The following Recap/Review Contains Spoilers for the series finale of ‘Atlanta’. Check out our review of Episode 9 here.
It all comes down to this. After 4 seasons of the most prolific and groundbreaking television programs of the modern era, the finale of Donald and Stephen Glover’s Atlanta, “It Was All A Dream,” has arrived. Following two seemingly standalone episodes with the eighth and ninth installments of the season, the gang is back together for one final adventure. While the title of the episode raises suspicion that the finale will reveal that the entire show was somebody’s dream, the first few moments of the finale feel more grounded than possibly anything we’ve seen so far. The camaraderie between Earn, Alfred, and Darius is on full display within the first few minutes and reminds fans what they will be missing once the episode reaches its conclusion.
While Darius goes off to take part in a sensory deprivation experiment, and run errands along the way, Alfred and Earn embark on a journey to the first Black-owned sushi restaurant in the city (that used to be a Blockbuster). Turns out, the restaurant is owned by a man who studied in Japan and brought his knowledge back to create Black sushi fusion. Elsewhere, Darius meets a woman who overhears that he’s going to a sensory-deprivation tank and sparks a conversation. Staying true to his quirky, eccentric character, Darius explains that he stays grounded by thinking of “thick Judge Judy.” It’s difficult to see where this episode is heading. However, the finale not only shines a light on the individual characteristics of the folks we have grown to fall in love with over time, but it also takes one final chance to highlight the bond they all share together.
The restaurant, owned by a chef named Demarcus, is a combination of a bodega-like corner store, local diner/eatery, and sushi lounge. They’re all hilariously served hot white Hennessy instead of sake, setting the stage for the strange encounter they are about to have. However, while Van invited Alfred and Earn to enjoy the new spot, as a favor to the owner who is a big fan of Paper Boi, they all seem to be focused on the Popeyes located across the parking lot. So much so that even Van offers to take them both to the fried chicken place after they suffer the sushi setting. While much of the cast has been separated throughout this season, it’s nice to see them back together and engaging in simple, fun-loving activities again before saying our final goodbye.
As he walks to his appointment, Darius encounters a woman named London, an old friend from his partying days. After she insists on giving him a ride so they can catch up, he reluctantly gets in the car and engages with a lifestyle London clearly continues to live in. She is smoking weed and drinking vodka while she drives. Unfortunately, London and Darius are pulled over by a member of the Atlanta Police Department. Proving to the officer that the vodka inside of the water bottle is actually water, she chugs the alcohol right in front of him and is subjected to a sobriety test on the road. This leaves Atlanta‘s most eccentric character in a position he’d rather not find himself in. After London passes the test with flying colors, she decided to steal the cop’s gun before running back to the car, pressing the gas, and hitting a child on a bike.
Right here is when the title of the episode comes into question, all of this was a dream Darius is having in the sensory deprivation tank. A shocking moment that only continues with the legacy of Darius and the actor playing him, LaKeith Steinfeld. Coming to his aid, a strange attendant suggests he calm down in the tea room, which is filled with white women. Freaking out, Darius screams for them to wake up and gets kicked out. Meanwhile, Van, Alfred, and Earn are on the receiving end of an impassioned speech by Demarcus himself about the double standards he’s experimented with bringing this Black-Asian fusion restaurant to the hood.
When Atlanta began, only Donald Glover was a known commodity in the cast. Now, after all these years, his co-stars Brian Tyree Henry, Zazie Beetz, and LaKeith Steinfeld are all bona fide megastars in their own right. It’s been one hell of a ride watching them all spread their wings and find their footing in big-budget blockbusters like Knives Out, Joker, and Eternals, while still returning to the series that gave them their big breakout moments and committing to the odd quirks they all established during season one.
Atlanta is a show made for Black folks by Black creatives and this whole season proves it. Season 4 is clearly a chance for Donald and Glover to shine a light on not just Black exceptionalism but also the sometimes random experiences that come along with simply being Black in America on a daily basis. The episode ends with Darius saving his friends from Demarcus, who was planning to lock them in. Darius drives them so safety in a pink Maserati, but not before stopping by Popeyes on the way home. The end of Atlanta is poetic, feels justified, and allows fans to say goodbye to the series that will live on in our memories and that has solidified its place in Black American culture. – Christian Hubbard
Every episode of Atlanta is now available to watch on Hulu!
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