NOTE: This is an episode review. Of course there are going to be spoilers.

“Learning requires failure.” This line from Darius, who sounded like a wise father counseling a son as he passed the quote to Earn at the last-minute passport office, came just after Earn read a text from Van saying she and their daughter Lodi might move in with her mother. While it was in response to a moment of honesty between the two friends after Earn admitted he wasn’t  doing so well, it could easily summarize what we all learned from Atlanta: Robbin’ Season, particularly as the final episode of the year came to a close.

From the way things had been going for Earn, I was fully expecting him to do something completely crazy when I saw that the 11th and final episode of Atlanta: Robbin’ Season was titled “Crabs in a Barrel.” I figured before this episode ended, Earn would find some tragic way to pull Alfred back when things might have finally been looking up. Maybe he’d see that his cousin, whom he used to manage, was about to sign a deal to be represented by the same team that handles “Yoo-Hoo” rapper Clark County, and would intentionally or otherwise cause things to fall apart. Regardless of what it was, I was ready for Earn to experience some level of meltdown or ultimate rejection, and him becoming the odd man out as everyone else moved on without him.

I mean, it would have been understandable after everything that’s happened to Earn, and all of the failures he’s endured, through his own fault and from circumstances over which he had no control. And I don’t think he’d mean to cripple his cousin’s career rather than see himself involved in Alfred’s succeed, but as we learned this season, you never know what TF is going to happen on Atlanta. It’s good to know I was just tripping, because Earn proved in this episode to be on the road to maturity, at least up until boarding the flight.

Earn learned a lot during Robbin’ Season, and proved it in “Crabs in a Barrel.” He figured out how manage the world around Alfred and himself. He handles a good amount of business in this season finale, getting to a meeting with a lawyer that wants to represent Alfred slightly late, only because of a terrible Lyft driver who’s too busy listening to gospel music to follow the GPS’ directions. He goes from there to the apartment, where he handles Kenny the mover and his team, who he later pays $50 extra to cancel their lunch plans and continue working. From there he and Lodi meet Van and the teacher at school, where we learn he’ll be gone for two months or so on a European tour. He also gets Darius’ passport expiration handled, while asking the Jewish clerk at the passport office a great question about whether or not there are black lawyers just as good as Jewish ones, and receiving a great answer that there definitely are, but “black people just don’t have the connections — for systemic reasons.”

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It’s good to know that Alfred still has Earn’s back, although his street-level reasoning for keeping him on was a little strange to hear. He lets Earn know he saw him switch bags, making the gun someone else’s problem/felony, and makes a fair point that others will do what they must to survive, so it’s understandable that he wants his own people to have the same mentality. But Alfred also tells Earn, “You the only one that knows what I’m about. And you give a fuck. I need that, aiight?” And wasn’t the gun still Earn’s fault, since he first tried to pass the gun off to Alfred in one of the moving boxes, and then carelessly kept it in the bag?

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We also finally got to see Lodi, Earn and Van’s beautiful daughter, for the first time in a long time, and she’s apparently doing extremely well, despite the chaos happening around her. Maybe those headphones and tablet are helpful after all, when your dad is Princeton-smart but homeless, and your mom, who was a teacher, lost her job because she admitted to smoking weed in front of her supervisor at the school. While all sorts of crazy has happened, Lodi’s showing enough educational aptitude to warrant a teacher calling her own school “awful,” and suggesting Earn and Van move her to a private school. Even through the failed relationship between her parents, Lodi is learning.

As the father of a 6-year-old daughter myself, I completely relate to Van and Earn’s situation when they discovered Lodi’s level of intelligence, because for a whole lot of people in Atlanta who either teach at an Atlanta Public School or send their children to one, early learning and grade school are difficult issues to navigate. The blame isn’t totally on the teachers, the schools, the parents or even the kids — it’s a mixture of all, with additional elements that create lowered expectations and pathways to what the teacher meant when she compared Lodi’s current school to a slaughterhouse. “If I see a steer smart enough to get out of the pen,” she answers Van when asked if she’d have honestly recommended a different school for Lodi if she wasn’t smart, “I leave the gate open.”

The gate wasn’t left open for Tracy, who we see at the end of the show was locked out of the apartment without warning. It looks like Alfred came around and realized his cousin, with all his immaturity and flaws, was right about his former felon friend, and determined that he could deal with the chaos caused by one much easier than the other. Or as Alfred put it from his seat on the plane, “Niggas do not care about us. Niggas gonna do whatever they gotta do to survive because they ain’t got no choice. We ain’t got no choice either.” That line was probably intended for Tracy, in absentia, more than anyone else on the show so far, although it of course pertained to so many others he and the rest of the crew encountered this season, from Ciara to the plug who robbed him in the car, the kids who robbed him on the train tracks, Kenny and the janky moving crew, and even the black lawyer, who was a graduate of both Howard University and Georgetown, but strangely, sell-out-ingly, called himself a Hoyas fan first.

Like the final episode of Season 1, which I admit to liking slightly more than this one for reasons of resolution, we are left with hope that things are going upward and onward for our three heroes from here, which means the gate is open in other ways. We see them convene on the couch for a smoke (it was good to see Alfred insist that Darius pass Earn the joint), while waiting on their ride to the airport. We were told in Donald Glover’s New Yorker interview that the couch outside the apartment represented an anchor of sorts for the three show heroes, intended to be a place of familiarity and continuity — a bridge of sorts to connect the stories of Earn, Darius and Alfred to something regular. And so many irregular things occurred during Robbin’ Season that, if nothing else, at least we get to see them somewhat relaxed and normal, if that’s what it can be called.

But how normal will things be next season, when they presumably arrive in Europe? Will the show be in tour mode for more than an episode or two? And we know Europeans are crazy — who wants to guess what kind of craziness we’ll see them get into? And then what… will Alfred truly become Paper Boi while he’s overseas? It’s a very common thing for rappers to build international audiences as they’re creating initial buzz. What if they come back home to find out that Paper Boi is now an out-of-control phenomenon, and we all look back at Robbin’ Season later on to realize nothing was the same since? And what will happen to Van and Earn’s relationship, or Lodi? Will Van end up dating that white guy in Helen? Will Earn get super-homesick? Will Darius stay behind when they return to the states, backpacking his way through Europe until he has some sort of breakthrough that takes him into even higher, weirder planes of thought? Man, I have no idea.

All I know is that I wish this show didn’t have to end, even for however few months it’ll be before it starts again. And with the momentum that all of the major characters now have — particularly Glover with his final upcoming Childish Gambino album and the release of Solo, as well as Zazie Beetz’s role in Deadpool 2, and Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You — it doesn’t seem like a new season will be here in 2019, but we can all hope for the best, if not for our own extremely weirded-out viewing pleasure, for the real people involved with making this phenomenal show, and the fictional characters who are living lives beyond our site in the meantime. May they have safe travels from Hartsfield-Jackson, and may they not be gone from Atlanta too long.

Rating: 4.6 out of 5