Empire Recap: Happy Birthday, Hakeem!


Strange Bedfellows
Season 3 Episode 12
Editor’s Rating *****
Sierra McClain. Photo: Chuck Hodes/FOX

Think about one of your birthdays that was simply terrible. One of mine was my 21st birthday. My college boyfriend’s parents had this weird fascination with me and would always demand that I spend time with them. Even to the detriment of time I spent with my family. So, on my 21st birthday, Dean and Kate bought me a flourless chocolate cake (because Kate can’t have flour) and made me have dinner with some weird old white lady they knew. My first legal drink was a glass of red wine while I sat on Dean and Kate’s couch in their living room watching The Bridge Over River Kwai in silence. This was a pretty bad birthday. In this episode, Hakeem partied for 21 straight hours and had WAFFLES, and he managed to have an even worse 21st birthday than I did.

Hakeem wakes up in his apartment from a ridiculous night of partying that seems to have been written via Mad Libs. Hakeem filled his hot tub with _____[liquid]_____ and is going to party for another _____[number]_____ of hours. Also, when I found out it was Hakeem’s 21st birthday, I was positively shocked. Someone should have just grounded him for half of the stuff he’s done during this show. Another thought – why was Anika trying to get with Hakeem? She’s like 30. Somewhere across town, Jamal is waking up with Philip when he gets a notification that D. Money is going live on Facebook. But because it’s Empire, it’s probably like “VisageTome” or some shit. D. Money is walking to Jamal’s house and comes out to his audience and is going to be with Jamal once and for all. Unfortunately, he walks in on Jamal and Philip getting dressed, and it doesn’t go as planned.

Lucious, Cookie, and Thirsty are having a meeting to discuss the Boo Boo Kitty problem. No one knows where Boo Boo Kitty, went but they’ve figured out that Duke Page is trying to get her to flip on Lucious and she might know something about Cookie. Hakeem busts in to get his surprise birthday present from his parents. Okay, see now, I think Hakeem is 10. Lucious scolds him for letting Boo Boo Kitty leave without her baby, and Hakeem didn’t even know she was missing. C’mon, Hakeem.

Andre is watching Nessa perform a slow jam in some random club. What was the last major R&B slow jam? We need more slow jams. Nia Long shows up to sit with Andre and flirt her ass off. Listen, I know her character has a name (Guilana), but I’m gonna call her Nia Long because she’s Nia Long and she looks amazing. Andre and Nia have some sensual banter about the Vegas deal. They agree to meet the next night to talk about the deal. Angelo and Cookie are talking at home, and Angelo finds a gun hidden in Cookie’s liquor cabinet. He asks Cookie to let him take care of things in her life and get rid of the gun. She lies and tells Angelo that she’s never shot anyone and agrees to give up the gun.

Someone is going to get shot by that gun by the end of the season.

Boo Boo Kitty is with her parents and is hiding out from Tariq and coming up with a plan. Hakeem’s big birthday plan is to party for 21 hours and stream the whole thing. Who is that for? Who is going to sit at home and watch someone go party all day? Meanwhile, Jamal is meeting with D. Money and trying to figure out exactly why he decided coming out on VisageTome Happening was the best strategy. D. Money thought that was all that was in the way of his relationship with Jamal, but now it’s not going so great being a black gay man in the hip-hop world. Cookie storms in and throws D. Money out. Cookie is on her way to the hair salon and she’s confronted with Nia in her spot. Hmm … what kind of web could she be weaving?

Hakeem is in the club and Tiana surprises him by returning from tour early! She’s brought all her girls with her and when it’s time for Hakeem to get paid, the owner is trying to cheat him out of some of his money. Two random dudes show up behind Hakeem and offer him some backup and show their guns to the owner. Hakeem doesn’t know who these gun-wielding dudes are, but they’re gonna party with them for the other 18 hours.

Anika goes to see baby Bella, and Lucious has hid her. Lucious and Cookie come in and give her 30 seconds to reveal her grand plan. Also, Grandma Walker comes in with a gun and is like, “Let’s just shoot this bitch.” Boo Boo Kitty’s grand plan is to seduce Duke Page, and the FBI will have to drop the case. That’s it?

D. Money is trying to get into Empire and his badge won’t work and Philip comes down to “help.” He tells D. Money that Jamal isn’t interested, and D. Money says, “You can’t give it to him the way I can.” Philip punches him. He’s not wrong.

The next club Hakeem is going to on his glorified bar crawl is Club Leviticus and so many of my notes for this section were in all caps because it was all UNBELIEVABLE.

A big-ass statue is rolled out and Tiana comes out wearing a gold and fur rhinestone bustier outfit to perform a song for Hakeem. Then Jamal comes out to join the show. Then Andre shows up. THEN HAKEEM HOPS ONSTAGE. IS THIS ONE OF HIS SONGS? Then the guy with the gun from earlier tries to hit on one of Tiana’s girls, and she brushes him off and he starts shoving her and when someone tries to break them up, HE PUNCHES HER IN THE GODDAMN FACE. The whole thing devolves and Jamal PICKS UP TIANA AND RUNS OFFSTAGE WITH HER. It was such a wild ride I had to rewind the scene four times to catch every detail. There’s a girl with a pink fur coat who tries to break up the party. Hakeem says into the mic sheepishly, “Leave Kennedy alone.” People are smashing bottles on everyone’s head. People are recording it. After the giant fight, Andre and Jamal tell Hakeem to get his life together. Tiana goes to see Kennedy in the hospital in a sequin minidress and a fur. Girl, pop on some jeans.

Andre goes to see Nia Long and they flirt and aggressively touch each other’s thighs. Andre suggests they discuss business horizontally and Nia says she won’t touch another woman’s man. She’s gonna take a look at some of these contracts and they can seal the deal another time. Meanwhile, Cookie and Angelo are coming home from a fancy dinner and Cookie asks him to get rid of her gun and slips it in his pocket.

Oh, someone is definitely getting shot by the end of this season.

A weird bald-headed man comes to see Nia and they’re apparently embroiled in some scheme to “get” Lucious Lyon. Who are these people? To end the episode, Hakeem goes to pick up his baby girl and Lucious gives him a lecture about how it’s time for accept his responsibility as a Lyon and as a Man. Ugh, every terrible birthday always ends with a lecture. My terrible 21st birthday included one on gluten intolerance from Kate.

Empire Recap: Happy Birthday, Hakeem!