In new Atlanta episode “Crank Dat Killer,” Paper Boi is stalked by a local serial killer. And yes, Soulja Boy makes a cameo.
Atlanta is just four episodes away from its series finale on FX, with Paper Boi/Al (Brian Tyree Henry) living the high life — or so it seems. The latest episode, the Stephen Glover-written “Crank Dat Killer,” opens with Al, Earn (Donald Glover) and Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) discussing the titular character, a local serial killer who targets people who made dance videos to “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy).”
Darius and Earn joke about the rumored killer, with Earn name-dropping former nightclub The Poole Palace and snap music rapper Fabo. Instead of joining in on the comedic banter, Al grows concerned, showing the two that he and a high school friend posted a “Crank Dat Jimmy Neutron” video to YouTube in 2007. Al says he’d ask his former friend to remove the video but speculates that he’s already dead. Darius points out that the video has 25 views, but Al asks Earn to see if the video can be scrubbed from the internet altogether. (The YouTube sidebar also shows a surprise nod to season one of Atlanta, with one clip showing fictional talk show Montague and a commercial from Ahmad White.)
While Al wraps his head around the Crank Dat Killer, Earn is on the search for “Nike Miracles” that are popular among the reseller community. While in the studio, an artist named “Some Guy Named Doug” (Wisdom Allah) urges Al to collaborate, but Al’s so repulsed at the idea that he intentionally pours cognac on the mixing console to avoid working with him. After the recording session, Al discovers a skull and crossbones emoji in the comments section of the “Crank Dat Jimmy Neutron” video.
Then enters a third storyline, with a Greenbriar Mall employee named Roberto (Adrian Mauro) who aspires to become a rapper. Dropped off at work by his girlfriend, she claims to support him but asks him to consider “getting a real job.” The man deflects, mentioning how Big Sean was discovered by Ye at a Detroit radio station, and that he could have a similar by-chance moment with an established rapper. “All I need is one opportunity, and I’m gonna be prepared for when that moment comes,” he explains.
Also in the mall parking lot are Earn and Darius, who pay a visit to “Shoe Man” and his van full of rare sneakers. Both are still on the hunt for Nike Miracles and Shoe Man has multiple sizes. But he doesn’t want money from the duo – he asks to see them kiss. While Darius is up for it, Earn declines, the two contemplating whether the shoes are worth being put in a compromising situation.
Still psyched out by the Crank Dat Killer, Al calls Soulja Boy, who’s in the process of moving to escape being the next target. The rapper, who announced he would be on Atlanta while visiting The Breakfast Club last year, says that he “basically invented YouTube” with his dance videos. After Soulja Boy advises Al to get a “safe farm,” Al hears knocking on his roof and leaves his penthouse.
Back in the van, Shoe Man tells Earn and Darius that he needs to watch them kissing for two minutes to get the $10,000 sneakers. “I like sneakers, you like sneakers,” Earn says to Darius. “But like a lot of Black men, we put an excessive amount of value in them. Is it really worth our dignity?” Darius reasons that there’s only 1,000 Nike Miracles in the world, and convinces Earn to share a kiss for two pairs of the sneakers.
In disguise, Al also comes to the mall wearing sunglasses and a hat without a logo. Roberto gets tipped off to Al being at the mall, dropping his food court samples to prepare for his big break. Eventually, a gunman shows up to confront Al, who tries to escape. A shooting ensues, with mall guests returning fire to the gunman, as Georgia is an open carry state. Roberto surprises Al with a random freestyle, but Al pushes him through a glass window.
Back with Earn and Darius, the two begin kissing to “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo, but Shoe Man gets shot through the neck. Both men then take off with the Nike Miracles. As for Al, the rapper ends up getting saved by Some Guy Named Doug, who rescues him from the shootout. Swearing to “owe” Doug, Al half-heartedly agrees to a collaboration over a new beat Doug made.
That evening, Darius reveals that the Crank Dat Killer has been arrested, although he looks nothing like the shooter who went after Al. Ultimately, Al tells Earn and Darius that he ran into someone who he had “beef” with in high school, and that the mall shooter wasn’t the Crank Dat Killer.
Through dark humor, “Crank Dat Killer” sees Al fighting to escape his past while at a crossroads in his newfound stardom. Since the start of the series, he’s been no stranger to near-death experiences. But with Atlanta coming to its end soon, we might see an unexpected surrealist turn.