Atlanta Season 3 Episode 1 Recap and Ending, Explained

Atlanta‘ is a comedy-drama series created by Donald Glover (‘Community‘) that follows Earn Marks, an artist manager, and his rapper cousin, Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles, as they deal with various experiences while navigating the hip-hop scene in the titular city. After a lengthy hiatus, the series returns with its third season that takes our favorite characters outside Atlanta and to Europe. However, instead of reuniting us with the likes of Earn, Alfred, Darius, and Van, the season 3 premiere takes a detour.

It focuses on a young troubled kid Loquareeous, who goes through a series of increasingly haunting personal experiences. The change in the narrative dynamic and sudden focus on Loquareeous will certainly leave viewers with questions about the conclusion of the young boy’s tale. In that case, here’s everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Atlanta’ season 3 episode 1! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Atlanta Season 3 Episode 1 Recap

The first episode of season 3 is titled ‘Three Slaps’ and opens on a boat in the middle of a lake. A white man and a black man are talking about how a person’s race or color can affect their perspective. However, the scene quickly shifts to a classroom, implying that the conversation was the dream of a middle-school student, Loquareeous. After disrupting the class with his extensive celebration over the upcoming field trip, the principal calls Loquareeous’ parents.

However, Loquareeous’ mother is extremely unhappy with the call. She disciplines Loquareeous, and his grandfather slaps him thrice. Loquareeous’ caring white guidance counselor takes notice of the situation and deems it as abuse. She calls Social Services, who show up at Loquareeous’ house. Loquareeous’ mother is enraged at him, and despite the kid’s apprehensions, he is put into a foster home. Loquareeous is sent to live with Amber and Gayle, a couple who are foster parents to three other children of color.

Loquareeous tries to adjust to his new surroundings but is immediately put off by the behavior of his new moms. The situation becomes increasingly scary as Amber and Gayle’s self-aware and informed actions of care towards their children begin to reek of cruelty. Loquareeous tries to escape from his foster home but fails. A black social worker arrives at the family’s doorstep to check on the children. However, Gayle handles the situation, and the social worker is never seen again. The following morning, the family sets out on a road trip to Grand Canyon but Loquareeous fears that something terrible will happen.

Atlanta Season 3 Episode 1 Ending: Was Earn Dreaming About Loquareeous?

In the episode’s final moments, Amber and Gayle feel the pressure of parenting the four children. On the road to Grand Canyon, Amber drives the car off a ledge and into the nearby lake. However, Loquareeous manages to slip out of the car just in time and saves himself. Loquareeous returns home, and his mother is glad to have him back. Loquareeous watches the news as social services rescue the other orphans. However, Loquareeous ignores the news and switches the channel to watch cartoons.

The episode highlights the difference between the upbringing of a white household and a black household. Although Loquareeous’ mother is strict, she cares and wishes the best for her son. From her perspective, she is preparing her son for the more challenging battles of life that come with being an African-American in the USA. On the other hand, Amber and Gayle care about how their actions as parents will be conceived by society over the welfare of the children. Ultimately, the tough love upbringing of his mother helps Loquareeous save himself from certain doom.

Through Loquareeous’ plights, the episode highlights how racial minorities perceive the actions of racial dominant groups and comments on how privilege affects a person’s lifestyle irrespective of their color or race. In the closing moments, Loquareeous stares at the camera, hinting that his entire ordeal might have been a dream similar to the one he had in class. To further complicate the scenario, the scene then shifts to Earn, who wakes up in a hotel room.

The ending heavily implies that Earn was dreaming about Loquareeous and his struggles the entire time. The dream can be seen as a projection of the insecurities and fears that Earn lives with as a black man. Moreover, if the events faced by Loquareeous are a dream, then this allows the narrative to tackle a conflicting and sensitive story about racism, childhood abuse, parenthood, and brutality without feeling heavy-handed or offensive. Ultimately, it is safe to say that Loquareeous is a fragment of Earn’s imagination, stemming from his insecurities and fears about the society he lives in. Thus, it provides a unique insight into how Earn interacts with the people around him who are considerably more privileged than him.

Read More: Where Was Atlanta Filmed?