It looks like the end is here when it comes to Jussie Smollett’s Jamal on Empire — and we know that now in more definite terms.
While there has never been official word that Smollett would return as Jamal Lyon for the upcoming sixth season, the writers had never 100% ruled it out. Before today, the only thing that we’d heard is that there were no immediate plans. Our feeling as that the writers could find a way to throw the Jamal character into the second half of the season … but that is, apparently, not going to happen.
In a new post on Twitter (see below), show creator Lee Daniels makes it official that Smollett will not be returning for the final season, as he responds to a claim from Variety that the creative team is preparing for him to come back. Unless Daniels is hiding something (unlikely), we’re inclined here to take him at his word.
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The decision to not have Jussie back is probably a way in which for both the show and for Fox to move forward after a chaotic end to season 5. While Jamal was not killed off on the series, he was written out of the final episodes so that the remainder of the cast could focus on the work — while Taraji P. Henson in particular has come out in support of her co-star, the decision for him to return/not return really comes down to a lot of high-ranking executives. The show’s cast and ultimately, the writers only have so much control over this.
How do you write out this character?
If we had to guess, the major mechanism for the writers doing this is likely going to be finding a way in which Jamal can be somewhere else and happy. While there may be a lot of controversy around Jussie, we don’t think that there is any interest out there in punishing his character because of headlines surrounding the actor who plays him.
Also, given the highly dysfunctional nature of the Lyon family, it’s really not all that hard to fathom that maybe this character goes off somewhere else, finds some sort of happiness, and really comes to the determination that nothing altogether good comes from spending a whole lot of time around some of his family anymore. They’ll find a way to write the character off that makes some sense, and we look forward to seeing exactly what they do. We do care about the world of Empire and we also care about Jamal — we hope that there’s at least a reasonable explanation for why he’s not there anymore.
What do you think about the decision to formally write off the Jamal character from Empire moving forward? Be sure to share in the comments, and come back soon for some more information. (Photo: Fox.)