Warning: This article contains spoilers from season three of “Atlanta.”
After being in Amsterdam for Paper Boi’s European Tour, Earn (Donald Glover), Al “Paper Boi” (Brian Tyree Henry), Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) and Vanessa (Zazie Beetz) land in London where they are invited to a billionaire’s house party.
Since the start of episode two, we see these characters as “fish out of water” as they explore different customs and traditions that are not common in Atlanta, Georgia.
They are greeted into what appears to be a “decoy house” from the very start. It’s a house that is in horrible condition, but as they go through it, a door opens and they see a new living space pop up — a whole mansion that includes a patio with an ancient tree and a fast-food chain restaurant, Nando’s. Everything seems fine.
However, the night was still young.
The gang separates as they look around the house and interact with the people present at the party. We see Al meeting the owner of the house, Fernando (Daniel Fathers), who invites him for a game of poker.
In this game, Al has to bet $20,000. He agrees, gives the money and plays. As they’re playing, Fernando speaks about God and how everybody believes in good and bad. As he says this, Al wins the game with $40,000 winnings. Fernando leaves the room and doesn’t pay Al, causing tension between them.
Darius meets MK (Jasmine Leung), an Asian woman who thinks he is flirting with her, although that was not his intention. As the conversation ends with MK, a man named Socks (Hugh Coles) perceives the interactions as racially motivated. Darius did not see it that way, but Socks doubles down and tells everyone at the party that MK is racist, causing a massive riot for MK’s cancellation.
Earn and Vanessa meet an aspiring artist who is using funds to create art with money from billionaire Will (Patrick Kennedy). Earn thinks this artist, TJ (Sheyi Cole), is scamming Will, making him contemplate if he should help.
Meanwhile, Earn is also worried about Vanessa and how she’s acting at the party. She’s being reckless and having too much to drink. This leaves an interesting storyline open for future episodes.
“The Old Man and the Tree” explores many themes of racism and morality. When people think of Darius’ interaction as racist, this is an example of the savior complex many white people have when trying to “help” minorities. In the same way, we see how Earn decides to help TJ after many years of Black people being put down by white folk by becoming his manager and getting 30% of TJ’s winnings.
Morality plays a big role in this episode. We saw how our characters, in one way or another, start as good and turn bad by the end of the episode.
Check out “Atlanta” as it premieres every Thursday on FX and streams the next day on Hulu.