I remember the greatest haircut I ever got. I never learned the barber’s real name. We all just called him Work. The very first time he cut my hair, it was perfect. LIke he had been working on my head for years. Even told me the proper way to brush it. I felt invincible for the entire following week.

It’s the feeling I recalled when watching Alfred finally get his well-earned cut in the latest episode of Atlanta. But only after proving that there is a reward for the patient. Even if it’s a devil’s bargain.

Things start off poorly for Al. He’s waiting in the chair for a barber that’s yet to arrive. Enter Bibby, terminally late and jabbering away on his Bluetooth. That leads to some miscommunication between Bibby and Alfred when the latter can’t determine who the former is talking to.

What we do know is that Alfred wants “the usual.” We know that because Bibby absent-mindedly asks Al repeatedly what he wants. Once we’ve established what the customer wants, we gon’ get this cut. But first…

Bibby wants to chat about the lamentable lack of black people on movie posters (while he has a poster for his own stand-up comedy show plastered to the wall). Even Key and Peele were upstaged by a cat on a poster for a movie that they made. Or has Alfred seen the latest and greatest viral video?

By the way, Bibby’s gotta go somewhere, even though he’s only taken one pass at Alfred’s head. But if Alfred comes with him, Bibby will give him a haircut. It’s just down the road to his girl’s house. She’s not happy because Bibby is more than an hour late — a transgression for which he has an excuse. It’s Alfred’s fault (“his carburetor was jaundiced”) and Bibby was just being a good Samaritan by giving him a ride. But now that he’s here, Alfred can get this cut. But first…

Bibby’s gotta cut his girlfriend’s kid. He’s got an appointment. Which just so happens to have been before Alfred’s appointment. But once he finishes the kid, Alfred can get this cut. But first…

The power’s out. Because Bibby didn’t pay the electric bill. Or the water bill. One thing Bibby was sure to do was to collect payment from his girl for the kid’s haircut. From her purse. Without asking in advance. As he and Alfred quickly exit.

Alfred is annoyed. Bibby is apologetic. And by way of saying sorry, Bibby asks Alfred if he wants something from Zaxby’s. Who wouldn’t? So the duo is off in search of food when they arrive at a half-finished single-family home in a residential neighborhood. Bibby is a part-time contractor. The food in question is the leftovers of his lunch on the job site. Alfred’s anger is growing along with his appetite. Bibby promises that he’ll take Alfred back to the shop and give him that cut. But first…

He needs Alfred to help him load some lumber from the job site into his truck. Knowing it’s his only ticket back to the shop, Angry Alfred loads lumber. All seems well — or as well as things can be in this situation — until a woman drives up to the house and begins furiously shouting at Bibby about why he’s stealing her lumber.

The befuddled barber babbles something about contracts and shifting blame back to the woman’s husband. Before too long, Bibby and Alfred are back in the truck and driving away as the woman gets on the phone. Hopefully not to call the cops, though. Alfred’s still on probation.

With that dirty work done, Bibby can take Alfred back to the shop and give him that cut. But first…

Bibby sees some kids sitting in front of a strip mall. He whips the car around and chases them down. One of the three is Bibby’s son. All of the three are currently skipping school. Bibby does the fatherly thing and lectures them about skipping school while he was busy out working three jobs. But if they’re gonna be out of school, did they put up the promo posters he asked them to post?

Once again, Bibby finds a way to use Alfred as a pawn. This time using Paper Boi’s fame to make Alfred into an impromptu motivational speaker. It backfires when Bibby’s son roasts Alfred’s half-done haircut. If he’s really a big-time rapper, why does his hair look so wack? And can you put me on? I’ve got a fire mixtape.

Alfred reminds the kid that rappers are regular people who do things like eat food, brush their teeth and get haircuts. That sends Alfred, Bibby and Son back to the truck and back to the shop so Alfred can get this cut. But first…

BLAM!

That’s the sound of Bibby’s truck slamming into the back of another car because he’s too busy berating his son to pay attention to the road. No one in the truck is hurt. But the driver of the other car gets out, screaming in pain. That’s ultra terrible news because Bibby has warrants, Alfred’s on probation (with weed in his pocket), and the kid doesn’t have a license. The only solution for Bibby is to flee the scene.

To recap: Alfred, who is on probation, has now been an accomplice to theft and a hit-and-run. Not awesome.

But finally, they’re back to the shop. Alfred’s finally gonna get this cut. But first…

No. Nope. Not this time. Alfred grabs Bibby by the lapels and makes it clear that there will be no more shenanigans.

Finally. It is done. The usual. Paper Boi looks fresh again.

After the day Bibby put Alfred through, you’d think the cut would be gratis. You would be wrong. Bibby wants his money. And despite some vehement (and valid) protestations, Alfred reluctantly pays.

“No tip?”

Fast forward. It’s haircut day again for Alfred. He walks in the shop and is greeted loudly by Bibby. Alfred ignores him and walks to another barber’s chair. He’s confident in his decision. This would be about nothing but the cut. No impromptu adventures. No unnecessary drama. Just a basic haircut.

How does he want it? What setting? Two? Or three?

He … he doesn’t know. Alfred’s unsure how exactly he gets his haircut. He’s been getting “the usual” for so long that he no longer knows what “the usual” is. But Bibby knows. Bibby knows.

And Alfred knows he’ll never escape Bibby’s chair.

  • Last week, we had an Earn and Van episode. This week, Alfred gets his story. Hopefully next week, we get a Darius-heavy show. That would be fun.
  • It’s been interesting to watch Earn and Alfred handle Paper Boi’s success differently. Earn is doing everything he can to try and live larger than he really his. Alfred’s doing everything in his power to convince everyone he’s still a regular guy. Neither are succeeding.
  • Robert S. Powell was great as Bibby. We all know a Bibby.