Compared to the last three episodes of Atlanta, a truly stellar series of laugh-out-loud examples of the show’s chameleon modes, “Snipe Hunt” is seriously chill. There are no city landmarks or intricate surreal ensemble rooms; the conflict is internal instead of introducing a random antagonist like Nando or Zan. We don’t meet any new characters other than the brief appearance of the owner of the campsite, which might be a record for this show. Instead, director Hiro Murai and writer Francesca Sloane produce a quiet family drama in the middle of a sprawling campground, focusing on the characters and giving us more time with Earn, Van, and Lottie as characters. family unit.
Atlanta hasn’t spent much time in rural areas since “Woods” (which Murai also directed). At the time, the woods were dark and threatening, even back in the day, but “Snipe Hunt” has more than one dreamy, naturally sunny atmosphere similar to the post-pandemic scenes of Murai’s work on station eleven. (If you didn’t catch station eleven, Look at this. Please.)
Even though the forest is absolutely stunning, there also seems to be a hint of threat. First, I thought it was just because I didn’t fuck nature like that, but there’s also a subversion in the composition of the shot. In the book shots of Earn and Van loading and unloading cars, we see them from afar, as we are looking through the trees. There’s this great shot where Earn is peeing and something’s blurry behind him, but it’s just Van and Lottie peeing too. So there is the moment Lottie watches in the trees, as if someone – perhaps the campground host and his wife – were to spy she of a distance. Once I stopped approaching the screen looking for The Haunting of Hill House hidden ghosts, I realized that voyeuristic framing can also mean an intimacy that comes from being alone with others in this vast landscape.
Once at the campsite, the trip is neither the best nor a disaster. IIt’s just a bit embarrassing. Van obviously camped before (because of course she did), but Earn doesn’t really know what he’s doing. He tries to shape a multi room tries to a porch, but apparently a attempted so big means they won’t have enough body heat to stay warm. On a later hike, he suggests crossing a river which would obviously wash them away if they tried. Although Van erases everything, Lottie is alone world, and over time it becomes clear that she prefers to address her mother rather than her father. She even says while fishing that she wishes her grandmother and grandfather were there.
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While Earn is frustrated with the distance between him and Lottie, that makes sense. The six-year-old probably wants to be around people she’s more familiar with; we saw in “Work Ethics!” that her relationship with Van is very strong, and grandma keeps her and takes her to Kirkwood Chocolate cinema. As Earn says, the three don’t hang out all the time, and that’s awkward. Assuming Earn works more and not as much as he was in previous seasons, there is a tension between father and daughter that will take more quality time to heal. Which won’t be easy if there are three time zones apart.
When Van and Earn finally have the L.A. conversationafter a day ofenjoy nature, it’s clear that they’re both having trouble getting out of their chests. Van says the quiet part out loud, that Earn tries to claw his way into Lottie’s heart with extravaganzas like renting out the entire campground. This big money-maker seems more a fan of throwing money at a problem than having personal responsibility (see “The Easiest Little Horse”), and there is a valid concern about on whether a move would change anything about his relationship with Van and Lottie. Van says she would rather stay in Atlanta, where she has familiarity and friends, not to mention the support of Lottie’s grandparents. Van worries that Earn sees her as a “security blanket,” and it’s fair to wonder if Earn would take her out and then leave her and Lottie to their own devices without investing time in them as than family.
When Earn picks up the conversation in the tent, it’s very natural, with him fumbling, get your thoughts out, and coming as arrogant. He then says he wants to be a family, but focusing on Lottie, pointing out that she is “the physical manifestation of what happens when we come together”. (Again, Sloane’s script is brilliant.) Once Earn can finally say the words and admit that he loves Van as a woman, not just as Lottie’s mother, it seems to surprise her. The couple’s relationship went from romantic to friendly to superficial, but from Van’s expression, it seems like she assumed he would always be there out of an obligation, not a desire. He’s the most vulnerable we’ve ever seen outside of therapy. It really seems like something has changed in him since Europe, maybe because it was a time when Van felt really far away, like he could lose her. Either way, Van sees her sincerity and says yes, though it will likely take a few weeks of action to back up her words before she’s all in.
I skipped the snipe hunt the episode got its name from, but that’s the part of the plot thatIt would become a classic family anecdote, casually mentioned by Earn and Van as Lottie grows up and they reminisce about her childhood over the years. When I first read the title of the episode, I definitely thought, as Earn did, that “snipe” would mean something racist, which means I fell for the same joke as him and young Van. Snipe hunting is apparently a Outside tradition, where beginners are led to search for a mysterious animal with an invented hunting strategy. The part where Lottie catches actually whistles, lands-something that looks like an eel? Just a highlight of Atlanta’s Marks the family vacation.
- I never considered the purpose of sleeping bags besides, like, making sure you don’t touch dirt while you sleep (or a tent for shelter). This body heat thing makes sense!
- I always have an existential question when it comes to stunting: do you have money to spend, or does it just show that a salesperson/influencer/Instagram has succeeded in you convince you to get the flashiest and most useless thing? (For the tent, the REI seller wins.)
- You know when people say a kid has “been here before”? Lottie gives that vibe, somewhere between bad mood and catching the toad.
- Earn says he’s been dreaming of Van since Amsterdam, but they only met in London. It was in Amsterdam that she started acting strangely.
- Van’s “That’s a little passionate Kanye…” may take you offstage a bit, but I get why the joke is there. Earn throws a lot of emotion at this moment.
- The more I think about it, the more I like that it’s just a cold episode. Atlantaproves he can pull off anything, including a slice of family life.
- Sade’s needle drops “Your love, Ithe king” and “Love is stronger than pride” Travel reservations are so beautiful.
- The Earn question asks, “What’s so great about Atlanta that you can’t leave it behind?” This means little in the context of a possible move, but it is a theme that I expected this season as a whole to explore more. So far, if anything, we’ve seen Al reckon with this question the the most, as he receives reminders of his past and ponders a possible future. Earn has been ready to cut and run maybe since those early therapeutic conversations, but he’s been gone before (for Princeton). It might be easier for him to leave. Basically, I’ve been waiting for Earn and Al’s conversation about Earn’s move all season.