradiated.

    • KAD says:

      I have to be honest, I don’t understand how you took such offense to this episode, especially in light of your grandchildren and friends of color. And I also don’t understand why BLM is mentioned so many times in the comments here. It’s not about a movement. At no point or time did BLM even come up in last night’s episode. It’s about a race of people being exterminated – even when completely innocent. Just like Andre was. The only difference is he didn’t get shot. And as far as BLM is concerned, since it’s mentioned so often, I don’t think it’s fair to say: They could fight for innocent children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters getting slaughtered in cities like Chicago. Many in the movement would say that’s EXACTLY what they’re doing. That’s not to say there aren’t some people who ‘hate all white people’ etc. But there’s no need to blame a whole movement for that. Ignorance comes in all colors, ethnicities, cultures and social standing. Black folks have been hearing ‘go back to Africa’ since we were abducted from there hundreds of years ago. Black folks have been hung for being black in the wrong place. And I assure you there were MANY black people, during MLK’s time, that reacted with violence and hatred. Malcolm X produced the ‘by any means necessary’ movement at the same time as MLKs. And I don’t know or haven’t heard of anyone who would trade a loved one for a lawsuit payout. It appears that’s the only way to hold somebody responsible for the tremendous loss of life so rampant in our communities. Cities throw money at the problem, instead of retraining and deprogramming police officers to respect ALL life – even black ones. And if it’s true that more white men get shot by police officers than black ones – I would posit that since there are WAY more white men in the US than black ones, that makes sense. But I wonder if more of them are actually killed, or just shot? Since I don’t have statistics on that in front of me I can’t go any further with that argument. But I am alarmed when I hear someone with black grandchildren and black friends say that “we white people we the facts and know that that person should’ve made better life decisions and their end was pretty much written in the star’s because of those choices”. That sounds like what the police who kill at will say. Not everyone that is murdered by the police are guilty of crimes and poor choices. What was Andre’s poor choice last night? He wasn’t committing any crime. He was in front of his own house, minding his own business. Plenty of people are innocent of any crime at all when they are mercilessly killed because the police “felt threatened”. I think it’s sad that folks seem so put out by black folks believing we have just as much right to live as everyone else. And I would be especially sad if my grandmother felt the way you do.

  4. Eupha says:

    What the crap has happened to the Empire writers?? Havethey all gone BLM? A great show is now becoming a racist PO

  5. laurelnev says:

    I REALLY hope Empire doesn’t join the “hop on the PC bandwagon even when it really doesn’t fit with the story” gang that seems to be dominating TV today. That part just seemed superimposed and thrown in at the last minute. And I DO think Anika needs to pay. So far, she’s not even being eaten by guilt. She flat out murdered Rhonda’s baby, and then murdered Rhonda herself. Yes, for 99% of the world, being forced to marry Lucious would constitute a fate worse than death, but it’s what Anika has been trying to wangle all along, and basically why she molested a willing Hakeem to (hopefully) be the one to produce the next heir. This is going WAY past “gangsta”.

    • Almondy says:

      Superimposed and thrown in at the last minute?? How about it’s real life. This is what’s happening today. This is what most viewers of Empire are affected by.

  6. Muffy says:

    So still no proper service for Rhonda? The family also still acts like she never died outside of Andre. Come on, even Camilla had memorial.

  7. William says:

    All of you do understand that Empire’s a black series, right? Of course they’re going to highlight matters that affect our demographic at this very moment. The fact that many of you question the relevance here makes it clear to me that you’re misinformed about the struggles we go. The writers were perfectly justified.

    • Christina Grace says:

      Thank you William!
      Jeez, I can’t believe these people are acting like this is some media creation to start a race war or something. These are real issues that happened to real black people. The writer even mentioned the name of a man that this specifically happened to! These are black people on the show and the writers have every right and justification to write about the issues that are affecting black people in America right now. It’s very upsetting to me that white people are on here complaining about having to see the truth.

    • Kat says:

      “A black series” Wow! I know it was about a blank family but I didn’t know if was only a black series. She show included some white people but up until tonight’s show, I thought it was fairly basis. Camila was a horrible person and they had a huge memorial service for her yet Rhonda was an origional cast member and they didn’t have a single moment of silence for her. I reall enjoyed this series but tonight’s show ruined it. Then, you end this show with two white cops being assholes to Andre. I’m not white, I’m Hispanic and have been treated unfairly by some simply because I’m Hispanic. Still I don’t label all white people as racist because they are not all racist. In this world we have good people and bad people and that’s the bottom line. Stop labeling every white person a racist and every black person a victim. I truly believe if you treat others with respect then you will be treated the same in return. If you dress like a thug (even white people) then you might be mistaken as a thug. If I were pulled over by a cop, I would obey his requests whether I agreed with them or not. I’m not going to fight or refuse because I feel I’m in the right. I’ll file a complaint later and deal with the issue professionally. This way they will see that I’m not a thug but a law abiding citizen that was treated unfairly. Pride is a deadly sin. It’s great to be proud of your heritage but it’s not great to label all those different from you as racist pigs because of a few bad seeds. Racism is not just a black thing by definition. Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. Stop the cycle and give away “free hugs”. We are all humans just wanting to be accepted for themselves.

      • William says:

        Racism is more than a belief system, it’s a power structure that grants a privileged demographic the opportunity to subordinate another group as a means of elevating their own status. This “we are one” mentality is very insulting because the truth is we’re not the same. There are experiences, histories that we black people are faced with that need to be taken into account unique to the human condition. The fact that you believe BLM is a hand out proves my point that you’re misinformed about the movement. Regardless of whether we dress, act, or speak accordingly black lives are still being punished which speaks to a systemic issue. We have the right to speak on an issue that jeopardizes our very safety and you encouraging us to silence this conversation reinforces the idea that our life is trivial.

    • Almondy says:

      THANK YOU, William. Some of these comments disgust me. So Empire is a great show when it’s ratchet and entertaining but when it makes you uncomfortable by addressing things that are actually happening in the black community it’s no longer a good show? Why wouldn’t a show with a black cast touch on issues that it’s viewers care about? This is our life. These are things that affect our sons, fathers and husbands. You may be mad at Empire for being real but WE don’t have the privilege of closing our eyes and ears to what’s going on in this country at the moment.

    • Sally McLinn says:

      It’s a series about an African American family dynasty. Dynasty was about a Caucasian dynasty. I like how they’ve turned it into more of a soap opera and are fleshing out the characters.

    • Patty says:

      Oh no, I didn’t know this was a black show!!!!

    • Tanya says:

      Thank you you are on point

  8. Kar says:

    A scholar is not the same as a celebrity.

  9. Tina says:

    Seems the white people who watch this show are upset that their stereotype vision of black people only causing drama and singing for them, are upset. Hmm. Wonder why?

  10. Good on Empire for tackling racial profiling and police brutality in this episode. All the racists who hate to be reminded of what Black people go through all the time in this country can kick rocks. André’s Life Matters.

  11. Linda says:

    Deleted empire from my DVr will never watch again becoming to racist

  12. No longer watching Empire says:

    Way to keep everyone thinking about already talked about news! Way to beat the “black lives matter” horse. If everyone else is gonna be offended and sensitive then I guess I can too. The movement I know is about how black peoples lives are discriminated against, I get it. Poor you. But shows being broadcasted like this one helps the news and media to remind people of what is already going on. As a Caucasian I have no issues with black people, none. Shows like this further angers people and make closed minded people angry at white people for no reason and it just keeps people going and going. If you wanted ratings you don’t have support here.