Ever since Empire aired its Season 2 finale back in May, fans of the Fox drama have been asking one big question. Did Anika or Rhonda die?
Empire viewers saw either a pregnant Anika (Grace Byers) or Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) fall from the top of a New York skyscraper in “Past Is Prologue,” and showrunner Ilene Chaiken since appears to have confirmed that whoever fell over the railing will more than likely be dead and will not be appearing in Season 3, premiering on September 21.
Speaking out ahead of the Season 3 premiere episode “Light In Darkness,” the Empire showrunner confessed that the cast and crew of the drama are going to have a tough time saying goodbye to either Grace or Kaitlyn, seemingly confirming that at least one of the Lyon ladies died in the dramatic season finale.
“I’m devastated at the thought of saying goodbye to either one of them,” Chaiken told TV Line of the potential death prior to the September 21 Season 3 premiere. “I’m not even sure how we’re going to get through it.”
— Empire (@EmpireFOX) September 20, 2016
Ilene’s comments come just months after Chaiken hinted at a death in a separate interview with TV Line following the Season 2 Empire finale, in which she confessed that “it would be ludicrous to say that would be a survivable fall.”
“Assuming one of those ladies went over, she’s in for it,” the Empire showrunner added, suggesting one is very much dead.
Though Ilene was reluctant to dish on whether it was Anika or Rhonda who suffered the 30-story fall, she did also appear to confirm that one of the Empire actresses would, in fact, be leaving the series ahead of Season 3.
“We talk about what would be the best and most delicious story to tell in the next season. But we love both of these characters and both of these actresses,” the Empire showrunner revealed of the character death, confirming that “it’s hard to think about losing either one of them.”
“In this instance, there’s no character motivation to consider,” she continued. “One of them is simply going to win the fight, and the other is likely to be gone. It’s in the hands of the gods, and whoever survives is going to have quite a story.”
But who actually died in the Season 2 finale of Empire?
Rumors have been swirling for the past several months when it comes to Anika or Rhonda potentially falling over the railing, and the evidence has certainly been mounting up against both characters.
Kaitlin Doubleday appeared to hint that her character Rhonda may not be dead and survived the Empire brawl earlier this year, posting a promotional photo of herself in character to Instagram this summer.
Though the Empire actress didn’t give too much away, she did joke alongside the snap, “Sometimes you just gotta give some extra side eye in a Saran Wrap looking mini dress #Empire.”
Rhonda also seems the most likely to survive her rooftop brawl with Anika after EmpireBooBooKitty.com claimed that the actress was actually seen filming scenes for the show in July, though it’s very possible that the scenes could be part of one of Empire‘s infamous flashbacks.
But while signs appear to point to Anika’s death, the Empire cast was out in force to celebrate the Season 3 premiere in Chicago on September 20, where Fox 32 Chicago chatted with Grace Byers on the red carpet. Though the star didn’t reveal the fate of the character, her appearance at the event suggests Anika could potentially be alive and well in season 3.
As the rumors and speculation continued, Empire fans flocked to Twitter to discuss the possible death, suggesting that it could actually be Anika’s unborn child with Hakeem who loses their life following the fall.
“Bottom line – the baby should die – not Anika or Rhonda! #Empire,” Empire fan @THEEHollywoodNY speculated of who’s dead, and @JazmineTania wrote on the social media site, “On Empire they say somebody dies. Its neither Rhonda or Anika but it’s the baby that Anika is carrying… bet I’m right.”
Empire has yet to comment on the rumors, though Anika losing her unborn child would be a cruel irony for the character after she infamously pushed Rhonda down the stairs in Season 2, causing her to lose her unborn child with husband Andre.
— Empire (@EmpireFOX) September 21, 2016
But whether it’s Anika or Rhonda or her unborn child who dies, Empire fans won’t have much longer to wait to see who reportedly fell to their death.
Co-executive producer Saana Hamri told Entertainment Weekly that Empire will reveal which character is dead within “five seconds” of the Season 3 premiere, “Light In Darkness.”
“I will say that the question that was posed gets answered in a fabulous and heart-stopping way,” Hamri teased.
Empire Season 3 is set to premiere on Fox on September 21.
[Featured Image by Jemal Countess/Getty Images]