Previously on Atlanta, “The Big Bang/Streets on Lock”
Atlanta – S1E3 – Go for Broke | Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, LaKeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz | Writer: Stephen Glover | Director: Hiro Murai
Once more, Atlanta proves itself worthy of the praise it received from its premiere. “Go for Broke” is lead by Hiro Murai’s unordinary direction, casting the various locales in the ATL with rich colors and soft shadows. Though time was split evenly between Alfred and Earnest’s misadventures, the former was the most entertaining, providing an unlikely balance of humor and trepidation during Paper Boi and Darius’ unscheduled drug deal in the woods.
Yet again, Brian Tyree Henry and LaKeith Stanfield leave a lasting impression with their comedic timing throughout “Go for Broke”. Between the disturbingly funny conversation that arises because Darius named his gun “Daddy” to their shortcomings in playing it cool during a meet with the Amigos, Paper Boi and Darius have grown into can’t-miss characters in such short time, they could very much carry the series. Honestly, Atlanta would likely thrive if Earnest wasn’t even part of the equation, Alfred and Darius’ rapport is that compelling.
Funds are running low for our exceptional duo and they have no other option but to sling for “The Mexicans”. All appeared well until a last minute change was made to their usual exchange and Paper Boi and Darius met their weed source directly. Their pusher is played by Gwinnett County’s own Takeoff of the Migos, who is as cool under pressure as he’s accurate with a hunting rifle. After taking out one of his dealers, the boys turned their attention to their top earner with a rep growing so fast, rumors are flying all over the place. The entire sequence had a surreal yet goofy undercurrent to it in spite of the graveness of the situation. Alfred and Darius just witnessed Takeoff murder a dude and the last thing they want to do is upset the gang with bad news or a random call from Earnest.
One of the better qualities of Atlanta is its harmonious blend of drama, comedy, and relevant social issues, which is typically enacted with aplomb by Tyree and Stanfield. With the sweet also comes the sour, in this instance Earnest and Vanessa’s rocky date and their continued argument about compromises and responsibilities.
Their date had its hilarious moments yet most of it was centered on Marks’ failure to pay for their night out. Of course, his pride hides the true reason for his shiftiness during the night and it explodes into roaring resentment, first to his bubbly waitress and yet again towards Vanessa.
It’s hard to get a bead on who is the real Earn Marks. Yes, he’s immature, flighty, and mostly unreliable but Earnest’s heart appears to be in the right place, whatever that means. The relationship between Earn and Van plateaued not long ago and doesn’t appear to be faring any better after an unsuccessful date night. Although writer Stephen Glover created adequate arguments for both parties about the importance of finding oneself and sacrificing for the success of your children, it’ll likely be difficult for anyone to take Vanessa’s side on account of her slanted portrayal as a domineering killjoy.
Hell, Earnest even admitted to Van’s own face that he sees her as the “angry black woman”. After viewing Mark’s behavior and attitude for three episodes, Van’s frustrations towards her baby daddy is highly justified. For one, he humorously quips about his homelessness on the regular. Earn talks about generating revenue streams, but doesn’t even attempt to find a part-time job that plays to his strengths and not bore him to death. His associates, namely his ‘idea man’ Swiff (Harold House Moore) have strongly misogynistic views, and cheap ones at that. Happy Hour, my brotha? Most damning of all is Earnest knows what buttons to push with Vanessa to assure he stays under her roof and in her bed. Any other man in his position or faintly exhibited his attitude would have probably gotten his laptop and kicks thrown out in the street by now. It’s obvious Van loves him, but Earn’s lack of initiative is only making her appear to be the bad guy in the relationship.
Think about it: Earnest essentially told Van through the door that his dream – if it comes true – can provide for Vanessa and their daughter substantially. All he needs is more time and support. Given the background info from the premiere, Van and his parents have exhibited the patience of Job. All Marks is doing now is testing her limits. Also, what has Earn done so far to promote Paper Boi but pay a local DJ to give his cousin some air time? In the meantime, he continues to make nothing at the airport nor make any music contacts (at least not on screen). That half G could have gone to bills or any other incidentals his daughter may need. Vanessa’s anger is warranted but don’t get it twisted, she’s also mad at herself for giving Marks chance after chance. Hopefully her stance is given greater understanding; an arduous task as the damage to the character’s appeal has already been done.
Atlanta S1E3 = 8.5/10