How ‘Atlanta’ episode about Darius connects with ‘Get Out’ and why our writer may never sleep again
So, um, yeah…about last night’s episode of Atlanta…
I imagine there are a bunch of writer types just as confused and bewildered as I am on a Thursday night, trying to figure out exactly how to recap and what to make of what they just saw. Is it genius? Is it lunacy? Is it neither? Is it somewhere in-between…?
— Mike Hanley ?? ?? (@Magic20099) April 6, 2018
The episode kicks off Atlanta-y enough with Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) in a hardware store, purchasing, among other things, a red hat with a rebel flag that reads “Southern Made.” He also buys a red marker, which he uses to convert the hat’s text to “U MAD.”
Darius then drives off to a gated mansion with a U-Haul truck—which doesn’t elicit many questions because this is Darius, after all. The door creeks open before he can knock, he enters and out of the shadows pops Teddy Perkins (Donald Glover, unrecognizable under heavy makeup), the apparent owner of the mansion.
Draped in a smoking jacket and resembling a cross between a late-model Michael Jackson and a doll from one of those The Conjuring films, Teddy is soft-spoken and genial to Darius, who we find out came to the home to pick up a free multi-color-key piano that he discovered through something resembling Craigslist.
Teddy immediately starts setting off all kinds of Negro alarms with his creepy visage, high-pitched voice and the fact that dude cracks open a boiled ostrich egg and digs into it with his nasty-ass fingers to eat.
Most of the episode is predicated upon Darius exercising an mixture of patience and curiosity that none of us would have as he winds up essentially touring this dusty mansion, which is dark thanks to sheet music covering all windows. We see a series of security cameras are aimed at him as he sniffs around.
The Perkins family is one of musicians who made it big and have the money and celebrity friends to show for it. But success didn’t come without a price: Teddy speaks admiringly of his father – represented by a faceless, besuited statue – but acknowledges that his strictness damaged the childhoods of he and his brother, Benny. Teddy says Benny has a skin condition and lives in the house with him, but it all seems a bit hard to believe.
This Atlanta episode’s only real levity (outside of a quick Jay-Z age crack) comes nearly halfway in when Darius talks to Al (Bryan Tyree Henry) as he rolls through a fast food drive-thru line with Earn (Donald Glover) and Tracy (Khris Davis). Al reminds us that he’s on the opposite side of the patience spectrum as Darius’ and suggests he get out of the mansion immediately. The scene closes at the laugh-out-loud expense of Sammy Sosa’s re-re-vitiligo’d ass.
When Darius finally gets his hands on the piano he came for, he accidentally takes the elevator to the basement, where he encounters a wheelchair-bound Benny, nearly completely covered in clothes and apparently mute. He writes on chalkboard “Teddy Kill Us Both” and “Gun in Attic,” urging Darius to act.
Despite this carnival of horrors and Al’s urging, Darius stays because he really wants this piano. As he wheels it toward the U-Haul truck, he finds that he’s blocked in by a car. When he confronts Teddy about it, he winds up on the wrong side of shotgun barrels.
Teddy locks Darius to a chair and prepares to use him to carry out a plan to kill Benny, but Benny comes up on elevator, grabbing the shotgun and killing Teddy before using it to blow his own brains out.
In the end of this episode of Atlanta, Darius seems legitimately traumatized for the first time in the series. He also doesn’t get his piano, which is confiscated by the authorities. Robbin’ Season.
“Teddy Perkins” is easily Atlanta’s most ambitious episode yet. At about 36 minutes with no commercial breaks, it’s also its longest. The complete absence of commercial breaks resulted in a more cinematic experience, and the quiet tension of the episode made you forget that commercials were supposed to be there.
— Pusha V (@vebeans) April 6, 2018
The episode has glaringly intentional connective tissue to Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning film Get Out: Stanfield starred in that film and even the summary for to the episode said, “Darius is trippin’ in this one. Y’all know I woulda been left.” What I’m still in the weeds about – and what Twitter is already working overtime on – is who exactly Teddy and Benny represent.
— SIR! (@Yella_Boiii) April 6, 2018
Best thing I can come up with at 1:15 on a Friday morning is that Benny is young Michael Jackson, the deceased father (whom we also see in an old picture reel) is Papa Joe Jackson, and Teddy is just another part of Michael…the older, damaged part. Meanwhile, I’m not entirely certain any of this real. Did Darius dream all of this after falling asleep while smoking some bomb kush to a Stevie Wonder album?
Bruh, I don’t know. I’d say I need to sleep on it, but I’ll probably never sleep again after this episode of Atlanta.