DVD Review: Empire: The Complete Second Season

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Surprisingly, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has elected not to release Empire: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray. The sophomore year of the hit series is available on standard DVD. That will surely be a disappointment for many fans who, after last year saw the release of not one but two Blu-ray editions of The Complete First Season. While the second season saw somewhat of a downward ratings trend when compared to the initial season, Empire remains very popular and the decision to relegate this release to standard definition is confounding. At any rate, the 18 episodes are distributed over four DVDs and supplemented with an array of special features. 
rsz_empire_s2_dvd_sept_13_still_10.jpg The second season picks up three months after Lucious Lyons (Terrence Howard), CEO of Empire Entertainment, has been thrown in jail on murder charges. Lucious' ex-wife Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) has audaciously staged a gigantic "Free Lucious" concert, but she's as two-faced as ever. Bringing in cutthroat investor Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei), Cookie is angling for a hostile takeover of Empire. Lyons' offspring Andre (Trai Byers) and Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) are on Cookie's side. Never one to be outdone, Lucious works feverishly from prison—aided by son Jamal (Jussie Smollett)—to prevent to takeover. The power struggle continues on an increasingly convoluted, but never anything less than engaging, level. 

rsz_empire_s2_dvd_sept_13_still_6.jpg Throughout the second season, all the backstabbing, relationship-oriented plot twists, crime elements, and of course slickly-produced R&B music is back in full force. The primetime soap opera-style pacing is in tact, driven by the same deliciously melodramatic writing that made the first season such a can't-miss viewing experience. Along the way, Cookie starts up a rival label, Lyon Dynasty. Hakeem forms a girl group to prove his abilities as a producer and gets wrapped up with lead singer Valentina Galindo (singer Becky G), though much drama (and personnel changes) ensue. Lucious' ex-fiance Anika (Grace Gealey) continues her bitter rivalry with Cookie. Guest stars abound—in addition to Marisa Tomei we see appearances by Kelly Rowland, Alicia Keys, Rosie O'Donnell, Lenny Kravitz, Chris Rock, Xzibit, and more. 
rsz_empires2_dvd_spine.png Special features include: "Empire around the Globe: USO Tour," the featurettes "The Look of Empire: How to Recreate Empire’s Leviticus," "How to Recreate Lucious’ Office," "How to Recreate Lucious’ Living Room," "Discovering the Art on Empire," six "Studio Sessions" segments, four uncut musical performances, and a Freda Gatz music video.

Season three of Empire premiered on Fox on September 21. Keep up with the latest on Empire at the official website.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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