News that Empire co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong hope to someday give fans a proper series finale was greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism last week. After all, Daniels made a similar assertion last summer in the wake of Star‘s abrupt cancellation, promising fans a “movie of the week to wrap things up.” Such a project has yet to come to fruition.
Ahead of Tuesday’s makeshift series finale, Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney maintains to TVLine that there is indeed “a universal want and desire” to bring closure to the Lyon family after the coronavirus crisis ends. (As we previously reported, production on the Fox drama’s sixth and final season ground to a halt last month while the show was shooting Episode 19 of its 20-episode order. Consequently, Episode 18 — airing tomorrow night— will now serve as the show’s swan song.)
“Everyone wants to send the series off [properly],” Mahoney maintains. “I can’t guarantee it will happen, but we’re hopeful. And if we don’t actually get a chance to shoot the series finale, I think we’ll find some creative way to get [the information] out there, whether it’s by just releasing the script or finding another way to satisfy fans.”
The EP acknowledges that the prospect of restarting production on Empire post-COVID-19 is not without its hurdles. “We don’t know what the costs will be in terms of keeping our sets,” he explains. “And then the question becomes who from the cast will be available at that point.”
In the meantime, Mahoney says he strived to bring a sense of resolution to the show’s six-year run by incorporating scenes from the penultimate Episode 19 into 18 (aka the ersatz finale that airs tomorrow). “The question [became], ‘Can I craft [an ending] that’s going to be satisfying based on [the footage that] what we had, which was all of Episode 18 and half of 19,” he says. “And, luckily, [there are scenes] we had shot in 19… that were reflective of the spirit that we wanted to end the series with [in the original finale].”