Atlanta has prompted a slew of questions and raised eyebrows from disappointed and perplexed viewers this season — namely, why the showrunners paid two white men with looming racial controversies (one of whom faces allegations of abuse) to toothlessly poke fun at the target to acquit their crimes or at least to play them down? (Their cameos certainly served no narrative purpose).
AtlantaExamining whiteness and whiteness’s preoccupation this season seems to be the main complaint among fans and an obvious difference between seasons 2 and 3, in addition to its general disjointedness. My biggest criticism of the series lately, however, has been its treatment of Van, who Glover promised would have more of a focus at the SXSW premiere of the season.
While the show hasn’t shown too much interest in any of the main cast over the last nine episodes, Van’s neglect felt more obvious as the show kept hinting that something remarkable was going on in her life while entertaining viewers kept distance. When Van first arrived in Europe, ostensibly looking to escape unemployed single motherhood, it seemed like we were watching her get involved in some way eat, pray, love-like mission to rediscover yourself. But she followed the boys with little to say, sleeping with Earn once and giggling at all of his questions about her mental state before disappearing into the night. In a less narratively one-sided season, this would read more as foreshadowing and less as abandonment.
Now that the finale is here, it seems Glover may have just referred to this episode as Van’s main character big moment. It’s also the first screenplay this season from Stefani Robinson, who contributed the hilarious “Barbershop” and the heartbreaking “Woods.” Robbin’ season. It’s no surprise that in just under 30 minutes, Robinson infuses Van with the most humanity and humor we’ve seen from her. Zazie Beetz is given an opportunity to really shine as a performer, beyond Van’s usual dry performance, which has us laughing hysterically before punching us in the pit of our stomachs.
It turns out that Van’s solo adventures are a lot crazier, and downright crazier, than we’d be led to believe in Episode 2, when she seemed to be operating from a more grounded, spiritual place. In “Tarrare,” she is discovered by an old friend named Candace (Adriyan Rae) along with her friends Shanice (Shanice Castro) and Xosha (Xosha Roquemore) who are wandering around France dressing up as a Halloween costume version of a Godard character with a three foot long baguette in her backpack. She also has a heavy French accent, which I cannot classify as sophisticated enough. But her voice is noticeably several octaves higher than usual.
Candace is understandably concerned for Van, especially when she sees her phone explode with text messages, but doesn’t immediately ask about her whereabouts or her scare Amelie Transformation. Instead, she, Shanice, and Xosha follow Van as she visits one of her friends, actor Alexander Skarsgaard, and plants drugs in his hotel room as part of a game they’re playing — according to her, at least. When they argue later in the episode, Van spits on his mustache and proceeds to aggressively jerk off in a bathroom. It’s not the funniest cameo, but I enjoyed hearing the actor say “ASHANTAAYYY” while dancing around to “Rock Wit U.”
After leaving a crack pipe on his bed and informing the concierge that he’s overdosed, Van takes the women on mopeds to an apartment complex that Shanice says “feels like candy man.(Shanice and Xosha provide some hilarious commentary throughout this crazy adventure). There, Van opens a safe to find an empty cooler and blames a man named Emilio. The women assume Van is trying to procure drugs, but the actual contraband is far more harrowing.
As the women are about to leave, they are chased off the premises by a menacing group of men emerging from the complex. They leave their mopeds and go to a museum, where Van asks to speak to a tour guide named Emilio. What ensues between them is a delightfully silly slugfest, in which she demands Emilio give her the package while she nearly beats him to death with her baguette. She informs us that it’s basically as dense as a brick because it’s been left in the sun for days. After bloodying Emilio’s face to ridiculous music, he tells her it’s in a vase.
The women grab the package and head to a dinner party Van invited them to. Shanice and Xosha are completely intrigued by Van’s shenanigans, but Candace is completely unnerved by their behavior at this point. So she follows Van into a kitchen where she makes out with the chef and hands him the package. As Candace and Van go to a corner to talk, we see him pull human hands out of his pocket and prepare to place them on a pan.
“As Candace and Van go to a corner to talk, we see him pull human hands out of his pocket and prepare to place them on a pan.”
Candace finally confronts Van about her new role and asks her what she’s doing with her life. When she asks about Lottie, Van tells her that she’s bringing her to live with him in France, to which Candace replies earnestly, with a raised eyebrow, “To eat hands?”
Something inside Van breaks down as she starts screaming, throwing plates and asking about Lottie. A character who suffers a nervous breakdown while a cannibal feast takes place in the background is not something you would expect even on a prestige sitcom. But the final act of this episode left me craving for more cannibalism comedy in the mainstream media. Meanwhile, Shanice and Xosha are seated at dinner, where everyone is instructed to pull a napkin over their heads. They unknowingly eat a fried finger before stripping off their napkins and fleeing the party.
Van and Candace finally get to have a heart-to-heart on a park bench after their panic attack. Van no longer speaks with a French accent and reveals that she almost killed herself while driving in Atlanta after a dark feeling took hold and she closed her eyes and ended up in the oncoming lane. She thought of a holiday in Europe and so on amelie Cosplay would make her feel better, but at the end of the day she still doesn’t know who she is.
Beetz delivers an immersive, heartbreaking monologue that feels like it should have taken place in the middle of the season, closer to when we last saw it as opposed to the finale. This could also be why they added a post-credits scene where Earn is given a mysterious bag and pulls out a portrait of Tobias Segal, a recurring guest star this season, to tie it all together.
The episode ends with an eerie zoom in on his face. Whether that’s a hint that we’ll see him in season 4 or that he’s been a significant subject throughout the season, barring one random guy, who knows. Either way, it’s clear that the hype surrounding “Teddy Perkins” has helped give this show an unnecessary horror interest.
While tonight’s finale felt like an odd conclusion to the season, it’s a relief to end with a well-done, compelling piece of work that re-focuses the show’s central actors, regardless of whether it makes sense. It’s likely that most fans will leave this season wishing Stefani Robinson was more involved.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/atlanta-season-3-finale-boasts-cannibalism-alexander-skarsgard-jerking-off-and-the-return-of-van?source=articles&via=rss The season 3 finale of Atlanta features cannibalism, Alexander Skarsgard jerking off and the return of Van