Andrew Wyeth was a realist painter whose work inspired many. It’s his regionalist work featuring vast fields that certainly inspired “Andrew Wyeth. Alfred’s World,” an episode of Atlanta that seems to match a sense of serenity with the horrors of isolation. It amounts to a somewhat sneakily character-rich episode for Al, and with only one episode left, it could serve as a fine send-off to his character. Of course, I fully expect a sense of resolution regarding all of the characters in next week’s finale. Still, it’s not like Atlanta has ever been afraid to march to its own beat.
I’ve always enjoyed the exploits of Al on this show. This has not been a secret. Donald Glover must feel similar, as so many episodes of the series have dealt with Al’s adventures in trying to be himself, as he’s experienced a rise to fame, yet still has to struggle for attention, and proper justice, yet also avoid being singled out in the wrong way. Following the events of “Crank Dat Killer,” based on Soulja Boy’s advice, Al has not got himself that Safe Farm and is attempting to enjoy being on his own and self-sufficient.
From the start, things seem pretty good, with Al at least being industrious. On a farm in the middle of nowhere, he’s growing his weed, fixing up the house, and attempting to repair a backhoe. He’s avoiding calls from others, notably Earn, but it seems to be in favor of building up his independent spirit. He’s not a big fan of how things go down at the local hardware store, but he’ll survive all that if it means getting some proper supplies (and ordering more on Amazon).
There are some setbacks. He’s nearly killed by the backhoe twice. Once due to negligence when setting up to repair it from underneath. The other comes from actually fixing it up well enough to drive, only to accidentally roll it down a hill, where it nearly crushes him. The latter moment leads to an injury, forcing Al to crawl his way across his land back to his front doorstep.
Earlier in the episode, Al was made aware of some sort of animal interference regarding his crop. Later he was told of feral hogs that could kill a person if they’re not careful. It wasn’t the subtlest of setups, but by the time we’ve reached the tail-end of the episode, and Earl has just opened an Amazon package containing a frying pan, it’s easy to see where things are going. With that in mind, I’m not going to knock a show for its predictability when that comes countered with a sequence involving Paper Boi straddled with a hog and beating it to death with an instrument fit for a cartoon.
There’s a rich punchline, too, with a cut to the morning and Al frying up some bacon on his stove with the pan (never mind the sight of the hog’s body in the trashcan outside). Yes, despite all of his difficulties, Al seems determined to make farm living worthwhile, and I can only wonder what his next steps are.
As mentioned, Earn has tried calling, and when he finally gets through to Al (who has just suffered all of his various injuries and gone through a pig fight), it’s like nothing has happened. Why is this? Pure stubbornness on Al’s part? Does he not want to admit the dangers he’s put himself through? Perhaps he just needs to prove that he can manage himself. But wait, with Earn gearing up to leave for LA (with Van and Lottie), is there more to all of this?
Having proved himself as a manager, Earn is on his way to becoming a bigger deal on the west coast. Al has struggled with developing new material after losing his phone in Europe. Has any of this changed things? There’s a mention of contracts, making me wonder what’s been arranged once Earn leaves Atlanta. With that in mind, what is Al about to do? Sure, he can go to the studio and lay down new tracks when he’s ready, but what will the new status quo be?
From the start of this season, with the death of Blueblood and understanding how that rapper worked incredibly hard, even when seeing so little in return, it’s felt like Al has been weighing what makes the most sense for him. He attempted to get a young white protégé to little avail (the kid died but still won a Grammy). Later, Al was still stalked by an old acquaintance from the past. Now he’s living entirely alone for the sake of peace, quiet, and protection (despite the hogs). What will be enough for Al?
Given the tone of this episode, which moves from the warm sunny day to the abject horror of possibly being stranded without being to help one’s self, Al knows danger is around. But then you look at his entirely casual attitude with Earn and can see the man never loses his sense of confidence (short of a drug trip in Europe). With the show ending one episode from now, one can only hope that confidence continues to help Earn along, regardless of his plans for the future.
- True to form, director Hiro Murai has brought together a beautiful episode regarding the look and how it is all edited together. Great use of the outdoor environments.
- “What kinds of crops are there?” *long pause* “Corn.” – Al’s perfect response to the hardware store owner.
- I’m glad Al made it out fine in the end, but I was seriously concerned if the show had plans to off one of its main characters with one episode to go. Fortunately, he’s okay and even gets to keep his foot!
- “Chillin’” – Al has no intention of getting into what happened to him.
- “Farms are dangerous.” – Earn offering good information, part 1.
- “White people can get ashy. Black people can get sunburned.” – Earn offering good information, part 2.
- Next week brings it all to an end. What’s gonna happen to Darius?
Atlanta is now airing on FX and streaming on Hulu.