Empire Season 3 Episode 12 Review: Strange Bedfellows

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Part of the charm of Hakeem Lyon is how ridiculously immature he is.

If I knew him in real life, I would find him insufferable, but as a character on a soapy primetime drama, he's incredibly amusing – a blinged-out cartoon character. 

Even becoming a father didn't seem to change Hakeem's ways all that much. He might be trying to take care of Bella and make his relationship with Tiana official, but he's still throwing wild parties with his entourage and begging his father for expensive birthday gifts. 

Oh no what happened vertical - Empire Season 3 Episode 12

That's right, Empire Season 3 Episode 12 was Hakeem's birthday. And not just any birthday: the big 21. Hakeem is now legal, though that doesn't mean he's necessarily abiding by the law.

At first, "Strange Bedfellows" seemed to set up to be an hour of  Peak Hakeem – which in my mind is absolutely ideal. But then it took an unexpected turn, in that there was character development! Not that this is a bad thing...just unusual, for Empire. 

Hakeem began the episode shirtless, surrounded by his entourage and unable to remember the extent of the destruction he had wreaked on his home the night before.

Was I dreaming last night or did we fill the hot tub up with syrup?


Then, he ditched the security guards Andre hired to ensure that his little brother – dead set on streaming his birthday live on his Empire Xstream channel – didn't get the family business into any trouble along the way.

Naturally, no good could come of this. 

Hakeem's big day - Empire Season 3 Episode 12

Hakeem ended up bullying a club owner into giving him his watch after he balked at paying Hakeem's appearance full fee, then he watched as a full-on brawl broke out at his father's club during a performance by him, Tiana and Jamal. Party foul, indeed. 

Instead of celebrating Hakeem, Andre and Tiana eviscerated him. Andre kicked him off Empire Xstream, and Tiana abandoned him in favor of a girlfriend who was hurt in the fight. 

But being left alone ended up being exactly the lesson Hakeem needed on what he described as his most important birthday.

He spent the rest of the evening with baby Bella after his father gave him an emotional pep talk about the importance of protecting his own.

Cookie: What's that? You getting that ALS again?
Lucious: I never had ALS.

This father-son moment was one of the few times Lucious has managed to not look like the embodiment of evil in all three seasons of Empire – even if I found the notion of him delivering newborn Hakeem at home with Carol as his assistant a bit much to swallow.

Tell you what? You worry about your dirty laundry, and I'll worry about mine.

Jamal [to Cookie]

I'm not sure Lucious is necessarily the best person to be giving speeches about putting one's children above oneself, but nonetheless, it was a message that Hakeem needed to hear in that moment.

Will this be a turning point for Hakeem?

Will he abandon the Dom Perignon for baby formula and spend his evenings reading to Bella instead of spitting lyrics onstage?

Brothers in arms (and footwork) - Empire Season 3 Episode 12

Well, hopefully not entirely. Obviously we need Hakeem to grow and evolve – that's what normal humans do, after all – but we don't want him to entirely lose his fun side.

Remember when How I Met Your Mother's bro-tastic Barney Stinson tried to go straight for the sake of Robin?

He became incredibly dull. Once the life of the party, he was now just another version of Ted Mosby, but in a nicer suit.

Mama's a dead bitch walking.

Cookie [to Anika]

Hakeem's situation is similar.

I do want to see him be a good father to Bella, and I do want to see him work it out with Tiana; the two of them are a great pair who have chemistry both onstage and off. 

But, I would be very sad if Empire stopped giving us ridiculous moments like the one where Hakeem had one of his minions display the Bugatti he wanted Lucious to buy him for his birthday on an iPad in the middle of a tense family meeting. 

Apart from Hakeem, what other Lyons got into trouble during this episode? Well...most of them.

Jamal makes a bad fashion choice - Empire Season 3 Episode 12

Jamal found himself torn between two jealous men and turned off by both of their attitudes.

First, D-Major came out of the closet on social media, then blamed Jamal for not immediately accepting him.

It didn't help when Philip got confrontational and the two men got into a scuffle in Empire's lobby. 

You don't come out for someone else, you come out for yourself. And you don't throw my name into it, especially on social media.

Jamal [to D-Major]

I definitely think Philip is a much better match for Jamal than D-Major, but I agree with Jamal that he and Philip should show D-Major some compassion during this time. 

Coming out of the closet is hard; doing it as a high-profile black man and hip-hop producer?

That's a whole other challenge.

Jamal and Tiana take the stage - Empire Season 3 Episode 12

One imagines that finally living his truth, to paraphrase Jamal, will get D-Major to a healthier place overall in his life.

But it will be tough at first, and he'll need friends – or at the very least, sympathetic allies – to get him there. 

Andre attempted to seduce Giuliana Green, the queenpin of the Vegas scene so that he could get Nessa a gig performing at the opening of one of her clubs.

Little did he know, there's more gangsters waiting where she came from...

Andre: Are you a singer?
Giuliana: I tried it for a minute. Then I decided talent has no power. I wanted to be the boss.

I was a bit disappointed when a bunch of stereotypical white gangster men showed up to demand things of Giuliana.

It felt like they were trying to undermine this powerful black woman. Besides, TV doesn't need any more male gangsters.

Has Cookie finally met her match? - Empire Season 3 Episode 12

Nonetheless, I think Giuliana has everything well in hand.

She might let the men think they're calling the shots, but only she knows which guns are loaded and which contain only blanks. 

Giuliana: Did you just moan?
Andre: Did you just like it?
Giuliana: I'm not complaining...

Nia Long is definitely a quality addition to Empire's constantly rotating cast of guest stars. (Rumer Willis, we hardly knew ye...)

Her naturally regal aura doesn't entirely hide her dark side, which makes her naturally fit in among the Lyons.

I imagine Giuliana's the only character who could go toe-to-toe with Cookie and live to tell the tale.

After all, she managed to hold her ground at the salon without fluttering a false eyelash. I can't wait to see what happens when they meet again!

The Queenpin of Vegas has arrived! - Empire Season 3 Episode 12

As for Anika? Well, she didn't betray the family to Tariq after all – or at least, that's what she claims.

Instead, she offered to seduce Tariq so that the case would be thrown out. 

Forget witness protection. You'll be under my protection.

Tariq [to Anika]

Seems like a pretty long shot to me, but this is a woman who went from being a polished debutante and businesswoman to being a jealous lunatic who shoved a pregnant lady down the stairs over the span of only a few episodes.

Are dark days ahead for Anika? - Empire Season 3 Episode 12

So, I'm not even going to try and figure out what Anika's up to. I'm sure it's devious.

I'm more curious as to what method of murder Leah will try on her next now that Cookie has asked Angelo to get rid of her gun!

What did you think of "Strange Bedfellows"?

Has Hakeem turned over a new leaf? Will Jamal reconcile with Philip or fall back into the open arms of D-Major? And will Andre and Giuliana end up sleeping together? (Well, we know the answer to that one, I think.)

Remember, you can watch Empire online via TV Fanatic. 

Strange Bedfellows Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (31 Votes)

Lee Jutton was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in July of 2017. Follow her on Twitter.

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Empire Season 3 Episode 12 Quotes

Cookie: What's that? You getting that ALS again?
Lucious: I never had ALS.

Andre: Are you a singer?
Giuliana: I tried it for a minute. Then I decided talent has no power. I wanted to be the boss.