Tonight’s episode, titled “Never Doubt I Love,” was Smollett’s last confirmed appearance as the show’s writers removed him from the final two episodes following his arrest for allegedly filing a false police report. 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. Today, co-stars Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard and other cast members penned a letter to Fox execs calling for Smollett’s return if the show is picked up for a sixth season.
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. The couple closed out the ceremony by jumping over a broom, a tribute to the African-American wedding tradition.
The season finale of “Empire” airs on Fox on May 8.