Chuck Hodes / Fox

What's The Business Model Of Hakeem's Birthday Club Hopping Scheme On Empire, Exactly?

Finally, the youngest Lyon can get a drink!

It's Hakeem's birthday, and he's a man now! I know that because various characters say this approximately 4702373071073 times. Hakeem, you should know that if everyone in your life is making the same ham-handed implication, it's because what you're doing now isn't working.

Of course, Hakeem's not the only person floundering this week! There's D-Major: Dumbest Social Media User Ever and Andre "Could Afford To Take Mike Pence's Advice" Lyon to contend with, as well as some foolishness regarding Cookie and her golden gun. Let's away to my many questions!

Can you believe Hakeem is twenty-one?

I'm not saying the math doesn't check out: Cookie went to jail when he was a baby, served seventeen years, and was released a couple years ago, so it parses. But even within the context of spoiled rich children, Hakeem seems very...delayed. Did he even go to school? Maybe if he had, he would have been diagnosed with something, gotten treatment, and been less of a mess than he is today.

One of those things he might have learned is that it is hella stupid to fill your hot tub with maple syrup, as he claims to have done at the beginning of the episode.


Like, real maple syrup, from some tree in Vermont or whatever? Or is this that Log Cabin crap? Knowing Hakeem, likely the latter.

Does my apartment building somehow have better security than that of rich and famous R&B star Jamal Lyon?!

After Jamal sent him on his way last week, D-Major had a great idea! Jk it isn't: he's going to livestream not just his coming out, but his joyful reconciliation with Jamal! Of course, that's not what happens.


It's the morning after Jamal and Phillip's night before, and the lovebirds are sleeping on Jamal's (white, yikes) sofa after an evening of conjugation so blissful they never even made it to an actual bed. And then D-Major JUST WALKS IN, broadcasting his humiliation.

Look, I don't know where you live -- maybe you live in a house, where people knock on your door and you let them in. Maybe you live in an apartment or condo building, where you buzz people up and open your front door for them. Or maybe you live somewhere especially nice/old-fashioned, where your guests check in at a front security desk before being allowed up. Whatever your deal is, it is far more secure than the extremely nice residence of Jamal Lyon, where people just hop into an elevator, go up a few floors, then pop out into the middle of Jamal's house and just steps from the couch on which he and Phillip were recently fucking.

This seems really weird to me, since Jamal is a wealthy and well-known person whose father has multiple underworld dealings, and who was recently shot as a result of one of them! Hell, I don't buzz people in without seeing who's there, and have a very nice deadbolt, just because sometimes people imply they might pay me a visit because they didn't like something I wrote on the internet! But no one besides my husband just waltzes into my apartment, even though I'm typing on the most valuable thing in the place right now. And FOR DAMN SURE no one comes in here livestreaming, because my hair is at an extremely tricky stage in the grow-out process and I am conscious of my image, despite the fact that I'm not an American Sound Award (ha ha remember those)-nominated artist.

But back to D-Major. This guy is so worried about the societal challenges presented by his orientation (homosexual) that he keeps it hidden. And yet, he's so self-confident that he broadcasts his declaration of affection to Jamal live? Something here does not add up. Maybe D-Major didn't lose those gigs because he's gay -- maybe he lost them because he is stupid.

Speaking of self-confidence, why is Anika so sure she's Tariq's type?

It's the same thing I always wondered during those Sydney-as-honeypot episodes of Alias: What if the target just...doesn't find her attractive? Or what if he's gay? Jennifer Garner -- and Grace Gealey -- are both gorgeous women, but no woman is attractive to all men on earth, not even those two.

While we all agree that part of Tariq's obsession with Lucious is due to their shared paternity, the Lyons seem too eager to write that off as the only reason. There's also the fact that Lucious has gotten away, scot-free, with multiple heinous crimes! That is enough to make any self-respecting law enforcement officer want to bring him down, and is a psychological edge that no amount of Anika prostituting herself to allow Tariq to "take away [Lucious's] woman" will quash.

That is, assuming he bothers to "take" her away! Maybe he hates short hair, or isn't attracted to women with kids, or maybe he's into dudes or furries or trees. It just seems like a stretch for Anika to assume that because she's Tariq's half-brother's wife, he'll want to jump her. For many men, knowledge that a woman had intercourse with his nemesis would be a massive boner kill.

Why does Cookie take her parole so lightly that she keeps a gun in the house?

While New York State law does indeed allow the possession of a registered handgun by people with a pistol permit, there's no way you're getting that permit when you're a felon on parole. All we have been hearing is "blah blah blah Tariq is scrambling for anything to get us poor poor Lyons on," but in Cookie's home -- which, according to the NY State department of corrections, can be spot-searched at any time -- she's got, minimum, two gun charges in her bar alone!

Sure, I did like it when Cookie flashed back to the time in her youth that she shot some guy who made advances on her, but that's not enough to get her off the hook for this one. I don't care that Lucious gave you the golden gun, Cookie. This is needlessly dumb.

Why can't Andre just do business without making it into some weird sex thing?

I'm not sure why booking acts at Giuliana's as-yet-unlicensed Las Vegas club is that big a deal for Andre/Empire, since it seems like any time the label might have wanted to open a Vegas venue, all they would have had to do is call Sheldon Adelson and it would be done. (Hey, he almost got in bed with the Oakland Raiders, and Lucious is the Easter Bunny compared to those guys.) But instead we see these weird scenes of Andre behaving extremely unprofessionally, basically sexually harassing the shit out of poor Nia Long as he announces that he's had a contract drawn up for Nessa's eventual performance there.

Even after Giuliana objects, saying she doesn't mess with men who are involved with other women, Andre persists in the creepiest possible fashion, claiming, "This is how I do business."


How about just doing business, Andre. What is with this whole seductive routine? Just figure out the club thing and get a signature, that's it! We're constantly told that the Wharton Business School grad is so brilliant, but this seems the furthest thing from that.

And Giuliana seems to know exactly how dumb Andre is, telling her conspirator "Gino" (of course) that soon they'll be getting exactly what they want from the Lyons. Ugh, are you sure those goofballs have anything you'll actually find useful?

Explain to me the business model of this whole birthday club hopping thing again, Hakeem?

Andre was only play-obstructing Hakeem when he said that he didn't want the birthday evening to be broadcast on Empire Xstream, and argued that the security costs alone would make it a financial boondoggle. But I agreed with him completely! This seemed like a gross circle jerk of excess that would bring nothing good. Well, fake Andre and I were right, as the club appearance fees Hakeem claimed would cover the evening's expenses seems relegated to a $50K he had to enlist some rape-minded strangers to help him obtain. My favorite part of this is that Hakeem goes to collect from the club owner himself! Sheeeit, Hakeem, even Paper Boi has Earn to go collect his appearance cash, and Paper Boi lives in the projects. How do you not have an Earn of your own? Oh, wait, I just remembered why: Paper Boi is cool, smart, and compelling, while you're a livestreaming choad with a hot tub soon to be completely full of ants.

Maybe that near-failure is why they end up at Leviticus, a club that will not be paying Hakeen a dime for his appearance. And after one of his new entourage members sexually assaults one of Tiana's friends, the night devolves into a brawl, with Andre essentially firing Hakeem.

Then, to cap it all off, Hakeem shows up at his dad's house to take Bella with him. Lucious appears thrilled and proud of Hakeem at the gesture, seeming not to worry that Hakeem has no child care skills and his apartment contains a unbarricaded hot tub in which the fake butter flavor of the off-brand "pancake topping" has had a day to merge with the strains of chlamydia that we ALL KNOW are in those waters, creating a disease that will eventually wipe out all of humanity. But if that means I never have to hear someone tell Hakeem that now he's finally a man, then death can't come too soon.

Almost all readers liked this episode
What did you think?


Explore the Empire forum or add a comment below.