Previously on Atlanta: Earn, a recent Princeton dropout, approaches his cousin, an up-and-coming rapper named Paper Boi, about becoming his manager in the hopes of both of them becoming successful as well as becoming closer to one another. Paper Boi got into a fight with Justin Bieber during a basketball game, Van, Earn’s kinda-sorta girlfriend and mother to their daughter, was fired from her job as a schoolteacher after smoking weed with her friend and admitting it to her boss the following day due to the fact that she was scheduled to take a drug test, Paper Boi defended himself from accusations of transphobia while appearing on a talk show on Not-BET, Paper Boi slapped the shit out of a nightclub owner who attempted to not pay him the money that he was owed, Earn and Van went to a Juneteenth party which made them wish they had just stayed home and watched Netflix instead, and Earn looked all over town for his lost jacket, which contained the key to his storage locker where he keeps everything he owns…and is also where he lives.
Oh yeah, and invisible cars are a thing that really do exist. Welcome back to Atlanta.
THE STORY SO FAR: Robbin’ Season (the time of year when the crime rate increases because ‘Christmas approaches and everyone gotta eat, or be eaten’) is once again here in Atlanta, as evidenced by the fact that two young men rob a local fast-food joint for the bricks of marijuana that their employees sell in portions to customers who know which specific menu item to ask for, only for the robbers to end up in a gunfight straight out of Boogie Nights when one of the employees at said fast-food joint goes after the pistol-toting robbers with an assault rifle. The gunfight ends not with Alfred Molina blasting his shotgun at Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly in their Corvette while calling them puppies, but by Mister Good Guy With A Gun running out of the fast-food joint and shooting after the Bad Guys With Guns as they speed away. Their getaway vehicle stops, and while we’re led to believe at first that both robbers are dead, a young woman splattered in blood ends up climbing out of the backseat, screaming and crying. The fact that this young woman was never actually seen before (not with the two young men before the robbery or in the car with them as they rolled up) and just magically appeared out of nowhere to scream bloody murder like she’s re-enacting Jada Pinkett’s death scene in Scream 2 only makes it all weirder.
Earn is still living in his storage locker with all of his worldly possessions but due to the fact that the owner of the storage facility now knows that someone is living there, his stuff is now up for grabs for anyone and everyone to take for themselves (including the storage facility employees, who gladly remind him that this isn’t Storage Wars and that no auctions will be taking place here) and Earn needs to go find another place to rest his head. Which brings him to Paper Boi’s house, where the tension between him and Darius (tension that neither of them want to talk to Earn about) is thicker than a bowl of oatmeal. Paper Boi is on house arrest and Earn needs to go see his parole officer due to his being arrested for attempting to sell half a joint, so he asks Darius for a ride. Darius, who has recently returned from California and telling people with overly long acceptance speeches to GET OUT! and get off the stage (clearly, he was on break while Gary Oldman was giving his speech), says yes and the two of them head out.
As Earn explains to Darius that his parents have headed over to Florida to visit a dying relative, Darius explains his belief in the phenomenon that is Florida Man, an “alt-right Johnny Appleseed” whose true identity is a mystery and who is apparently responsible for “a large number of abnormal incidents that occur in Florida,” such as shooting unarmed Black teens…beating flamingos to death…eating other people’s faces……breaking into the hospital room of of his pregnant ex-girlfriend and beating up her boyfriend…crashing a vehicle into a fast-food joint…convincing the local serial killer that the best way to bring his eight-year-long career to an end was by steering into his boat into the middle of a hurricane, faking his death, and then becoming a lumberjack…and is in cahoots with the government to prevent Black people from voting and from registering to vote. And yes, I’m sure all five of you reading this recap are thinking “Oh, that Darius is so crazy, making shit up about Florida and Florida Man like that to freak Earn out.” Yeah, sorry to tell you this, but…Darius’s anecdotes about Florida and Florida Man?
While stopping for gas, Earn gets a phone call from Paper Boi, asking him to head over to their uncle Willy’s house, due to the fact that shit is popping off in the form of Willy’s girlfriend Yvonne calling him and claiming that she’s been kidnapped by Willy and is being held hostage. So Earn agrees to get his Danny Roman on and head on over there to see Willy, who not only has an alligator somewhere in his house like he’s Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice, but has also locked Yvonne in a room over the fact that fifty dollars has disappeared and she refuses to tell him what has happened to it. Earn spots her some money to give to Willy so that there will be peace, but that peace is interrupted by 1) two police officers who arrive on Willy’s doorstep in response to a call about a domestic disturbance and 2) the fact that he accuses her of being a lying-ass bitch and she refers to him as a muthafucka who she hopes gets blown away by the cops. Both officers ask Willy to step out of the house so they can talk, but Willy isn’t having any of that and is pretty much in Fuck Tha Police Mode, as he threatens to release his alligator on them both if they try to arrest him for no reason.
Earn is trying to play peacemaker as he tries to get Willy to stop acting a fool and pissing everyone off, only to have Willy call him out on the fact that he’s scared, and that the only reason he’s even there and hasn’t left yet is because Paper Boi told him to be there and he doesn’t want to get on the bad side of Mr. Moneybags and end up not being his manager anymore. Earn denies that and states that what he’s actually afraid of is turning out like Willy, who is “someone who everyone knew was smart, but ended up being a know-it-all fuck-up who just let everything happen to him.” Willy’s response to that armor-piercing statement before walking off to his room? “Damn.”
Earn follows Willy into his bedroom to both apologize for hurting his feelings, but also explaining that because of whatever history between Willy and Earn’s mother that left Earn feeling immensely pissed at Willy, he had that armor-piercing insult against him ready to go. He also admits to Willy that he is scared, due to the fact that Paper Boi has become more famous recently and is worried that he’ll no longer be needed. Willy, who has been searching through luggage under his bed, retrieves a gold-plated pistol and gives it to Earn. Because 1) he’ll need that if he’s going to be a part of the music business, 2) he’ll need that if he wants to be a cheating bastard when playing GoldenEye 007 in Multiplayer mode (more so if he uses it while playing as Oddjob) and 3) he has no interest in any of the police officers finding it and getting both himself and Paper Boi in trouble. He also tells Earn to get rid of whatever chip he has on his shoulder, if only so that he doesn’t end up becoming a failure like himself, before exiting the room.
Earn takes the pistol, along with a framed family photo, and walks out of the house to meet Darius back at the car. And right as he leaves and informs the cops that hewasn’t able to convince Willy to come out and talk to them, the front door opens and out walks…Willy’s alligator, Coach, which is rather giant and is far more interested in resting on the lawn than he is in devouring every human in sight.
As for Willy? He sneaks out of the house through the back and makes a run for it like his name is Tom Cruise and he’s starring in yet another Mission: Impossible movie.
Earn and Darius arrive back at Paper Boi’s house, and whatever tension there was between both Darius and Paper Boi has inexplicably dissolved, due to the fact that Paper Boi offers Darius a hit from the blunt he is smoking. Earn shows them both the pistol that Willy told him to take, which causes them both (and also Paper Boi’s friend Tracy, who has just gotten out of jail and is staying in the house) to laugh their asses off while also suggesting that he get rid of that shit. Earn just chuckles along with them and heads out. Darius, who knows that Earn is still in need of a place to stay, asks him, “You good?” Earn responds in the affirmative and leaves. Once outside, he sighs heavily and then keeps on moving.
ANY CAMEOS FROM THE CAST OF COMMUNITY?: No.
HOW MANY F-BOMBS WERE THERE IN THIS EPISODE?: A whole muthafuckin’ lot.
ANY CAMEOS FROM THE CAST OF SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY?: No. And despite his recent success, we don’t get to see Paper Boi riding around in his own personal Millennium Falcon.
NONE? DOES EARN WEAR A CAPE IN THIS EPISODE AT LEAST?: Sorry, Rebecca, but we don’t get to see Earn or anyone else rocking any capes.
ANY ALIENS AT LEAST?: Well, Donald Glover now has Lucasfilm connections so even though we don’t see any aliens in this episode, don’t be surprised if we see one appear onscreen before the end of the season.
TO SUM IT ALL UP: I know this is only just the season premiere and I certainly don’t want to jinx how the rest of the season turns out, but it’s so good to have Atlanta back on television again, and this episode proved why that is. As wonderful as it is to be reunited with Earn, Paper Boi, and Darius (I can’t wait for Zazie Beetz as Van to show up as well), the cherry on top of this amazing cake was the guest appearance by stand-up comedian Katt Williams. Almost every line of dialogue out of his mouth made me laugh, but it wasn’t hard not to recognize that much of the episode that took place between Earn and Willy, and the conversations about wasted talent and ruined potential, was a meta-commentary on Katt himself, as many of his legal issues throughout the years took a toll on both himself and his career, and he has slowly but surely been making his way back and reminding everyone why he blew up and became successful in the first place. I’ll understand if Willy never appears on Atlanta again, but part of me hopes that he didn’t run too far away and will make another appearance.
The fact that this season will be taking place during “Robbin’ Season” has me both worried about what kind of situations Earn and company will find themselves in, and also excited and waiting on the edge of my seat to see what kind of situations Earn and company will find themselves in. I don’t expect the show to suddenly become Grand Theft Auto: Atlanta, I just expect Atlanta to have me reacting to each episode the way Darius reacted to the sight of Earn holding his Golden Gun: laughing hysterically while shaking my head at what I’ve just seen and asking, “What the fuduck is that?”
This episode of Atlanta was brought to you by “Gimme The Loot” by The Notorious B.I.G.:
And by “The Man With The Golden Gun” by Lulu: