Atlanta ’Robbin’ Season’ Season 2 Episode 3 Review ’Money Bag Shawty’

***Spoilers Ahead***

Money Bag Shawty 

 Photo: Zazie Beetz. Courtesy of FX. 

Above all else, Atlanta does not believe in ending an episode on an uplifting note. Since the series generally attempts to depict the harsh realities of life, there is minimal room for the characters to encounter a moment of success. Moreover, it seems like Earn always takes a bigger beating than the rest of the cast. 'Money Bag Shawty' secures this recurring theme by putting Glover's character through mishap after mishap. It also marks the anticipated return of Van (Zazie Beetz) and produces a chilling scene with Clarke County.

In the past, Earn struggled to lock in enough money to generally make ends meet. With this installment, Earn has the dollar bills but falls victim to financial tragedy wherever he steps foot in. From the movie theater to the strip club, he manages to get metaphorically robbed at every turn. Once again, this continues Atlanta's narrative of Earn being at the universe's whim. While it's frustrating seeing Glover's character in strenuous situations, the writers do an impeccable job of portraying these scenes. One can genuinely feel the exasperation that Earn faces as he experiences racial profiling and some extremely difficult people. Furthermore, the dynamic between Earn and Van shines throughout this episode. After their on-and-off relationship in the first season, it was a refreshing change for the couple to be on good terms. Their chemistry added a softer side to a rather gritty outing. While I mainly enjoyed this story, Earn's misfortunes definitely felt painful. Even if there was some comedic payoff surrounding each hardship, one could thoroughly feel his agony throughout the episode.

In the opposite storyline, Alfred and Darius get together in the studio with Clarke County and his crew. While Clarke starts out as a lively individual, his demeanor quickly takes a dark turn. Similar to Zan from 'The Streisand Effect', the writers craft a vibrant character with a heart full of malice. When the engineer announces that the program has crashed for the second time, the atmosphere of the scene takes a terrifying turn. It's legitimately frightening to consider that the engineer lost his life over faulty technology. This plot further solidifies that Atlanta has the capabilities to create high stakes. It also shines light into the destructive nature of fame. Except, contrary to last week's outing, the writers focus more on how it can ruin one's character and moral values. For a smaller subplot, this is a lot of content to digest. Reminiscent of the duo's meeting with the Migos, the writers serve a lethal concoction of comedy and drama that ends on a sour note. Nevertheless, the gruesome nature of the scenario works in the show's favor. 

Ultimately, 'Money Bag Shawty' further develops some old themes while introducing some new aspects of the rap game. In all, I would've preferred seeing more of Darius's antics and some background on Paperboi's new single. But, the two storylines fit well together and I appreciated the reappearance of the Van character. As a whole, the episode leaves one wondering what direction the series will go next. It'll be interesting to see if Atlanta will continue to dive into some darker moments and leave its comedic backbone behind.   

Stray Thoughts
  • That scene at the beginning was a hilarious reference to a mom reacting to Vince Staples's Norf Norf. Everything in the scene mirrored the original in a beautifully accurate way. 
  • I was glad to hear Gucci Mane's I Get the Bag at the strip club.
  • The race with Michael Vick felt out-of-place in a show like Atlanta. But, it was still incredibly funny. 
  • Donald Glover tweeted something about Harriet Tubman bills a couple months ago. While it was deleted, the tweet makes sense now. 
  • For a moment, I actually thought that Earn's hundred dollar bill was a counterfeit. 
  • Nice to hear that Paperboi's single went gold.

Grade: B+

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