Previously on Atlanta, “B.A.N.”
Man, fuck the club indeed.
Decades ago, a gem of a quote misattributed to Einstein popped into our collective consciousness and rings true across time immemorial: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If that doesn’t read like our love-hate relationship with clubs, what does? Maybe some of you managed to have a damn fun time in a large, dark room booming with bass and a ceiling covered in so many strobes it’d cause any random dude to flop about in an epileptic seizure (if one could actually drop to the floor being how crowded they are). Nevertheless, writer Jamal Olori left a hilarious impression with his rendition on the social politics and aesthetics of club life.
Even if you can afford hella bottle service, “The Club” upholds the common belief that the weekly night out is a hollow pursuit, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
From start to finish, this week’s episode was a raucous affair with all manner of club-goer represented: from the shady owner and super dedicated bouncer, to one guy on Molly feeling himself and the bandwagoners who’d turn on you as soon as someone with bigger, better swag rolls in. The entire experience draws the ire of Earnest and Alfred, who cannot stand the club for their own particular reasons. As much as they hate it, the club is a crucial avenue to grow Paper Boi’s exposure outside the block. Amazingly, Earn secured a paid appearance for his client at Primal nightclub, leading to a series of crazy hilarious moments involving a sketchy owner (Lucius Baston), an enigmatic football player and a very, very dedicated fan.
Throughout the episode both Earnest and Alfred’s personality flaws were ramped up to animated levels. Constantly on the hunt for Chris the club owner, Marks contends with his veteran stealthiness as Chris ducks and weaves between his patrons and pulls off some James Bond-style escapism with the ol’ fire alarm revolving door trick.
The lone bright spot in the chaotic darkness was a pragmatic bartender (Dawn Halfkenny) that favored dropping nuggets of wisdom with the shots she slung. Sensing Earn had his ass on his back, she carpet bombed his attitude with many truths, the biggest of which is “You’re not special.” Everyone within Primal wanted something and had to stunt in their own special way. For Marks, it was to make sure Paper Boi’s name was still in everyone’s mouths. For Alfred, it was to put on a good enough performance in this “money suck” and gain more fans. Unlike his cousin who can usually slap on a smile for a sake of a prosperous business relationship, Alfred is far less tolerant of hang-arounds and sycophants that latch on to anyone with the tiniest sliver of fame.
In the meantime, Alfred holds himself in too high a regard to associate with any clubgoers until he realizes that he’s basically given himself a timeout behind the velvet ropes. He did try to be more sociable and appeared to hit it off with a young woman (Antoinette Robertson), but in the end Alfred should have trusted his gut. Before it’s too late, Alfred notices that he’s no longer surrounded by any of his crew but a bunch of anonymous party-goers riding on his laurels.
Add the masterful self-promoting superstar athlete Marcus Miles and his invisible car and “The Club” is damn near surreal in its narrative, tacking on more kooky moments that further allude Atlanta is not all as it seems. Regrettably, Alfred’s actions in the hidden hallways of Primal will likely draw all too real consequences. Just when Alfred thought he was nearly out of the grind, he’s sinks in that much deeper.
Atlanta S1E8 = 8.3/10