A quick review of tonight’s Atlanta coming up just as soon as I proceed with my Ethiopian passport to the photo booth…
How do you follow an episode like “Teddy Perkins,” which is already an easy frontrunner for best episode of 2018, might be the best installment of Atlanta so far, and will probably be taught about in college classes for years to come?
Well, you do pretty much what Atlanta did after last season’s craziest episode (and my other contender for its best half-hour to date), “B.A.N.,” and go back into lo-fi hangout mode. A season ago, it was the guys going to “The Club”, and here it’s Van and her friends attending a party at Drake’s house in “Champagne Papi.” It’s an understandable impulse, as nothing could top the sheer sadness of “Teddy Perkins,” just as nothing could be as ridiculous as “B.A.N.,” so why not go small and precise instead?
“The Club” at least had the surreal punchline to the invisible car gag, where nothing in “Champagne Papi” is quite that strange, even if Darius (doing relatively well after the events of “Teddy Perkins”) convinces Van’s friend Nadine that we all really live in a simulation. But it’s an effective, well-observed check-in on Van’s loneliness in the aftermath of her failed ultimatum to Earn from “Helen,”(*) with a lot of clever sketches about what her friends are up to, and how strange a party like this is to begin with.