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Atlanta Season 4 Episode 2 Recap: The Homeliest Little Horse

Welcome to the second episode in the final season of Atlanta (FX) titled "The Homeliest Little Horse".


Sometimes you don’t need an Ouija to raise old ghosts and serenade new demons.

Sometimes it takes a good bank account and even better angels…


Season 4 Episode 2 Recap

We open up on an EMT passing an older, worse-for-wear woman (Brooke Bloom) with her dog Gizmo. Inside her abode, she spies on him getting undressed.

It’s creepy. But it matters none as her laptop pings.

It’s Gordon Rosenbaum, Literary Agent to the Eastern Seaboard. The email informs her he’s read her manuscript and is interested in further discussions. She’s at a loss for words.

Elsewhere, Japanese Breakfast playing dreamily in Earn’s (Donald Glover) car is interrupted by a call from Al who needs the info for his Gamertag login. It’s back from middle school, so though laughable to Alfred, it’s ‘Mulan’. Although Earn could roast his cousin for it, it’s Al who’s doing the roasting.

Earn’s on his way to therapy. Clearly, to Paperboi, taking a mature stance on mental health is nothing but throwing his manager’s 15% away (We need to de-stigmatize, not pathologize, people)!

Earn’s curt answers and crossed arms glaringly show a distance between him and help from Tillman (Sullivan Jones), his therapist. He claims that he’s fine with the probation ending and with his alma mater Princeton inviting him to speak, but keeping his phone’s sounds on distracts from the initial check-in of the session.

Clearly, Earnest is frustrated though. His doctor is telling him he’s having heart troubles and that he should ‘have his head checked’ but when asked to give up the phone, Earn merely pockets it with the body language of someone who is on the defensive.

Though his doctors claim he’s in good health and thinks Earn’s lying about his symptoms, my guy went for a second opinion, being hooked up for the weekend like “Alita: Battle Angel”, strapped with not a sword but rather an EKG.

They conjecture depression, panic attacks, and anxiety. It can be the cause of his symptoms and Tillman wants to get to the bottom of it. Earn swears none of it makes any sense, as he’s now extremely successful, now taking on even more clients. His therapist asks how family life is and the pauses speak louder than their silence.

Earn’s redecorating the condo, which is interesting because he’s moving out of GA for L.A., where he’s wanted as a Creative Consultant. It’s only when Tillman asks about the distance between him and Lottie if Van (whom he’s yet to tell) decides not to go that he feels the tightness in his chest and proceeds to lie down.

Liza proceeds into the literary agency coming across Gordon’s assistant… a full-haired and buttoned-up Tracy (Khris Davis). Maybe the guy’s foul but honest ways changed him since literally being left out in the cold at the end of season 2!

Being called up in boisterous Tracy fashion, Liza proceeds into Gordon’s office. Before anything could really get off the ground, Gordon (Keith Flippen) simply admits to having read a simple sample of her book online.

He still wants to find her a publisher.

Things like this don’t happen, but Gordon is a fast talker with an even busier schedule, so though she doesn’t have any illustrations, he will find her an illustrator she can commission.

He recommends she get a stylist as well, as he’ll set up a reading at a public library for the inner city youth. At that reading, he’ll also arrange for a publishing legend to scout her there. She won’t be able to miss her, as the magnate will be wearing a hat.

Before Liza can ask any questions or get a word in edgewise, she’s already got an agent. Yeah, she must be living in some movie or something because this is too good to be true for any author.

At therapy, Tillman queries Earn, now on his feet who he trusts. His long answer leads to his short one: Darius.

Earn, deflecting queries Tillman about things around his office, like a box containing a keyboard and though he requests a demo, Tillman tries to get back on track, telling him maybe later.

Earn’s mannerisms are now more lively and anxious. He divulges that he turned down the opportunity to speak at Princeton, but demanded an honorary degree. In fact, he’s glad he didn’t stay at the school.

The resentment he harbors for the university goes deep and with good cause.

He met a fellow RA, Sasha, and they became close. When a job interview popped up, he attempted to scrounge up some money for a suit.

A party opportunity presented itself from his crush and with his RA (best)friend Sasha overhearing, she agreed to hold the suit for him in her room so he can go seamlessly from the party to the interview.

So he went to the party and when it was time to collect on her promise, he was ghosted. When he finally got a hold of her, she simply brushed him off as being busy.

With the interview hours away, he made the last ditch effort and used his master key to get his gear from her room. Before you know it, Sasha went to the dean and it went escalated from suspension to talks of expulsion with ‘rapist syntax’ like “intruder” and “personal assault” being bandied about.

Yes, Sasha was white.

Being one of the few black students at the school, he felt scared. He also felt angry. Most of all, he felt betrayed because he and Sasha were supposed to be friends. He put his complete and utter trust in someone and they failed him in a major way.

This all comes back to a “member of the family” who abused him, bringing Earn to tears. A breakthrough has been achieved, and though Tillman offers him tissues, Earn swears he’s good (As someone in therapy now, there have been times I’ve been brought to near tears. It’s a fucking stupid social construct that men aren’t supposed to cry. They are supposed to internalize and suck it up. I’ve still yet to break down in front of my therapist and we’ve been seeing each other for nearly 10 years. That day will come, I’m sure).

After that, he and Sasha ceased communication. The only thing that Earnest took from it was to vow to be better than the place and people that didn’t believe him. Spite gave him courage.

Tillman understands spite as a powerful weapon, one that could do beautiful damage, but one that could ultimately have its dispatcher feeling depressed and empty, like “a book someone else wrote for you.”

In essence, he’d be denying Princeton because of Sasha, not the university itself.

Liza and her friend Becca (Helen Abell) meet up for lunch. Lisa has some great news for her bestie. She’s quit her job. She’s found an agent. Her friend, though happy is flabbergasted, though not exactly ecstatic. Her friend is worried Liza will ask for another 500 bones. This has Liza feeling betrayed.

Hurt, she demands her friend tell her she likes her writing. At the next therapy session, Earn is ready to chat, already moving the coffee table over for his typical laying down spot. In fact, Tillman got him a gift: a floor pillow since he’s more comfortable on the ground than not.

Earn opens up about really embracing the heart-to-heart they had the last session and feels a lot more willing to let go of the pain and anguish because internalizing it is of no productivity. Nevertheless, he still isn’t going to go to the speaking engagement, as all roadblocks were in place.

Figuring he would take Van and Lottie and afterward, take Lottie to Sesame Place, it would be a win-win.

However, with the debacle at the airport, from a white woman at the gate denying him passage because of the state of his passport to finally finding another black lady that would put them through only to be stopped by TSA (probably tipped off by the white power chick at the front desk) to Van crying, he figured it was never meant to be.

In fact, he remembered what he and Tillman spake about spite. He realizes the anxiousness and anger will just bury him deeper, so he’s learning to let go.

Tillman is thoroughly impressed. This is when Earn asks for some time off of the sessions. He wants to take the tools he’s learned and put them into application in the real world.

I’ve been there. I haven’t exactly been on a straight 10 years with my therapist. I’ve taken a few years off, wanting to utilize what I’ve learned to do better, to get better… I also never got a floor pillow though and never got to keep it either.

Sauntering into the public library, all gussied up with Gizmo in tow, Liza approaches the front desk and despite her protestations for the dog to be with her and a note from the FAA designating she can have it by her side, the librarian (Schelle Purcell) ain’t havin’ it.

Storytime is here. A group of black youths is gathered around, the cameras are on her and the publishing legend has now just arrived. Oh yes, that is Roseanne Barr you see. Author Liza Mann proceeds to read The Homeliest Little Horse.

It starts out well, but the little kids start roasting her story and the titular horse itself. The kids then point out the horses farting, though it’s just the smoke… maybe from the fire that is having her going down. The kids know that the story blows and soon leave her with only the cameras as her audience. She attempts to finish her story with poise, but her failure is out on the front stage, in-full, horrible colorful page.

Her last sad visage is now being played on multiple screens in a bar.

Earn’s making contacts, handing out cheese like Nino Brown and Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) along with Al (Brian Tyree Henry) are confused as to the occasion.

Why it’s a wrap party!

Ya boy had basically hired all actors, Tracy included to ruin Liza’s life, effectively having her drain her bank account to accomplish a dream that was hers she tried because she wrested it from a family just trying to get to fucking Sesame Place. Tracy though is scared of Earn for once because of his mind. Al actually isn’t too jazzed either.

Even Darius, who is the stalwart of them all, though impressed, labels it as possible ‘terrorism’. As Rick James’ “Cold Blooded” floods the speakers, Earn sips his drink and agrees he might need to go back to therapy. He is the Homeliest Little Horse.

Season 4 Episode 2 Takeaway

This episode caught me off guard for a few reasons. Though not a bottle episode, it mainly takes place in a sacred space.

This is a place where we pay to only have intimate thoughts divulged and purged, a place for self-reflection and discovery. It takes us to our deeper recesses where we might only speak to people with licenses and have this discussion without us thinking us flown over a nest.

It’s brave and it’s bold and it’s only somewhere where this show would always go.

5/5 Stars.

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