SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the April 24th episode of “Empire.”
The episode, entitled “Never Doubt I Love,” was Smollett’s last confirmed appearance in the fifth season of the musical family drama, as the show’s writers removed him from the final two episodes following his arrest for allegedly filing a false police report.
If the episode was indeed Smollett’s last appearance, his character Jamal Lyon had a happy ending. He married his boyfriend Kai Givens (Toby Onwumere) and finally earned the acceptance of his father, Lucious Lyon (Howard), who almost missed the ceremony but arrived just in time to walk him down the aisle. Jamal threw out his prewritten vows at the last minute, choosing instead to speak from the heart about the complications of love and marriage. The couple closed out the emotional ceremony by jumping over a broom, a tribute to the African American wedding tradition.
In January, the actor claimed two men assaulted him in a hate crime, but Chicago police did not find any evidence that the attack actually happened. In March, the 16 charges against Smollett were suddenly dropped, prompting Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to call the decision a “whitewash of justice” and President Trump to encourage the Justice Department to investigate.
“Empire” creator Lee Daniels, fellow actors and politicians originally stood by Smollett’s claims, but distanced themselves once the police confirmed their suspicions of a hoax. The Fox drama hit series low ratings, which has left the series in limbo as it awaits the decision to be renewed or canceled.
Ahead of this episode, the series’ stars, including Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, penned a letter to Fox execs and show producers calling for Smollett’s return if the show is picked up for a sixth season.
The fifth season finale of “Empire” airs on Fox on May 8.