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Atlanta Episode 10 (Season Finale): “The Jacket” Recap

I mistakenly walked into the season finale of Atlanta with the idea that we more or less knew what was to be expected of this episode. A couple of hat-tips to the quirkier aspects of Black American culture, some behind the scenes insight to the struggles of the rap game, a moment of tenderness between two people simultaneously doing their best and their absolute worst to hold onto each other. Don’t get me wrong, all of that was present in tonight’s episode, “The Jacket” and has been there the entire length of the season running counter clockwise to some of the more violent and stark reminders of black life that work as commentary on each episode.

We’ve traveled with Earnest Marks through the season and, to be honest, we have gained little insight as to exactly who Earn is as a person. We’ve spent more time getting to know the idiosyncrasies of Earn’s cousin Alfred aka Paper Boi, his on-again woman Van; even Darius has been given more exposition to work with this season than its lead. But we rarely peaked behind the curtain to see what makes Earnest Earn. Why did he leave an Ivy-League opportunity behind? Why is someone of his seeming intellect under-performing at life so cavalierly? Atlanta leaves room for the audience to imprint their own imperfections and desires onto Earn. Season two opens up the possibility of us gaining some clarity on everything that’s been left unspoken thus far and I should have known that one can’t go into any episode of Atlanta thinking they know what to expect. We do not.

“It’s like I know y’all but I don’t know y’all”

What has been made abundantly clear, however, is that Earnest is a man on the hustle. Whatever inner demons or outside circumstances are to blame for the current status of his life, Earn is determined to overcome his immediate financial setbacks. Except, the early bird gets the worm and Earn’s sleeping in on a beanbag chair after a night of 151 proof Turn Up. He’s woken up by the host of the party who wants him out quick fast and in a hurry. I don’t blame him, seeing as how somebody poured beer into his Brita filter. That is so not Raven.

Earn inquires about a navy blue bomber jacket that he misplaced somewhere amongst the bacchanal. Party-host’s girl is trying to hit up the brunch spot and suggests, like Martin did, that Earn get to steppin’ up out their house and handle his business elsewhere.  Earn makes his way on foot through the streets of the city deciding to retrace his steps. He passes by a crowd of folk in cow costumes for Free Chicken Sandwich Day. When Atlanta does surreal, it does it so well. He lands back at a strip club the fellas visited the night before and is given a hard time by the dude at the door. What’s Atlanta’s beef with bouncers? For the second time this season we see one acting unreasonable AF.

Anywho! After paying a $10 cover just to look inside for his jacket, Earn questions a stripper to see if someone has possibly turned it in. At first I was pleasantly surprised to see Amil from the Roc in this scene seeing as how she’s been out of work so long but then I realized she must have just been at the club working her regular-arsed morning shift that day when the crew showed up and started filming.  Bloop. Earn is getting nowhere fast with this wannabe video vixen but I did appreciate the description of a dancer being “kind of light skinned but not super light skinned”. I assume this is how people from the South describe the actress who plays Van and seeing as how commenters last week were claiming Zazie Beetz is not light skinned at all, I suggest we all go back and study-up before the final.

“Lemme find out Ja Rule was just a dog”

Earn decides to enlist the help of Alfred’s Snap Chat to try to piece together the events of last night a la Hangover the First and we find out Darius thinks cameras (or maybe just Snap Chat filters, *shoulder shrug*) steal your soul. Let me find out Darius has just been pothead- smart this entire time as opposed to being, like, actually sagacious. LaKeith Stanfield’s performance all season has been a delight and whether he’s making dumb blanket statements about the major problems of black people or waxing poetic about the delicate flavor profile of sushi-flavored sunflower seeds, I’ve been a willing audience to his eerily specific form of pyrrhonism. Stanfield’s an actor that I expect to see a lot more of in the near future.

After meeting back up with his cousin and Darius, who apparently have never heard of the “Come together, Leave Together” pact, Earn borrows Al’s cell to track down the Uber driver from last night. The driver, Fidel, has the jacket but wants to charge Earn $50 to drop it off to him. They decide to drive Earn to Fidel’s place to pick it up instead and get some bomb-ass Jamaican food on the way.

“Most of this rap shit is appearances”

While parked on Fidel’s block Earn receives a call with some good news. Paperboi is about to go on tour with Senator K. All of Earn’s hustling has finally paid off. Al shoots his cousin an appreciative nod. Darius wonders if an all-black casting of 48 Hours would even work and I’m back on the Darius is the voice of our generation-bandwagon. Celebration time is tragically cut short as Al’s got a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach. It’s quiet in the neighborhood. Too quiet. Something’s not right. He decides to pull off when suddenly several Atlanta P.D. squad cars surround them!

When I tell you, my heart jumped three feet out of my chest…! Episode writer Stephen Glover, who also penned the brassy “Nobody Beats the Biebs” could have very well had one of the lead characters be caught up in another police “misunderstanding” a fictionalized account of the countless brothers and sisters who have lost their lives at the hands of police brutality. It would have even been in line with the previous storylines of Paperboi being wanted for questioning by the police a few weeks back.

Instead, Atlanta turns preconceived perceptions on their ear as our actors stand down while Fidel is seen fleeing the house. Seconds later,  he is gunned down by several shots to the back. The cameras decide to focus not on the actors and their reactions but to hold focus on the reality of the situation. How someone who was just alive is now gone. How their chance for ever telling their side of the story is gone. How life moves on around the tragedy. Earn still needs his jacket, after all. A jacket a man just died in while his wife and child looked on. Other series have made attempts and failed to capture the stark reality of the relationship that people of color face with the police. Scandal tried to sensationalize the already sensational with a similar storyline that missed the mark. Atlanta succeeds where Scandal and others have failed because it knows not to get in the way of that moment. The moment speaks for itself.

“One for the money, yes sir, two for the show/ A couple of years ago on Headland and Delowe”

After seeing their lives flash before their very eyes and Darius eating the two blunts they were smoking on the way down in a panic, the guys decide to call it a day. Paperboi tosses Earn his cut of the earnings, 5% and Earn looks at it with the appreciation of someone who’s had a rumbling belly for weeks. He decides to do the right thing instead of hanging out and heads over to Van and Lottie’s to make them dinner and have some family time.

Van no longer carries the weathered and worn face of a woman who is having to do it all by herself. It should be noted that her emotional wall comes down before Earn gives her the money. Sometimes all it takes is knowing you have a partner who is willing to fight with you and for you. Earn’s coworker Justin stops by and lo and behold, he has the contents of the jacket Earn has been looking for this entire episode! It’s a key and Earn looks so grateful to see it again. Earn says his goodbyes to Van for the evening and we finally see a little more of that chemistry that convinced us last episode that these two were good for each other. Earn’s going to call her tomorrow. And hopefully every day after that.

Earn is back on foot and we follow him as he makes his way to a storage unit. Outkast’s “Elevators” is playing through his headphones and could there be a more perfect song to close out the season? A song where Andre warns a fan about idol worship because we’re all like neck to neck?! Earn looks around the room, a room that seems to contain all of the contents of his life, with a sense of contentment. He settles in on the bed inside and Donald Glover bookends a wonderful season with all of the hope, despair, humor and wonder that Atlanta contains.

Jordan Kauwling

Jordan Kauwling is an early thirties Philadelphian but she tells everyone she’s in her late thirties because she doesn’t understand how math works. When she’s not busy writing, singing, eating all the falafel or unsuccessfully finishing another craft project you can catch her talking junk on Twitter.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    I was thinking the coat contained a picture of the baby. I was not ready for it to be the key to his “home”. That moment took me back to when I was on my grind sleeping in the coat closet of my office trying to get that paper.

    Kudos to the Atlanta team for hitting several topics and showing them with the complexity and dignity they deserve

    • The closest I think I ever came was my last few bucks, a brand spankin’ new gig, and using my keys to double back – staying overnight in the bosses office because my new furniture didn’t come to the new spot yet.

  • Wizznilliam

    Great episode. And great recap. I think they kinda ended perfectly. We finally see that his work has been paying off with money and a tour on the horizon. Him and Van looked great together in just a chill every day family moment. And he gave her most of the money that he earned. So we know that he is not a complete bum. He cares about Van and his daughter. He is primed for his come up.

  • I’m wondering if the things in #425 belong in Earn’s dorm room.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      I’m thinking a combination of his dorm and his room at his parents.

      • Either way once he gave Van the cash and chilled a little he seemed like he was at peace for once.

        • Brad G

          Exactly what I was thinking. It’s like he finally felt he provided some purpose to his life.

  • Julian Green

    This was a good episode but it didn’t really feel like much of a finale, though I guess that was by design.

    I’m not sure what to do with the scene where the cops shot Fidel. Is the twist supposed to be that instead of shooting a fleeing Black man in the back, the cops shoot a fleeing Brown man in the back? I mean, it’s not like police shooting Hispanics is a rare occurrence here in Georgia; was the show even going anywhere with that scene or am I just overthinking?

    • mssporadic

      I figured it was highlighting that police brutality 1) isn’t just a black people problem, and 2) it’s also a class problem.

    • Mary Burrell

      My thought about that scene was brown men suffering police brutality as well.

  • Michelle

    I felt for Earn last night. Almost legit shed a tear for him. His struggles are so real. I think this is why love this show so much. I do hope to see more of Darius next season. He cracks me up! Lol

    • Wise Old Owl

      Most of us with a Heart and Brain felt for Earn, because Most of us know Black Men like Earn, who are intelligent good Brothers and Fathers, yet are not afforded the 4th and 5th chances of the George W. Bush’s of the world.

    • Medium Meech

      I like this angle. It really lets you see a lot.

  • HoobaStankyLeg

    I commented a few episodes ago that I had a feeling that I had a feeling I would end up loving Earn in the end. I was right. When Justin dropped off the key to Van’s apartment and basically told him that Earn had outsmarted himself yet again, it made Earn click to me. Finally. The fact that he passed over the money to Van instead of tricking it off spoke to his character… All in all, EXCELLENT season.

    I finally got my mom to sit down and binge with me. She was shocked and amazed at how good this show is. She was in awe that this is actually ‘us’.

    She said: You don’t see naps on tv like this. This is beautiful…We need more of it. She also said that Paperboi put her in the mind of Bernie Mac and Robin Harris. In my mother’s language that means they have a ‘realness’ to them. I’ma miss seeing this show week to week.

    • Mom Dukes was right…..”You don’t see naps on tv like this”

      That feels good to say!

    • Brad G

      Your mom is a smart lady. That authenticity paperboi brings to his struggle is a major highlight of the show.

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    • SouthwestDekalb

      I feel the same way you do. Van and Earn are in all of us at some point so they’re both extremely relatable. I’m gonna miss the show but “Insecure” by Issa Rae is gonna hold it down for a minute. If yall haven’t seen it, please do!

      • HoobaStankyLeg

        I purchased HBO simply to support this show. It’s pretty good.

        • SouthwestDekalb

          Now that’s what I’m talking about. I knew you were as cool as me. Spread the good word about it too!

        • justtwo post

          But this show is on FX though. Insecure is the one on HBO.

          • HoobaStankyLeg

            Right. I purchased HBO to support Insecure…

            • justtwo post

              But you don’t have to purchase HBO to watch Insecure though. Issa Rae gave everyone a code to get free HBO for a month until the season finishes.

              • HoobaStankyLeg

                Yeah, I saw that 2 weeks after I’d already bought it. lol But, makes me no never mind. I’m just supporting the cause ?

            • justtwo post

              What is everyone’s deal with Insecure? It’s not that bad but a lot of people have been talking sideways about it. The first 2 episodes were rough, but it got better. Jidenna was on there.

              • HoobaStankyLeg

                I haven’t really heard anything bad about it. I’ve enjoyed it thus far.

  • Hopefully Val will stop slandering Earn

    • Val

      No slander. He was a heel for the entire series until last night. My question is when are the dudes around here going to stop making excuses for him.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        I pointed out a few times that Ern came through for Van. The issue with Ern is projection vs reality; Van has an image of Ern that he has chosen not to follow. He has always put her first when push comes to shove.

      • Wise Old Owl

        We are not, because we see ourselves in Earn…

      • There weren’t many excuses though, Val. We’ve acknowledged that he’s a jerk but we also get him too. He just made the choice to live through his lens and not one provided by his parents, Van, or anyone else. I also think the audience may not understand him fully until we find out what happened in college.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          “He just made the choice to live through his lens”

          This came up during dinner. Van is salty that Ern gets to do his thing how he wants to but scoffs at Van’s idea to open up a shop. I’d bet a Tubman if they didn’t have a child, Van would be living in the exact same manner as Ern. The school job was just that….a job.

          • But moms NEVER get to just do what Earn does because kids and shyt. That’s what makes me mad at him… Like she has dreams too but you are just gonna do you?

            • Sigma_Since 93

              That’s not totally true. There are moms that have chosen career, another man, another woman, etc. over family and kids. When I was a kid, I used to think the movie Kramer vs Kramer was fiction until I began to notice the absence of mothers in the lives of some of my friends lives.

              It’s a catch 22 NegraWithTumbao you have a group of women who define who they are by being able to nurture a child, you have a group of women who want to exercise the same rights / freedoms they are given but never can really exercise, and you have a group of women that are looking to find balance with their partners when if comes to family and career.

              I know plenty of men who want to do more and can do more but get resistance from women as if we are stepping into their turf and on their shoes. It’s like you can do an ok job with the kids…just don’t do a better job than I do. Van could have easily dropped Lottie off at his door step and did her. My step brother’s mom did that to my dad and he had to step up.

      • catgee12

        Sorry girl but I get Ern … But I have been told that I have a very “male” outlook on life/relationships …

        https://67.media.tumblr.com/7fdbb6b2f740288463a748111d8e315b/tumblr_mnvv3xFmCG1s8ppr2o1_500.gif

      • Valerie

        I feel the same way.

    • She won’t, Ricky.

      • -h.h.h.-

        some things wont ever change lol

  • Val

    Welp, Ern finally came through. And he seems to have decided to stand on his own two feet no matter what too. Good for him.

    Their reaction to the shooting was definitely surreal. And I was happy to see that they honored the memory of Michelle Shirley at the end of the show, even though I didn’t know who that was at the time.

    And I knew that Van was still into Ern, she just wanted him to do better. I liked the way he played it at the end though. It seemed respectful of their relationship.

    • Vanity in Peril

      If Val is giving Earn some credit he must’ve really come thru!

    • Lego

      The last couple episodes have exposed a bit of how/why Earn and Van used to work as a couple, but their daughter changed all of that. I think Earn realizes that it can never go back to how it used to be with Van, especially with how he’s living his life. I don’t think Van has reached this point in her understanding of them; I think she feels that if Earn can just come through for Lottie, and by extension Van, then everything can be cool and love will flourish. But, Earn realized that his pursuits are going to continuously be stumbling block between him and Van, and they should be because of Lottie. So he walks away from Van at the end of the episode, probably the most selfish and thoughtful action he’s taken this season.

      • Val

        I agree except about Ern walking away. I think he walked away because he wants to be an equal partner in the relationship. I think he wants to give the relationship a fresh start as well.

        • Bingo.

        • Lego

          I can agree with the equal partner aspect. Him staying with Val that night could be a way of unbalancing the scales in her favor (from his perspective), especially after he just came through for her and Lottie, which kinda puts them on equal footing for the first time all season. He goes off alone to his own spot and parity is achieved.

          But, I don’t know if the relationship Van wants is same relationship that Earn is willing to have.

    • “…Their reaction to the shooting was definitely surreal.”
      They went on their way like shell shocked soldiers. Too much to forget, too much to talk about. I actually thought Ern was going to mention it when he got in.

  • King Beauregard

    I was initially troubled by how much was unresolved this season — what IS to come of Darius’s feud with that dog? — but then I realized that maybe that’s the point. Life is full of events that don’t resolve, they pile up like the last 30 seconds of a game of Tetris.

    • “Life is full of events that don’t resolve, they pile up like the last 30 seconds of a game of Tetris.”

      This.

    • Is it just Darius’ feud? Earn saw the dog at the shooting and when Nutella sandwich dude got off of the bus in his dream.

      • King Beauregard

        Darius seems like the only one who’s paying attention to that dog. But that could also be me looking for the connection between events because I expect that from TV, and that may be a bad assumption on my part.

        We know that Darius took special notice of the dog, that Darius wanted to measure the tree in Earn’s parents’ yard, and he was practicing shooting dogs at the target range. That felt like it was building to something, like Darius carrying out some plan to defeat the dog; maybe it builds to exactly nothing.

        • It may just be a running theme like Maggie Simpson and the baby with the unibrow.

    • Step your Tetris up

  • I wanted to get Van pregnant with the way she was laying on the couch.

    Atlanta reminds me of Oceans 12 where it’s more interested in the behind the scenes aspects of the overarching conflict/motive than the “exciting” bits.

    • Between the gams and the hair last night, Van was getting it done.

      • Damon Young

        i dont think i’ve ever liked a character on a show more than I like her. and i don’t know if it’s van I like or zazie (or both)

        • I have the question about Missy Vaughn/ Teyonah Parris and Rachel Brooks/Erica Tazel. Just don’t think on it too much. It’ll just ruin it all.

    • Fine as all outdoors

      • brothaskeeper

        Lemme look away before Mrs. BK walks up on me. But yeas Lawdt.

    • Medium Meech

      Man, the way she was looking on that couch I couldn’t even be mad at Ern’s boy when he dropped by.

    • You AND Justin .. apparently.

    • Vanity in Peril

      Zazie Beets and her cute pout face makes my sexuality do a couple of dips down the scale for sure.

      She fine.

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