After a year-long hiatus, FX's Atlanta (executive producer: Dianne McGunigle) returned for Season 2 on March1. And while fans should be expecting nothing less than complete weirdness from the series by now, the opening drive-through scene on Atlanta had plenty of viewers on Twitter scratching their heads and wondering what exactly it meant. Although the events seemed a tad out of place with the rest of the episode, that cold open could speak to the Season 2 subtitle: Atlanta Robbin' Season.
Titled “Alligator Man,” the Season 2 premiere first introduces viewers to two characters we've never seen before. The young black men casually hang out in an house, playing FIFA on Xbox and guzzling down Gatorade. One casually mentions drugs being sold at a nearby fast-food chicken joint. According to the guy, when you order a #17 at the drive-through, the worker will sell you an eighth of weed. The two agree to head over there and that's when things take a turn for the worst.
When the duo pull up to the drive-through, instead of just ordering a #17 and keeping it moving, they put on masks and pull out guns to rob the place. One of them shoots at the employee at the window and rushes inside to grab the restaurant’s stash of weed.
He doesn't get too far with the product before the manager starts firing at him with an automatic rifle. A gunfight ensues, and when the robber bolts to the car, the manager riddles the back of it with bullets. Before the car peels away, an innocent woman gets out of the back seat, crying and bleeding from her head. She screams at the top of her lungs, and the season officially begins.
Atlanta has been off the air since the Season 1 finale in November 2016. The first season brought in the highest ratings for a comedy in FX's entire history, according to a press release. So it's no surprise that Glover — who also created the series — needed to take things up a notch this season.
Glover's brother and head story editor for Atlanta Stephen Glover explained at the Television Critics Association panel for the show that it was derived from an annual chain of events in the metropolitan city. Per Nerdist, Glover said:
“‘Robbin’ season’ for most people who don’t know is a time in Atlanta before Christmas time and New Years where a bunch of crime happens in that time because people have to get Christmas gifts and people need money so it’s a time when robberies go up all the time. You might get your package stolen off your front porch. When we were there shooting my neighbor got her car stolen off her driveway. It’s a very tense and desperate time so we wanted to make that a backdrop to our season and our characters are going through that same type of transition their whole lives to where they’re headed now. Robbin’ Season is kind of like a metaphor for all of our characters.”
The robbery at the beginning may have felt out of place, seeing as it features characters Atlanta viewers haven't met before. But according to Glover's comments, the sense of place and time is very necessary in order to take the show's characters into Season 2. Additionally, Donald Glover said that the general tone for this season of Atlanta explores the idea of survival.
“Are you gonna eat or are you gonna be eaten?” he said during the press tour, per Vulture. “I think that’s something people don’t realize. Black people have to make a choice. That choice defines who you are. It’s hard.”
One can never be quite sure of what to expect when watching an episode of Atlanta — and this season doesn't seem like it'll be any different than the last, in that respect. But if the opening drive-through scene is any indication of what's to come on the series, it's that no one is safe and everyone is under stress.
Editor's note: After publication, we discovered this article did not meet our editorial standards: There were portions that did not correctly attribute another source. It has been updated to meet our standards.