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Atlanta Season 2, Episode 2 Recap: “Sportin’ Waves”

In this week’s episode of Atlanta, Paper Boi is in the spotlight, but it’s causing problems.  He’s having major trust issues, since people around him appear to have an ulterior motive due to his newfound fame. Similar to last week’s episode, the opening scene begins with another robbery. Yet, this one is personal–and Paper Boi is the victim.

In a dark alleyway that nobody should be left alone in, Paper Boi meets the plug. Like old friends, the plug makes small talk, and congratulates Paper Boi on his music. At the same time, you can see he’s contemplating something serious, but Paper Boi is oblivious to this. After all, he’s known the guy for a decade, and we can rightfully assume that he’s earned his trust. However, his credibility instantly fades as the plug pulls out a gun and proceeds to commit the kindest robbery in the history of robberies. “My fault, bro,” he says, with unmistakable regret in his face. It’s robbin’ season, and he’s clearly desperate.

Obviously inept at the skill of robbery, the plug continues to apologize, and hilariously even tells Paper Boi multiple times that he appreciates this, as if it’s a favor. In an ironic twist, the plug can’t even figure out how to turn the child lock off so that Paper Boi can leave this god-awful situation. As Paper Boi is left stranded in the alleyway, the plug actually tells him that he’s going to pay him back. Priceless.

Betrayed, Paper Boi wants revenge. But Earn urges him against it, reminding him that he just recently got off house arrest. Besides, manager-cousin Earn and Paper Boi need to focus on what’s really important, which includes growing his platform as a hip-hop artist.  This is how the two of them end up at Music Outreach, a millennial marketing firm that, well, isn’t very diverse. As the out-of-touch founder introduces himself as Peter Savage, nicknamed “35 Savage,” we’re certain that it’s all going downhill from here. This, and the fact that he offers them the choice between organic or gluten-free snacks, served as cues that maybe this agency isn’t the right fit for Paper Boi as an artist.

As Paper Boi is recording his voiceover for their “Fresh Mix Rap Playlist,” (seriously?) he’s criticized that his version doesn’t sound cool enough. To be fair, Paper Boi does come off as a bit stiff and unenthusiastic (can we blame him?). But, for this white man, not sounding “cool” enough is code for not sounding “black” enough, at least in this context.  Paper Boi, in return, adds an intentional “nigga” at the end of his next take.

Meanwhile, Earn is eating his gluten-free snack while getting a better feel for the agency. In a conference room, there’s a black artist dancing on the table, surrounded by a crowd of white observers who are analyzing him as if he’s a case study. It’s a little bizarre. Or, as Earn puts it, “This place … has a vibe.” As the day goes on, it becomes apparent that this predominately white agency capitalizes off of black culture, and is clueless about the hip-hop world. Paper Boi, who has integrity, refuses to be a part of this. Recognizing this during his unsuccessful live performance, Paper Boi epically hands the mic to a dazed employee eating an organic banana and makes his exit, never to return again.

Back at the condo, Darius proves to be one of the most dependable friends ever, as he surprises Earn with $4,000 for breeding the King Corso dog that they sold last season in episode three. The audience, and Earn, has most likely long forgotten about this, making this particular moment incredibly admirable. Until, of course, the new roommate Tracy makes an appearance and tells Earn that he can double it. Somehow, Earn falls for Tracy’s clear-as-day scam, and ends up putting the entire $4,000 (if this weren’t television, nobody in their right mind would do this) on an illegal gift card, as confirmed through a text Tracy sends him shortly after Earn makes his first transaction: “They’re on to you. You got 20 minutes, maybe 10 ‘till that card shuts off.” Now, he’s left with nothing once again, except for a few pair of shoes. Will Earn ever learn?

Paper Boi is led by Darius (the two are inexplicably back on speaking terms)  to two new connects—both who manage to ruin their chance as Paper Boi’s plug by being untrustworthy fanboys. With fame comes trust issues, and Paper Boi is learning to be careful about who he lets in. After the unexpected betrayal from his decade-long plug, it’s not going to be easy. Hopefully he can find a reliable connect who doesn’t try to sneak in a selfie, or worse, give out his personal number to other fans.  True to Atlanta, this episode continued the recurring theme of tackling contemporary issues through satire; this time, with a focus on corporate America capitalizing on black culture. Two episodes in, and “Robbin’ Season” appears to be promising. It’s safe to assume that we can expect another unfortunate victim to be robbed next episode, but one thing’s for sure: It won’t be Earn.

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