***Atlanta is back for season two, ROBBIN SEASON and we couldn’t be more excited. While not a traditional recap for us, Nicole and William get together each week to talk out the great, the innovative and the utterly bizarre of the latest episode. All the spoilers ahead.***
Nicole: I wasn’t ready for the start of the episode.
William: Yeah, I think that makes everyone.
Nicole: Aaaaand I have questions:
- Will this be another loose end like the beginning of last season that also included a (assumed) crime? So did Paper Boi shoot someone? Did Earn shoot someone?
- Where can I purchase the audacity my dude in the drive-thru had to think my dude was gonna let him walk out with that whole ass stash and no fight?
- Why they kick homegirl out the car? Why was she crying? Was she shot? Were they shot? If they weren’t shot, how do I cast that protection spell?
William: Well, and I might need another viewing, but I don’t know if we’ll see anything about the shootout again because it’s possible the apartment that our two ski masked opportunists were in at the beginning is the same place that Al stays. And if so, that might be the point, that the connection is the environment this all takes place in.
We get numerous references to how Al has made it and he’s big time now but he’s still in the hood, on house arrest, sharing a building with some Omar Little wannabes. And for real, how the hell did dude [the robber] never get hit?
Nicole: I was curious about that as well because he owns a house which is how Earn gets sucked into all this. And not to jump to the end, but any guns in that house got bodies.
William: There were a lot of fascinating parts of this episode that I love Atlanta for, but also a lot of on the nose moments that surprised me because they were very conventional. For instance, I love the ambiguity that doesn’t necessarily feel like a cheat. The woman gets out of the car and is screaming and I question why too, but the real lesson is showing how fucked up the whole ordeal was with her screaming in the middle of the parking lot while dude got an AK but can’t do shit [now].
I love how authentic a “fight” between Darius and Al looks. Al ain’t gonna kick him out. Darius is obviously more destroyed about it than Al will allow himself to be viewed as. We don’t know what the fight is about. Maybe it has something to do with Regina / Tara / Woman of the week being there. Or it could be some completely other shit.
William: But what?
Nicole: But maybe it could be about masculinity, it could be about the dude crashing at the house. Maybe it’s those on the nose moments that you didn’t like in contrast to the ambiguity that is Atlanta’s finest moments. Al offered the blunt which seems to be him and Darius’ regular date night activity. The unease transfers to Earn whose space is literally occupied by the newcomer.
William: Back to Al, I like how the only way we know he’s blowing up is because we hear he has. Literally, nothing looks different. We can assume some time has passed, but not so much time that Earn is just now getting kicked out of the storage locker. Also, how funny was that shit that dude is just stealing his stuff? Like, yeah, you could complain about this, but to who, fam? They are literally coming to kick your ass out for illegally sleeping here, so good luck with that.
I’ve seen Storage Wars too. This ain’t it.
Nicole: Earn is at his first P.O. meeting so yeah a little time has passed but not enough that he isn’t still taking nonstop Ls. Non. Stop.
William: Yeah, when you begin your day being kicked out of a storage locker and that might be the highpoint of your day? Not great. Even the PO meeting. Your girl was not there for his bullshit.
Nicole: “But you don’t have it so let’s not.”
William: Sometimes I look at Atlanta through the scope of “Will Earn win this encounter with X?” And definitely, that retort and side-eye from his PO meeting was a decided L for him. What did you think of the whole Willie situation?
Nicole: I have mixed feelings. You know I’m always looking at the women and how they are portrayed in a story. So… we have the young woman at the drive-thru that was ejected from the car into the literal line of fire and left for dead. Then the P.O. Now we have Yvonne who is a thief and the catalyst for the Earn-Willie-Police standoff. She steals and lies and though she doesn’t call the police, she threatens to and is blamed for their arrival (though Patty the neighbor is credited). She abandons the house and Willie after a very superficial attempt to smooth over the situation.
Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of all that, but it draws my attention because the women from last season were not treated sympathetically either. Willie ends up being a sympathetic character. He’s wild enough to have you like “this mothafucka is crazy” and yet he’s presented as Earn’s ghost of sad life future so he’s already got emotional real estate with the audience.
I also could have done without seeing the alligator. The possibility that Willie is Al’s father and Earn’s uncle who has mistreated Earn’s mother is intriguing. Not definite. But the way relationships are not spelled out in general in the show appeals to me. Everybody got a “complicated” relationship.
William: Yeah, the negotiation of the women in this first episode was not great. They were often used as demonstrations for how perilous a situation was for the men involved with no agency of their own. I mean, not that there was much of this in first season outside of Van, it’s just omnipresent when she doesn’t make an appearance at all. As for the Willie situation, I am definitely interested as to what his true relationship with Al is and if Al could’ve went there himself, would he have? The dynamic has changed. We went from Al being skeptical about Earn’s involvement in his career to outright giving Earn marching orders that Earn can’t refuse out of self-preservation.
I had some small issues with the whole scene, especially how it ended up becoming the main thrust of the episode and getting the majority of the run-time. But that has to be the best Katt Williams performance in a while (anyone that watched his Netflix stand up special will agree). He was pretty convincing in that archetype and as the future state Earn. Also, I could give or take seeing the actual alligator, except the pairing of Biggie’s “Playa Hater” was pretty great.
But I also think there’s meta here. For me, the alligator is the show. This weird and fascinating and beautiful and confounding entity that wanders up and around us, and the audience is the crowd watching it with wonder and confusion, not really sure of what it’s going to do next.
Nicole: The fact that the Alligator in the house when Earn lived there and Earn just didn’t know even though neighborhood children knew points to Earn’s general obliviousness in every area of his life and how high the stakes often are because of it. I was torn on the Earn as a minion point because it was Earn that got Al radio play (by befriending a janitor and bypassing the white boy who felt comfortable saying ni**er to Earn but not Al). Earn was there during the black Bieber charity basketball game. So why is all of that forgotten? And how is this a repetition of Willie’s mistakes?
William: Well, I think that was part of Willie’s point. When Family and Business mix it’s no longer one or the other, family is business. And even if it’s shitty, this is a natural arc. Earn is still around probably because of those initial moves that he made. But as Earn admitted, he’s not as needed as he once was, so consciously or subconsciously, Al has to find a use for him. And errands seemed to be the soup of the day.
And I don’t know if the situation is a reflection repeating Willie’s mistake, but more so about the personalities they both inhabit. Willie tells Earn to get that chip off his shoulder not because he’s trying to be critical of Earn, but it comes from lived experience.
Nicole: But Earn doesn’t which is what I love and hate. Swallow ya’ pride and say you need some place to stay.
William: Favorite weird moments / dialogue of the episode?
Nicole: Two things: “Idk what’s going on with you two, but I love you both” is such a perfectly Earn thing to say.
And Darius’s Florida Man. Genius.
William: And Willie’s callback of Florida Man, was great.
Nicole: And the timing was perfect for me because of this Florida teacher.
William: Yikes. Darius per usual has the best dialogue and his “The vibe is starting to feel more and more like jail” was my favorite line.
Nicole: I’m still on the dialogue from Season 1: Can I measure your tree?
William: When the police officer asks Earn about the alligator and asks “is it friendly with you?” Like, what in all fucks, man? Like, that’s absolutely absurd, but absolutely something a person would be curious about in an absurd situation like that.
Nicole: Yes! I yelled at my screen during that like “Hell naw!” Especially after Darius described it as being surrounded by chicken carcasses.
William: So thoughts about next episode? The very short preview showed Al and Earn interacting with “hip” white folks, so that’s always a good time. I’m wondering if we’ll see Van. I’m really hoping she wasn’t a “Michonne is muted on TWD because she was in Wakanda” type of casualty since Zazie Beetz was filming Deadpool 2.
Nicole: I would be heartbroken if that were the case. I don’t want us to forget that Earn has a child who provides so much of his motivation. Every time I think I know where this show is going, it goes left. So beyond “I guess we’re about to tackle gentrification,” I’m a little lost. I will say I want more magic. More invisible cars. And Vegemite.