The following Recap/Review Contains Spoilers for Season 4, Episode 3 of ‘Atlanta’. Check out our review of Episodes 1 & 2 here.
During the two-episode season premiere of FX’s award-winning series Atlanta last week, viewers were quickly reminded of how the quirky quartet acts when they’re back in their home city. From curious to trepidatious, unraveling to unnerving, Earn, Alfred, Darius, and Van are all clearly being tested during the show’s final season.
The latest installment, titled “Born 2 Die”, it’s back to the basics of business and depicts how the story made it here in the first place. Alfred AKA Paper Boi is obviously one of the most enthralling and entertaining performers on any stage, although viewers have not yet had the joy to actually see the rapper in action. However, following a performance at a local bar or bat mitzvah, Paper Boi is approached and offered 1 million dollars to teach a seemingly swagger-less teenager how to be more confident.
Episode three spends most of its time with Earn and Alfred. On the Alfred side of things, he is suddenly faced with the realities of mortality in the music industry. After a wildly successful European tour, selling out arenas all over the continent, Paper Boi believes he’s set for life. However, to a rapper, age is apparently the enemy. After being invited to a meeting touting the success of a Y.W.A. (Young White Avatar), Alfred is again going through the pain of returning home after facing success. To the world, at the time, he is a commodity. However, if his uncertainties and insecurities keep increasing with every passing unforeseen obstacle, he’s bound to join the Soulja Boys and the Bow Wows of the world: forgotten. This leads him to buy into the agenda presented and seek out a young, white musician to get behind and profit from.
The collaboration between Paper Boi and a troubled white artist named Yodel Kid reaches new heights until it takes a sudden turn when he dies the night of the Grammys. The sudden one-two punch that Atlanta always seems to deliver is felt immediately as viewers feel the disappointment Paper Bois feels at the moment. That crisis is felt through the performance by Brian Tyree Henry as he’s left in a bar booth alone afterward.
Earn’s journey allows the great Childish Gambino AKA Donald Glover to tap into what made him a great comedic legend, to begin with. His unique brand of humor and slapstick comedy takes him on an unexpected journey to meet the great D’Angelo which includes a Rally’s restaurant in Georgia, a four-day stay behind the walls of that Rally’s alongside only a bodyguard reading Manga, and a journey into a tunnel to meet. Not D’Angelo. Earn later retells the adventure in his own way during a meet-up with his brethren Alfred and the mostly silent-all-episode Darius where he claims to not feel the decisions he makes when they’re tough. The continued character growth for Glover’s Earn feels as if the actor knows he’s been overshadowed this year by other, equally riveting performances on TV. However, in the final hurrah, the team is pulling together a string of banger after banger.
Episode 3 once again feels as if Atlanta is back to doing what it does best. It provides relevant social commentary underneath irreverent humor using unique storytelling. One has to wonder what Van is up to in this episode after seeing what she was capable of in France. Only time will tell, but season four is proving to provide an important final chapter on the show that feels generational. – Christian Hubbard
Atlanta premieres Thursdays on FX and the next day on Hulu!
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