Atlanta came full circle in its satisfying first season finale.
The critically acclaimed comedy, created by Donald Glover, began with Earn (Glover) asking his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) to let him manage his burgeoning rap career because he needed to make money to support his family. And, in the first season finale, the show returns to this premise in a meaningful and important way.
Earn spends most of the finale searching in vain for the jacket he lost the night before while he was partying with Alfred and Darius (Lakeith Stanfield). In the end, his search doesn’t really matter because his friend returns the key he was looking for, which was inside of the jacket, to Van’s (Zazie Beetz) apartment later that evening. Apart from that, there’s very little resolution when it comes to the season’s dangling plotlines, which is typical Atlanta at this point.
For Henry, the best part of the finale was how it subtly conveyed how the characters had grown over the course of the season while returning to where the show started.
“My favorite thing about the finale is how we still end up on the couch at the end of the day. That seems to be our office,” says Henry. “The flowers have kind of grown around us to symbolize there is growth and how we have literally grown closer together.”
Henry is particularly fond of the moment when Earn calls their Uber driver from the night before to find his jacket. While Earn is on the phone in the background of the shot, Alfred and Darius are in the foreground bantering about sunflower seeds and the ethics of sushi.
“It’s really quite beautiful what [director] Hiro [Murai] did by showing how the three of us are still carrying on with our lives, regardless of the fame and the notoriety,” says Henry.
While the finale doesn’t really address Earn and Alfred’s legal problems, it does hint that there has been some progression in Alfred’s rap career. He’s been invited to go on tour with someone, and after helping Earn look for his jacket, he gives him a wad of cash, which is supposed to be Earn’s cut of their earnings.
“I loved that scene,” says Henry. “[He’s saying], ‘You really believed in me and I hope you know that I got you.’ It’s them realizing that they still have each other regardless of what they have.”
“The Jacket,” as the episode is titled, ends with Earn giving Van most of the money Alfred gave him. Then, he heads to a dimly lit storage locker where he plops down on a couch and studies the $200 he kept for himself. The season ends with the camera dollying out of the storage room as Glover listens to music and Outkast’s “Elevators” crescendos. Henry thinks that song choice is particularly important because it’s about family, and he hopes that final image of Glover alone in the room makes the audience wonder if everything Earn went through this season was worth it.
“I really believe he’s going to continue to pursue his dream, and I think that’s the most beautiful and haunting imagery I’ve ever seen,” says Henry.
With Atlanta, Glover wanted to show people that they don’t know everything about black culture, and Henry believes that their show has definitely succeeded in showing that yes, it’s a struggle, but the culture is still vibrant and diverse. “Our culture is still a rich culture and we’re proud of it. There’s nothing wrong with being prideful, [and] we’re going to get keep showcasing that.”
Atlanta has already been renewed for season 2; however, Henry has no idea what the future holds for the series. “I don’t know that I want to know. I can’t wait to see what comes out of their minds,” says Henry. “The least I know, the better.”