‘Empire’ Season 2 Premiere & Spoilers

The music is back. The family is back. The drama is back.

Empire is back.

The FOX hit is set to debut its second season on Wednesday, September 23 and there’s a whole lot of pre-show updates to get through. In other words, there are some serious spoilers ahead.

First off, this season is huge. That’s not just the scope of the styorlines but the number of episodes total. There are 18 episodes in season two and that means an even more in-depth look at the lives and drama surrounding the Lyons family.

Of course, that drama also gets bigger this season.

In last year’s season finale we saw a major role reversal between Lucious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and that’s exactly where Wednesday night’s premiere will pick up. According to series showrunner Ilene Chaiken:

When we begin season two, a little bit of time has gone by. Not a great deal of time but enough time that we’re going to have to deal with the things that happened in that short period of months. … Lucious is still in prison when we come back and there definitely is a role reversal, and its not just Lucious is in prison and Cookie was last time but there’s a shifting of alliances. When we ended season one, it looked as if Jamal and Lucious were aligned with one another and Cookie and Hakeem were starting to form a relationship so we get to explore all of that.

Episode one picks up three months after last year’s finale with Lucious still in prison for Bunkie’s (Antoine McKay) death and Jamal (Jussie Smollett) running the record label. There will also be consequences for Rhonda (Katlin Doubleday) killing Vernon (Malik Yokab) that Chaiken assured will have repercussions across several story arcs.

Also, as if there weren’t already enough reasons to love Cookie, there will reportedly be an “aggressive reality show producer” who is after her to appear in their show. Cookie in a reality show setting with the backdrop of the Empire behind her? Yes, please.

As with last season, Empire will boast a handful of incredibly impressive guest stars. Check out this list for season two:

Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Mariah Carey, Rev. Al Sharpton, Andre Leon Talley, Lenny Karvitz, Kelly Rowland, Marisa Tomei and Chris Rock. 

Rock’s appearance was fraught with some of his own off-the-screen drama as well. His character was originally slated to play an inmate who is a cannibal, but show creator Lee Daniels had to cut back on the storyline after FOX wasn’t entirely onboard with it.

Episode one of the second season of Empire is set to premiere at 9 p.m.