Atlanta Season 3 Episode 3 Review – The Old Man and the Tree

Parties. They are still a thing, right? Ostensibly, in the U.K., they are the toast of the town if you can get your toe in before you can get turned up. With the pack back, we’ll join them on yet another adventure, this time in the confines of one of the most exclusive happenings in London with the third episode of Atlanta titled “The Old Man and the Tree”.

The avenues of an alien land, especially when looking for the weed hook up aren’t as simple as cinema makes it out to be… that is unless you know somebody. Earn (Donald Glover), Al (Brian Tyree Henry), Van (Zazie Beetz), and Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) go into that great unknown, however. Welcome to London.

Approaching something akin to a trap house, the four enter what is to be the best/worst nights of their life.

Earn is met with an estimable person and they are all granted passage. Now, this is Al’s type of joint. He’s in his element. Each one has its own, with Van heading to the bar and Earn heading to find out why this is a thing. Apparently, the invitee is renting a space in this art collective. This dude Tooting is trending, and he’s the biggest artist in the house. Van and Earn agree to meet him.

While others pursue unknown pleasures, Al and Darius are partaking in the known. Namely, grub, baby. As they chomp down on free sustenance, Al is greeted by the owner of the space, Fernando. While Darius breaks off to find a drink and a bathroom, Fernando (Daniel Fathers) shows Al his tree, from which the foundation was built around. Al isn’t allowed to smoke around it, at it’s one of the oldest in London. There’s a special floor for that and we’re only about to go on that path.

This palatial estate was created for inviting creative types to exchange ideas in hopes of changing the world. This isn’t unlike a Dada and surrealist event. Everything counts in small amounts. Right? On the tertiary floor, all can smoke and gamble and that’s good. Al is happy for once. As Darius gets a gin, he runs into what might have been a meet-cute but is met with an even more interesting observer/stalker. It’s Socks. Hey, if it isn’t an alibi, it’s a least a friend for the night.

With Earn and Van scoping out the third floor, the painter’s floor, they are met with TJ (Sheyi Cole). The back of his shirt signifies an expand/close-off thing in Windows. (By the way, his art is shit, but what is art?). His installation is literally a picture of a homeless Santa with his dick hanging out in Supreme gear. Oh, they show it. Supreme’s so fallen off of what it used to be, it can be now used as a joke. Which it is.

Paper Boi is introduced to their third floor along with Bruce (Darrell D’Silva) and Yonathan. After sharing a toke, the buy-in is 20k and you can’t ignore a price like that! As Earn has his ideas about the idiot’s art, Socks has bigger plans in play. The space to be free for all artists isn’t sustainable. Earn knows it. This isn’t an artist commune in the middle of nowhere, where taxes don’t exist. This is London.

All TJ wants is subscriptions. He wants something that is the dumbest thing in the world. Free-living, which is a counterweight for the moment. Up until this point, it’s been about grinding. Making that dough, the pause on paucity. Now, it’s about the opposite? There needs to be a little perspective.

Earn caves in and fucks off, because he knows the money put forth for some asinine thing might pay off. He even cites Doja Cat doing the same thing, so as to throw the scent off. The thing is is he that flash to toss out that cash? While Alfred is yucking it up with Fernando, stories are spake, including a break-in that might have been a ghost. A specter. A shadow person. This goes down pretty quickly with the mention of ghosts jizzing. This isn’t that simple though. Though the table has a simple buy-in, the stakes are higher than he thought.

What was all jokes and japes turned real serious when the guy questioned Alfred about God, the Devil, and his life choices. And though Al won that round with a bon mot and a good hand, the cards may not play in his favor this time. As he attempts to cash out, Darius is having a moment with being iced out at the bar. This is not of his volition. A group believes it’s some racist shit she said to him. He might be fine with being rejected, but he isn’t with being accosted by a group that is using them as their reverse white savior faire.

Al is now Earned 40K for beating the odds, but he’s not going to seem a penny for it because the dude was a chickenshit. Now Al is LIVID. He wants some retribution but it would be at a loss, despite what he’s owed. Earn understands it. TJ’s art blows, but he’s taking advantage of Will. Al readjusts his thinking, figuring that they need to be scamming more. I for one concur.

TJ is on board as well. He wants the rich white person to fund it all. They are down to clown. With Fernando not coming down to show his goddamn face or pay up the pretty penny, Al has no other option. This tour has been stressful enough, but fuck with money and learn the lesson. As Earn observes Van commiserating with other guys at the party, he also sees another side in her. She tosses a waiter in the indoor pool with aplomb. That must be a strong strain.

Earn asks if everything is copacetic and if she’s mad at him. Jeeze, I get why her mother and he were worried about her, and though she swears she’s okay, taking time for herself, she is more than okay.

She realizes that his job, literal job is to take care of people, but she seems to be zen for the moment. She knows that he’s too in his head and needs to take a moment to live IN the moment before tossing a waitress into that same pool with a smile. Though this decamps from her other actions, I’m willing to fuck with this new side of her.

While Darius attends some semblance of a white guilt meeting as produced by his rejection, he is met with something more awkward. The Asian girl he was iced out before. The others proceed to harangue her for just saying no to a dude (them thinking it as racist and being hypersensitive, leaving him to sit simply sit and contemplate. Racism and capitalism are hard to differentiate sometimes. And this ain’t fucking classism. With Fernando cowering in bed and Al knocking on his window and Earn recognizing the First Bank of Cape Town photo with a black man in the back, this party is done. That is before Will approaches him.

The thing is, Earn goes up to bat for TJ, requesting his representation. A manager for 30 percent. Earn will take it for 25 and thus a new person is brought into the fold. Well, another new batter on deck. Earn is introduced to Socks via Darius. He proposes they BookIt! because shit is about to go down and there won’t be any more free pizza.

With Al chopping down Fernando’s fucking tree with a goddamn chainsaw, the piper is paid. We also see that Will’s fiancee is the one that fucked over Darius. A cab will be called, as Al basically steals what’s taken from him and dips with the rest. As they all laugh it off, taking what may or may not be rightfully theirs, they forgot the diamond in that rough- Van.

The funny thing is she’s doing perfectly fine, in a chip shop all on her lonesome. She could give two shits either. Maybe she is finding herself after all!

Everybody has roots. These four are uprooted for their own reasons, but to kill a tree hundreds of years old isn’t a task- it’s a mission. With Al having a chip on his shoulder, that seed will fall into the ground and grow into something bigger, no matter in what land it lands. That is what we call an Aralia spinosa.  Earn only may only one place to plant, but it’s back at home. He blossoms and complements, even when not needed. He’s what is considered a Carpinus caroliniana. Van, though still finding herself, is a beautiful soldier through any season, deserving of the title of Betula negra. Darius is ever-changing, the most learned, and henceforth can only have the honor of being of the Trident maple.

Robert Kijowski
Robert Kijowski
Robert J. Kijowski is a screenwriter who enjoys a good chuckle and an even better weep when indulging in art both good and even better bad. He enjoys the company of strangers in a theatre but adores the camaraderie of friends watching Netflix. He also loves to talk- a lot. This can be read through his recaps and reviews on the Workprint or heard through his weekly movie podcast, After the Credits. His presence can be felt through Facebook, Spotify or Ouija. Don’t use the latter though- he almost always ghosts people.

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