‘Empire’ season 2 premiere reactions: ‘Bigger and badder than ever,’ ‘propulsive,’ ‘shrewd move’ …

"Empire kicked off its second season on Wednesday night with the episode "The Devils Are Here." TV critics made it clear that this hip hop drama was not suffering a sophomore slump. They heaped praise upon both the performances and production values. Read a sampling of their insights below and then weigh in with your own thoughts HERE

Dish "Empire" and the new TV season with Hollywood insiders in our notorious forums

Season two picked up three months after the shocking arrest and incarceration of Empire Entertainment head Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard). Still in federal prison, Lucious is trying to run his business from inside, while a headline-grabbing state prosecutor hangs her political ambitions on bringing him down – no matter what it takes. Meanwhile, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) stages a star-studded #FreeLucious concert in his support, while scheming with business savvy Mimi Whiteman (guest star Marisa Tomei) to finalize the hostile takeover of Empire. 

Despite its monster ratings, the first season of "Empire" was snubbed by the Emmys save for a Best Drama Actress bid by Henson and two for costumes — all of which it lost. However, it did pick up a plum of a consolation prize at the Television Critics' Assn. Awards in August, winning Program of the Year.

Will it stage an Emmy comeback? With reviews like these, the TV academy will be hard-pressed to all but ignore "Empire" again. 

Ken Tucker (Yahoo)
"If Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, and showrunner Ilene Chaiken are feeling pressure to maintain the show’s massive-hit status, it doesn’t show in the enjoyably scattered yet propulsive season premiere."

Robert Bianco (USA Today)
"The opener is not all social statements, if only because 'Empire' never stays in one place or on one note for long. Few shows burned through plot more quickly than 'Empire' did in its first season, and the new season shows no indication of slowing down."

Verne Gay (Newsday)
"Whatever it was that made 'Empire' the sensation of the 2014-15 season hasn't gone away for the new season. As always, Cookie is a gold lame stealth missile in stilettos. Never one to just walk into a room, she blows into a room — then blows it up. Cookie's costumes remain Emmy-winning characters in their own right."

Jacqueline Cutler (New York Daily News)
"'Empire' rules, bigger and badder than ever. If anyone thought Fox's breakout hit was over the top last season, the second-season premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 23, has so much murder and intrigue that it makes what's come before look as tame as C-SPAN."

Brian Lowry (Variety)
"The writers made a shrewd move by essentially flipping the original scenario on its head — only now with Lucious serving as the outsider — allowing them to hit many of the same notes, just from different angles."

Our forum posters, many of whom are Hollywood insiders, were quick to weigh in with their thoughts. Jump into the fierce debate over Cookie and company HERE

Photo: Taraji P. Henson in "Empire." Credit: FOX

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