Welcome to Atlanta: A Recap of Episode 9: North of the Border

The latest from television's best show.
By    May 3, 2018

Jesse Taylor never started a fight he couldn’t win. 

The boys are all back together again (even Tracy) in “North of the Border,” an episode that is destined to go down as one of the series’ best. It features a fun road trip that quickly goes sideways, Earn getting his ass beat twice (once by a girl), a bunch of white pledge boy penis’ and a dramatic moment where Paper Boi finally makes the inevitable decision to fire his unqualified cousin.

Atlanta has been building to Earn’s demise since he first wiggled his way into the role of rap manager, with one success linked to at least ten even bigger failures. Earn ends the episode at rock bottom, both mentally and physically beaten down. It’s hard to see him recovering from this.

The tipping points for Paper Boi comes after Earn corners him into performing at a free college gig in Statesboro, Georgia. Earn claims it will lead to a “Spring Fling” show that pays $60,000. Paper Boi is not happy about wasting his time for no money.

Tracy, whose one-week stay was “months ago,” talks his way into the trip as Paper Boi’s security despite Earn trying to make every excuse for him not to come. He ends up being the only one getting paid ($200 out of Earn’s pocket). To make matters worse, Paper Boi learns they aren’t even staying at a hotel. Earn set up free boarding with a fan on Instagram, Violet, who runs the Pajama Jam event. With just 300 followers, an Instagram star like Sierra from last week she is not.

Taking his security detail seriously, Tracy thinks someone is tailing them shortly after they drive off (after the car quickly turns off, Tracy reassures everyone it’s all good).

Earn thinks the girl’s room number, “A1,” is a good sign. He’s quickly shown to be wrong when the roommate, Honey, rudely opens the door and is not happy about their presence in her apartment. This is bad news, assuming she’s the Treasurer of the Spring Fling Earn alluded to earlier, who had the $60K hook-up.

Violet takes Paper Boi to her room and immediately shows herself to be a nut—telling him of her dreams of being a magnificent crocodile who eats Paper Boi, a beautiful white crane. “There was blood everywhere.” She also has footprints on her ceiling; most likely not from dancing to a Lionel Richie song.

At the Pajama Jam after party, Paper Boi corresponds with a student writing a “Paper Boi paper” for class, causing a jealous Violet to pour her drink on him. Tracy runs up the stairs to confront her and inadvertently knocks her backwards by pushing her head back as she was shoving him. Earn saves Violet from a potentially violent end, and a likely end to Paper Boi’s career, when he catches her before she crashes down backwards on the concrete stairs. Violet repays Earn with a viscous slap to his face (beatdown #1).

Violet’s brother and his large crew come after them. We see the glaring differences between Earn and Tracy when Earn tries to bring everyone together as non-violent black people, and Tracy sprints into the scene and punches Violet’s brother in the face.

After escaping, the foursome walks the white frat house neighborhood on a street that looks similar to the one Lakeith Stanfield was kidnapped on at the beginning of Get Out. A campus security cart drives by with what appears to be a female victim of assault. In desperate need of weed, Paper Boi connects with some frat boy fans, who offer to share their backwoods and smoke him out.

Smoking weed in front of a giant confederate flag, one of the frat leaders claims Paper Boi is one of his two favorite rappers, along with Post Malone. Tracy and Darius leave the “Confederate Flag Room” for the “Gun Room,” leaving Paper Boi and Earn with the Post Malone fan, who always thinks Pimp C was one of the last real prophets and makes the nude pledges stand and snap to “Laffy Taffy.” He leaves the cousins to themselves to give the pledges a mud bath.


Finally alone, the two share a laugh at the madness of their situation before Alfred fires his cousin. “I think we need to talk about the real problem.” Earn thinks it’s Tracy. It’s not Tracy. Yes, Earn saved the girl from smashing the back of her head on the stairs, but if he wasn’t such a poor manager who coupled his client Paper Boi with a psychopath fan, they never would have been in that situation. Paper Boi is moving in on Clark County’s manager, something that’s been in the works behind the scenes for a while now. “I don’t think you’re cut out for it.” Earn silently walks off without putting up a fight.

After a night at the frat house, the guys take the campus shuttle back to their car and find that Violet has ransacked it. Their bags are thrown all over the lawn, clothes cut in pieces, no weed, and Earn’s laptop is missing.

When Earn finally does put up a fight, it’s with the wrong thing (Violet’s door) and person (Tracy). Earn can’t take Tracy’s incessant talking on an otherwise solemn ride home. When he realizes Tracy stole a gun from the frat house, Earn asks Al to pull the car over so he can beat Tracy’s “dumb country ass.” Earn won’t let it go, so Al finally pulls over. Tracy doesn’t want to fight Earn, but the little guy won’t stop coming at him. Tracy’s somewhat forced to go off on him like Dee-Bo did Red, except Tracy smashes his fist into Earn’s face over and over again. It ends when Tracy slams Earn face-first into the ground.

How Earn, and Atlanta, respond to this episode and Earn’s low-point should be very interesting. It can’t get any worse than this for Earn. Or so one would think.

What did Darius do?

  • Asks Earn if, by chance, he’s allergic to jicama.
  • Believes that any situation with a bad bitch with over 300K Instagram followers could be tough. “You know, she got an unrealistic worldview on how the world works.”
  • Takes his own fork on road trips. “I’m ready!”
  • Ever the kid, when he sees a picnic table, he runs up to it, jumps up and hop-scotches his way across it before hopping back down.
  • Claims Clark County is an industry plant.
  • Has an amazing nose for weed from afar, even identifying it by type (in this case, Cintronella).
  • Knows an elephant rifle when he sees one.
  • Claims to be thinking about joining the NRA.
  • Can’t even be mad at the artistic way Violet cut up Paper Boi’s adidas Samba’s. “That’s kind of impressive.”
  • Is not listened to as the voice of reason when Earn loses his shit over his laptop after being fired by Paper Boi.
  • Wears his cut-up sweats like a headdress.

Up Tonight:

Just two episodes left in Season 2. The preview for episode 10, “FUBU,” looks like a potential flashback to Earn and Paper Boi’s younger days where one of them gets caught by the kids at school wearing knock-off FUBU gear. Directed by Donald Glover and written by Stephen Glover, it might be based on real-life stories of their days growing up.

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!