WARNING: This article contains spoilers about tonight’s episode of Empire. Read at your own risk!
Lucious, you are the father… we think.
Wednesday’s episode of Empire revealed that Lucious (Terrence Howard) is the father of Kingsley (A.Z. Kelsey), at least according to Kingsley. The reveal comes after the new head of Empire/Lyon rival breaks bread with the first family of music and gets an up-close view of them in action, which leaves him visibly emotional. He then returns to the bedside of his comatose mother, staring at a picture of his mother in her teenage years with a young Lucious. “I’m going to erase him from the face of the Earth,” declares Kingsley. “How is that for talent… dad?”
The latest bombshell comes as we continue to get small teases of who ends up in the casket featured in the flash forwards. To talk caskets, illegitimate children, and more drama, EW chatted with Empire boss Brett Mahoney.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s get right to it — Is Kingsley really Lucious’ son?
BRETT MAHONEY: Whether it’s true or not, it’s certainly something that Kingsley believes and this is what has been motivating him on his journey to punish Lucious. Over the next few episodes and beyond, this is something that the Lyons will have to wrestle with.
What can you say about Kingsley’s mom? She’s out of consciousness and Kingsley is talking about making Lucious pay for what he did to her. I couldn’t help but think it’s tied to drugs considering Kingsley brings up Lucious’ drug dealing past and whether he regrets being involved with something that has caused pain to so many.
That’s exactly what Kingsley believes, that Lucious is responsible for getting his mother hooked on drugs. The mother has been basically an addict and suffering from that and having numerous strokes. She’s in and out of consciousness so we will have the opportunity to hear her side of the story eventually. But from Kingsley’s perspective, and that’s what he’s talking about at that dinner, he believes that Lucious is responsible for his mother’s drug addiction and then abandoning them.
What period of Lucious’ life is this? Like is Kingsley older than Andre?
That’s what we get into as it moves forward.
Separate from him possibly being Lucious’ son, why was Kingsley — this Silicon Valley, music outsider-type A character — who you wanted to introduce as a Lyon adversary?
Where this character actually comes from initially — I don’t know whether I should say it or not — but he’s sort of a Trumpian character. In my mind, he was taking over Empire as Trump took over the White House, and as we’ve seen, Trump in any way possible to destroy Obama’s legacy, that’s what Kingsley has been trying to do to Lucious. So that was where the idea came from, but the question that the studio and network kept asking me was, why would he do this? Why would this be so important to him? And that’s where the idea of this being a son of Lucious’ who felt abandoned by him came from.
Since I talked to you after the season premiere, we’ve gotten a few more hints about the flash forwards and who might be in the casket. How much closer are we getting to answer?
Definitely more bread crumbs coming, but as we get to the midseason finale, there will be a huge piece of that puzzle revealed.
The previous episode saw the introduction of Wood Harris as Damon Cross, who we find out is a factor in the flash forward and the mysterious death. What is Cross’ involvement with Cookie and Lucious?
The story we’re telling this season in many ways is about the marriage of Lucious and Cookie and how after all these years, once they’ve gotten married, how do they keep it together? And I think that Wood’s character will become another obstacle in their path.
It wasn’t a focal point of this episode, but a few weeks back it was revealed that Kai (Toby Onwumere) has HIV. Before the season, I talked to Jussie Smollett and his excitement was palpable talking about this “groundbreaking” story line, which he said had never been seen between two black men. Why was this a story that you wanted to tell?
Looking at the statistics of HIV in black and brown communities and then talking to black gay men and Jussie, it was clear that this would be a very real thing for a gay black man that would come into play and have to deal with the issue of having a partner with HIV. So it just seemed like if we’re telling the story of Jamal, that this is something that he would encounter; it almost felt like a responsibility to try and educate the audience about where we are now in terms of HIV and it not being a death sentence. It felt like a very organic and natural story for us to tell at this time.
The episodes ends with Cookie returning home after the violent incident with Candace’s son, who attacked his mother and aunts. Cookie had called the police and they came and took him down by tasing him. Emotionally drained and physically beaten, Cookie goes on social media and speaks about the black community’s fear of police. What were you hoping to get across there?
It was our commentary on what we’re seeing on the news. Time and time again, we are seeing young black men gunned down by the police, which just puts the black and brown community in such a difficult place; when you need someone, what do you do? There really is no answer to the question.
Empire airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
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