ByBlake Wilde, writer at
terrifically awkward
Blake Wilde

Warning: Major Spoilers for Season 2 of Empire below.

“The battle for the soul of Empire,” says executive producer and showrunner Ilene Chaiken.

Empire left viewers with a major cliffhanger when Anika (Grace Gealey) and Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) are fighting and one of them falls off the terrace. A few other promising open plots last season and now we’re closer than ever to the truth. But we got a few answers you might want to know before Season 3 premieres this September. Check out:

8. Anika & Rhonda

What a big finale Empire delivered us last season, right? Even though it was similar with the midseason finale cliffhanger, it got us really curious about what happen next. But first, let’s recap:

On Empire’s second season mid-finale, Rhonda was pushed downstairs by a mysterious person. As result, she lost her baby. At the same time, Anika turned out to be pregnant with Hakkem (Bryshere Gray) the father. Since then, a lot was speculated about who had pushed Rhonda. Anika seemed too predictable to be the one, but in the season finale it was confirmed that it was her. To get revenge, Rhonda surprised Anika who was standing on the terrace. They started a fight and we were left with Andre running at them while he listen to one of the women scream loudly.

Resolution: We don’t know who died, but it’s been confirmed that someone really died from that “cliff” (see what we did there?!).

7. Leah & Andre

We’ve been told too little about Lucious’s mother last season, that why it’s expected we'll learn more from Leah (Leslie Uggams) this season, as she will be closer to Andre (Trai Byers). “Leah and Andre are the most, I guess, alike in Andre’s world,” says Trai Byers. “She has from the beginning seen something in Andre that she identifies in herself. It’s almost like the two are looking at each other but they’re looking into a mirror.”

It has also been said that as Season 1 focused on Jamal while Season 2 focused on Hakeem, the third season will do more for Andre. “We leave Andre in a very precarious and potentially devastating place. I’m not going to answer who it is that went over the edge, if indeed someone did — and I would venture that it sure sounded like someone went over — but Andre is about to go on a huge journey,” he said. “Andre is really going to come to grips with some things that he’s battled in his own nature and we heard Rhonda set him up for it and challenge him for it. Rhonda is going to continue to be a voice in his head challenging him for it so I think Andre is about to have the biggest story we’ve ever told for Andre.”

Resolution: Grandmother and grandson are teaming up this season.

Plus: This will be Andre's season.

6. Jamal

After the traumatic second season events, Jamal (Jussie Smollett), finally realized how much his family causes its own problems. On the bright side, he will be in a new love relationship with his new counselor Phillip (Juan Antonio), a man who at first doesn’t care about his fame. “It’s someone that for the first time gives no f—s about Jamal’s fame,” says Smollett. “He just genuinely is not affected by the money, and it’s a very, very honest relationship.”

Resolution: Jamal will be struggling PTSD and finding a new love.

5. Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey surely is a big guest to be excited about Empire’s third round. She’ll play Kitty, a singer brought by Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) to collaborate with Jamal (Jussie Smollett), guessing Kitty might bring him some joy in order to help through his PTSD state.

“She’s the one that sees everybody’s always telling Jamal what to do,” says Smollett. “From Lucious to Cookie to the media to his fans. Kitty is a person who’s a much bigger star than Jamal and she’s there to kind of be like, ‘Stop. He’s human.”

Resolution: Mariah will first appear on this season's third episode to change the way Jamal sees his life.

4. Cookie & Lucious

The last we saw Cookie, she was heartbroken after trusting Lucious and seeing it all go to waste as he married Anika once again. “I love you and I’ll always do my best for my family, but your father and I are through,” she said after leaving the building. And as Chaiken said, she will keep her words. “She’s not leaving the family; she’s not leaving the company. She and Lucious will always be in one another’s lives and in one another’s faces, but Cookie made a vow. "Cookie is a woman of her word so let’s see what that vow looks like and what that turns out for her,” he said.

Resolution: They will not be together, neither when we see them again or at least through the first half of the season.

3. Hakeem

Hakeem went through a lot last season, from loosing control of Empire to being abandoned on his wedding, from kidnapping to possible rape. Now it’s time to face the results of all that. Chaiken said:

“[Hakeem] suffered humiliation after humiliation over the course of Season 2. He really made a noble effort to be a better man, and he did grow up some, but everything he tried ultimately came back at him. His failures were public. So, first and foremost, Hakeem needs to regain his dignity, and hip-hop is going to play a big part of that. Given who Hakeem is, though, you can expect him to get into some trouble.”

Resolution: This will be a recovery season for Hakeem.

2. The Power Game Will Continue

“Dramatically, Season 3 — and we set it up in this finale — is a battle for the soul of Empire. It’s dark versus light, it’s Lucious versus Jamal in large part, because Jamal, after being shot, vows to end this thing,” Chaiken revealed. “Cookie’s fighting for the souls of each of her sons, knowing that Jamal is on the far side slouching towards the light, and Lucious is throwing down his dark gauntlet and trying to claim everyone’s soul.”

1. 18 Episodes

Empire’s second season had six more episodes than Season 1 and it caused structure problems during the first half. This season, Chaiken promises they won’t make the same mistakes again:

“You’ll see in Season 3 more than ever, is that we’re going to slow burn our stories a little bit more. It will always have those big 'Empire' moments, but every moment, every story that we’re telling, is driven by character. We really are taking our time with them and, going forward in Season 3, we’re being rigorous with ourselves about earning every moment and giving our characters and our stories time to play out. And I think that you’ll see that in a really satisfying way in our third season.”

Empire returns for its third season this Wednesday on Fox

Watch the promo teaser below:

What are you most looking forward to this season?


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