Take 5 With ‘Empire’ Showrunner Ilene Chaiken

Empire is back tonight, and on a recent press call, showrunner Ilene Chaiken shared a bit about what’s coming up in the second half of Season 2. Here is what you need to know about the upcoming episodes, and some insight into the first half of the season..

On the choice to not show Jamal and Skye’s hookup on screen:

“We didn’t think it was necessary to see it happen. It was the last moment of the episode, and it’s the way that we often do our last moments — a big, gasp-worthy moment in which a lot of things are implicit. Sometimes we do sex implicitly.”

On how significant the Rhonda story arc is going to be for the remainder of Season 2, and when we’re going to find out who did it:

“I’m not going to tell you when we’ll find out. I will say that the story arc plays a large role at times, and it ebbs and flows in terms of how prominent it is in the relationships among the characters. But ultimately, in the end, it plays a large, significant, and I would hope very surprising role.”

On Andre’s faith being rocked by what happened to Rhonda in the midseason finale:

“As everybody knows, in our midseason finale something tragic happens to Andre’s wife. I won’t talk about the outcome, but I certainly will say that it causes him or necessitates his grappling with issues of faith. Why would such a thing happen to me? What does it mean to my faith? Will I be able to continue down that path in light of what’s happened?”

On the changes with Anika and her motivation this season:

“We were talking about how Anika would continue to stay in this story and our fundamental belief about Anika is that the thing that she wants most of all is to be a Lyon. That’s been the thing that she’s wanted from the moment we met her. When she lost Lucious, she clung to that hope and pursued it in other ways, in ways that ultimately were not healthy for her. She may have become slightly unhinged for a little while, but we see her as a grounded character who struggles to regain her footing in this crazy and sometimes abusive family that she so much wants to be a part of.”

On the upcoming storyline that she’s most excited about:

“The story that I’m most excited about in the latter half of this season — or the character whom I’ve most enjoyed — is Lucious. He goes through such extraordinary things in such a deep and intense way, and Terrence Howard’s performance in those episodes is just remarkable. I’m really, really excited for people to watch and see where we go with this character and where Terrance takes him. Lucious’ back story is a very big part of the second half of Season 2. A lot will be revealed. It will have repercussions and huge consequences for everyone in the family.”

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