Empire’s Jussie Smollett Dishes on Season 2 Winter Finale Twist: “Everything Isn’t What It Seems”

Hold onto your cookies! Empire’s winter finale on Wednesday, Dec. 2, provided plenty of fur coats, lots of sass, tons of soul, and one shocking potential death.

Warning: Spoilers ahead! If you have not seen the Dec. 2 episode of Empire, do not read on.

In the final moments of the Season 2 winter finale, a very pregnant Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) comes to the top of her insanely tall staircase to turn off her home’s intruder alarm. The unidentified person in a black hoodie (who seems to have Anika’s proportions), shoves Rhonda from behind, causing her to topple down the steep flight of stairs and land with a sickening thud at the bottom.

Kaitlin Doubleday as Rhonda on Empire.
Kaitlin Doubleday as Rhonda on Empire.

Did Anika (Grace Gealey) push her? Is the empire’s unborn heir dead? What about Rhonda? When last we see her, Andre’s wife is lying unconscious (but there’s no pool of blood!) on the floor, and no one knows she’s been hurt.

“I can’t give away too much, but with the finale, everything isn’t what it seems. You can never assume anything with this show!” star Jussie Smollett (Jamal) told Us Weekly at a viewing party in NYC. “We howled at the table read. But to watch it, it’s completely different. People think that I’m clowning when I’m tweeting as if I’m watching it for the first time, but it’s because I am. I never watch the show until it’s in real time.”

Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the “My Bad Parts” episode of Empire.
Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the “My Bad Parts” episode of Empire. Chuck Hodes/Fox

When Fox’s musical drama returns in March, Smollett, 32, doesn’t think fans will be disappointed.

“In the second half of the season, you will see a certain level of the family still in their drama . . . the family really having to find a way to piece their family back together because we’re broken,” he teased. “We’re so broken. Now we’re dealing with what Cookie sees of the damage that was done for the 17 years that she was gone. Now it’s about her having to fix Lucious in order to fix her family. It’s gonna be a wild ride. But that don’t mean there’s not gonna be no drama! Tons of drama, tons of fights, tons of all of that! That’s what we’re here for. We’re here for the fights and the fun and the love and the music. And it’s all under an umbrella of love.”

Alicia Keys and Jussie Smollett in the “Et Tu, Brute?” fall finale episode of Empire.
Alicia Keys and Jussie Smollett in the “Et Tu, Brute?” fall finale episode of Empire. Matt Dinnerstein/FOX

Speaking of love, Jamal got his own share of romance from an unlikely place in the winter finale. The openly gay singer hooked up with Skye Summers (Alicia Keys), leading to lots of confusion and some natural Lucious Lyon (Terence Howard) sabotage.

“I have to say I kissed Skye Summers, not Alicia Keys, because I don’t want Swizz Beatz coming for me,” Smollett quipped of the Grammy-winning singer’s hubby. “But she’s just such a Grade A human being, you feel her light.”

Grace Gealey and Kaitlin Doubleday in the
Grace Gealey and Kaitlin Doubleday in the "Sinned Against" episode of Empire. Chuck Hodes/FOX

As for the criticism from some fans that the sophomore season of Empire isn’t as strong as its debut, Smollett takes a different approach.

“I would just say that they’re different,” he noted. “If you look at Season 1, it stood on its own. We could have ended the show right then and there and it would have been fine, you know? We also could’ve had season 2 as a completely separate thing, and it would’ve survived on its own also.”

Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in the “Et Tu, Brute?” episode of Empire.
Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in the “Et Tu, Brute?” episode of Empire. Chuck Hodes/FOX

Tell Us: What did you think of the winter finale of Empire Season 2?

Empire Season 2 returns Wednesday, March 30, at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. 

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