A return trip to Target by Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) for an air fryer kicks off the Atlanta Season 4 which is also going to be the final. He says to the shop assistant, “I realized I have an oven.” An alarm sounds with disturbing excess, and shoppers disperse throughout the department store, looting as they go.
Darius keeps his usual air of nonchalance, seems unconcerned about the chaos around him, and continues to focus on the task at hand. But the cashier takes Darius’s money and runs, leaving Darius with the unwanted item still in his hands.
A white woman in a wheelchair is blocking Darius’s path out of the store and she won’t let him leave with his air fryer. When he tries to explain that he has to go get a refund, she cuts him off, saying, “I would rather die than let you take that.” Darius, rolling his eyes, avoids colliding with her.
A few seconds later, the woman screams as looters spray her with a fire extinguisher. Then, she appears out of the haze, disheveled and armed with a knife, and she begins to run alongside Darius. At various points in the remainder of the episode, we hear the woman’s wheelchair clacking.
— AtlantaFX (@AtlantaFX) August 2, 2022
The episode, titled “The Most Atlanta,” was co-written by Donald Glover and Stephen Glover and serves as the series’ final return to FX after a season that was divisive among viewers. The series’ central characters were uprooted from Georgia and dropped into a European adventure full of strange, unclear, and often exasperating twists and turns in the third installment of Atlanta.
Earn (Donald Glover), Al (Brian Tyree Henry), Darius (Tyrese Gibson), and Van (Zazie Beetz) have all returned to the series’ namesake metropolis. For Atlanta, that means getting back to the show’s roots by focusing on its multifaceted characters as they investigate issues of race, class, and the modern world.
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A testament to this is the decision made by the Glovers and longtime Atlanta director Hiro Murai to open Season 4 with Darius’s meeting at Target. The character played by Deadra Moore, the woman who blocks his escape, is a close representation of a figure who was addressed at length during the protests in 2020 against police brutality and systematic racism following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
A video shows a white woman in a motorized wheelchair blocking the entrance to a looted Target in Minneapolis during the protests that followed Floyd’s murder by police officer Derek Chauvin went viral in May of 2020.
It was a point of dispute between the two camps on how the story was being framed. Race, disability, and power were all discussed, as well as the proliferation of “Wheelchair Jennifer” and “Target Jennifer” memes and the dangers of spreading false information online.
— AtlantaFX (@AtlantaFX) September 29, 2022
In this episode, it is unclear why looting is taking place in Atlanta or if it is part of a larger national trend. The white woman’s name, “Christine,” is chosen over the original name for her role. The change, however, occurred. In the season premiere, many fans saw the obvious resemblance, and many Twitter users praised the FX program for including the character and storyline.
Darius yells at Christine later in the episode, “I don’t know what Fox News has been feeding you,” as Christine follows him to an empty lot and approaches him slowly. When Christine continues to be prejudiced against him, Darius finally tries to reason with her by telling her he isn’t a looter or a member of Antifa, the name former President Donald Trump and many on the right have favored identifying “far-left anti-fascism” demonstrators. Christine, though, is unmoved: “I don’t care.”
The way Christine is portrayed provides a glimpse into the topical social and political discussions that the program often sparks, in typical Atlanta fashion. The Glovers and Murai expand upon the Target Jennifer meme with the dialogue between Darius and his attacker.
— AtlantaFX (@AtlantaFX) September 28, 2022
Also, this isn’t the first time Atlanta has recycled an internet meme or a piece of web lore. In “Alligator Man,” the premiere episode of Season 2, Darius once again promotes a popular meme, this time the character of “Florida Man.” Fans will remember his warning to Earn about the “Florida Man,” the lone one he believes is responsible for the state’s most bizarre crimes.
One of the best parts about the premiere of Season 4 of Atlanta was the show’s masterful and subtle use of pop culture references, online lingo, and social issues. The last season will take an unvarnished look at life in today’s America, stripping away the veneer to expose the hypocrisy, injustice, and systemic bias that persists in the country.
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