Every beginning invariably has an end. To celebrate a beginning, we don’t have to start with the mushy, and to celebrate the end, we don’t have to finish with the maudlin.
Rather, we celebrate life as a whole. From you crying as a slapped babe above ground to others crying for you as a shrunken body below. It was never about the end game. It was always about the journey…
Season 4 Premiere Recap
We open in one a big box store being ransacked something fierce. I guess Robbin’ season is far from finished. Amid the fray, Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) enters gingerly, product in hand as others exit frantically, products in hands.
Paying no mind to the looters, he continues on to the front desk to find a scared employee (Kevin Saunders). All my man wants to do is return the air fryer he got as a gift. Shit, even simple trade will even do, but even the hired hand is smart enough to take the cash and dash once the drawer pops open.
More disappointed than dejected, Darius heads for the door, before he and others are stanched at the pass by a white woman on a motorized scooter (Deadra Moore). He already feels it’s going to be just one of those days and ambles on past her along with everybody else, the two of them lighting her up with fire extinguishers before realizing she has a knife and is not afraid to yield it. Leaving Darius in dismay.
Poor guy is now a literal walking target, picking up the pace like Picante Salsa with her hot on his heels. Chief Keef’s “Bitch Where” flares up over the top-down vistas. It’s all reminiscent of Season 2, like ya’ll never left!
As Al (Brian Tyree Henry) faces gridlock on the Atlanta freeway, Darius dips in. The traffic is so atrocious that Darius exited, went to the store, and came back with zero movements forward. Al’s still looking a bit bummed though, as news broke that ATL legend Blue Blood had passed… 3 months ago, his manager just having released it to press.
Apparently, Blue Blood’s secret shows were the stuff of legend. With his loss, goes with him, an era.
Stuck in traffic, Darius hasn’t the time to ruminate on an icon, as he’s got slower fish to fry. It turns out that the crazy lady isn’t willing to concede (sound familiar?), traversing the lane lines on her scooter towards him.
Al’s introspection turns to that of anger due to the standstill. He wants to get to the airport. He knows not where he wants to go. Maybe Jamaica. Anything but this literal stasis he’s currently in so he puts something on that will at least take his mind to another space: Blue Blood’s most recent album, released 3 months prior to his death.
Darius requests Al turn off at the next exit, but it’s too late. He’s in a jam of his own, so he gets out, nearly dodging a few stabs from the woman.
He just briskly walks down the highway, woman in tow. Hey, of all the things they’ve seen in the previous seasons, this provokes nary a batted lash from Alfred.
Elsewhere, Van (Zazie Beetz) and Earn (Donald Glover) arrive at Atlantic Station to get her a replacement phone and him a Publix sub. Approaching the topside, Earn runs into Kenya (Sh’Kia Augustin), an ex.
After a few pleasantries exchanged, Kenya says she’s going to “try” and get outta there. Not so odd, right?
In the phone store, another ex notices Earn from the outside, knocking on the glass. Ok, let’s just chalk that up to coincidence. Suddenly, an employee named Amir (Ulisses Gonsalves) notices Van. He was an item of hers from eons ago. He’s still at the same store, claiming he’s been “trapped” there for a minute. Okay, Van can start to even up the scoreboard, but something’s amiss.
With this dead-ass traffic, Al can’t help but notice a fan going on the ‘Gram, motioning back to Paperboi.
Already fed up with the trajectory of his day, he violently veers off the path to get some gas.
At the gas station, you know, a station that provides you product to keep you moving forward, he begins to really listen to Blue Blood’s lyrics. One line explicitly mentioning getting a zoo pie at D&D’s. Whattaya know, Al’s right across from said place!
Maybe it’s the fates rapping to him from the great beyond. Maybe today was meant to be…
In the joint, he asks for a ‘zoo pie’, which is just an open bag of Fritos with beans on top. I imagine “zoo” means prison, which is a fucking banquet, compliments of the commissary. The clamshell in which it was served, however, was the real mystery, as it contained a stamp of Blood Blood’s logo as well as an address.
Walking about Atlantic Station, Earn and Van both point out exes as if they were birding. Now it’s gone from slight happenstance to outright weird and Van seriously wants to get her tail feather out of there.
There’s only one problem- they cannot seem to find their car and run into Kenya once more, greeting them as if she had not just seen them. In fact, she’s lost too and cannot recall how long she’s been. To her recollection, when she first arrived, Now You See Me 2 was playing at the Regal.
Now it’s gone from weird to scary.
Speaking of, Darius seems to have gotten away from his four-wheeled nightmare with two wheels of his own… but it’s not the trill of the cicadas that deceive his ears, for she’s just around the corner.
Ditching the bike, he climbs a wall and goes through a fence. She doesn’t care whether he stole the air fryer or not. She clearly has an axe to grind and needs a face to grind it on. She’s like Fox News incarnate: nothing’s gonna change her goddamn mind.
On his journey into the unknown, Al arrives at a swim club and as Blue Blood plays in the forefront, we are taken on a journey ourselves. From blue poker chips in a locker to directions to an arcade where he smokes a shooter racking up enough tickets to buy a tee that a person can identify. From that person with a tattooed QR code to a comic book shop to a graphic novel leading him to a laundromat, prompting him to a vintage 3D movie playing at the cinema to an abandoned strip mall, this isn’t some simple scavenger hunt and it sure as fuck isn’t a snipe hunt.
In the designated space of a gutted store, Al finally enters the funeral, complete with organ music, flowers, candles, chairs, a casket, and his (living) wife, Keisha (Chimere Love). Welcome to Gary’s (aka Blue Blood) funeral.
This was all by Gary’s design, down to the tee (had to). One to always outdo himself for the culture, once Gary found out he was going to die, he constructed a whole album and a game to go with it, pre-death.
That is some hardcore David Bowie shit (a la his Blackstar album and his musical Lazarus).
Everything was meticulously planned by Blue Blood, down to the weed geraniums for each guest (explicitly stated in track 11 of how to take care). Keisha promised him she’d run the funeral and, sadly, Al’s only the fifth person to have actually shown up in the last 3 months. Gary was truly expecting more upon his ultimate demise. Sad to say, Keisha, phrases it best, lamenting that sometimes what you put out isn’t necessarily what comes back to you.
She simply wishes he had more fun in his art than overthinking them, as, in the end, it’s really all that matters. That line fucking really cut deep to me, as I have sometimes overthought and overwrought my art for posterity instead of letting it breathe on its own and leaving it up to the fates to decide. Stuck in the bowels of the parking garage, Vanessa seems to have temporarily been separated from Earn, ultimately finding him.
He’s found an actual emergency exit and though she’s reticent at first to follow, she wants to ultimately know that with all the exes they’ve been bumping into, she’ll never be left behind. He wouldn’t do that and with a rush and a push on his end, she follows him into the void.
In the absence of light, with carpeted walls wet, Earn seems stuck and Van seems scared. However, with a rush and a push on Van’s end, they both spew out directly into Blue Blood’s funeral along with Kenya, who followed them and whom Al clearly knows. Fate, providence, call it what you will, but that’s divine architectural type shit right there.
Out in the parking lot, Darius is tiredly waiting… or anxiously waning. Either way, the crew is finally back together and the metaphorical boulder around Darius’ neck has been lifted and gifted to Kenya.
The group peaces out as Kenya awaits her Uber.
With the mellifluous din of the cicadas trilling in the picturesque Atlanta eve, a whirring isn’t too far behind as the geriatric Michael Myers spots a black woman with an air fryer. Shit, I guess that thing truly was the gift that keeps on giving.
At least it can make a mean hot potato…
Season 4 Premiere Takeaway
They came in fucking swinging with this episode. It’s honestly a nice meta-joke to the fans who decried the last season for not being ‘Atlanta enough’ to their oh, soo sensitive palettes. They also, most likely predicted the tertiary season would garner a lot of unhappy and bitter people, but then, honestly, I wouldn’t call those fans.
Listen, guys. The whole crew: creator, writers, directors, actors, everyone never left your side. They know good shit when they feel it in their bones and the moment you go too late is when you’ve already gone lame.
In fact, Blue Blood’s death and ultimate plan I believe is a metaphor for how exactly how everyone involved in this groundbreaking series wanted to orchestrate their own Swan Song: on their own terms.