Following tonight’s Empire season 3 episode, it’s fair to ask the following question: Is Grace Gealey leaving? Are we done with Anika once and for all? If that was the case, you can certainly wonder why in the world the show didn’t just kill her off rather than Rhonda at the start of the season.
Ultimately, here’s the good news: You don’t have to worry about Anika’s long-term future on the series. Speaking to TVLine in a postmortem for the episode, showrunner Ilene Chaiken made it clear that Gealey is going to be returning at some point in the future. How she turns up, meanwhile, is an interesting question worth pondering.
Meanwhile, Chaiken also offered up a pretty good explanation as to why Anika would choose to make this move rather than enter witness protection at the request of Tariq to make herself safe from Lucious during the investigation:
“…Anika is a smart woman who understands the power of the Lyons. There’s an argument to be made that Lucious Lyon is more powerful than the feds. I’m not sure Anika is going to be so quick to put her in the hands of a slightly unhinged federal agent.”
Basically, it’s possible that Anika has a larger plan of her own, one that involves either hiding out somewhere or finding a different way to stop Lucious in his tracks. She’s a smart, crafty woman. With that, anything is possible.
In some ways, you can argue that Anika skipping town is one of the best things that Empire season 3 could do when it comes to authenticity. It would be so easy for the show to just trap everyone in the city and not allow them any opportunities to escape. However, in doing things the way that they are choosing to here, we’re getting a great chance to see a world that is more fluid, and characters who are acting in their own perceived self-interest. Whether or not this move ends up being the smart one for Anika is one that remains to be seen. Next week’s new episodes could provide some answers, or get the ball rolling at the very least.