A flash-forward in the ‘Empire’ season 6 premiere featured a Lyon family member bleeding out after getting shot. Showrunner Brett Mahoney reveals when we’ll get an answer to THAT question and more in the final season.
Kingsley was in the coffin last season, but it might just be Lucious Lyon this season. In a flash-forward during the Empire season 6 premiere, someone walked right up to Lucious and shot him multiple times. Lucious hit the ground and began bleeding out. Is Lucious Lyon dead? Has the leader of the pack fallen? There are so many questions to answer in the final season.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with showrunner Brett Mahoney about Lucious Lyon’s fate and when it will be revealed. He teased that fan-favorite characters from seasons past will be popping up as the show explores who shot Lucious. Brett also discussed the new woman in Lucious’s life in the present day, Cookie’s journey this season, Andre’s “survivor’s guilt,” and more.
In terms of that flash-forward, will we see more of that moment similar to last season?
Brett Mahoney: Correct. What will be different is that I think they’re going to be a couple of shocking twists and turns that are going to drop audiences’ jaws, and then we are going to find out who is holding that gun and shooting Lucious somewhere around the midseason.
So this won’t be like a series finale-type thing? We’ll definitely get answers before then?
Brett Mahoney: You’re going to truly be shocked and have to stick around to understand exactly what happened.
Will we find out whether or not Lucious is alive or dead? Will we get an answer?
Brett Mahoney: He looks pretty dead. There’ll be answers throughout [the season].
I don’t know how you can survive that, but you never know.
Brett Mahoney: You never know. You never know.
In the present day, Lucious has a new woman in his life. How big of a presence is she going to be?
Brett Mahoney: I think the Yana character is different from other women that Lucious has been involved with and because she doesn’t have the history that Cookie has with Lucious, she’s able to see him a little more objectively. She sees, of course, the bad in Lucious to the extent that he shares it with her because Lucious has actually not shared everything with Yana. But she can also see the good in him that other people around him don’t see and that’s sort of the reason why he’s drawn to her.
I feel like he’s not bogged down with all of this baggage when he’s around her, even if he hasn’t revealed everything. It’s refreshing to see him in a different relationship without all of those elements involved.
Brett Mahoney: I think that’s exactly right! And the thing is, Yana represents this breath of fresh air. She’s sort of like this alternative life for Lucious. She’s like, listen, that crown that you’re wearing at Empire is heavy. All those bad relationships are toxic. She’s just like, run away with me and be free. And to his surprise, it’s a little enticing to Lucious. He got involved with Yana just to manipulate her and get the information that he needed to get from her father. But what he didn’t expect is to actually have real feelings for her.
In terms of Cookie, could she possibly get a new love interest this final season or is she focusing on herself?
Brett Mahoney: She might but she is primarily focusing on herself. Like who is she absent Empire? Absent Lucious? I don’t think she wants to get a man all tied up into that at this point. Who is Loretha? Even before she became Cookie and before any men were influencing her and tying her down or complicating her life. Now, of course, as soon as you say you don’t want any man in your life and you’re just focusing on yourself a man often pops up.
At the end of the episode, there was that really incredible scene between Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard where he says, “I’m over you.” She’s like, “You can never be over me.” Are we really going to get that tense push-pull with them this season?
Brett Mahoney: Absolutely! I think we’re sort of going back to the first season push-pull but with all the knowledge and the history that they have. They’ve got to decide — is their love enough to keep them together or is it toxic and should they go their separate ways? But regardless of whether they choose to stay together or not be together, they do know and realize they love each other.
Tracy shows back up at Empire and she’s ready to stir up more drama. What can you say about her arc and her interesting dynamic with Andre?
Brett Mahoney: Andre clearly has Kingsley’s heart beating in his chest and Andre is suffering a little survivor’s guilt. Kingsley had to die for him to live. So I think that’s complicated for him and then having to see Tracy at the business is also complicating things. Also, if Lucious were to come back, that’s also a complication for Lucious.
In terms of Hakeem, will we really be diving deep into him playing his father in the Empire movie?
Brett Mahoney: The thing is, now that Jamal has decided to leave the Lyons because he’s off in London living his life and trying to stay away from the family toxicity, both Hakeem, Tiana, all the other performers have got to step up and try and fill that vacuum. So there’s that. And then for Hakeem, his journey is now that he’s playing his father, what kinds of lessons will he learn from that in terms of learning about who his father is, who Cookie really is. It sort of helps him re-evaluate himself as a man.
With this being the final season, there have been so many incredible guest stars over the years. Do you have plans to bring back a lot of them as a final toast to the series?
Brett Mahoney: Well in a way, that’s sort of what the “who shot Lucious Lyon” piece is in terms of the premiere. So this is going to be an opportunity to see some who might be the person who’s holding that gun. So you’ll see the flash-forward segments in terms of the shooting with Lucious, but then we might cut to, for instance, Billy Baretti and see where he is right now and speculate as to whether he might be holding the gun.
Do you know how the show is going to end?
Brett Mahoney: Yes, it’s really fun!
So when you started this season you knew the trajectory and how it was going to come to a close?
Brett Mahoney: Well, we had to work it out. So when we found out it was the final season, because I always have ideas in terms of where we left off last season and what we would do in the next season, but then when we learned that this would be the final season it just allowed us to just amp everything up and we went back to the pilot and we went back to the first season and we said, what are the best ways to end these characters? What are the best ways to really honor their character journeys? So that’s how we figured out where we should move forward with all of them.
There was a moment between Cookie and Becky in the premiere where they’re talking about Jamal and how they miss him. Even though he’s not on the show, will Jamal still be a major presence?
Brett Mahoney: I think he’s certainly a presence because he’s a member of the family, but it’s just like in any other family, when someone moves away you hear about them. But also, he’s speaking to what all of them are facing this season because the Jamal character has always been the one, particularly last season, who has said Empire is bad. It is evil. It is toxic. We should leave it behind. And that’s what he’s done. That’s also a question that will be facing all the characters.