It's baaack...with more star power than the Emmys.
Empire finally returned for its highly anticipated second season on Wednesday night, reuniting us with Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), who brought out a bunch of her famous friends for the premiere. While Kelly Rowland, Ludacris, Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey have yet to make their debut, viewers got to see a whole new side of major stars like Chris Rock and Marisa Tomei, among others, in "The Devils Are Here."
Fortunately, Empire's laundry list of guest stars didn't overshadow or take away from the Lyon family drama, which is the show's beating heart.
Still, there were a lot of quick cameos, thanks to a huge concert Cookie and the boys threw for the currently locked-up Lucious (Terrence Howard), with some famous faces playing exaggerated versions of themselves or totally over-the-top new characters. Only on Empire would you see an A-lister take on a role described as "a little Hannibal." Oh yes, we've got a cannibal on our hands, people, which surprisingly, did NOT rank as our number one cameo of the season two premiere...
9. Sean Cross as himself: Um, we actually forgot he was in the opening number until we looked for photos of the other guest stars. Oops. Also, donuts ranked higher than him.
8. Krispy Kreme donuts as themselves: OK, how dare anyone refuse Cookie a delicious glazed pastry because she's on a diet?! (To be fair, Cookie only deserves the best: Dunkin' Donuts chocolate frosted donut with sprinkles, OBVI.)
7. Swiss Beatz as himself: Eh, the rapper's appearance at the Free Lucious concert was kind of boring, but his performance with Jamal (Jussie Smollett) was fun. Ultimately forgettable.
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6. Bill Clinton: OK, so the former president wasn't IN the episode, he did apparently make an appearance at the Free Lucious concert, with Cookie explaining, "He needs to be [here] if he wants to get his wife elected." Still, doesn't compare to Lucious' hilarious phone call with President Obama last season. But will anything ever truly compare to that?
5. Don Lemon as himself: Totally worth it...but only for Cookie calling Porsha (Ta'Rhonda Jones) "brain dead" for calling Ferguson "Peterson" in reference to the CNN anchor's coverage of the protests in Ferugson, MO., where he said he smelled marijuana. (Though Cookie called out his N-word controversy under her breath.)
4. Rev. Al Sharpton as himself: While Porsha confessed her love for him, Cookie was all "Bye Felicia" when he refused to help Lucious.
3. Andre Leon Talley as himself: Vogue's former editor-at-Large only spoke five words, but they were truly worth it: "Tom Ford," he told Cookie when she complimented his "drag" look at the Free Lucious concert, before critiquing her outfit: "Gucci...last season." Our eyes are starving for more ALT on Empire.
2. Chris Rock as Frank Gathers: You guys, Chris Rock was a cannibal. We repeat: CHRIS ROCK WAS A CANNIBAL. (And he was murdered at the end of the episode, as he happened to be the drug dealer Cookie and Lucious used to work for...and the one Cookie snitched on to get out of jail.)
1. Marisa Tomei as Mimi Whiteman: Spinoff, anyone?! Seriously, watching Tomei go completely over-the-top (and then over the cliff) as the lesbian investor was a pure delight. From hitting on Cookie to sleeping with Anika Anita, we wanted more more MORE of Mimi. We can't stop laughing (and applauding) her simple yet epic putdown of the flirtatious waitress: "You're trying too hard. MOVE.
What did you think of all of Empire's celeb cameos? Too many or not enough? Sound off in the comments below!
Empire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.