Empire may be getting the band back together for one final encore.
Showrunner Brett Mahoney tells TVLine that discussions are underway to possibly have embattled former cast member Jussie Smollett return as Jamal before the show wraps its six-season run this spring.
“It would be weird in my mind to end this family show and this family drama of which he was such a significant part of without seeing him,” offers Mahoney, before adding, “It’s fair to say it’s being discussed, but there’s no plan as of yet to bring him back. There’s been no decision made.”
The fact that Empire is even mulling a Smollett comeback represents a bit of a turnaround from last June when series creator Lee Daniels slammed the door shut on the possibility, maintaining via Twitter, “Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”
Smollett, who had played Lucious’ musician son Jamal since Empire debuted in 2015, was written out of the final episodes of Season 5 following a headline-grabbing brush with the law. The actor claimed he was beaten up by two men wearing “MAGA” hats who hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, and then was accused of fabricating the attack and charged with making a false police report.
The charges were later dropped, but the scandal seemed to end Smollett’s run on Empire. When the show was renewed for sixth and final season last May, the network extended his contract but said there were “no plans” to bring him back. (Smollett’s final Empire episode saw Jamal get married to Kai; the show established early on in Season 6 that the newlyweds are now living full-time in London.)
Empire‘s fall finale airs tonight at 9/8c on Fox.