Atlanta (Recap) | Money Bag Shawty (S2 E3)

by Bryan Washington | via Vulture

Honestly, this entire recap could be all about Van. Partly because it’s her first appearance in Robbin’ Season, but partly because, Darius aside, she’s the show’s most enigmatic character. It’s not even close. Earn, we can wrap our heads around: He’s searching for himself in a new-old environment. Al’s situation as a dude coming to terms with his rapidly changing life is honed with every episode. But Van is loads more nebulous: She’s still with Earn, sort of, except for the times when she’s not. She’s raising a child mostly on her own, and this is generous,  although we don’t catch wind of the kid in “Money Bag Shawty.” She’s vaguely conscious of where she’d like to end up, which is a lot more than any of the show’s male characters can say, but she isn’t disillusioned by the fact that she may not find herself there, or that her current situation might be as good as it gets.

Van is Atlanta’s most elusive character, which is to say that she’s the least autonomous. That’s my issue with this episode, as with this series so far: We rarely get to see her on her own except for that one episode last season. Yeah, Van’s hanging out with the guys now, and this is a happy reintroduction, but where has she been? What’s happened since we saw her last? Has her job situation changed? And her romantic prospects? We don’t have any of that, at least not yet. We only watch Van within the context of a disastrous night out with Earn.

But, again, we’re only on the third episode of the season. There’s time to make this right. The narrative we do find ourselves with is Earn’s ongoing odyssey. He starts “Money Bag Shawty” in a pothole, beginning with a dressing down by a random waiter. Talking to Al afterward, Earn says that it must be great to have a rapper’s instant street cred (it isn’t), because Earn’s only ever been stunted on. He wants to be the guy who stunts. But even after Al’s protests (“Welcome to Atlanta — all you need is some money”), Earn still wishes that he could be that guy. When some money makes its way to Van’s house, Earn figures he’ll take that theory on a test-drive: He decides that, this weekend, he and Van are gonna buy the town, claiming, with a check in hand, that “the stunters have become the stunted.”

Of course, it doesn’t work like that. In fact, nothing works at all. Earn tries paying for movie tickets at a bougie theater with a $100 bill, and the cashier doesn’t accept it. Then, they card him when he offers his debit card. Then, when he spots a white guy paying with the same bill, he’s flashed with a pistol (because of Georgia, or at least white Georgia). Then, at a hookah bar, after he’s shaken down by the doorman, Earn is taken for a $100 bill forger. And he loses the bill. Then he’s told that he also has to pay, again, because he’s already in the bar. Afterward, a cop pulls him aside to note that everybody knew the bill was real — the owner just wouldn’t calm down.

Stunted on.

Meanwhile, as with last week’s episode, Al is still navigating the authenticity question: When he spends an afternoon with Darius and Clark County in the studio, he runs into the paradox of who the young man says he is. After refusing a blunt and a bottle of Hennessy, Clark steps into the booth to rap about partaking in both. He’s warm and cordial, in direct contrast to his claims of trapping. Insofar as he’s anything like his persona, it’s with the sound engineer, the lone white guy in the room: After the engineer botches the sound file, Clark steps out so his crew will beat the shit out of him, in a bit that’s set up in a masterful way. (You can’t help but wonder why the sound guy didn’t just leave when he noticed the flub.)

Click HERE to read the rest of the recap, “Money Bag Shawty.”

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