Donald Glover‘s Atlanta returned after a four-year hiatus that felt more like an eternity on Thursday night (March 24) with a two-episode debut of season three.

“Three Slaps” is sure not to be exactly what a starving fanbase was expecting but isn’t that the beauty in a show that keeps viewers’ emotions on a spinning carousel? Outside of a late appearance from Earn (Donald Glover), none of the original cast is seen in the season premiere.

FX’s caption for the episode even had jokes, “Wow it’s been a minute. I mean, I like this episode about the troubled kid but we waited 50 years for this?”

The season kicks off with a conversation between a Black fisherman and a white redneck ironically named Earnest taking a boat out for a late-night fishing session on what’s a haunted body of water where a thriving Black society once called home.

Earnest and Black speak about how anyone in America can essentially purchase whiteness and when hands reach inside the boat, fans are introduced to a character by the name of Loquareeous who wakes up from a nightmare.

Loquareeous is a Black elementary school student who gets in trouble for his enthusiastic dancing after his teacher announces they’ll be going on a field trip to see Black Panther 2. His mother and grandfather are called into the school and momma tries to embarrass Loquareeous by making him hit the Nae Nae and Whip dance moves he loves.

Child services eventually show up at his house and Loquareeous now heads to live with a white lesbian couple, which makes life absolutely miserable. Amber and Gayle exploit Black foster children in what could be a Get Out sequel in itself.

Loquareeous is renamed by the foster parents as Larry is forced to eat nasty meals like organic fried chicken and capers that upset his stomach. They even have their own version of slavery with the adopted kids working for free in the backyard with Loquareeous wearing a straw hat that a cop jokes makes him look like Aloe Blacc.

At this point, “Larry” knows the deal and he just wants his old life back which wasn’t so bad. When Amber and Gayle kill a suspicious child services worker, they realize their time is running out and go on a murder-suicide mission.

Loquareeous sees what’s going on during their “road trip” and just before Amber (Laura Dreyfuss) drives off a cliff into a body of water similar to that at the start of the episode, Loquareeous safely escapes with the other adopted siblings in the nick of time.

That’s when Earn (Donald Glover) makes his season three debut waking up from the nightmare next to a random white woman in a European hotel room to set the stage for episode two “Sinterklaas Is Coming to Town.”

Earn emerges from his hungover stupor being bombarded with hundreds of texts as he realizes he’s late for his flight from Copenhagen to Amsterdam. Oh, and Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) is locked up behind bars after a wild night with two women.

While Glover’s character is getting searched at TSA with his pants down, Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) is tasked with entertaining Van (Zazie Beetz) for the day. Darius steals a scene with his brutally honest humor when discussing why he can’t “pro-create” with Van. “I had my balls crushed when I was a kid in Nigeria,” he jokes.

The Darius-Van journey twists in bizarre fashion as they go from a thrift store to somehow ending up at Tupac Shakur’s funeral. Pac is put out of his misery when he’s suffocated to death with a bunch of white people by his side while “Hail Mary” soundtracks his peculiar demise.

Earn’s finally in Amsterdam and he picks up $20,000 in advance cash from the concert promoter to bail Paper Boi out of European jail, but there’s a catch. Paper Boi is enjoying his time behind bars ordering a Schnitzel and a Coca-Cola for lunch while taking a nap with his supporters outside chanting for his freedom.

After the meal, Paper Boi and Earn are on their way to the venue when they’re startled by the visual of adults and kids wearing blackface across town for its “Sinterklass” celebration, which is explained as a holiday that’s been passed down for generations.

Those same blackface individuals are filling up Paper Boi’s concert with facepaint and fake afros that cause Paper Boi to cancel the show because he knows it would be career suicide to take the stage. He leaks out the backdoor and leaves Earn to handle the promoter’s anger.

Glover’s vision for the episode exposes how racist practices across the globe have been normalized as just parts of society in cringeworthy fashion.

With the madness finally winding down around 4 a.m. on a day that’s probably aged Earn another 10 years, he runs into Van, who is staying a few doors down at his hotel oddly getting some ice during the wee hours of the night.

The whirlwind of an episode comes to a fitting close with Earn getting a hilarious text from a starving Paper Boi. “I need 300 pieces of fried chicken. All legs,” he writes.

Two out of the 10 episodes are now in the books and the outlook on the rest of the auspicious season is definitely promising as fans were treated to the full thrilling yet mind-boggling Atlanta experience this week.

Tune in next Thursday (March 31) at 10 p.m. on FX for episode three to see what Donald Glover has in store.

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