The last two episodes Atlanta accompanied by Erna, Ella, Darius and Van on the first stages of the European tour. The fourth episode takes the action back to the title city, away from the main four and into an unrelated story (the same approach that was used earlier in the season, “Three Slaps”). It’s hard not to feel a little fooled by these anthology-style episodes: AtlantaThe main quartet’s is just as well written and portrayed as any characters on television, and I always want to spend more time with them. (I still have trouble processing that the fourth season will be the last in the series.) But this bypass – a dark satire that touches on systemic racism and the concept of reparations, revealing the worst nightmares of the CRT brigade – is well worth taking.
The episode opens when we follow Marshall (guest star Justin Bart) in line at a coffee shop. AirPods headphones in place, he absently shoves cookies into his jacket pocket when he witnesses a cashier confrontation with a black customer. The marshal takes out his coffee and goes on, and the other man goes to the end of the line. It turns out that Marshall is a separate dad; Driving his daughter to school, he hears news on the radio about a black man who successfully sued a Tesla investor because his ancestors enslaved the plaintiff’s ancestors. It’s a development that notes can have “broad” implications, “especially in America”. (By the way, a lot of the plot and spoilers of the episode, but they should be unpacked.)
In the office, Marshall’s colleagues express distrust and concern about the story, while announcing the dismissal; for the same reason his company is being tried. His white co-worker says she is researching her family tree on the Internet – “everything is there” – while watching their black colleagues: “They are lucky – nothing in the world.”
At Marshall’s house at the front door faces a black woman Shenikwa Johnson (Melissa Youngblood)who is broadcasting live on her phone that Marshall’s ancestors enslaved her, he owes her money and she will probably take away his house. Later she appears with a beep near his office, demanding payment.
It is extremely difficult material, but it is deftly written and staged. Many moments in this scenario (Francesca Sloan) Paddy Chaevsky is proud of, especially when Marshall seeks advice from a black employee, and his foreign wife does not allow him to see their daughter because of past ancestors. “I’m Peruvian,” she says. “That would never have happened to me!” Marshall protests: “You were white yesterday!” His wife replies that they have to make the divorce official because “I can’t let my finances suffer”.
Sent to the hotel because Shenikua and several compatriots settled on the lawn near his apartment, Marshall turns on the TV and sees a law firm commercial filmed in the classic style of chasing an ambulance, urging anyone entitled to claim their money. (This is another worthy moment Network.) In the lobby bar, Marshall meets a man (“Ernest” – of course, the same as Donald Glover’s character – “call me E”), who says that he is “in the same boat … you owe a lot.”
“Two days ago I had a good life, and now I’m fucked by some shit I didn’t even do,” Marshall complains.
A spokesman for the lobby (Tobias Seagal’s hobbies) points out that he recently learned about some of the realities of his own grandfather, a man who always sold under the myth that he “got up from his own ties”: “It turned out he had a lot of help – and a lot children. “
“We don’t deserve it,” Marshall said.
“What to do they are deserve it? ” E is responsible. For black people, he says, slavery is not a thing of the past and has a ever-increasing monetary value. But as white people, they will be fine. “We’re free,” he says before going outside and shooting himself in the head. My first impression was that it was a wrong move, an example of overflowing a dramatic test. His monologue – with the premise that white people have a privilege, even if they are angry – was strong enough. But the end of the episode made him feel justified. Some may endure certain truths and some may not.
Eventually we see that Marshall works in a restaurant where 15 percent his salary goes to “restitution taxes” paid by Sheniqua. At a sharp moment we are led through the kitchen, where almost everyone on the line – colored people. Marshall is, of course, a waiter, an acceptable face for the front house, and the episode ends with him serving chic dishes to a black party.
Directed by Hira Murai, as usual, is stellar: he knows how to do irony without hitting you on the head, and the performances are perfectly modulated. Seagal is outstanding, and Bart is very effective as an avatar of the commoner who just lets life happen to him – trying to do the right thing on the surface but not doing too much to correct the grievances. This episode and “Three Slaps” are so saturated that I would love to see Glovers and Moore launch their own anthology series, updated The gloomy zone. No need to call it science fiction or horror. Modern life is only a step or two apart.
For a comedy-labeled show (due to the lack of a more apt genre) “The Great Retribution” is not a fun 30-plus minute, but it’s great television. Atlanta solves big, awkward questions that no one else will dare, namely, whether we can solve systemic racism and reconcile the history of this country with slavery, if some do not even recognize it – and this episode is worth the time. Unfortunately, the people who most need to consider his topics will not see him; they can afford to turn away.
- Another good point: Marshall claims that his origin – “Austria-Hungary … we were also enslaved” (rolling his eyes at his colleagues). But he is not interested in researching the truth about his ancestors.
- The monologue in the lobby bar E is an exceptional writing. “We treat slavery as if it were a mystery hidden in the past, something that needs to be investigated if we want to. This story has monetary value. Confession is not forgiveness, he says, and for black people slavery is not in the past – it is “a cruel, inevitable ghost that haunts in a way we cannot see.”
- The second and third series of this season were so moody and exciting that I keep thinking about where the main characters are – a happy / unhappy consequence of watching the show, which is promoted weekly and unacceptable.
- Writing in the first four episodes Atlanta better than I’ve seen in any drama this season. But this is a 30-minute show, so where do the scripts for “Three Slaps” and “The Great Retribution” go? Is there a way to diversify the harsh dichotomy of the comedy and drama “Amy” (which has punished some wonderful but ambiguous 30-minute shows in recent years)?