Atlanta: “Go For Broke” recap

Atlanta: “Go For Broke” recap

(Editor’s note: Shaun is joining Michael H for the remainder of the first season of Atlanta to bring a rap aficionado’s perspective to the recaps. Enjoy.)

There wasn’t much specifically about the rap game – besides a surprise cameo! – but “Go For Broke” was another exceptional episode of Atlanta, a television show on FX that you should be watching. There were two distinct storylines in the third episode; Shaun gets us going by taking a look at Paper Boi and Darius. Michael H. takes on the weird-ass Earn and Van relationship.

The Adventures of Paper Boi


Shaun: When we left Paper Boi and Darius last week, it looked as though their meteoric rise to fame was inevitable.  And it was happening fast.  So fast, actually, that I was curious as to where the rest of this season would go, with respect to Paper Boi’s career, because he went from a nobody to taking selfies with groupies in just one hour last week.

I was anxious about us getting an Entourage-level of stardom that just seemed forced and unrealistic. But episode three, “Go For Broke,” brought Paper and his sidekick, Darius, right back down to Earth.

This episode trailed Paper and Darius, not through their musical career, but rather through the other way that they make money – drug dealing.  As is always the case with Earn, he starts questioning Paper about money at the beginning of the episode, and asks how he earns an income, which introduces us to the other side of the up-and-coming rapper.  This leads to some lecturing from Earn about getting into trouble as a celebrity, but Paper ain’t listening, he’s trying to get that paper.

The entire episode features a trip to meet with the “Mexicans” to pick up a new stash, which includes an amazing cameo appearance from the rap group Migos, an eerie drug den out in the woods outside of Atlanta, and one weird Mexican who is certainly not a drug dealer.  The entire trip that Paper and Darius make is dark and, quite frankly, it seemed as though something bad was going to happen the entire time.

Perhaps this could be foreshadowing – Earn was right about Paper’s drug dealing life being a major threat to his rap career.  Additionally, the portrayal of Migos as these murderous drug dealers only adds to the fact that Paper could very well be their next victim.  It would be tragic to have this first season end in disaster for Paper because he is so lovable as a character.  But episode three set up the perfect potential downfall – selling marijuana.

Regardless, it was nice to get a look at Paper’s other side of life.  If this just turned into glitz and glamour all season, then Atlanta would lose some of its authenticity.  Instead, this slowed the pace of the show down, and gave us an entirely new plot line to follow.  It will be interesting to see how Earn reacts to continued drug dealing.  And also – Darius is a really bad drug dealer.  But he has his briefcase handcuffed to his wrist, so that’s at least professional.


Earn and Van

Michael H: We get a lot more time with the weirdest relationship ever in “Go For Broke” as Earn decides he wants to to take Van out to a nice dinner after the two have a spat about, well, their weird-ass relationship.

Most of the argument centers around Earn not making any money. Van comes home from work with their daughter to find Earn on the couch after the latter spent the day with Paper Boi getting high and playing video games. He wants to show he is making an effort re: the weird-ass relationship and promises Van a nice night out. As mentioned before, the biggest problem is that Earn has no money.

So he calls up his boy who tells Earn about a nice place that’s located in a bit a of sketchy area but has an all night happy hour for drinks and food. It looks like he can make his meager funds stretch enough to cover it. That is until they arrive and find out the place no longer does the happy hour. Dun dun.

One of the funniest Earn/Van moments happens just before they arrive, as they are looking for a place to park. What looks to be a parking attendant waves them over and says he will make sure their car isn’t towed while they are inside. Van isn’t having any of it: “This is janky as hell.” Earn: “Six bucks isn’t bad.” The guy then reveals he found the vest in the dumpster and his light baton is actually a broken off toy lightsaber.

And but so Earn gets more visibly anxious as the waitress delivers the bad news about happy hour and proceeds to upsell every aspect of dinner: appetizers, entree, drinks. Van thinks everything sounds sooooo good, especially the market price entrees. When Van points out the sad-boy look on his face, Earn replies with something along the lines of “This is my face. It has to look like this.”


In-between all the worry about money, the two try to hash out the status of their weird-ass relationship. When asked, Earn admits he doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, but he wants the time to figure it out; he thinks everyone deserves that. He adds that failure is part of figuring it out. Van doesn’t look all that convinced.

After ordering, Earn walks up to the bar to get the price of the “market price” entree. The bartender smirks and goes to check while saying, “You broke as fuck.” Yeah, I think we can all relate to this situation. And that’s one of the things this show does so well: taking moments of anxiety and dread that are common to most of us and depicting them in an honest way without being patronizing.

I’ll never forget the time my wife, who was then my girlfriend, came out to visit me while I lived in Colorado for a year (note: long distance relationships are the pits). I was working at Target at the time – the 4am to noon shift btw – and didn’t make diddly squat. I had $60 to pull of a nice dinner. I just barely made it. Donald Glover’s portrayal of pretty much the same situation felt extremely familiar, and true. Once again, the writing on this show is phenomenal.

After sneaking out to make a phone call to his cousin (who, as Shaun covered above, is in a pretty hairy situation of his own) for an emergency transfer of $20 to his banking account, Earn has a hilarious interaction with the waitress – who tries to force desert on him – while Van is in the bathroom. Earn cuts her off with: “You fucking killed me tonight.”

Earn manages to cover the bill (Van notices the meager tip and corrects it for him, which leads him to call his debit card company to report his card as stolen), but nothing has been resolved in the slightest. Upon returning home they continue to argue, leading Van to slam the bedroom door in Earn’s face. He lays on a syrupy plead to work things out that she answers by opening the door and saying, “That’s some dumb ass shit.”

I love this show.

Check out the latest episode of Vodka Soda Happy Hour in which Jake and Michael H discuss Atlanta among other very important topics.


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