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'Atlanta' Recap, 'The Jacket': If The Game Shakes Me Or Breaks Me, I Hope It Makes Me A Better Man

By Brian Richards | TV | November 2, 2016 |

By Brian Richards | TV | November 2, 2016 |


EARN: Wakes up, or at least recovers consciousness, after passing out in someone else’s house where a party occurred the night before. Darius and Paper Boi are nowhere in sight, and neither is his jacket, which is what really causes Earn to worry. After calling Paper Boi and realizing that he has no idea where his jacket is, Earn decides to walk around and retrace his steps (and on Free Chicken Sandwich Day of all days, so at least he has that in his favor).

(pulls up Google to see if Free Chicken Sandwich Day is a thing that really exists. And it is, just under a different name, apparently.)

Earn retracing his steps leads him to the friendly neighborhood strip club, where he runs into an unfriendly bouncer who charges him ten dollars just to look inside for his jacket, and an overly ambitious stripper looking to get put on by appearing in music videos, starting with Paper Boi’s. After seeing that his jacket isn’t there, Earn has a brainstorm and decides to check Snapchat (the app that I have as much familiarity with as I do with the HD-DVD player I wasted my money on about a decade or so ago) to see if it will fill in any of the blanks. And judging from all of the video footage he finds, of himself heading to the Friendly Neighborhood Strip Club with Paper Boi and Darius to party and drink plenty of shots (which Earn supposedly hates), Darius expressing his hatred of being filmed on camera because cameras steal your soul (are we really surprised at all that Darius believes this? This is Darius we’re talking about.), and riding around in Uber debating whether Ja Rule is really a dog (which is nonsense because as we all know, the rapper who is really a dog is DMX), it most certainly helps.

Earn meets up with Paper Boi and Darius and asks Paper Boi for his phone so he can contact the Uber driver they were with the night before so he can see if his jacket was left in the car. Good news: the Uber driver has his jacket. Bad news (and further proof why you’re probably better off using Lyft, one of the dollar vans in Brooklyn, or just Moonwalking in high heels while blindfolded in order to get to your destination): the Uber driver wants fifty dollars from Earn in order to meet up and return the jacket.

As the three of them sit in Paper Boi’s car (right after picking up some Jamaican food to eat, as Jamaican food really does make everything better), Earn gets a phone call from a well-known rapper known as Senator K, who expresses interest in Paper Boi going on tour with him. Before they can fully celebrate, Paper Boi’s Spider-Sense begins tingling and he can’t shake the feeling that something about this meeting with the Uber driver is very wrong. He starts the engine and is about to drive off, whwn several unmarked police cars suddenly appear, and plainclothes detectives come out with weapons drawn and order them to get out of the car with their hands up. They do what they’re told and Earn sees the Uber driver wearing his jacket, clearly freaked out by what’s happening, who starts running away from the cops. The cops then see him and immediately begin to open fire, shooting him several times and killing him. Which is exactly what you’re supposed to do as a cop when you see an unarmed man running away from you who poses little to no immediate threat to anyone.

Some of the cops begin walking towards the Uber driver’s corpse, and Earn walks over with them, asking them to check the pockets for his jacket, since that jacket is his. They check all pockets and all of them appear to be empty. Earn asks them to check again, only to be told to go away.

Earn, Paper Boi, and Darius drive back to Paper Boi’s place, and as Darius runs inside to use the bathroom (due to the fact that he swallowed two blunts when the cops came out of nowhere), Paper Boi gIves Earn a large roll of money. It’s his five percent that he gets as Paper Boi’s manager. Paper Boi tells Earn that he’s done good as the two part ways so that Earn can go visit Van and Lottie.

After the three of them have dinner together, Lottie is put to bed and Earl and Van watch television together. There’s a knock at the door and the visitor is Earn’s friend and co-worker, Swift, who is there to return a key that Earn asked him to hold onto the night before in case he had one too many shots. (Which he supposedly hates). Earn breathes a huge sigh of relief and after Swift leaves, he gives Van the roll of money that Paper Boi gave him, but not before fooling her and making her think that he actually went into drug-dealing as a career. Van tells Earn what a good father he is and despite her making it clear that he’s allowed to stay the night, Earn decides to leave later that evening. He walks down the streets of Atlanta and makes his way to a storage facility, and the key he spent all day looking for is for the gate to the storage unit, which is where he lives and where he keeps nearly everything he owns. He lies down on the nearest piece of furniture and takes out the portion of money he kept from what Paper Boi gave him: two hundred dollars. Earn looks at the money that he has earned (no pun intended) for the work he has done, the work that he left behind a life at Princeton for, the work that has brought him closer to his cousin as they’ve now taken steps to regard each other as family, before shutting off the light and going to sleep.


About two or three.

ANY TIME-TRAVELING ALIENS IN THIS EPISODE?: The closest we get to aliens in this episode, Dustin, is the closing song being from an album titled ATLiens.

TO SUM IT ALL UP: For a season finale, this episode was much more laid-back and measured compared to the last few episodes. But that doesn’t mean it was any less effective or funny. Darius, much like bacon, finds a way to make everything better and funnier with his very presence alone, and the scene of all three characters witnessing a police-related shooting and somehow treating it as just another day was a subtle and non-anvilicious way of getting across how witnessing and being aware of police misconduct has become such a normal part of life that as Black people, it doesn’t faze us nearly as much as it should. Which is all the more tragic and heartbreaking.

This was such an impressive and wonderfully-made first season, and I hate that it’s over already. Season 2 can’t get here soon enough.

This episode of Atlanta was dedicated to the memory of Ashley Rose Favors, who worked in the wardrobe/costume departments for many Atlanta-based productions and who died this past June…


…and was brought to you by “Elevators (Me & You)” by OutKast.

See you next season, that is unless Dustin decides to punish and reprimand me for all of the insults, profanities, and acts of violence I’ve inflicted on him because of his stupid-ass questions. In which case, you can expect the recaps for next season of Atlanta to be brought to you by…oh, let’s say…Jodi.

Brian Richards is a Staff Contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.