Atlanta Summary: Season 3, Episode 4

Justin Bartha as Marshall in The Big Payback

Justin Bartha as Marshall in The Big Payback
Photo: Guy D’Alema / FX

The last two episodes of Atlanta She followed Earn, Al, Darius, and Van on the first stages of a European tour. Episode four shifts the action back to the titular city, away from the main quartet and into an unrelated story (same approach as the season opener, “Three Slaps”). It’s hard not to feel a little cheated by these anthology-like episodes: AtlantaThe core quartet is well written and portrayed like any characters on TV, and I always wanted to spend more time with them. (I’m still having a hard time processing that season 4 will be the show’s last show.) But this detour—a dark satire that tackles systemic racism and the concept of reparations, and exposes the anti-CRT brigade’s worst nightmares—is totally worth the take.

The episode begins as we follow Marshall (guest of honor Justin Bartha) into a café queue. AirPods in place, the absent-minded puts some cookies in his jacket pocket while witnessing a confrontation between a cashier and a black customer. Marshall gets his coffee and goes without Scott, while the other guy goes to the back of the class. It turns out that Marshall is a separated father; While driving his daughter to school, he hears a radio news story about a black man who successfully sued a Tesla investor because his ancestors enslaved the plaintiff’s ancestors. It is a development that anchor notes could have “widespread” repercussions, “particularly in America.” (By the way, there are plenty of plots and spoilers for the episode, but they’re worth the dump.)

In the office, Marshall’s co-workers express disbelief and concern about the story, while layoffs are announced; His company was sued for the same reason. His white co-worker says she searches her online family tree – “everyone” – while observing their black colleagues: “Lucky for them – they don’t care about the world.”

At home, at his door, Marshall encounters a black woman named Shinica Johnson (Melissa Youngblood), who is livestreaming on her phone that Marshall’s ancestors enslaved her, he owes her money, and she’ll probably take his house. She later appears with a megaphone outside his office, demanding compensation.

This is not heavy stuff, but it is brilliantly written and directed. Many moments in this scenario (by Francesca Sloan) will make Paddy Chaevsky proud, particularly when Marshall seeks advice from a black co-worker and his estranged wife won’t allow him to see their daughter due to his grandparents’ past. “I’m Peruvian,” she says. “This has never happened to me!” Marshall protests: “I was white yesterday!” His wife replied that they should make the divorce official because “I can’t put my money in harm’s way”.

Having checked into a hotel because Sheniqua and so many of his compatriots have camped out in the garden outside his apartment, Marshall turns on the television and watches an ad for a law firm, filmed in classic ambulance chase style, urging anyone eligible to claim their money. (It’s another well deserved moment network.) At the lobby bar, Marshall meets a man (“Ernest” — similar to Donald Glover’s character, of course — “call me”) who says he is “in the same boat… you owe a lot.”

Marshall complains: “Two days ago, I was living the good life, and now I’m bothered by some bullshit I didn’t do.”

The attention-grabbing lobbyist (Tobias Segal) reveals that he recently learned some facts about his grandfather, a man who is always sold as part of the “rip himself out of his shoes” myth: “It turns out he had a lot of help – and a lot of kids.”

“We don’t deserve this,” Marshall says.

Image of the Atlanta-themed article takes the anti-CRT crowd with a darkly satirical spin on reparations

Photo: Guy D’Alema / FX

“what that they deserve?” electronic responses. For blacks, he says, slavery is no longer a thing of the past and has an ever-increasing monetary value. But as white men, they will be fine. “We are free,” he said before walking outside and shooting himself in the head. My first impression was that this was a slip, an example of an exaggerated, dramatic beating induction. His monologue—with its premise that white men are privileged even when they are frustrated—was powerful enough. But the episode’s ending made it seem justified. Some people can tolerate certain facts, and some cannot.

In the end, we see that Marshall works in a restaurant where 15 percent From his salary will go to “refund taxes” paid to Sheniqua. In a poignant moment, we move into the kitchen, where almost everyone on the line is a person of color. Marshall, of course, is a bartender, an agreeable face at the front of the house, and the episode concludes with him serving up fancy dishes for a black party.

Hiro Murray’s direction is excellent, as usual: he knows how to make a sarcastic ground without bumping you over your head, and the performances are adjusted to perfection. Seagal is an outstanding character, and Partha is very effective as an avatar for each hanger, letting life happen to him – trying to do the right things on the surface, but not doing much to right the wrongs. This episode and “Three Slaps” are so rich that I’d like to see Glovers and Murai launch their own anthology series, an updated version Twilight Zone. No need to describe it as science fiction or horror. Modern life is just one or two steps away.

For a comedy show (for lack of a more appropriate genre), “Big Payback” isn’t 30 minutes of fun, but it’s great TV. Atlanta It tackles the big, uncomfortable questions that no one else would dare – namely, can we solve systemic racism and reconcile this country’s history with slavery, when some don’t even acknowledge either – and this episode is worth spending time with. Unfortunately, people who are in dire need of consideration of its subjects will not see it; They can afford to get away.

stray notes

  • Another good moment: Marshall claims his background is “Austro-Hungarian…we were enslaved too” (to the astonishment of his co-worker). But he is not interested in searching for the truth about his ancestors.
  • The E lobby bar monologue is exceptional writing. “We treat slavery as if it were a mystery buried in the past, something to be investigated if we so chose. This history has monetary value. Confession is not forgiveness,” he says, and for blacks, slavery is no longer a thing of the past — it is “a cruel and inescapable ghost.” From him he hunts in a way we can’t see.”
  • Episodes two and three of this season have been so choppy and evocative that I find myself thinking about where the main characters are – a lucky/unfortunate outcome of watching a show fall apart week after week and go unnoticed.
  • Writing in the first four episodes of Atlanta Better than I’ve seen in any drama this season. But it’s a 30-minute show, so where are the scripts for “Three Slaps” and “The Big Payback” sent? Is there a way to diversify the Emmys’ tough comedy-drama duo (which have penalized some excellent but obscure 30-minute shows in recent years)?
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