Atlanta (Season 4) Episodes 1 & 2: Recap & Ending, Explained
Atlanta (Season 4) Episodes 1 & 2: With its three seasons, Atlanta has managed to subvert our expectations with its nuanced representation of black characters along with absurdist themes. This surreal comedy created by Donald Glover has built a dedicated fanbase, not just with the fans of the multi-faceted artist at the helm, but by consistently reinventing its modes of narration. While showcasing the lives of primarily four black people from Atlanta, it has consistently delivered fascinating writing and narration that has never ceased to amuse.
After a long hiatus, the third season presented several narratives, not just from the lead characters’ lives. Now in the fourth season, which is the series last season, we witness narratives after their return. Some of the episodes appear like short films that delve into the topics of racial and political inequality, among other pertinent aspects. The other episodes, which follow the journey of our characters, show them on a Europe trip for the beloved rapper, Paper Boi.
Atlanta (Season 4 Premiere) Episodes 1 & 2 Recap
The first episode of season 4, titled ‘The Most Atlanta,’ follows its four lead characters through different narrative threads. We see a store being looted by an angry mob of people, which is when Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) arrives with an air fryer he had received as a gift. He goes to the cashier and, since he doesn’t have the receipt, asks whether they can make a trade. The cashier looks puzzled for an apparent reason! Which sane person would come to return something and expect a fair trade when you see people looting the store in plain daylight? He mentions the same to him but goes on to reluctantly scan the Q.R. code on his product carton. The next moment, he runs out with cash from the register.
That leaves Darius with no other option but to leave the store with the air fryer. But a white lady in a wheelchair stops him at the front gate, suspecting him to be one of the looters. He politely shares having been gifted the product and being in the store for return, but she doesn’t believe him. He still leaves the store with his air fryer. He later gets in a car with Alfred on the wheels, aka Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry). He mentions how he correctly assumed being stuck in the traffic even after he visited the store. Seeing Paper Boi sad, Darius asks for the reason. He mentions it to be the death of a rapper called Blueblood.
They discuss his secret shows and how he used to provide clues on Tumblr for his fans to reach the venues. He starts playing one of the new Blueblood tracks. Meanwhile, Darius sees the wheelchair lady still following him and decides to get out and walk away on foot. Meanwhile, Earn (Donald Glover) drives Van (Zazie Beetz) to Atlantic station and jokes that he will meet her the next day, considering how long it takes for them to leave the place!
On their way, they come across one of his exes – Kenya (Sh’Kia Augustin) and share a word or two of small talk. When they go into the Apple store, he comes across another one of his exes. Van makes fun of him, saying how he dated the entire Atlantic station, which is when she gets approached by the salesman, who was her ex! He mentions a concert they met at about ten years before (and also says being trapped there for a while). She gets surprised that he remembers details from so long ago.
Meanwhile, a fan of Paper Boi starts recording with the rapper in the back, alluding to them being friends. He rushes out of the queue of vehicles and goes to fuel his car. He’s still listening to the Blueblood track, which mentions a place that is right in front of him. He decides to go in and order the zoo pie mentioned in the track. He asks the shop owner whether he knows Blueblood, but he keeps ignoring him until a moment when he just insults Paper Boi. Alas, he gets the pie. But when he opens the carton, he finds an address inside. He figures it as a scavenger hunt and goes to the places to do the activities mentioned in the lyrics.
On the other hand, Earn, and Van walks through the Atlantic station, stumbling into more and more of their exes. They get spooked by such frequent encounters and decide to leave. When they reach the parking lot, they can’t find their car. (It reminded me of a Seinfeld episode where the gang spends the entire episode looking for their car, but that’s not where the narrative leads in here!) Kenya meets them again and seems to have already forgotten that they met just some time before. While that feels strange, Earn still asks her help to get out of there. She mentions being stuck there herself. When she first arrives, he asks for the movie playing at the local cinema hall. She says it to be Now You See Me 2 (which is from about half a decade before!)
Meanwhile, the wheelchair lady manages to catch Darius, but he manages to escape from her. While Paper Boi follows the trail of Blueblood’s rap, he reaches a place with no person in sight. He still decides to enter and finds a casket and a woman sitting in the room. He gets puzzled about how to answer why he’s there, which is when she asks him whether he’s there for Blueblood. She mentions that she is Gary’s (Blueblood’s) wife and that he is, in fact, dead. Only a few people besides Paper Boi had reached the place, and when he arrived there, the casket only had a skeleton – that was not his – since he died some time ago! She mentioned how much effort Blueblood put into creating that maze-like rap album. She gives Paper Boi a plant – about track 11 from Blueblood’s album.
Meanwhile, Earn and Van, still stuck in the parking lot, find a door for an emergency exit. While they are unsure whether it is actually the escape route, he decides to enter, and she tags along since she doesn’t want to be left behind like his other exes. While the inside of this place is dark and strange, they reach the other side of this route and end up being in the room where Paper Boi is! Even Kenya comes out after them, who was supposedly following them. Outside, they meet Darius, who gives his air fryer to Kenya since she couldn’t purchase anything to gift her dad. After this strange ride, they go through, surreally presenting their past and present to them, the characters end up with one another – in the world that gave them their identity. The episode, cleverly directed by Hiro Murai, ends on this very note.
The second episode, ‘The Homeliest Little Horse,’ begins with an introduction to the life of a white lady (played by Brooke Bloom), who gets casually ignored by her black neighbor – whom she secretly peeps onto her window. We learn that her name is Lisa and that a literary agent has shown interest in a manuscript of a children’s book written by her. The scene cuts to Earn in a car speaking with Paper Boi. The rapper asks him his gamer tag password, a hint as to which is his favorite movie. While he first thinks of Scarface as the apparent answer, Earn mentions Mulan considering they had registered there during their middle school years.
After successfully entering the portal, he asks to Earn where he’s heading. When he mentions Therapy, Paper Boi ridicules him, mentioning how rich he’s making him with even a tiny share of his earnings. (This refers to therapy being considered for rich folks considering the costs. Also, it sheds light on the racial and economic connotations that have ingrained a thought to disregard therapy since one can’t afford it despite having mental health-related issues).
Earn goes to the therapist but gets busy replying to his essential texts. When the therapist – Tillman (played by Sullivan Jones), asks him to keep this distraction away, Earn mentions how the same messages help him afford the therapy sessions. In the end, he keeps his phone down, after which Tillman asks why his frustration is. Earn mentions a recent medical diagnosis where they couldn’t find any physical reasons for the pain he is feeling. The doctors rather think that depression, panic attacks, or some other mental health issue might be the underlying issue causing his pains. Tillman tells him to listen to his body for signs of anxiety. Earn seems adamant about not having anxiety since he has no reason to experience it.
Meanwhile, Lisa goes to the literary agent’s office, which happens to have a black assistant (Khris Davis). He lets her go in to meet the white agent named Gordon Rosenbaum (Keith Flippen), who mentions that she is about to get a publisher and that the book needs to be ready within a week with illustrations. While she gets baffled by his enthusiasm, she feels that she deserves all this interest in her work, despite it being sudden. Later, when she meets her white friend, she mentions leaving her job because of this opportunity – which could possibly make her book the next ‘Harry Potter’! The friend has a mixed reaction and feels that Lisa shouldn’t have left her job on a whim considering her dire financial situation. Lisa takes it as a sign that this friend doesn’t believe in her.
On the other hand, Earn is still speaking with Tillman, who mentions his trust issues through their casual chat. Later, he mentions a request made by Princeton University, where he had to drop out early. He goes into detail to explain the scenario where a white girl named Sasha befriended him only to leave him in the end, at the risk of getting expelled. For a job interview, he got a new suit at the time to impress the employers. Before his interview, a friend of his asked him to come to a party where Sasha, his crush at the time, offered help for keeping the suit in her room for the time being. But later, at the time of his interview, she does not respond to any of his texts. So, he decides to get into her room with a master key and gets his suit back. But this results in her making a complaint against him, after which he was ousted.
Through this scenario, Tillman concludes Earn’s relationship with trust, which Sasha clearly betrayed in this situation, is shaky. He also connected it to an event Earn mentioned from childhood, where a relative abused him. The feeling of powerlessness is similar and when Tillman mentions it, Earn cries his heart out. That is why he doesn’t want to return to Princeton. He mentions that he wanted to succeed after that just out of spite and how ‘spite’ is a powerful feeling in itself, whereas Tillman mentions its danger.
In another meeting sometime after, Earn returns with a smile and cites new learning about how anxiety and anger will not help him in his life. He shares an incident where he chose to go to Princeton, but it ended up in a disaster. He mentions a scenario of being held up by a white airport security manager and obstructing their way just because him being black. He mentions that despite this terrible situation, he realized that all he wanted was to spend some quality time with Van and his daughter – which is why he was going. Even when a lucrative at L.A. awaits him, he does not wish to stay away from the two of them.
Atlanta (Season 4 Premiere) Episodes 1 & 2 Ending, Explained
Lisa goes to the book reading event she got an opportunity for because of Gordon. She goes all dressed up, her hair neatly combed, and her support dog. But the teacher from this venue stops her from taking the pet. Lisa mentions that she works at the airport where pets are allowed (trying to connect it with the current situation and letting her keep the dog); the lady politely insults her and tells her that she can’t take it in no matter what. Lisa reluctantly goes in and starts reading in front of the kids, all of whom are non-white. She sees a white lady, presumably a publisher, sitting in the same room. To please this person, she starts narrating. However, she gets interrupted insistently by the kids who poke fun at different parts of her story. The teacher asks her to keep on reading despite that when only a little girl is napping on the floor! At a certain point, the publisher lady walks out, after which all the children also walk out.
Then, we see Lisa’s recording being screened at a bar, where Earn tips Gordon who thanks him for helping actors like him from the community theater. It becomes clear that Earn had paid different actors to orchestrate this charade to pull an elaborate prank on Lisa. We learn that Lisa was the airport security lady who stopped him and his family from onboarding. Both Paper Boi and Darius refuse to find his act of spite amusing. Darius even goes on to say that he can’t understand whether to call Earn’s prank extreme pettiness or an act of terrorism. Earn, who mentions in his therapy session, how he can only trust Darius, comes into play over here. Darius’ statement makes Earn reevaluate this petty, cold-blooded act and makes him feel that, while he told Tillman that he needs a break from therapy, he needs to go back.
From this episode, we get a glimpse into how unchecked emotions can result in such bursts of anger out of plain spite. Not just from a racial but from a gender perspective, we see how not knowing how to handle emotions like anger results in this kind of erratic behavior. The need for therapy is undoubtedly addressed while placing two characters against each other who faced the fear of being ousted by those they loved. While not for racial reasons, it becomes pretty clear from her story that her fantasy tale represents her urge to get accepted by her peers. She behaved out of prejudice and fear and made Earn feel the brunt of it. The cyclical nature of nature did not help either find closure. Spite, a powerful feeling, lead them to not-so-flattering places.