The investigation into an alleged attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett took a shocking turn over the past week when Chicago investigators named him a suspect and suggested the reason behind staging attack was due to his displeasure over Empire pay.
On Friday, Empire producers announced that Jussie Smollett would not be appearing in the final two episodes of Season 5. This information was shared just one day after Smollett was arrested in Chicago for allegedly staging the attack. Smollett still denies that he was involved in planning or orchestrating the 2 a.m. attack on January 29.
Jussie Smollett returns to Empire set
On Thursday, after Jussie Smollett was arrested by Chicago police and then released, he reportedly headed straight for the Empire set. This is likely why so many questioned whether or not Jamal was leaving Empire or if Jussie Smollett would be allowed to continue playing his most famous role.
“While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out,” Empire producers said in a statement. “We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
We will see more of Jussie Smollett’s character Jamal before Season 5 of Empire ends
Initially, reports indicated that Jussie Smollett’s role on Empire would be reduced for the remainder of Season 5. As more and more evidence mounted against him. it was made clear that the part of Jamal would be rewritten from being the main focus of certain scenes to being a background player.
Now it has been made clear that Smollett won’t be filming the final two episodes at all but we will still see him before Season 5 ends.
There were 18 episodes ordered for Season 5 of Empire and prior to the midseason break in December 2018, only nine of those episodes have aired. So while Jussie’s character has been written out for the final two episodes, which still need to be filmed, we can expect to see him, at least briefly, in the next seven episodes when the FOX hit returns at the end of March.
Will Jamal be written out of Empire or will Jussie Smollett be allowed to return?
Whether Jussie Smollett will be able to return beyond Season 5 of Empire is still up in the air. In the statement released by Empire producers, they were very clear that Jussie was written out of the final two episodes in order to lessen disruptions caused by his ongoing case. They did not say he would be written off the show entirely.
At this point, there are many factors that could determine Jussie Smollett’s fate as part of the Empire cast. For starters, he hasn’t been convicted of any crime yet but if he is, Smollett could be facing jail time which would put an end to his run on the FOX series.
There is also the rest of the Empire cast to take into consideration. Jussie has reportedly apologized to the cast and crew but continued to maintain his innocence. Meanwhile, there are reports that the cast is split over whether he should ever be allowed to return.