“Atlanta” has won two Golden Globes for best television series-musical or comedy and for best television actor for Donald Glover’s performance. (Photo courtesy of 20th Television)
A kid walks into his friend’s house. He sits down and begins watching his friend play “FIFA.” They chat for a bit and his friend tells him there is a fast food joint that will hook him up with an eighth if you order a number 17. Intrigued, the two friends head out to the fast food joint and order just that. “A number 17?” they hear through the intercom. “Yeah, a number 17… and a peach cobbler,” he repeats. The worker at the drive-thru tells them to drive up.
“What I tell you?” The two smile as they drive to the next window. They pull up, and the worker goes to give the paying customers their special order. He turns and finds the two masked, with a pistol in one’s hand. The wielder starts shooting and hops through the window, asking where the stash is. He finds it, and turns back to make eye contact with an assault rifle pointing straight at him. It is the drive-thru worker. With shots ringing all around him, the thief swiftly heads for the door and miraculously makes it to the car unscathed, but the worker is not going to let them get away with the drugs that easily. He takes aim at the getaway car and opens fire, spraying the vehicle with lead. Just as it is about to peel out of the parking lot, the car stops abruptly. The worker stops firing. The back door opens. A girl walks out of the bullet-riddled vehicle, bloody, screaming and innocent. Welcome to “Atlanta: Robbin’ season.”
This first scene sets the tone of the season two premiere of “Atlanta.” When the episode gets back to the Atlanta the audience knows, with Earn (Donald Glover), Al (Brian Tyree Henry) and Darius (Lakeith Stanfield), there is a sense of hostility in the air. Earn gets kicked out of his storage space. Darius and Al have a beef with each other, and neither of them want to talk about it. Across from a gas station, a single white sheet covers a body on the pavement. “It’s robbin’ season,” says Darius. “Christmas approaches and everybody’s gotta eat.” Do not worry about the new tone, because this is still the same show with the same comically off-beat dialogue, which is what makes it so exceptionally bizarre. Proof of that comes in the same gas station scene. With police sirens in the distance and a dead body across the street, Earn turns to Darius and appropriately asks, “What flavor is a Flaming Hot Cheetos?”
Earn is still homeless, Al is on house arrest, and Darius is still, well, Darius. His character is still the eccentric spaceman from season one and, unsurprisingly, has some of the best lines of the premiere. For example, in response to Earn talking about his dying uncle in Florida, Darius replies, “Oh, Florida huh? Make sure they watch out for ‘Florida Man.” The story he then tells about some guy only known as ‘Florida Man’ is just as ludicrous and remarkably ordinary as anything he has ever said before. In other words, it is Darius continuing to be Darius, and it is amazing.
The premiere episode is oddly titled “Alligator Man,” and the audience only comes to know why once they meet Earn’s uncle Willie. Willie, played by Katt Williams, is having a problem that Al sends Earn to solve. Apparently he kidnapped a woman, Yvonne (Monique Grant), and she is threatening to call the police. When Earn gets to the house, there is some yelling, a bunch verbal finger-pointing, a missing fifty dollars, and, oh yeah, an alligator locked in a room down the hall.
Williams has been in the acting and comedy business for a long time, but his 10-minute performance in this episode just might be his best. His character is refreshingly human for a guy holding a 500 pound alligator in his home, and he delivers his lines with excellent timing and comedic effect. When Earn explains to him how serious an accusation of kidnapping is, Willie vulgarly replies, “I must’ve kidnapped that b**** in 1974, cus she ain’t been a kid in 45 years.” It is honestly a shame that Williams is probably just a one-episode cameo, but he certainly makes the most of it here if that is the case.
Things are off to a very promising start for season two. The dialogue is hilarious, the plot is compelling as ever, and all the actors are at the top of their game. With just one episode in the books, there are new situations, new relationships and new beginnings with the same wonderfully complicated cast from season one. “Atlanta” is incomparable to any show on television, and it is unrivaled by the competition in its genre. The beginning of “Robbin’ Season” proves that “Atlanta” is, and will continue to be, one of the best shows on television.
Final grade: A