***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.***
William: I feel like a whole ass story arc happens in an episode of Atlanta these days, then I look up and it’s only been 40 minutes. Which is to say, so many damn things happened this episode. Unlike, say, the break-up episode — which was somewhat humorous but you knew things would only get worse — the situational awkwardness and comedy here leads to the emotional impact of this episode just kicking us in the stomach.
Nicole: Not that much time as passed since the Woods episode. Al still has bandages on his face and Earn says at one point that Al hasn’t smiled in a while, so this is on the heels of that. To be honest, I’ve been emotionally exhausted by this show since the Teddy Perkins episode. All I wanted when this went off was a nap.
William: It’s also fair to say that Al is quicker to agitation and seems to be more desperate in moments of crisis than before. Think about the Barbershop episode plus the anxiety from his ordeal in the woods, coupled with the fact he’s been dreading having the talk with Earn for a while now. Bryan Tyree Hill deserves all the awards. He’s done everything this season.
Nicole: Al pulled a gun on Tracy in the kitchen so, yes, he is quick-tempered these days. Desperation in times of crisis is tricky. Why do you choose to have the “you’re fired” conversation with Earn while seated in front of a confederate flag, smoking, and low-key on the run? He’s had opportunities for this talk, but chose now? And chose to repeat, almost word for word what IG-famous mani/pedi said at the spa?
I understand that something just happened, but the conversation isn’t exactly about the pajama jam fiasco. The conversation was 0 to 60, too. It wasn’t “you need to do better.” It was you’re fired and I’m about to take up with your arch-nemesis (who you had to circumvent to get me radio play in the first place).
Also, all of us in the audience have known this conversation was coming for a long time.
William: Right, it was coming. Then again, its the most relaxed we’ve seen Al (while also in the presence of Earn) in a long time. From the first time they are alone after the disaster of the evening unfolded to the moment that they had to run out of the student center Al knew he was done with Earn, but that is the first quiet moment they have since then.
Let’s not understate how bad of a call this was on Earn’s part. His client, who isn’t getting paid (while his colleague is) just got a drink poured on him because he was talking to a fan. His stuff is at the drink-pourer’s home because Earn decided his small commission on the hotel fee (I mean what, we talkin’ like 10% of like $250?) was more important than his client’s comfort. On top of that it’s not even a vetted place to stay, just the home of a fan from Instagram (who is beautiful, but only 300 followers…sorry, that is weird). The firing been coming for a while, but this probably was the most egregious.
Nicole: And yet Earn didn’t punch anyone in the face.
Al thinks he’s being fair. To some extent, he is, but he holds Earn to a standard that he doesn’t hold anyone else to. He paid Tracy $200 to punch a college student in the face, steal a gun, and beat up his cousin. As if
Tracy’s freeloading ass wasn’t gonna ride with him for free. Should they have been staying at 300 Followers house? Nope. Was Earn sleeping in a storage locker while Tracy slept as Al’s house? Yep.
Al says you gotta stick with family, but money is important. Al isn’t Captain Stick-with-Family (even though he likes to think he is), in the exact same way that Earn thinks he’s a good manager.
I bring up the storage locker thing because I’m guessing 10% of $250 is a big deal to Earn, but Al knows and DGAF.
William: We might split on this. I agree with everything you said about Tracy. But he doesn’t depend on Tracy to take care of him. He pays Tracy $200 because he believes himself doing a charity for Tracy. The same logic that lets Tracy stay at his house is the same that thinks “what’s the worst that could happen if Tracy pretends to be my bodyguard for a night.” This is all still fruit of the poisonous tree from Earn’s irresponsibility.
Earn got the opportunity to manage Paper Boy because he’s family, and went the extra mile once to get Paper Boy on the radio. He was willing to spend a couple hundred dollars to do something for Al to get his foot in the door, but he’s pocketing a few extra dollars in exchange for Al sleeping in 300 Followers’s house. While that extra $25 or so may mean a big deal for Earn, it ain’t Al’s fault or responsibility that Earn is staying in a storage locker. Earn has screwed himself out of a couple homesteads now.
Nicole: We ignoring that Tracy is sleeping where Earn once was? Al been ignoring that his cousin is drowning. Al seems easily influenced in this episode. Last week he’s concerned with keeping it real, and this week he smoking with the sons of the confederate and quoting IG-famous on career goals. He seems motivated by jealousy or… I don’t even know. This week’s episode has me super conflicted about all of these characters. I didn’t like anybody on the show by the end.
William: Let’s move to the show real quick. Al smiles for the first time in forever because a fan comes up to him and says something more than “I know who you are.” 300 followers spills a drink on him which is super fucked up, then Tracy gets involved. I thought…the worst. I thought the absolute worst was gonna happen. It kind of did, considering that Earn had to catch her on the stairs, I thought Tracy was going to straight up hit her. I was so scared for the fallout of that, but unfortunately so much shit happens after that moment I feel like the fact that Tracy mashed a woman in the face down some stairs gets overlooked.
Nicole: I thought the worst wasn’t him hitting her, but her cracking her skull on the steps and dying/being irrevocably injured. Beyond her being injured and the pain that would cause her, that’d mean that Al’s paid bodyguard who is violating to even be there would be bringing on a world of legal troubles to them all. Earn caught her because he knew Tracy was on some f***shit and started moving just in time. I think that’s why I feel for Earn this episode.
William: I still ponder on the firing of Earn as a ‘if not now, then when?’ Because he’s not good at this, and you can’t be a selfish manager until the money is so abundant that it doesn’t matter. The escalation is on Tracy 100%, but 300 Followers didn’t need to be pushed down the stairs to cut up everyone’s clothes. That was happening as soon as Al was smiling in the presence of another woman. Even then, it pisses me off that Earn is like ‘oh, this kind of sucks’ watching Al flip from stunned silence, then he’s pissed cuz his laptop is missing. Like you weren’t pissed before when it was everyone else’s shit?
Also… I guess we need to talk about this Frat House…
Nicole: I mostly wonder what was on the laptop, honestly.
So… Al, Earn, , Darius and Tracy wonder around campus until weedhound smells weed. Then they get invited into happy hour at the Sons of the Confederacy. That is the least absurd thing that happens that night.
William: I almost feel as though this scene existed for the sole purpose of that shot of the several naked, hooded white men smoking weed near a huge confederate flag while standing in front of the crew.
Nicole: Nope. That scene existed for the naked burlap-sack hooded dance off to Laffy Taffy.
William: So the episode goes from awkward, to intense, to absurd, to just outright sad by the time we get to Earn’s firing. Then…came the car ride. Would you like to do the honors?
Nicole: Okay, before we do that let’s hark back to Earn racing Michael Vick. Let’s just marinate on that. Let’s just sit with it for a moment.
Okay, the car ride was part of the reason I hated everybody on the entire show. I hated Van and she wasn’t even in this episode.
Nicole: Tracy stole a gun (of course he did) from the gun room at the fraternity (because of course they have one), points it at Earn, and pretends to shoot him. Everyone but Earn thinks that’s funny. To be super clear, it wasn’t funny.
Earn is fed up with everything: the saving Tracy from another felony the firing, the stolen laptop.
So he asks Al very politely to pull over so he can beat Tracy’s ass. No one in the car or the viewing audience thought that was gonna happen. How could Earn not know he was about to take a beat down?
William: Agreed, it wasn’t funny at all. And no one thought that was gonna happen, either the pull over or the beating of Tracy’s ass. But, to be clear, everything that happened to Earn after the pointed gun is on Earn. Part of it I assume was Al tired of having Earn yelling at the back of his head to pull the car over. Part of it may have been a short lesson in “know who the fuck you’re supposed to be.” Look…nobody in that car was beating Tracy’s ass. Not even if someone gave them a baseball bat. You say the frat house was the least absurd, the car ride was easily the most typical. I’ve been in that car way too many times to count or be proud of.
Nicole: I think Al pulled over so Tracy could deliver the beating he wanted to give Earn, but was never gonna. This is perhaps the unpopular opinion, but while I hated Earn for forcing that confrontation, I’m glad he didn’t back down. He took the beating he asked for and kept trying, which is an apt metaphor for who Earn is: always in over his head, but still desperately trying.
He has the heart, but not the skills — not in fighting, managing, relationships, or fatherhood.
William: But…trying to do what? I would find that admirable if he ever directed that energy towards something that isn’t an attempt to restore his own ego. I think he does these things akin to the gambler that is well in the hole, but bets everything because he has to win something. Even if the odds are he’s just going to lose whatever he has left.
So what happens to Earn? He’s fired. I assume he’s not going to be hanging with Al and the crew after this. So he’s out of a job and his most identified friendships. No Van. So…now what?
Nicole: Earn is the poster boy for “aimless.” This is the most interested I’ve been in him in a while. What do you want to see him do?
William: I feel like the show has forced me to be interested in him because he’s so pitiful. Like, I’m more interested in him, I guess, but if I had my choice in the matter I’d take another Darius episode. But, after all this I know we’re getting an Earn episode. It probably won’t be what we expect (it never is), but I imagine we get the “what happens after Earn hits rock bottom” episode.
Though the previews just showed two kids bullshitting in a classroom. So maybe a Van episode? Who knows.
Nicole: Darius disappointed me deeply when he laughed at the gun in the car thing.
Would it be too much to ask for a Zan episode?
William: LMAO, yes. Yes it would.
You gotta remember, Darius is the same dude we saw cleaning guns with Al on their way to a business deal with ATL’s Migos. Darius met Earn for the first time with a butcher knife in his hand. These dudes living a different reality. Any last sentiments for this episode?
I could’ve lived a full life without seeing the pledges shake their laffy taffy for Al and Earn in front of the loser’s flag, but I’m scared that that is the memory that even dementia will leave untouched and perfect.
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