There’s A Chance That Jussie Smollett Could Return For The ‘Empire’ Series Finale And We’re Not Totally Surprised

Empire is airing its final season in the absence of one of its most popular leads, Jussie Smollet who portrayed Jamal Lyon. Smollet was let go from the series earlier this year, after a controversial incident where he allegedly staged a hate crime in Chicago. 

Series creator Lee Daniels insisted that Smollet would not be returning after the hoax was uncovered, however, the showrunner Brett Mahoney thinks ending the show without the actor would be strange. 

Smollet’s last episode showed Jamal marrying Kai then moving to London. When the series was renewed for its sixth and final season, Smollet’s contract was extended but he has not appeared in any episodes so far. 

Empire’s showrunner is seriously considering bringing Smollet back.

“It would be weird in my mind to end this family show and this family drama of which he was such a significant part of without seeing him,” Mahoney told TV Line. “It’s fair to say it’s being discussed, but there’s no plan as of yet to bring him back. There’s been no decision made.” 

Jamal’s storylines tended to anchor the show when it wasn’t focusing on his ever-feuding parents, Cookie and Lucious. Moreover, his portrayal of a queer man of color garnered a great deal of attention and adoration from viewers. Although, many felt his expulsion from the show was shocking but necessary after the Chicago incident unfolded. 

The New York Times described Smollett’s job termination as a “footnote” in the season six premiere. Cookie mentions that Jamal has run off to London and that she misses him. That’s all. 

“It was a fleeting 20-second exchange that attempted to tie up the loose ends of months of real-life controversy,” Julia Jacobs wrote. “So far, the Empire writers have been less morbid, deciding to give Jamal convenient reasons to be offscreen rather than killing his character off.”

Smollet is still grappling with the incident in Chicago.

Daniels tweeted in June that Smollet would not be coming back to the show. “Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire,” the creator declared on Twitter. In February, Smollet’s account of being beaten up by two men shouting racial and homophobic slurs received national attention. 

What was first public sympathy became public condemnation when Chicago police began to cast doubt on the merits of the attack. Smollet was charged with making a false police report and multiple felony counts, however, the charges were controversially dropped. Smollet has maintained his innocence. 

“Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment,” Smollet’s two lawyers Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement.
“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion.”

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said that due to Smollet’s volunteer service in the community and the forfeiture of his bond to the City of Chicago, they felt dismissing the case was an “appropriate resolution.” 

In November, Smollet counter-sued Chicago for “malicious prosecution.” Following the dismissal of his trial the City of Chicago sued the actor for $130,000 to compensate for 1,836 hours of police overtime used in his case. 

“Having agreed to accept $10,000 from Mr. Smollett as payment in full connection with the dismissal of the charges against him,” the counterclaim stated.“The City cannot seek additional recovery from Mr. Smollett under the doctrine of accord and satisfaction.”

Many people have not forgiven Smollet for what happened or didn’t happen or allegedly happened in Chicago. 

A recent story grabbed headlines when 16-year-old Karol Sanchez told police she staged her own kidnapping to seek reprieve from her strict mother — now Twitter users are comparing the incident to Smollet’s. 

“So we had to start 2019 with Jussie Smollett’s hoax and now end it with Karol Sanchez’s staged kidnapping?! I am too through! 2020 can’t come soon enough,” one user said

“Jussie Smollett started 2019, Karol Sanchez had to finish it,” another user tweeted

While we may never know what actually happened on that winter night in February, people seem to have very strong reactions to Smollet’s story. Still, the actor has always had support from some of his cast members. 

“We miss Jussie,” Taraji P. Henson told the New York Times this September. “He’s family to us. There’s no way we can throw five years of family away.”

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