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If you haven't started watching Empire, you should—but be warned, the season finale of Fox's hit hip-hop soap opera, which premiered tonight, is rife with cliffhangers. (Similarly, this post contains spoilers.)
The season finale left audiences with more questions than answers, although we did get a few: the central family's patriarch Lucious Lyon (played by Terrence Howard) isn't dying of ALS, and he has decided to bequeath the family business to his middle son, Jamal (played by Jussie Smolett). And yet, minds were blown when Lucious ended up in jail ("Game time, bitches," he says from behind bars) while the family business IPO seemed to be tanking.
In an interview with Deadline, the show's co-creator Danny Strong talked about the new plot twists that arose in the 120-minute final episode—and defended his word:
Our showrunner Ilene and I co-wrote Episode 12 together and I didn’t really view it as a cliffhanger because for me, it was the fact that we resolved Lucious’ ALS this season and who was going to inherit the empire. That’s sort of what I was referring to when I said no Laura Palmer.
Strong is referring to the character Laura Palmer from the 1990s series Twin Peaks, which ended in a cliffhanger. But when asked to consider the unresolved story arc that is just beginning in his show, he added, "Well, but that’s a new twist. Yeah, it’s a cliffhanger."
On the subject of what's to come in season 2, Strong remained mute:
You know, I can’t answer that question because, A, we only have vague notions for next season. I mean, we were just discussing it, and B, we’re just starting to break the season right now. So I’m just not so crazy about talking about what we’re doing next season because the process is literally just beginning.
The writing process may just be beginning, but Empire has already proven itself by tackling issues of race, sexuality, inheritance and class, and growing in viewership week after week. In the words of Lucious: game time, bitches.