Hats off to Empire, because I can honestly say I didn’t see it coming. And by it, I clearly mean the shocking moment when one of the main characters gets pushed down their elegant (not to mention, very tall) stairwell and is left for dead. For that matter, they might actually be dead!
So, you know the drill, people — this is your official spoiler warning. If you have not watched the Dec. 2 midseason finale of Empire, proceed with caution. If you have, by all means, surge full-steam ahead.
Now, enough with the niceties. It was Rhonda. Pregnant Rhonda, no less. Pregnant Rhonda got pushed down the stairs by a mysterious leather-gloved assailant!
My first thought, of course, was for the baby. My second was for Kaitlin Doubleday, the fantastic actor who portrays Rhonda. I adore her and have grown quite fond of Rhonda. I don’t want to see her written off just yet.
However, perhaps she isn’t dead. The teaser trailer for the second half of the season, which resumes in March (aka an eternity from now), appears to show Andre break down in the hospital and then later beside the baby bassinet. I suspect that Rhonda survives but remains in critical condition, but they lose the baby — which is no less tragic and, with the acting Trai Byers (Andre Lyon) and Doubleday are capable of, will undoubtedly bring some incredibly heartbreaking moments after the break.
— Empire (@EmpireFOX) December 3, 2015
But regardless of how this horrible scenario plays out, the pressing question right this moment is one of blame. Who pushed Rhonda? It was arguably the most memorable moment from tonight’s episode, so everyone is speculating.
Understandably, many Empire fans are convinced Anika (Grace Gealey) is the culprit. We’ve watched Lucious’ former fiancée’s steady descent into madness this season, brought on by loneliness and alienation from the family that had already turned its back on her even when she did try to prove her loyalty.
Finding out she is pregnant with Hakeem’s baby contributed to her fragile mental state, and hearing Rhonda gush about how Lucious was over the moon about her own pregnancy and future “heir” might have been what pushed her over the edge.
Er, rather, drove her to push Rhonda over the edge.
Here’s the thing, though: Would that be too easy? Would Empire do something that is clearly the most obvious conclusion? I’m not so certain. Fans are tossing out predictions left and right on Twitter using #WhoPushedRhonda, and the majority seems to think that’s exactly how things are going to play out.
#WhoPushedRhonda Anika easy….
— Amanda Manuel (@Amanuel2992) December 3, 2015
#WhoPushedRhonda A-N-I-K-A! Aka Boo Boo Kitty
— t. e. the scammer🗽 (@longlivvwest) December 3, 2015
— Taja Manning (@TajEffingBabii) December 3, 2015
— Brenda (@queenbeejay26) December 3, 2015
However, not everyone is so quick to crucify Anika. Granted, pretty much everyone agrees she is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs — but some fans concede that Empire wouldn’t do something we already all expect like that. Here are a few other theories bouncing around the Twittersphere about who pushed Rhonda down the stairs.
I’ll be the first to admit that Camilla (Naomi Campbell) was completely off my radar before she popped up tonight. It was one of the many bombshells from the midseason finale, finding out that she had staged a coup at Empire by marrying Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei) and overthrowing Lucious as CEO and chairman. She did all of this, so she says, in a bid to take Hakeem to the next level. It would stand to reason, then, that she doesn’t want another heir to the Empire throne around.
If by some chance it wasn't Anika then it was Hakeem's ex Camille #whopushedRhonda
— K-ron Brown (@bottomboy0503) December 3, 2015
— MarMar🦑 (@MarioSoBold) December 3, 2015
While Mimi’s motivation isn’t as cut and dry as Camilla’s, she is obviously under Camilla’s influence. So that could explain her reasoning, or perhaps her motivation has more to do with Lucious. She is starting to seem like she has a personal vendetta against the Lyon patriarch, and she knows losing his future grandson could be the thing that makes him unravel.
@mone_joslynn #WHOPUSHEDRHONDA Ima go with the little short white lady suppose to be gone for cancer treatment
— MyNameIsPeaceUnity (@LeahTindle) December 3, 2015
— . (@MoseTheArtist) December 3, 2015
Deputy Mayor Alvarez
Well here’s a surprisingly popular theory: It was Andre’s contact/ex-lover Deputy Mayor Alvarez (Sari Sanchez) who did it. It is said that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Could this be a case of jealousy and anger brought on by Andre’s recent rebuff of her sexual advances?
— harleyb (@harleyb11) December 3, 2015
— Julia Lilkendey (@JGLil) December 3, 2015
Cookie has never trusted Lucious’ unscrupulous lawyer, Thirsty Rawlings (Andre Royo), and some fans think her suspicions about his shadiness are spot-on. While I am not sure what motivation he might have, those did appear to be his shoes fleeing the scene of the crime.
— miaaa (@miaacalahorrano) December 3, 2015
I know what you’re thinking: Who the heck is Michelle White? You may not remember the name of the character, but you do remember the story arc — it was when Andre became heavily involved in church, and Jennifer Hudson played the choir director, Michelle White. Remember how Lucious kind of bribed her out of the picture with fame? Perhaps she has come unhinged and is out for vengeance.
Anika or Jennifer Hudson
— Lenora Spratt (@SprattL) December 3, 2015
Andre’s college ex
Now this is an intriguing notion. Last week, while Rhonda was trying to encourage and comfort Anika, she told her a story about one of Andre’s college exes who wouldn’t back off. So Rhonda sneaked into her room one night, cut off all her hair and threatened her if she didn’t leave him alone. Some fans think the timing of that story was too coincidental not to come into play. Hey, maybe Anika tipped the crazy ex-girlfriend off!
— LWKYZay (@LWKYZay) December 3, 2015