FX

Atlanta Robbin’ Season episode 1 review: Alligator Man

Alligator Man is the first episode of the second season of Atlanta, or Atlanta Robbin’ Season as Donald and Stephen Glover have been calling it. An episode that reintroduces us to the world occupied by Earn, Van, Alfred and Darius.

Starting out the episode with two young black men, and a little insight into their lives. One playing FIFA (badly), the other just wants to chill before work. They then head over to a drive-thru, and hold the restaurant at gunpoint to steal the weed that’s hidden inside. After a gunfight, the assault rifle yielded by the Kitchen Assistant hints as to who owns the stolen goods, the kitchen worker shoots at the escaping car. It stops. A girl gets out and screams with blood all over her. It’s Robbin’ Season; as Darius says “Christmas approaches and everyone gotta eat”.

They have hinted in interviews as to what Robbin’ Season actually is. This is still the slice of life in Atlanta story, albeit with a more heightened and surreal edge. This is still the ‘Twin Peaks with Rappers‘ concept thought up by Donald and Stephen Glover. Before the premiere we learnt that there was a Tiny Toons Adventures inspiration, that each story could be watched separately or be viewed as a whole. Seeing as Robbin’ Season takes place in that time before Christmas and New Years, we could infer that we are to see more into the lives of Earn Van, Alfred and Darius than we every did in season one.

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Pictured: Lakeith Stanfield as Darius, Donald Glover as Earnest Marks. CR: Guy D’Alema/FX Atlanta

Earn is still homeless, and it looks as though he can’t stay in his storage unit anymore (that dude does watch Storage Wars). At the end of season 1, Earn had everything starting to come together. He was trying to be more responsible, less reliant on those around him and generally become a more independent person. But it seems as though it hasn’t been an easy thing for him to go on and accomplish. He is on probation, is still broke, and can’t find a sofa anywhere to crash on.

Something has gone down between Alfred and Darius. Alfred is on house arrest but has lots of money at his disposal. Whether this is the reason for their animosity towards each other it remains to be seen, but we may be seeing the bridge repairing between at the end. Earn is in the right mind that Al doesn’t need him anymore as manager of Paper Boi, again it is hinted as though this could be the seasons ongoing thread.

Darius is, to no surprise to anyone, a delight. You can see that Lakeith Stanfield really enjoys Darius’ philosophical musings and ‘Florida Man’ conspiracy. And it was a smart choice to have that switch to seeing ‘Florida Man’ doing insane stuff, like beating up a flamingo and eating a man. And of course he is in cahoots with the Florida PD. Darius has this knack of picking up on the vibes of Willy’s house, it (rightly so) smells of jail.

It is heavily implied that Willy is Al’s dad, Earn says he is his uncle to the police, and we hear that Al owns the property. There are similarities between Earn and Willy it is revealed, but Willy is a forewarning to what Earn could end up like. Earn knows he is a smart,  and he knows he doesn’t want to end up like his Uncle; someone who just lets stuff happen around them and ends up with little to show for it. Earn gets given a golden gun, takes a family photo and leaves before Willy makes a runner from the police. The attitude towards the police is very much seen in a negative light, they are a constant threat for the citizens of Atlanta.

Van (Zazie Beetz) didn’t make an appearance in this premiere, so here’s hoping that she isn’t left on the sidelines for long; especially after ‘Value’, the Van focussed sixth episode of the first season.

The music during the first season of Atlanta was as eclectic and cool as Donald Glover himself. It looks as though Robbin’ Season is going to follow suit in just the same way. Here are some chosen tracks (courtesy of TuneFind) that featured on “Alligator Man”:

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Pictured: Lakeith Stanfield as Darius. CR: Guy D’Alema/FX Atlanta

The fantastic direction by Hiro Murai and cinematography by Christian Sprenger proves that Atlanta remains the best looking show on television by far. It’s cinematic, it’s stylised, it’s personal, and it feels totally in keeping with the writing of Donald Glover. Don’t be surprised come awards season that this picks up a few.

As the much talked about Alligator came out the house and “Hey! Love” hit the speakers it reminded me of why I fell in love with Atlanta back when it premiered in 2016. This is a weird, strange world with odd moments and occurrences. We just have to do as Earn did at the episodes closing sequence, take a deep breath in and exhale into the cold outside.

Next Week on Atlanta Robbin’ Season: “Sportin’ Waves” – Trappin ain’t easy, ya dig? Shout out to all my credit card scammers in the club tonight.

Atlanta Robbin’ Season airs every Thursday Night on FX.