‘Empire’ showrunner Brett Mahoney hopes the show’s abrupt ending was still “satisfying” for viewers.
The popular hip-hop drama was always intended to finish after its current sixth season, but after the coronavirus pandemic forced filming to be shut down, it ended on Tuesday (April 21) at episode 18 and producers hope they were able to pull something appropriate together.
Brett told Variety: “We looked at the series premiere and said, ‘How can we end this in the most poetic way possible and honouring that really great series premiere?’ That was our inspiration for the true series finale, and we just had to let that go when I wasn’t able to shoot that.
“When it was clear we were going to have to shut down [production] for the health and safety of our cast and crew, which of course came first, I realised there was an element of Episode 19 that had the spirit and the feeling of the season finale in terms of the Lyons coming together for their family and one another.
“So I could build the elements to that, meaning taking out elements of 18 to make room for these elements of 19 to combine them and hopefully give something that was satisfying and had the spirit of a series finale.”
The abrupt ending left fans with unanswered questions, including the identity of the person who shot Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), and Brett admitted he initially tried to address certain subjects but couldn’t do so comfortably.
He said: “At one point, I had it shoehorned in there but it made me groan — I’m sure it would have made the fans groan. I wanted to make it as much of a finale as possible, but I wanted it to be satisfying. The montage that you see when Yana’s singing and Cookie and Lucious are looking each other across the stage, we absolutely were supposed to have that feeling of longing during the song, but we didn’t script those flashbacks until we knew this was going to be the series ending.”