Chances are, we’ll never know what happened in the streets of Chicago or in the recesses of Jussie Smollett’s mind.
But we can say this: Smollett is terrific in his final “Empire” episode.
He was fired amid suspicion that he faked a crime report. It was a controversy that damaged the Fox network’s best night: “Empire” has plunged 18 per cent in overall ratings and 25 per cent in the key (ages 18-49) demographic; “Star,” which follows it, fell 12 and 17 percent.
This has been a nightmare for everyone – Smollett, police, Fox snd viewers who savor the “Empire” mixture of great music and spotty soap opera.
Fortunately, this episode (8 p.m. Wednesday, April 24) had already been filmed, centering on the scheduled wedding of Jamal and Kai (Smollett and Toby Onwumere, shown here). More fortunately, Smollett is terrific in it.
I won’t say if the wedding actually happens. (Many don’t on Fox and this one faces huge obstacles, including a federal investigation and Jamal’s father’s uneasiness over a gay wedding.) But after a slow start, this hour is beautifully done.
There’s sensational music from Chaka Khan and from Joss Stone. There’s a sudden jolt in the final minute. And there is Smollett, ending his “Empire” years beautifully.