One member of the Lyon family had his world torn apart on the Season 3 premiere of Fox’s “Empire.” After a four month long wait, fans finally learned whether Anika or Rhonda was killed after getting into a vicious fight on a balcony.
Season 2 of the hip-hop drama ended with Anika (Grace Gealey) and Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) fighting outside on a roof. The fight was sparked after Rhonda realized that it was Anika who shoved her down a flight of stairs causing her to lose her and Andre’s (Trai Byers) baby boy.
Season 3 of “Empire” picks up immediately after the events of last season. Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) storms out of the wedding venue after his baby mama Anika married his father Lucious (Terrence Howard). Hakeem leaves, and Lucious asks Jamal (Jussie Smollett) to take his mother Leah Walker (Leslie Uggams) home. As Jamal is about to put Leah in the car, Rhonda’s body falls from the sky onto the top of the vehicle shattering all the windows. Rhonda is definitely dead, and Andre loses it, grabbing and choking Anika. He slams her up against the wall as she pleads that it was Rhonda who attacked her. As she’s trying to calm Andre down, her water breaks and he picks her up and rushes into the building to get her to a hospital.
As all of this is going on, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) is having a hard time dealing with Lucious and Anika’s marriage. She’s seen cutting his face out of a family photo and throwing away magazines with his picture on them. Cookie suddenly gets a call from Jamal and rushes to the hospital to meet her family.
At the same time, Hakeem leaves the wedding venue and goes to Tiana’s (Serayah) house. He seems to be trying to rekindle their romance, but Tiana isn’t having any of it. Hakeem passes out on her couch as Jamal calls him about Rhonda’s death and Anika going into labor. Hakeem never makes it to the hospital and misses the birth of his daughter.
Back at the hospital, Andre seems out of it and is seen staring blankly at nothing. When Cookie offers to call his reverend, Andre refuses telling his family that he’s done with God and his plans. Leah starts yelling that they are all being punished.
Meanwhile, Anika gives birth and it’s revealed that the baby is a girl named Bella. Lucious, who is in the delivery room with her, is shocked because Anika told him she was pregnant with a boy. Lucious also advises his wife on what to do about the Rhonda situation. He tells her to tell the police that Rhonda tried to jump off the balcony and she was trying to stop her but Rhonda overpowered her.
After giving birth, Anika moves in with Lucious to make it look like their marriage is real, but his half-brother Tariq (Morocco Omari) still isn’t buying it and stakes out at Lucious’ house trying to gather more information. Lucious catches him and invites him to a family dinner. At the dinner, Tariq tries to stir up trouble with the Lyon family but they aren’t playing into it, and Cookie kicks him out the house.
Also during the premiere episode, fans meet Vaughn (French Montana) and Birdman as himself. They meet with Lucious to discuss working with him on the launch of Empire’s new streaming service. Lucious wants Jamal to perform at the launch, but he has a panic attack right before he starts singing his song “Need Freedom,” with new character Nessa (Sierra McClain).
Fans also get to see how Lucious and Cookie meet in a flashback. It’s revealed that they met as teenagers when a young Cookie (Ajiona Alexus) sees a young Lucious (Jeremy Carver) rapping in front of his friends.
The Season 3 premiere ends by setting up what’s in store for upcoming episodes: Andre talking to Rhonda’s ghost and Tariq spying on Lucious via a teddy bear in the baby’s nursery.