***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 about the great, the innovative, and the utterly bizarre of the latest episode. All the spoilers ahead.***
Nicole: I’m… satisfied with this finale.
William: I mean, it was sometimes hard to watch but also kind of great.
Nicole: That should be the season 3 catch phrase.
Once again it’s so dense that I’m not even sure where to start. Lottie?
William: Lottie is a good jumping off point. Before the family stuff, can we talk about the teacher’s reaction to Van and Earn though? I feel like you have feelings about the “Would you have told us how bad this school is…” dialogue.
Nicole: So many feelings.
First off, the realness of their nervousness was so relatable. Any time a teacher wants to meet you or worse both parents’ presence is requested, it’s a red alert situation. What did my kid do? What does this teacher think my kid did? Is my kid okay?
Second, quality education should not be a luxury. So at that point, when she likens the school to a slaughterhouse, I just got sad.
William: Extremely sad. And also the indictment of the school from the person that works in them every single day. The reality in that she doesn’t relay that sentiment to folks unless their child is exceptional and not only being hurt (like all the kids) from substandard resources but is actively hindered from being exceptional is both real and super troubling. Overall, it was a very sad sentiment for what should be a joyous celebration upon learning that Lottie is gifted.
Nicole: She went down the laundry list of how the state fails the school system: not enough resources and understaffed being the biggest culprits.
And the thing is, now the burden is on Earn and Van because once you know, you know. So do you keep your exceptional kid in the slaughterhouse or do you do what you have to do to make those opportunities into realities for your kid? And since Earn says before they leave the school that the tour could be tuition, we know his answer. And when Van texts that she might move back in with her mom, we know her answer as well.
William:I loved the response from Van though when Earn said the tour could be tuition: that don’t take you off the hook from being present. It was such a quick but important moment. She was holding Earn responsible upfront. Yeah, I know you are working towards improving Lottie’s potential through school, but more money don’t mean less you. She did it in a way that was firm but also not abrasive or full-on indictment. It was, this is all a new beginning for us, not just spending some money. I really dug that scene.
And you’re right, once you know, you know. What you gonna say? I left my daughter at a terrible school because it might make the bills a bit tighter? Which isn’t to say that people don’t make that decision occasionally. But the justification of that is very, very tough.
Nicole: It was good. That scene was the most tender we’ve seen them towards each other all season. It wasn’t romantic but was complimentary. They both give the other credit for their kiddo’s smarts. While that may also seem small, for these two who have just been generally dissatisfied with each other, it felt like an olive branch.
William: Definitely. As for Earn. I’ve been down on Earn this season. I liked Earn this episode. I don’t think he became a great dude of course (and he never needed to be). But this felt like Earn on a mission without all the self-important shit shoved to the side. This was Earn operating in a lean, focused capacity. Which I’m sure was absolutely motivated by fear. Not the possibility that he was getting fired. But it feeling like a foregone conclusion. And when you think about it, Paper Boi is about to be huge. He’s big now. He bout to be THAT dude. And to think you pissed that all away? Yeah, Earn was hustling this episode. Ya know…even before the TSA moment.
Nicole: So let’s stay with the Earn was about to get fired thread.
I was so confused. This felt like Groundhog’s Day because… didn’t he already get fired?
William: Might have to go back and watch, but Al told Earn that he was talking to another manager and that Earn had been continuously fucking up. So it’s possible he was giving that warning shot across the bow. Plus, I have to assume Earn had something to do with Al being on that European tour, so that might be why Earn knew he was going on the tour but didn’t think he’d survive it.
Nicole: I was like “you showing up on your day off?” but that makes more sense.
So can we talk about my man Darius before we get to the TSA thing?
William:The…customs office we’ll call it? Like, there was a lot there. The whole bit about “my uncle isn’t better than any Black lawyers, but he has better access. It’s systemic.”
William: And then Darius in that same scene. “But y’all both Black so you both can’t afford to fail.”
Nicole: Why is this show so deliciously dense like a 100 layer lasagna (it exists)?
William: Yeah, I dunno fam. There’s so much to unpack. We saw the tension mounting on Earn, but he was focused on producing. But when that moment of silence and waiting comes, he let’s loose about his fear of Al firing him. And even then, Darius has the right answer and not the comforting one. He tells Earn that Al is going to at least let earn see Europe. Cuz that’s just the kind of dude Al is. Which makes the last scene interesting. Because Al makes the statement that only Earn knows him. Which is true in the realm of management. But it’s clear that Darius is the one with the divine insight into Al.
Nicole: Does he though? Yes, Earn is gonna see Europe but is fired. It felt like that conversation was kind of a “You ain’t great at your job, but I can’t trust anyone else so…” Do I need to rewatch it? It felt like Darius was partially right and, as usual, at peace with everything but not exactly on point.
William:So…let’s talk about the airport. Like, everybody in the airport.
Nicole: [deep sigh]
William:I mean, the full circle of the credit card vendors was great.
Nicole: Exactly! I particularly appreciated Earn walking hard and fast past dudes doing his old job. I’m a sucker for a good call back.
William: And also, the recognition of Paper Boi, which was also how Paper Boi was introduced in the series because Earn’s then coworker is watching his video
Nicole: I was looking for the older air humping lady. She’s the only thing that could’ve made that scene better. So first, they’re late. For an international flight. And a lot of things are Earn’s fault but being late for the flight isn’t. (Though I’m pretty sure all of Al and Darius’s stuff is gonna be gone for the start of season 3 if he’s counting on his cool 10 spot to assure it’s safe handling.)
They’re late and Yoo-Hoo is already there because of course, he’s headlining.
William: Which makes me wonder. When Earn says that Paper Boi should be headlining, it feels like he’s implying fault on someone’s part, maybe? Was he basically saying that if he was driving this instead of Yoo Hoo’s manager, Paper Boi would be? Or was he admitting some fault of his own for not making that happen? Which then makes Al’s curious acceptance/absolvement of it curious. That scene had me circling it for a while.
Nicole: Agreed. On all accounts there. Al’s normal “you done effed up” mystique was absent.
So all day long Earn has been trying to get them to the airport in time and they have in various ways and for various reasons been dragging ass. But they’re there now. And of course, Earn forgot that the gun Alligator Man gave him is in his bag. Because it could be no other way.
William: No other way.
Nicole: During the music drop out and Earn close up, I was wondering if he was gonna take this L and miss Europe, mostly because Darius’s insistence that he was gonna see it made me skeptical. But I knew if he did, that was his final L with Al.
I’m not sure I expected him to set up Yoo-Hoo but as soon as I realized he was I thought “Maybe Al is headlining after all.”
William: Well, I been thinking about this a lot, and I think everyone, including Al thought he set up Yoo-Hoo. Looking back, I can’t see Al giving him the proverbial Crabs in the Barrel speech solely out of Earn’s own self-preservation. Especially since it was Yoo-Hoo directly behind him and not the manager. He definitely tried to set Yoo-Hoo up, but the manager gotta took that L. Better to hopefully skate on a charge and still possibly be the manager for a big star than your star not go on tour and now everybody is out the money.
Nicole: Oh, he definitely set up Yoo-Hoo. The question is whether or not his manager willingly took that federal charge. I think that whatever speech Al was going to give him when they landed got replaced by the “you do what you gotta do” speech because this was perhaps the first time all season he was proud of Earn for doing what had to be done. And trying, at least, to do it at the expense of his enemy.
William: Yeah, how savage was it for Yoo-Hoo to walk on the plane though? The way he told the story, you just know he was like “Yeah, you gonna have to hold this bag. See you when I get back if you beat the charge.”
Nicole: Yep, that’s exactly how it went down. Al knows it. Earn knows it. We won’t find out for six seasons, but Darius knows it, too.
William: So, here’s my big question. For season 3, do we get a significant time jump? I’m thinking the potential is pretty high.
William: Any big predictions for what we see in season 3? Who’s life will be changed the most by then?
Nicole: Well let’s talk about time. Lottie is collecting social security checks. And at the start of season one, she was eating pureed peas.
William: For real. Lottie might be wheeling Earn into a retirement community to start Season 3. But it really does get at, what’s the scope for this show. Do we get to see Al as mega-famous? Does Earn still work for him next season? Hell, does Earn have other clients by then? Whatever happened to Tracy with his Chinese w/ a side of chocolate? These are questions that need answering.
Nicole: Tracy was maybe my favorite part of the show.
William: He often is. He gotta be back for season 3. Gotta be.