Someone is poised to die on Empire (oh no!) and the mystery surrounding that significant death will be an overarching theme in Season 5.
In a flash-forward six months ahead, Lucious (Terrence Howard) is seen tearfully standing over a closed coffin mourning the loss of someone whose identity has yet to be revealed. Is it--gasp--Cookie (Taraji P. Henson)? Or perhaps a fakeout and the coffin is actually empty? As the season unfolds, showrunner Brett Mahoney says we'll see even more intermittent vignettes that will offer up additional clues as to whose life was ended. However, their death will somehow make sense. "Hopefully it will feel satisfying and significant. And it will have deep ramifications," he previously told TV Guide.
While we wait for the deceased identity to be revealed, here's who we think ended up in that mysterious grey coffin and why.
Lucious' pained expression suggests that whoever is in that coffin meant a lot to him and as his ride-or-die wife, Cookie certainly fits the bill. The loss of the Lyon family matriarch would be devastating but it's not like Empire hasn't toyed with the idea of her death before. Last season, Cookie suffered a mild heart attack that scared her family into getting their act together and she ultimately recovered. And while it seems unfathomable that the show would ever part ways with its animal print-wearing verbal assassin, showrunner Brett Mahoney previously told TV Guide that he's not afraid to kill off a member of the Lyon family, meaning that no one--not even Cookie--is safe in the world of Empire.
Hakeem (Bryshere "Yazz" Gray) survived a traumatic shooting in the Season 4 finale that resulted in him losing a part of his lung. While the injury has significantly hindered his breathing, thus altering the youngest Lyon's ability to rap, he seems otherwise stable. However, Becky (Gabourey Sidibe) telling Lucious "No one could have known" in the flash-forward hints at an unexpected death. Given that Hakeem is still suffering the side effects of the shooting and he's not exactly taking care of himself, it's possible that his condition could worsen ultimately lead to his death. Stranger things have happened on the show.
What if Lucious isn't mourning the loss of a person, but rather his old life? In one of those ominous flash-forwards, the FBI shows up at the end of the deceased's funeral demanding to speak with him. Given Lucious' extensive list of enemies and his willingness to do whatever it takes to rebuild his fallen empire, it's not surprising that he would ruffle the wrong feathers and cost his family everything, including their old identities. Lucious might be too proud to snitch but that doesn't mean he wouldn't fake the death of a loved one in order to protect them.
Cookie and Lucious' eldest offspring used to rely on his brains to solve his problems but his time in prison has turned him into a tough guy with a death wish. After acquiring some impressive street smarts, Andre (Trai Byers) has begun to think he knows the inner works of the criminal world and that arrogance may be just the thing that brings him down. After orchestrating a hit while behind bars and then acting as his father's wingman while collecting money owed to his family, there's a good chance he's picked up a few enemies along the way who aren't afraid to get even.
Who do you think is in the casket? Let us know!
Empire airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on Fox.