Atlanta ’Robbin’ Season’ Season 2 Episode 11 Review ’Crabs in a Barrel’ [Season Finale]

***Spoilers Ahead***

Crabs in a Barrel

Photo: Donald Glover (left). Zazie Beetz (right). Photo: FX

One of the most pivotal moments in the career of a rapper is going on tour for the first time. It displays how far the artist has come and shows that people are willing to travel and pay money just to see them perform. Through two seasons, Alfred has grown substantially in the rap game. Paperboi has gone from quietly producing music to becoming a household name. After a season full of peril and dire situations, 'Crabs in a Barrel' dials back on the drama and takes on a relatively relaxed tone. Earn has a meaningful conversation with each main character and finally encounters a victorious moment.

The Atlanta finale begins with Alfred meeting a lawyer to see if he's the right fit for him. Earn coming late to the meeting adds on to the existing fear of Marks being dropped by Al. At times, it's almost painful to watch Glover's character being an unprofessional manager. Since Alfred has become a recognizable and prominent artist, one more error on Earn's part could cause him to be fired for good. Even though it's clear that Alfred needs and deserves someone with experience in the industry, it'd still be devastating to see him let go of his cousin. As the trio of Earn, Darius, and Al get ready to move out and go on tour, the writers segue to a teacher's conference where Earn and Van learn that Lottie is a gifted student. Since their split, the two have not shared a single scene together. But, this segment makes it clear that they still have affection for each other. Additionally, aside from this scene, the series hasn't exactly focused on the character of Lottie. Since most comedies diminish the role of children and infant characters, it felt especially enjoyable that the writers put the spotlight on her. The conference cemented the fact that Atlanta can effortlessly switch between disheartening and sweet, amusing moments. Every now and then, it's nice to have a minute to concentrate on producing sheer comedy.

But, like clockwork, Atlanta roams back to darker territory with the Darius plot. As Darius waits to get his passport renewed, Earn details his fear of losing his job as Al's manager and explains how his life is falling apart. This is a moment that Robbin' Season has been building up to for a while. The greatest outcome here is that we get a glimpse of Darius's serious, grounded side. Although we got a peek of it in 'Teddy Perkins', Stanfield's character has rarely showcased his levelheaded behavior. As he comforts Earn and alleviates his worries, it's difficult to fathom that this was the same character who was playing chess with himself a couple scenes ago. Darius has several dimensions to him and it's marvelous that he can alternate between being a comic relief and a makeshift life counselor. To sum up, the chat between the two comes off as organic and heartwarming. It's not often that the writers give the characters room to breath. When moments like these do come up, it's hard not to savor it. The talk between those two and the scene with Al, Darius, and Earn sitting on the couch shows a side of the show that has been sorely missed in the second season. Although fast-paced and dangerous events are exciting, it's also nice to have moments to reflect on the situations at hand. The couch scene also serves as a throwback to Atlanta's early days and puts into perspective just how far these three have come since then.

The last act of 'Crabs in a Barrel' is easily the most interesting and refreshing part of the episode. As they enter the airport, Earn's fear of losing Al returns when he sees Alfred having a good time with Clarke County and his manager Lucas. Upon putting his backpack on the conveyor belt, Earn realizes the gun that Uncle Willie gave him is inside it. Knowing Earn's bad luck and taking into the account the pattern that Robbin' Season has followed, it would have been more than likely to expect an outcome where Earn is arrested for having the gun. That hypothetical result would've served as a somewhat predictable and quite rotten closer. But, Atlanta is anything but a predictable series. Earn puts the gun in Clarke's bag and Clarke puts it in Lucas's. This leads to the latter being taken away and Earn receiving an unexpected moment of triumph. The icing on the cake is when Alfred commends him on his stealthy move and tells Earn that he wouldn't think of firing him. After a season where all signs pointed to Earn's demise in the music industry, this was a beautifully perfect twist. Furthermore, Earn experiences an epiphany that he must take drastic measures to survive in the music business. This ends up being a remarkable moment for the series as it shows that Earn is capable of being a competent and intelligent manager.

Similar to the season one closer, 'The Jacket', 'Crabs in a Barrel' is a satisfying finale that provides some growth for each character. It lays out the groundwork for a third season that will likely see Al's star status increase even more. Aside from that, the writers confirm that Earn will definitely be around for the ride. Although it may be calm and slow-paced, that's just what Atlanta needed after ten episodes full of conflict and chaos.

  • Darius playing chess with himself was the best moment in the episode. 
  • Also, Darius's high-pitched voice had me in tears. He was the MVP in this one. 
  • I wonder if Clarke County is secretly furious at Earn for putting the gun in his bag.
  • Tracy's appearance at the end was hilarious. I guess he's homeless now. 
  • Season Grade: A
  • This season has been near flawless. I'd say that it's even better than the first. 
  • The wait for season 3 will be painful. 

Grade: A

My Ranking of Season 2 Episodes (Best to Worst)
01. 'Teddy Perkins' (Season 2, Episode 6)
02. 'North of the Border' (Season 2, Episode 9)
03. 'Woods' (Season 2, Episode 8)
04. 'Alligator Man' (Season 2, Episode 1)
05. 'Crabs in a Barrel' (Season 2, Episode 11)
06. 'Barbershop' (Season 2, Episode 5)
07. 'Sportin' Waves' (Season 2, Episode 2)
08. 'Money Bag Shawty' (Season 2, Episode 3)
09. 'Champagne Papi' (Season 2, Episode 7)
10. 'FUBU' (Season 2, Episode 10)
11. 'Helen' (Season 2, Episode 4) 

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