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'Atlanta' Recap: Trying To Make A Dollar Out Of 15 Cents

By Brian Richards | TV | September 14, 2016 |

By Brian Richards | TV | September 14, 2016 |


Earn: After an unsuccessful attempt at buying himself a kids’ meal from the local fast-food joint, he still finds himself on the outs with Vanessa, due to 1) her having to bail him out of jail 2) lack of proper financial support to help her raise their daughter, Lottie 3) lack of proper financial support to help raise their daughter, Lottie, due to his continued pursuit of a career in rap. So Earn decides to take Vanessa out on a date to The Indigo Lounge, where happy-hour prices last all night long (and also where valet parking is just some random dude with a vest he found on the street and a knock-off toy lightsaber for directing traffic, and who will also come to your table and alert you when you’re abut to be towed), if only to keep from having to spend more than the $96 he has in his checking account ($62 after purchasing his MARTA pass). Once they arrive, Earn soon discovers that due to new ownership, the all-day happy hour prices are now a thing of the past and this look …


… ends up being permanently etched onto his face as both he and Vanessa review the menu and Vanessa goes on to order a delicious and pricey meal with the help of their waitress, who is more than happy to make recommendations that will get them to spend more money.

After dinner ends (and Vanessa pays the tip that Earn refused to do, because “it’s bad enough that she earns less than you ‘cause you have a dick?”), Earn is once again reprimanded by Vanessa for his career pursuit, which results in him pleading his case to her and asking her to believe in him and know that he can make this work, if not for him then for their daughter. Vanessa, instead of softening up and embracing Earn after being convinced by his wise and passionate words, pulls a Dr. Huxtable-from-the-pilot-of-The Cosby Show-back-when-you-could-watch-The Cosby Show-without-being-reminded-that-it-was-created-by-and-starred-a-fucking-monster and tells him that everything he just said was the absolute dumbest of shit. Earn then steps outside and calls to report his debit card stolen so that he can avoid paying for dinner. If there’s anyone who has a photo of Julius from Everybody Hates Chris in his wallet as a reminder of what not to spend money on, it’s definitely Earn.

PAPER BOI: “I sell drugs. It’s lucrative. Sell it ‘till you get rich. How else you pay for studio time, clothes, videos, weed without some lame-ass job?”

All of which explains why Paper Boi and Darius agree to a drug deal with a group of Mexicans called The Migos. Darius, who insists on conveying an air of professionalism, handcuffs the briefcase to his wrist as if he’s Donald Pleasance in Escape From New York… right before he forgets to bring the key for the handcuffs with him.

As it turns out, the group of Mexicans who Paper Boi and Darius are meeting up with aren’t even Mexican, but an actual rap group known as The Migos (let the good people at Wikipedia fill you in on who they are here). Qua, the leader of the group, greets them both in the usual welcoming manner: he pulls some half-naked man out of the compartment in his RV and then generously gives him back his clothes before telling him to make a run for it, so he can use his beloved rifle, Percy, to shoot him dead from afar. (He’s much better at shooting retreating targets in wooded areas than Paulie Walnuts and Chris Moltisanti, that’s for sure) After convincing them that they’re both legit and not there to do them any harm, mostly by having The Migos (as well as Qua’s cousin Tanqueray, who seems like a cross between Michael Pena’s character from Ant-Man and a very cheerful-but-socially-awkward version of DJ Khaled) listen in on a phone conversation with Earn as he begs Paper Boi to transfer $20 to his account so he can pay the bill for dinner, Paper Boi and Darius exchange the merchandise with them and everyone goes their separate ways. As to how the briefcase was removed from Darius’s wrist without the handcuffs key: it wasn’t, as The Migos simply took all of the merchandise out of the briefcase and left it handcuffed to him.


HOW MANY F-BOMBS WERE THERE IN THIS EPISODE?: I honestly lost count, as I was too busy sitting in shock and awe over the fact that FX shows are now permitted to let their characters curse as much as they do without any bleeps or the audio being dropped, and that The People v. O.J. Simpson wasn’t a one-off.

ANY TIME-TRAVELING ALIENS IN THIS EPISODE?: Why would there be— (sighs) No, Dustin, there were no time-traveling aliens in this episode or in last week’s episode. Stop taking Ambien with your Chinese food when you’re watching stuff!

TO SUM IT ALL UP: Another solid episode with very impressive comic timing, especially from the main cast. Far too many of us have had that moment where we feel an ever-growing sense of dread in the pit of our stomachs as we look at our checking accounts and really don’t like what we see, followed by having to financially bite off more than we can possibly chew, and Glover sold those moments well, reminding us of why he is so determined to be a success in his duties as Paper Boi’s manager. And Brian Tyree Henry and LaKeith Stanfield are also doing great work, especially as they slowly end up asking themselves what the hell did they just walk into during every passing second of their deal with The Migos. It’s like the drug-deal scene from the end of Boogie Nights, minus Alfred Molina or teenage Asian boys tossing around lit firecrackers every fifteen seconds.

This episode of Atlanta was brought to you by the not-entirely-proud fraternity of Broke Phi Broke, where their motto is, “We ain’t got it!”

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