When viewers last caught up with Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), Lucious (Terrence Howard) and the other members of the Lyon family, the family drama had reached a breaking point.
Jamal (Smollett) and his new fiancé Kai (Toby Onwumere) were dealing with some relationship issues; Andrew (Trai Byers) was seen flattening in the ER in a flash forward as the mystery of who is supposed to die in the future looms; Lucious and Cookie's return to control Empire was closer to become a reality, though he and Becky (Gabourey Sidibe) were accedes of data mining.
And to top it all, Kingsley (A.Z. Kelsey) broke the news to the Lyons, and the world, that he is Lucious's illegitimate son.
While the series will have a lot of drama on the screen to deal for the rest of the season, behind the scenes writers were forced to scramble and change the outcome of Season 5 after Smollet was charged with allegedly faking a hate crime at the end of January.
Ahead of the midseason premiere, Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney revealed what is next for Smollett's character Jamal in the seven episodes he will be appearing in before bowing out for the last two installments of the season.
"That's going to be a struggle for [Jamal and Kai] in the back half of the season. Whereas they had this idyllic life in London, now they're here in New York and Jamal is back with his family and what does it mean for Jamal to be a Lyon?" Mahoney told Entertainment Weekly. "And is Jamal tired of apologizing for being a Lyon? And is it going to be up to Kai to either accept him or will they have to go their different ways?
"And for Kai, he's going to get a real glimpse of what it actually means to be a Lyon, and he has to make a decision for himself if he wants to be associated with the family," he continued.
As for the twist of his new brother? Mahoney teased Jamal may not be as welcoming of Kingsley given his vindictive actions in the past.
"What you have to think about regarding Jamal is that Jamal is fiercely loyal to the Lyon family and he feels that Lucious has done him wrong — and yet he's still loyal to Lucious," Mahoney told the outlet. "So despite this kid Kingsley believing he's been treated badly by Lucious, Jamal doesn't really feel that's justification for what Kingsley has done."
FOX and show producers have continued to express their support for the Smollett, though after he was charged they made the decision to write him out of the final two episodes of Empire Season 5. However, that does not mean the actor will not return for Season 6, should FOX renew the series.
Empire returns Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.