Atlanta – “Woods” Review
Another week, another new episode of Atlanta. Each week, Donald Glover and his team have managed to take what works in each episode and expand upon it. This week’s episode, “Woods,” is no exception. As always, if you are not all caught up with Atlanta, know that there will be spoilers ahead.
As Atlanta's “Robbin Season” gets closer to the end, every new episode is choosing to focus on one character at a time, with only minor appearances from other main series casts. This decision has shined a light on just how clever Atlanta’s storytelling is, and how focusing on one character at a time helps delve further into their motivations and defining qualities. This time around, Atlanta focuses on Alfred. Alfred’s story focuses on two ideas in “Woods.”
First, Alfred’s social media and management are put into question. While hanging out with his friend Ciera, Alfred is forced to ponder whether or not Earn is qualified enough to manage him now that he is becoming more famous. Alfred is also forced to ponder his social media presence after Ciera (who is Instagram famous) tells Alfred that they should get together in order to boost both of their social media success. Alfred is against this, and storms away from Ciera after she refused to delete a picture she took of them together. Ciera’s final words concern Alfred’s insistence to maintain his “hard” persona. She puts this into question, bringing Alfred’s story to its second main idea.
The second idea primarily concerns Alfred’s “hard” persona being put to the test. After walking away from Ciera, Alfred is confronted by three guys who claim to be Paper Boi fans. After realizing that Alfred isn’t as flashy as they expected him to be, they proceed to jump him. After tussling for a while, Alfred manages to escape in the Atlanta wilderness. After successfully escaping the perpetrators, Alfred is met by a strange man in the woods, who seems to be mentally unstable. The strange man follows Alfred around the words for what seems like hours, making comments about Alfred’s “hard” persona that he tries so hard to be true by. After walking for a few hours, the strange man pulls a knife on Alfred, giving him just 30 seconds to escape his sight before he “has to hurt him.” Alfred runs through the woods, broken, battered and terrified. This scene is reminiscent of the episode “Teddy Perkins” in the sense that it is framed and shot as if it was a short horror film. These character episodes give Donald Glover and the rest of his team the ability to play with any style they please.
Once out of the woods, Alfred begins to cry. This moment in the episode is the most important, as it shows that his “hard” persona wasn’t as strong as he thought. This sheds Alfred in a very vulnerable light, giving the character extra layers and making him more relatable. The episode closes with a fan in a gas station asking Alfred if he was Paper Boi. This time around, things go smoothly. Alfred takes a few pictures with the fan who is grateful, and they part ways. The dichotomy between the two fan interactions in the episode showcase just how rewarding and dangerous being famous in Atlanta (or really anywhere for that matter) can be. “Woods” may be one of Atlanta’s best character-centric episodes yet. It showed a different side to Alfred, who up until this point hadn't been seen as someone with vulnerabilities or weak moments. This episode also shed light on an idea that was touched on earlier in the season, in which Earn is not fully capable of managing someone with Paper Boi’s level of success. Hopefully this idea will be touched on again before season two comes to a close, giving both Earn and Alfred time to discuss this idea face to face. Check back each week to get your fix on everything Atlanta.
To read last week’s Atlanta review, click here.
Zach Hall is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.