I didn’t think the end was gonna get here so fast. Donald Glover’s Atlanta entered our lives nine weeks ago with promises of lemon pepper wet, Nutella sandwich enlightenment, and quality television made by Black people, for Black people; and it’s already time to say goodbye. The starter season for Glover’s passion project has been an uncompromising trip through the raps, the struggles, and the good times of a beacon city; truly the “Twin Peaks, but with rappers” that Glover hinted at months ago.
Last week’s bougie Juneteenth party was the kind of blowout I was expecting the season finale to have, but The Jacket closes things out on a contemplative note; but not before Earn, Alfred, and Darius have a wild night across the city and Earn wakes up with a missing jacket. Since it was a nice dark blue bomber, Earn is naturally tearing the neighborhood apart to get it back. He even goes so far as to get Alfred and Darius off their outdoor couch (and some wild insightful money talk) to hit up their Uber driver Fidel who might have Earn’s coat. The tension gets more and more awkward as they wait, but it’s cut short when Earn gets a phone call; fellow rapper Senator K wants to go on tour with Paper Boi.
Almost immediately after, police show up for a drug raid and all three of them are planted against the car. Fidel runs out of the house (wearing Earn’s jacket, no less) and is immediately gunned down to everyone’s shock. When the trio makes it home instead of becoming three more hashtags, Alfred surprises Earn with the 5% he owes him as his manager before tending to Darius; who ate two blunts so the cops wouldn’t find them. Earn and Van reconnect over dinner with their daughter and some awkward flirting with Earn’s friend from work. But even after gaining everyone’s trust, Earn still feels the need to hole himself up in a cramped storage garage.
Over the course of a half-hour, “The Jacket” manages to put Earn’s entire life into perspective. He may not have that bomber anymore, but at least he’s not at the business end of a police gun; at least he managed to solidify two relationships with his cousin and his baby mother who were (rightfully) iffy on letting him into their lives. At least he’s not a cog waiting to be chewed up and spit out by the machine like Vanessa and Black Justin Bieber; or a pizza delivery boy by day/degenerate gossip blogger by night like Zan; or pulling a Don Lemon for white sympathy likes and money like Montague or Monique. As Earn takes his self-imposed walk of shame to the tune of Outkast’s “Elevators,” things fall into place in the season finale. Whatever loose ends still exist (What happened after Bankroll PJ got robbed?!?) are there by design. Earn’s lot in life is no more aspirational than it was when he was couch surfing (it’s revealed that he lives in a storage unit), but at least he’s left the couches a little neater, and even that can be enough to make the world any Black Millenial’s oyster.