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Law & Order: SVU Boss on That Heartbreaking Finale and Season 20

Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit | Photo Credits: Scott Gries/NBC

Ever since Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) replaced Barba (Raul Esparza) as SVU's go-to district attorney on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, audiences haven't exactly warmed up to him. However, Wednesday's heartbreaking finale may have been a turning point for how fans of the long-running series perceive his character.

Stone got the official initiation into the SVU club when a harrowing sex trafficking case hit way too close to home. As Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and the rest of the crew closed in on a suspect, said criminal then kidnapped Stone's sister for leverage. And while they were able to make him crack, thus bringing justice to his victims, it came with at a major cost for Stone. He found his sibling -- who had been suffering from mental illness -- just in time to watch her die after being shot, a moment that made him wonder why he left Chicago in the first place. Although this experience will certainly hit him hard, he's sticking around New York City for good.

"He's a permanent member of the team now," showrunner Michael Chernuchin told TV Guide.

And it's a good thing that he's become an official member of the team. According to the SVU boss, the death of Stone's sister will continue to weigh on him but he won't handle it alone. "I think it will weigh on him personally, but not professionally. He is such a great lawyer that he will be able to mask any emotional problems that he has in the courtroom," added Chernuchin. "But when he's home alone, he's gonna have trouble. And [Benson] will come to his aide."

As he deals with the fallout from that, things are looking a bit more optimistic for Fin (Ice-T) who was recently promoted to sergeant. After putting it off for years, the seasoned detective finally took the sergeant's test and got his papers, but will somehow stay within the unit despite protocol that demands otherwise, and there's a perfectly good explanation for that -- you just didn't get to see it on air.

"There was a scene in the last episode with him in the new sergeant's job which we had to cut because of time. He saw what that was like and he used Dodds (Andy Karl) to get back to to the SVU unit," Chernuchin explained. The show will explore how Fin was able to accomplish the feat, which "had something to do with that memo that Fin waved around in front of Dodds," in an episode next season. But for now, fans can take solace in the fact that Finn is definitely here to stay.

Also sticking around is Benson who, let's face it, is hands-down the heart and soul of the show. And if you thought that after 19 seasons of emotional turmoil the show would finally give her a break, you'd be dead wrong.

"Maybe Sheila (Brooke Shields) will return. But she will go through some kind of personal problem [next season]," Chernuchin teased. "Deep down, I don't think the audience wants to see her happy. I think it's what makes her so relatable. She overcomes a lot of things."

Well, he has a point.

Law & Order: SVU returns this fall on NBC.



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Star Season 2 Finale: Is [Spoiler] Dead?

Queen Latifah, Star | Photo Credits: Wilford Harewood/FOX

(Warning: This post contains spoilers from Season 4, Episode 18 of Star titled "Thirty Days to Famous." Read at your own risk.)

Just when you thought Star couldn't get any more outrageous, Wednesday's wild finale upped the ante with dramatic fist fights, an accidental shooting and a tense showdown between Carlotta (Queen Latifah) and her sister Cassie (Brandy) that may or may not have ended with another death.

The high-octane hour kicked off with Take 3 celebrating their new gig as the opening act on Noah's national tour with Gigi (Keke Palmer). But the festivities were cut short when Star's (Jude Demorest) diss track against the other members of the group hit the airwaves, catching everyone off-guard. To be fair, she never intended for it to be released and only recorded it out of anger when she thought the group was done. But alas, Alex (Ryan Destiny) had no time for Star's measly explanations and the two were soon slugging it out like heavyweight champions.

With dissension brewing, the group's split seems inevitable now more than ever. Especially since they were booted from the tour when Star and Alex again came to blows -- this time on stage during the first stop after the crowd demanded Star perform her single. But Star's solo track has been catching fire, ensuring that she gets to remain on the tour without her bandmates. Could this be the end of Take 3 as we know it?

Meanwhile, Noah's (Luke James) drug addiction has really started to affect his career. The singer barely made it through his first performance on the national tour and was visibly out of it, forcing Star to step in and verbally check him backstage. Her words must have cut deep because he was last seen standing on a ledge contemplating suicide. Alex may have bailed him out of a DUI before but even she's too preoccupied to rescue him a second time. Things are not looking well for the R&B singer.

But Noah's fate wasn't the only thing left hanging in the balance during the finale. Andy, who still owes a ton of money to Cassie, tried to steal funds from Ayanna (Michael Michele), who caught him in the act. After a brief struggle, Andy accidentally shot the pregnant Midtown Sound CEO but, thankfully, she'll live. And the ordeal forced Andy to come clean to Carlotta about his debt to her gangster sister that also cost Jahil (Benjamin Bratt) his life. In a fierce showdown straight out of a Clint Eastwood western, Carlotta's confrontation with Cassie ended with both sisters drawing their guns, and then a gunshot as the screen went black. Who actually fired their weapon? And did they hit their target?

With so many questions left unanswered, it's going to be a long hiatus.

Star returns this fall on Fox.



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Empire's New Boss Breaks Down [Spoiler]'s Shocking Death

Taraji P. Henson, Empire | Photo Credits: Chuck Hodes/Fox

(Warning: This post contains spoilers from Season 4, Episode 18 of Empire, "The Empire Unpossess'd." Read at your own risk.)

It's not an Empire finale unless somebody bites the dust (or nearly does so) in bitter, dramatic fashion and Wednesday's shocking season-ender was no exception. With the Lyon family on the verge of losing the company they had built from the ground up, Andre (Trai Byers) took matters into his own hands and laid the groundwork for one of the show's most memorable deaths to date when he drugged Anika (Grace Gealey), who then hallucinated Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday), the woman she murdered back in Season 3.

Unable to escape the crushing guilt (and a taunting Ghost Rhonda) she literally ran through a glass balcony onto a table of champagne, her slick finger waves still perfectly intact. Ding dong, Boo Boo Kitty is dead!

But that doesn't even cover Wednesday's packed hour. The finale also saw Tory (Rumer Willis) die of an overdose, Lucious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) finally tie the knot, Jamal (Jussie Smollett) head to London, Eddie (Forest Whitaker) gain control over Empire Records, and Blake's (Chet Hanks) father opening fire on him, Hakeem (Bryshere "Yazz" Gray), Tiana (Serayah McNeill) and baby Bella -- their fates left in the air.

With so many questions left unanswered, we hit up Empire's new showrunner Brett Mahoney about those jaw-dropping events and what to expect in Season 5.


Is Anika really dead?
Brett Mahoney:
Yeah, Anika is dead.

Going into Season 4, did you already know that this would be her ending?
Mahoney:
No, we came up with it through the course of the season and we questioned whether this is right, whether this is wrong. Should we be doing this? But this was the direction [her story] needed to take.

Her death felt almost Shakespearean.
Mahoney:
Shakespeare is a big influence on the show. But really, the big thing was just karma. We really wanted to give the audience what they wanted in terms of this is a journey that Anika took. These are the people that she aggrieved and we wanted Andre to be a part of it because we felt that he had lost the most in terms of his wife and his child. But then we also wanted Rhonda to be there. So we were trying to figure out how we could get Rhonda into that scene.

With Anika gone, what does that mean for Empire Records? Will Eddie remain in charge?
Mahoney:
Eddie is certainly holding the reigns at this point. But I don't know that Eddie necessarily is interested in being the manager. Giselle is certainly in there and Eddie has thought of bringing in some sort of a surrogate to run Empire Records.

Cookie and Lucious argued over giving up Empire Records and rebuilding on their own. Though reluctant, Lucious agreed to start over. Does Anika's death change that?
Mahoney:
Cookie [decided to] give up Empire because she was unwilling to allow Lucious to go to prison and she felt that she needed her man and the boys needed their father. And Lucious certainly did come to terms with that but I don't know whether that is a resolved issue between Cookie and Lucious. But Anika's death won't impact that.

The episode ends with Blake's father opening fire on him, Hakeem, Tiana and baby Bella. How will that shooting shape the events heading into Season 5?
Mahoney: I think that that shooting will actually change their paths dramatically.

Any hints as to who we should be worried about?
Mahoney:
I think you should worry about all of them.

The shooting took place as Cookie and Lucious were exchanging vows, sort of hinting that the Lyon family is in for tragedy ahead. Can you speak on that?
Mahoney:
That was one of the biggest surprises to me, is that they [Cookie and Lucious] actually got married and sealed the deal. But as they're doing that and they're hoping and dreaming that everything is fine with their boys, all the boys are going through these things that are certainly going to impact and test that marriage as well.

How do you think this marriage will impact the rest of the Lyon family?
Mahoney:
It's been very clear that these two people love each other very much and belong together but I think with any marriage, once you do it, then it becomes the challenge of what you need to do to stay together. People often underestimate exactly how difficult it is to keep a marriage together and I think Cookie and Lucious will experience that.

Jamal moved to London to begin his journey of self-discovery. What can you say about his new adventure in London?
Mahoney:
I don't think he's necessarily going to stop in London. Jamal may be doing a little world traveling. He's trying to define himself apart from the Lyons. Tory's dead and [in his mind], he's sacrificed everything that he's loved for the Lyons so he's leaving them. He needs to find out who he is apart from the Lyons.

Empire has become known for its wild storylines. Are you going to continue to up the ante or will you ground the show a little more moving forward?
Mahoney:
I think we'll always have great, exciting moments where people will gasp. But I think what's important is that they come out of a grounded storyline. So even the shooting feels like, "Oh my gosh, it's a huge surprise" but it was set up with Blake challenging his white nationalist father during that talk show. And then Blake's father showing up and taking his wrath against his son and the Lyons, who he feels have wronged him. So I think it's big moments but coming out of grounded storytelling,

What are you excited to explore next season?
Mahoney:
We're gonna continue to explore the idea of Empire versus family and what means more to these characters. What do they value most? What are they willing to sacrifice for what they want? And although Cookie and Lucious are married, what does that mean to keep a marriage together? They've loved each other for decades but what does that mean to be together?

Will Cookie's mom Renee be back?
Mahoney:
I'm hoping that Alfre [Woodard] wants to come back.

Empire returns this fall on Fox.



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