We’re back for another week in our favorite neck of the woods, Atlanta. This episode kicks off with the most hilarious robbery ever. Alfred is attempting to re-up his supply and gets robbed along the way. Instead of framing this robbery as a malicious act, it turns out to be as cordial and pleasant as a robbery could be. He’s known Al for ten years, still robs him although he shows remorse and even offers to give him a ride home. This really puts the desperation of people into perspective.
This opening scene sets the tone for the episode. This episode is about risks. Or the stupid risks people take when they feel like they have no other choice. The risks in this episode are taken by the two main characters, Al and Earn. They both share the same struggle although they’re at different ends of the spectrum: They’re ascending into an unknown world while trying to remain firmly planted in the one they know. Al, when he puts on the mask of Paper Boi, is a rapper who is growing in popularity. The radio drops, endorsements, and performances for an office full of tech geeks don’t interest him. So he reverts back to what he knows.
Earn, college dropout or not is Princeton educated. He clearly lacks streets sense though. Even I lack street sense and I saw this scam coming. He doesn’t belong in the world of drug dealers and scammer but the further Al ascends to rap stardom, the lower Earn sinks into the underworld.
Why does Al still sell drugs? Although he’s recognized on every block, rap doesn’t sell. It’s all about appearances and he couldn’t care less about the appearance of being a rapper.
Why does Earn foolishly take his 4k earnings and flip them instead of leaving the table after making a safe bet? Better yet, why doesn’t Al stop him? Because Al knows the risks of this world. Sometimes you come up, other times you leave with nothing. But if Earn wants to be a part of this world, he must know what he’s getting into.
The summation of all of these things equals the larger conversation this show tries to have. It’s covertly a show about social commentary set in a place that looks and feels familiar but is just as bizarre as Twin Peaks, Washington. It brilliantly says a lot without explicitly saying anything at all. It’s telling you why that budding rapper is still selling drugs. It’s showing you how desperate people fall for scams. It’s shedding light on discriminatory hiring practices and how people fresh out of jail typically end up on the fast track to head right back.
[Sidenote: Tracy’s character was a much-welcomed addition. He’s hilarious]
Atlanta, yet again, succeeds at making the most screwed up situations funny. Maybe because there’s a bit of truth behind that laughter. Maybe that truth is a truth we’ve come to realize through our own experiences. Either way, Season 2 is coming out the gate quickly. Can’t wait until next week.
- Al could have totally taken that gun away. But sometimes you just have to take your Ls in stride.
- Earn surely didn’t give Tracy the entire four thousand for a gift card, right? Right? He can’t be that stupid right?
- Speaking of Tracy, he’s totally right about the no chase policy. Unless a store has loss prevention contracted through another company (so they can’t be sued directly) they can’t chase. Can’t even outright accuse you of stealing in most instances.
- The scene at the Spotify look-alike shows how dumber we get as technology advances. I loved that.
- Please, please, please stop acoustic rap covers
- That Yoohoo song was kinda jamming. You can’t even lie.
- The best joke of the entire episode was a subtle one. Earn walks in with all the useless items he had to buy at the mall. He says he thinks some old lady stole his vitamins on the bus. Darius says [paraphrase] “Hopefully you got insurance. Those things are expensive”