Season 2 of Empire came to a close last night with a suspense-filled season finale, shedding some serious light on the life of a fan favorite left hanging in the balance. Be forewarned — spoilers ahead.
If you’ll recall, Jussie Smollett’s character Jamal was gunned down by friend and fellow rapper Freda Gatz at the ASA Awards during Empire’s penultimate episode. As Jamal is arguably the most popular character on the Fox series outside of Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie, this understandably created quite a stir among viewers.
What really got them riled up, though, was what Smollett tweeted immediately following the tragic episode. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time w/ @EmpireFOX. I love you all. Truth. Time 2 make a record & some movies. #Empire,” Smollett wrote in the wake of the shooting.
Naturally, fans were devastated — some suggesting the show couldn’t survive without its “heart,” Jamal.
Fast-forward to last night’s finale, when the series flashes ahead three weeks… and a nearly fully recovered Jamal arrives at the family estate for a welcome home party. Sure, he’s in a wheelchair, but he still looks pretty great for a man who was shot in the gut less than a month ago.
For the record, we weren’t buying it. Many fans expressed that they were dubious Smollett would actually leave the show, and I even pointed to several pieces of evidence to the contrary. Like, for example, the fact that Fox execs would never let a star get away with ruining a storyline before it airs.
Or how about the fact that earlier in the year, Smollett had posted a video to Insta stating he’d begin filming Season 3 in June?
As we all now know for sure, Smollett isn’t going anywhere, which leads us to one conclusion: he was intentionally misleading his fans. For intrigue, clicks and/or ratings, presumably. Of course, it goes without saying that although fans were irked that Smollett tweeted such an ominous tweet, mostly we were all just happy to see he didn’t get killed off.
However, Smollett obviously felt compelled by the feedback to respond to accusations he had lied to fans — or, at the very least, implied a lie. So he took to Instagram to clarify his comments, only this time co-star Gabourey Sidibe was right there to hold him accountable.
“Listen 2 my words… I’ll see y’all season 3. @gabby3shabby #IAintGoingNoWhere #IAintNoDumbHo #StillRise #EmpireFinale #empire #PettyNiccasUnite,” Smollett captioned the Gram. Then, in the accompanying video, he argued that he wasn’t trying to trick fans.
“OK, first of all, I said I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Empire Fox, which is true,” he said. “I said I love you all, which I do. I said time to go make a record and some movies, which I am.”
To which Sidibe, sitting beside him and obviously having none of his excuses, responded, “Let me light that ass up with facts real quick. What you said, though, is I thoroughly… first of all, first of all, your timing was fucked up, Chief.”
She then shared the video on Twitter and Instagram, saying respectively, “We in here fightin. I got y’all!” and “This argument went on until I screamed ‘FIGHT ME THEN HOE!’ and @jussiesmollett knew that this wasn’t what he wanted.”
So, basically, she was all of us in that moment, calling BS on Smollett.
Do we still love him? Yep. Are we glad Jamal isn’t headed to that great big recording studio in the sky? Absolutely. But are we buying that Smollett wasn’t trying to trick us into thinking he was leaving Empire? Nope. Nopety nope nope. Try again, son.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below!