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ATLANTA actors LAKEITH STANFIELD and ZAZIE BEETZ in Season 3, Episode 2
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'Atlanta' S3E2 "Sinterklaas Is Coming to Town" Recap

'Atlanta' S3E2 "Sinterklaas Is Coming to Town" Recap

The last time we saw the gang — Earn, Alfred/Paper Boi, and Darius— they were headed to Europe on Paper Boi’s tour, and Earn had just dropped the gun he’d accidentally packed into rap rival, Clark County’s luggage. Clark’s manager takes the blame, and they all board the plane.

Now, Earn awakes in his hotel room after the horrible nightmare that was episode 1. He’s next to a sleeping blonde woman, and groggily gets up to use the bathroom just as his phone begins chirping with urgent messages, including one from Swiss Air telling him his flight is boarding, one from his cousin Alfred/PaperBoi wondering where he’s at because he needs $20K, and one from his on-and-off girlfriend (and mother of his daughter Lotti), Van, telling him she’s arrived, and is he picking her up from Schiphol? Earn snaps fully awake and begins rushing around the room frantically, looking for his clothes, already engaged in his regular quasi-irresponsible Earn antics. His bedmate shakes her head blankly when he asks if she knows where his underwear and belt are, because she obviously doesn’t speak English. And just like that, we’re already off to a great start of Atlanta's European run. 

A sniffling Earn quickly hops a cab and calls Darius, who’s chilling, enjoying the Canals of Amsterdam, complete with an colorful umbrella and a blunt. Earn tells Darius he’s still in Copenhagen and asks if Al is with him, to which Darius calmly replies, “Nope, that nigga’s in jail.” Darius has no idea why, but shares he’s been “roaming the streets since twilight” and that the city is his Jesus. There are no hallelujah offerings from Earn, he just needs to know if Darius can scoop up Van, who’s been at Schiphol train station, waiting to be picked up for who knows how long because this is Earn we’re talking about. Earn’s phone dies, and for a second, we’re worried about whether Darius even got the specific details about where to pick up Van.

At the airport, Earn is, of course, randomly selected for a security check. He’s told to lift his hands, but he says he can’t because he lost his underwear and belt. The security officer doesn’t care, and a weary Earn is forced to stand naked from the waist down, arms spread eagle, while the officer runs the wand over him after his pants fall to the ground. Oh, Earn. 

Van smokes a cigarette as she waits to get picked up. Just when she’s given up, a white van pulls up and out hops Darius wearing the flyest duster coat ever. Is this first time we’ve seen Zazie Beetz and LaKeith Stanfield share a significant scene together? Van, who’s weirdly only wearing a jean jacket in what looks like fairly frigid weather, says she’s fine when Darius asks if she’s cold. She explains she lost her luggage, and Darius nicely asks if she wants to wear his, which he’s apparently been wearing for eight days straight. Van, who values her health, wisely tells him it’s okay, and Darius suggests they go find her a coat instead. The hop in the van that Earn hooked up because of his “tour clout” and Darius makes awkward small talk, asking about Lotti and then about whether or not Van and Earn are going to “pop out another baby.” An annoyed Van tells him she has a boyfriend then asks, “Why, are you and Earn planning on popping out a baby soon?” Darius says he can’t procreate because his balls were sadly crushed in Nigeria when he was a kid. Van uncomfortably offers an apology for Darius’ loss of balls, and turns to stare out of the window just as Darius randomly inquires about whether or not she’s ever seen the “intense” movie Food Fight. 

Earn hooked up because of his “tour clout” and Darius makes awkward small talk, asking about Lotti and then about whether or not Van and Earn are going to “pop out another baby.” An annoyed Van tells him she has a boyfriend then asks, “Why, are you and Earn planning on popping out a baby soon?” Darius says he can’t procreate because his balls were sadly crushed in Nigeria when he was a kid. Van uncomfortably offers an apology for Darius’ loss of balls, and turns to stare out of the window just as Darius randomly inquires about whether or not she’s ever seen the “intense” movie Food Fight.

Earn makes it to the venue where Paper Boi is scheduled to perform later that night, and meets the promoter, who way too excitedly tells him the show is sold out and asks if Paper Boi is down to wear a ruffled, European costume to take pictures with fans. “Yeah, he’s not gonna do that,” Earn blandly tells him, before clearing up some confusion about a laptop and some music, and asking the promoter to give a $20,000 advance on tonight’s show. The promoter whistles, and a staffer promptly brings it to a bored, still sneezing Earn. It’s cool to see Earn in this role, confident and completely used to navigating the shenanigans that come with life on the road. We learn that this isn’t their first time in Amsterdam after all, that last year they played a smaller venue. 

ATLANTA actor ZAZIE BEETZ in Season 3, Episode 2

Meanwhile, Van and Darius are at a vintage clothes shop, trying to find Van a coat. Darius apologies for mentioning Earn earlier, and says he doesn’t do small talk very well. Van, who honestly, seems a little lost, encourages him to ask her something real. His expression becomes serious and he gets straight to the question everyone’s had on their minds so far: “Why are you here?” Van explains she didn’t get a job she really wanted so she thought she’d head to Europe and figure it out. She tries on a cute jacket and promptly finds an address in one of the pockets. Of course, Darius thinks it’s destiny and says that they have to follow it. Van thinks about it and decides she’s down, probably part of the whole “figure it out” process she’s currently in.

Oh boy. 

Finally, we get to see Alfred! He’s chilling inside a shiny, spacious jail cell that kinda resembles a room at Massage Envy, looking at a lunch menu. The guard is very smiley and happy to serve him, recommending the bean soup, as Paper Boi places his order with gusto brushing off warnings of a dish being spicy because “he’s from the A.” A crowd shouting “Free Paper Boi” is gathered out front, much to Paper Boi’s delight, and just as he’s about to get settled in on his bed, the guard reappears to tell him he’s free to go. Paper Boi’s in no rush, however, telling the guard he needs his lunch first and that he’ll be taking a nap before he leaves. 

Van and Darius roll up to the address she found in her coat pocket, and it’s clear that a newly inspired Van is all in on their little adventure, plowing toward the front door where she’s greeted by a harried blonde woman who assumes she’s the photographer who was supposed to meet them. After a little fibbing, an excited Van and Darius are whisked away with the group who’s dressed in all white, on the way to who knows where.  

ATLANTA actors DONALD GLOVER and BRYAN TYREE HENRY in Season 3, Episode 2

Earn waits outside of the jail cell for Alfred, still sneezing (everyone is very polite and blesses him each time). As they exit, Alfred asks for the $20K that the promoter fronted them, and then throws it all at the crowd who was waiting outside of his cell, as Earn looks on in exasperated shock. Someone walks by dressed like European Santa, pulling a toddler wearing blackface in a stroller. The blackface toddler waves merrily as Earn hesitantly waves back, earring him a look from Alfred. “What the fuck was up with the Don King looking baby back there?” Alfred asks Earn, who directs the question to their confused driver, who claims he doesn’t understand what “blackface” means. The driver eventually explains it’s a holiday celebration for the children, and actually the character everyone is dressed up as is in blackface “because he fell down the chimney.” Earn glibly says he respects the blackface “rebrand.” 

Van and Darius make it to their destination, inside a spacious apartment where everyone is wearing white, and a man is dying in his bed. Darius is pretty sure it’s Tupac on the bed because he “felt the thug spirit in his bones” when he came in. While Darius heads off to take a picture since he’s supposed to be a photographer, a pensive Van meets the man’s death doula, who’s there to help everyone “let go.” They end up having a deep conversation, for strangers who just met, and Van shares her trip to Europe is different from the ones she took as a kid. She admits she’s been having panic attacks and she thought going to Europe would… She stops herself before she gets to the good stuff, and uses deviled eggs as an excuse to worm her way out of the uncomfortable conversation. The death doula follows her as she eats deviled eggs, telling her she believes Van is exactly where she’s supposed to be. 

Earn and Alfred arrive at their hotel and are greeted by a doorman in blackface. A couple of women stare at them as they make their way through the lobby and Earn asks if they’re what happened last night. Alfred brushes him off saying he “can not with these crazy hoes today.” They get to Al’s room, which is completely torn apart, and Earn wonders again what happened. We flashback to Paper Boi about having a threesome with the two women, before they start arguing about the white woman using a racial slur. They start fighting and tear up the room, while Al lays in the bed and looks on in perturbed wonder. Earn takes a seat and tries to handle the laptop and music situation, when yet another person, this time a maid, shows up wearing blackface.

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Back in the white room of death, Van, seizing her “figuring it out” moment, volunteers to join the death doula at the dying man’s bedside. She’s urged to tell the man something because he can still hear her, and softly, repeatedly tells him, “It’s okay.” Until it isn’t okay, because the death doula clicks a remote and a bag drops over the man’s face. He’s violently smothered to death, bucking wildly on the bed, as Van and Darius look on in horror, just as Pac’s “Hail Mary” kicks on. 

Back at the venue where Paper Boi is set to perform, Earn finally has the music/laptop situation handled, only for Alfred to tell him that he’s not going on. When Earn asks why, Alfred opens the curtain from backstage, pointing to the crowd, who’s all in blackface. Earn tells Darius and Al to go ahead and leave, that he’ll handle things with the promoter. Earn tells the promoter that nope, Al won’t be performing, that the insurance will cover everything and he’ll actually come out making more money. The promoter gets violently weird, and says he’ll “destroy” Earn. Earn backs away and the promoter chases him down the stairs. Earn escapes, but the promoter has no idea, because he’s found one of the blackface fans, who he actually believes is Earn, and proceeds to kick the crap out him as Earn looks on, flabbergasted by the mistaken identity.

Earn, who obviously has coronavirus, sniffs and wanders down his hotel hallway where he runs into a towel-wrapped Van. She’s says yes, she is getting ice at four in the morning, and tells Earn she’s good. Earn heads inside of his room, then collapses facedown on the bed, barely managing to catch a string of texts from Al, who asks him for 300 chicken wings. 

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