Previously on Atlanta: Van, who is rocking a wig that makes her look like Audrey Tautou in Amélie and who is now speaking with a French accent, is reunited with her friend Candice (who we first met in the Season 2 episode “Champagne Papi”) in Paris. The two of them, along with Candice’s friends, Shanice and Xosha, travel around Paris together, where things get very weird and very bloody, leading to Van being confronted by Candice about what’s really going with her.
THE STORY SO FAR: Earn, Paper Boi, Vanessa, and Darius are home from Europe and back in Atlanta, where things are just as weird and surreal as ever before. Darius attempts to return an air fryer at a department store for a refund during a massive riot that’s popping off for reasons unknown, only to get followed all over town by a white woman in a motorized wheelchair who is armed with a knife and who thinks Darius stole his air fryer. Paper Boi learns that Blueblood, one of his favorite rappers, has died unexpectedly, and finds himself in a mysterious scavenger hunt that Blueblood organized shortly before his death. Both Earn and Vanessa find themselves constantly running into their exes as they spend the day shopping at Atlantic Station, as they realize that they’re both unable to actually leave.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE?: Darius attempting to return the air fryer for a refund (and doing it simply because he realized that he has an oven) to the customer service section, only for the employee to realize that since sh-t is already popping off (and causing the entire store to look like a Marshalls, which is a very accurate description, and I say that as someone who worked at a Marshalls for two years), he might as well just take all the money out of the register and run. Christine, the woman in the motorized wheelchair, refusing to let Darius or anyone else leave the store with stolen property, only to get bumrushed and sprayed with fire extinguishers as a result. (This was based on a real person and incident.) The opening title sequence, which shows sweeping overhead shots of Atlanta as if to comfort the viewers at home and let them all know, “See, everyone? We’re back in Atlanta, and we’re not in Europe anymore! We’re back on familiar ground, and we’re not gonna give you any more one-shot episodes with white characters you don’t recognize! All right?! You happy now?! We heard all your damn complaints!”
Paper Boi and Darius stuck in traffic and discussing where they should go if they catch a flight to leave town, and crossing Jamaica off the list, as their weed and the film Shottas are both overrated. Earn and Van realizing that time seemingly stands still at Atlantic Station, as evidenced by Vanessa’s ex, Amir, working at the same AT&T store for almost a decade, and Earn’s ex, Kenya, apparently having been stuck at Atlantic Station ever since Now You See Me 2 (which really should’ve been called Now You Don’t, depending on who you talk to on social media) was released in theaters.
Earn and Van spotting and describing at least six of their exes like they’re Captain America and Black Widow on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Winter Soldier while walking in the outdoors section of Atlantic Station. (Van: “Peter Brookfield. went on six dates between 2012 and 2014, and he’s the last American white I’ve ever kissed.”) The montage of Paper Boi uncovering clues that finally lead him to Blueblood’s location, which is at his actual funeral and where Paper Boi is greeted by his widow, Keisha, who explains that this was something he planned out in detail in order to be remembered and appreciated. (It also includes a casket with a fake skeleton in it wearing a suit with a bow tie and a baseball cap.) Earn and Van finding an exit out of Atlantic Station, which is a doorway to a dark room with wet, carpeted walls that … leads to the very same room where Blueblood’s funeral is being held, and where Darius finally arrives after escaping from Christine and her knife-wielding clutches. The episode’s final shot, in which the camera slowly zooms in on Kenya, who is waiting for an Uber to take her home and who has accepted the air fryer from Darius as a gift to give to her father, and the familiar sound of Christine’s wheelchair as it gets closer and closer and closer to Kenya from behind before the episode instantly cuts to black.
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE?: Nothing that comes to mind.
ANY CAMEOS FROM THE CAST OF COMMUNITY?: None.
DOES SHE-HULK TWERK WITH MEGAN THEE STALLION IN THIS EPISODE?: You’re thinking of the wrong show, though if either She-Hulk or Megan Thee Stallion appeared on this show for any reason, twerking-related or not, it still wouldn’t be as weird as most of the other things we’ve seen happen on Atlanta.
HOW MANY F-BOMBS WERE THERE IN THIS EPISODE?: A few, and of course, they mostly come from Paper Boi.
ANY CAMEOS FROM THE CAST OF SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY?: No.
ON A SCALE OF 1 TO “WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST WATCH?” HOW WEIRD AND TERRIFYING WAS THIS EPISODE?: Definitely a 7 or 8. When Earn and Van found the exit door out of Atlantic Station and went through, I was waiting for them to either end up in the home of Teddy Perkins, the brain of John Malkovich, or for them to just immediately get dumped outside the New Jersey Turnpike.
ANY TIME-TRAVELING ALIENS IN THIS EPISODE?: No, Dustin, still no aliens anywhere in sight.
DOES WHITE EARNEST FROM SEASON 3 APPEAR IN THIS EPISODE?: No.
TO SUM IT ALL UP: There have been a lot of people who were not at all shy at expressing how they fell out of love with Atlanta last season, and how they found the majority of last season polarizing, and how they wanted the show to go back to how it was and focus on the main cast instead of on a bunch of (mostly white) guest stars they knew nothing about. Those same people got to breathe a huge sigh of relief with this season premiere, as it gave us Earn and company back home, and surrounded by Black folk while dealing with the delightfully weird sh-t that we’re used to seeing them deal with.
We get to see Earn and Van spend time together as they try to find their way out of the seemingly inescapable maze that is Atlantic Station (there is no acknowledgment of their difficulties with each other from last season, but Earn verbalizes more than once how much Van means to him compared to all of his other exes that he’s been bumping into all day long), Paper Boi holding out hope that a rapper who inspired him to enter the rap game was still alive, only to realize that he wasn’t and that he didn’t make the most out of living his life and enjoying it as much as he should have (Blueblood’s vocals were provided by Earl Sweatshirt, and the character himself was largely inspired by the late, great MF Doom); and Darius being hunted all over town by a Karen who, like most Karens, overestimates her own importance and refuses to mind her own business when it comes to Black people (the fact that she shares the same name, determination, and homicidal rage as the near-unstoppable vehicle from one of Stephen King’s best-known stories is no coincidence).
It’s a very strange and unusual way for Atlanta to kick off its final season, but if there’s anything that Atlanta has proven about itself and also excelled at, it’s being strange and unusual. The fact that we get to see more of that happening in the characters’ own backyard (and hopefully without any more guest appearances from problematic celebrities who would make social media talk about the show for all the wrong reasons) is the best and most fitting way for the show to start bidding us farewell in the weeks to come.
This episode of Atlanta was brought to you by “Ex-Girl To Next Girl” by Gang Starr:
And “Hotel California” by The Eagles.
Header Image Source: FX Networks