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EMPIRE: Jamal (Jussie Smollett, L) watches Lucious (Terrence Howard, R) get taken away in the special two-hour “Die But Once/Who I Am” Season Finale episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, March 18 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Chuck Hodes/FOX

The second season of blockbuster drama Empire will consist of 18 episodes, Fox chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman confirmed during the network’s press call this morning. It will be split in two parts, consistent with Fox’s new drama scheduling strategy the two laid out. It will include splitting seasons: Part 1 in the fall, ending with a cliffhanger, and Part 2 in the spring. The first season of Empire featured 12 episodes. At the time of the renewal, Fox and the series’ producers hinted that Season 2 would be longer, but likely not a full 22 episodes.

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