Hey guys! This week’s episode of Empire felt sort of ill-considered as Angelo made an unsettling discovery and was concerned that Cookie‘s past would hurt his bid to become mayor, Anika faced a life-changing decision after Tariq told her what he was really after and Hakeem‘s birthday party took an unexpected turn.

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It was Hakeem‘s 21st birthday (21? Really?! He should have been grounded for more than half of the stuff he’s done during on the show!) and he wanted the whole world to know about it with an epic party. He pestered his parents about a new car, whined about nobody caring enough to throw him a surprise party and was determined to live stream his celebration on Empire Xtreme. His entourage happily entertained his antics but Cookie was nonchalant (she even threw a shade at Lucious when he coughed and she snapped, “What’s that? You getting that ALS again?”) and he freaked out that his family wasn’t making a big deal of it because they were all pretty panicked about Anika being missing.

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Jamal woke up from a sexy night with Philip (the handsome man who had been helping him with his PTSD)to learn that D-Major (his former producer and love interest) was on a live stream, on his way to his house to confess his love to him and come out. D-Major went into Jamal’s loft only to find him and another man dressing up. He had thought that Jamal didn’t want to be with him because he wasn’t out yet and believed that coming out on social media and filming himself on his way to Jamal’s loft would be a romantic solution to their problems. But things didn’t go as planned and Jamal threw him out.  Later, they got the chance to talk, and he admitted he came out to get Jamal back but Jamal told him he had to come out for himself and not for someone else.

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Andre on the other hand was trying to do business Giuliana and he wasn’t afraid to use old tactics. If you recall, he and Rhonda used sex to build relationships and manipulate business partners and Andre was ready to do this again but I really doubt Nessa would be on board with it. She performed a song about her loyalty to Andre while she watched him flirt with Giuliana and have some sensual banter about the Vegas deal then they agreed to meet the next night to finalize the deal.

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Angelo and Cookie were having a cozy night at home when he found a gun (the gold one Lucious gave her as a gift) hidden in Cookie’s liquor cabinet. He asked Cookie to let him take care of things in her life and told her to get rid of the gun. He also asked if she had shot anyone before with which she lied and told Angelo she had never but a flashback told another story.

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Meanwhile, it turned out Anika was hiding out from Tariq at her parents’, trying to come up with a plan to tell Lucious so he doesn’t kill her and not actually hiding with Tariq like we were made to believe. Anika called Lucious and asked to come back home then she told Lucious and Cookie her plan (Grandma Walker was keen on killing Anika though) and struck a deal with them. The plan was to get romantically involved with Tariq which would invalidate his whole case against Lucious since she’s Lucious’ wife. She went to see Tariq and it seemed like the plan might just work after all.

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Hakeem‘s birthday party was live on Empire Xstream and he dropped hints as he and his entourage went to different clubs (made me feel bad about how I spent my 21st). He was upset that Tiana couldn’t be there but when they got to Club Surrender, she surprised him and did come. So the deal was that he was supposed to get paid for his club appearances, but the Club Surrender owner tried to cheat him and took all the champagne money from his appearance fee. Some goons stepped up and showed their guns then told the club owner to pay. Hakeem also got a Club Surrender guard to give up his watch for one of the goons and then he invited them along to serve as security for the rest of the night as they moved to the next club.

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Oh so Cookie and Giuliana had a “fateful” meeting at the salon which Giuliana had obviously planned. Cookie had an appointment but Giuliana paid 2grand to get her spot and used her bodyguards to intimidate the stylist who pleaded with Cookie to hold on till she was done but fortunately before Cookie could go all out, Lucious called her about Anika coming home.

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Hakeem’s party moved to its final stop (Leviticus obviously) and the whole family was there to celebrate with him. It turned out they had time for his birthday after all and Hakeem was overjoyed. Tiana popped out of an Empire State Building replica to give him a Happy Birthday performance which Jamal joined in on and later on Hakeem himself but the show got cut short when one of the random thugs from earlier tried to make a move on one of Tiana’s friends, she turned down and he smacked her hard. The assault caused fights to break out and she ended up in the hospital.

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Big brother Andre scolded Hakeem for hiring random people as security that put them all at risk. Hakeem said he assumed they were Shine’s boys set up by Andre but Andre was not having any of it so he told him he’s 21 now so he should act like a man then went on to ban Hakeem from Empire Xstream. Tiana got pissed at Hakeem because he was more bothered about how his birthday got ruined and did not ask about Kennedy (her friend that got hit hard) then she left to see her at the hospital. Hakeem left Leviticus to go get his “girl” back (I thought he was going after Tiana but it turned out he wanted Bella, his daughter).

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Andre had more important stuff to deal with so he went to meet with Giuliana. He arranged for Nessa to perform at the opening of her new club in Vegas with Empire footing the bill and told her he wanted to negotiate the deal with her before going to Lucious when she asked why she had not met with Lucious. They flirted and aggressively touched each other’s thighs. Andre even suggested that they discuss business horizontally Giuliana said she would not touch another woman’s man but was going to take a look at the contract so they can seal the deal another time.

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Cookie and Angelo returned home from a fancy dinner and she asked him to help her get rid of her gun. She could not turn it in herself because she’s a convicted felon so she slipped it in his pocket as they went into “the other room”.

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Apparently, Juliana also answers to someone else; a big scary dude who seemed to be a huge Lucious Lyon fan from way back that claimed he had been trying to partner with Empire forever. I’m sort of confused on this whole club saga but I get that there’s a play to “get” Lucious and I feel Andre would be left in the dark soon.

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Hakeem decided to go to Lucious’ house and spend the last hours of his birthday with his baby daughter, Bella. Lucious told him a moving illustration of his birth (thankfully no flashbacks). As he handed Bella to Hakeem, he told him how proud he was for finally maturing and stepping up as a man. It was actually a really nice scene but we all know to never trust Lucious.

Below is the trailer for the next episode; My Naked Villainy to help us move on from all that birthday drama…

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