Dave Recap: 50-Band Man


Season 3 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating 4 stars


Season 3 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Photo: Byron Cohen/FX/Copyright 2023, FX Networks. All rights reserved.

Ever since the inception of Dave, the show has earned comparisons to Atlanta to the point that even Donald Glover has expressed his annoyance. While Dave may not be on the same level as Atlanta, there’s something to the comparisons. Like its predecessor, this is a show interested in race, music, and race in music. They both indulge in the dark and surreal, frequently morphing from comedy to thriller and back in the space of a scene.

So it makes sense that Dave would eventually set an episode in the city of Atlanta, channeling Atlanta even when it isn’t trying to. To be sure, “Hearsay” doesn’t feature all of Atlanta’s signature flourishes. It’s easily the lightest and most grounded episode of this season so far, despite the plethora of high-profile guest stars. But the basic concept of a newly famous rapper getting robbed in the place where he grew up feels like an echo of that show, especially its second season (Robbin’ Season).

By focusing an episode on Atlanta, Dave can do two important things: unpack Dave’s evolving(?) relationship with the Black community and, once again, explore the inner life of GaTa. It’s especially gratifying to see the latter, considering how season two ended. That finale promised a more equal partnership between Dave and GaTa, who performed at the VMAs and later toured together. And while season three hasn’t exactly made GaTa a co-protagonist — nor did I expect it to — this episode makes it clear how far their friendship has come.

The episode begins with “VMA GaTa” flexing in front of his old friends, particularly Stretch (Myles Bullock). That night, he and Dave will be connecting with Rick Ross at the strip club, which benefits both of them. For GaTa, it’s an opportunity to make a collab happen. Five years ago, Benny Blanco made a beat for Ross, which was discarded before ending up with GaTa, who is using the beat and Ross’s verse for his own song. For Dave, it’s an opportunity to prove that he’s not bad for the Black community. As GaTa later tells him, being seen and photographed with Ross legitimizes Dave and his place in the rap game. But he’s especially insecure after seeing a tweet from Killer Mike that seems to challenge him: “I don’t know about this man.” Everyone fills Dave in: Killer Mike is famously active in social- and political-activist spaces, so Dave should really make it a priority to stay on his good side.

At the club that night, Ross gives Dave a solution — an invitation to the Black Brilliance Brunch, where he’ll get to rub shoulders with some of the most successful Black actors, athletes, and entrepreneurs. He even lends Dave his $250,000 chain, which Dave loses almost immediately after Ross disappears and he and GaTa get robbed outside a liquor store. The news gets back to Ross quickly when the three masked robbers flaunt their new possession online, and he promises to ruin Dave’s reputation if he doesn’t get the chain back.

With the stakes set, it’s time for GaTa to take control. While Dave can only think to suggest calling the police, he has a more practical, less nuclear option: identifying the robbers by visiting a local fur dealer who sold to them (and owns an unsettling robot dog straight out of Boston Dynamics). It’s a reminder that GaTa knows and understands this world better than Dave ever will.

He negotiates a deal. They’ll return Rick Ross’s chain in exchange for a Ross feature via the beat GaTa has been holding on to. But once they’re actually at the house, GaTa negotiates them down to a Lil Dicky verse, refusing to part with the song he intends for his own collab. He makes a good argument — Lil Dicky’s lyrics can be classified as parody, which protects their own gun-centric lyrics from being used in court as criminal evidence. (It’s a good callback to the earlier mention of Killer Mike’s own advocacy in this area.)

This leads to the most purely joyful sequence of the episode, as everyone has a surprisingly good time recording some music. (The weed helps.) Dave suggests a skit of himself getting robbed by the very guys who did, in fact, rob him — and after he secures Ross’s chain, he even suggests they all hang out a bit longer.

While much of the episode is about Dave transparently trying to ingratiate himself with the Black community, there’s something genuine about his willingness to embrace these new friends — even if he was ready to call the police on them not long before. It’s hard to ever know if Dave is making any permanent changes, but I’m not so sure the Dave of season one would roll with the punches so easily. And while the ability to have fun has eluded him recently, this feels like his first real opportunity of the season to loosen up like he said he wanted to in “Texas.”

So while Dave does make a bit of a fool of himself at the brunch, especially around his idol (Usher), it’s not much worse than what you’d expect. It turns out that Killer Mike was never trying to throw shade at Dave. He just genuinely didn’t know who Dave was. The biggest L Dave takes is agreeing to donate $50,000 — the exact hefty fee he and GaTa desperately tried to avoid by negotiating with the guys who’d robbed them. But that’s an appropriate moral ending for Dave in this episode. He’s forgiven for naïveté but punished for his desperate obsession with fitting in and appearing progressive. (There are some funny lines embedded in that brief shot of his Notes app rehearsal for meeting Killer Mike — including something about Bernie Sanders.)

While all of this is happening, GaTa deals with a more personal issue. When he realizes that his friend Stretch set them up to get robbed, he swiftly confronts him, almost immediately ending their friendship. You can see how conflicted GaTa is when he discusses it with Dave. He knows better than anyone where Stretch is coming from, but he knows he can’t let the betrayal slide. It all weighs on him: the pressure of maintaining the newfound success he has found alongside Dave, the envy and expectations (spoken or not) of friends and family with much less money, and the fraught relationship with the city where he was raised. He’s right to point out that Dave doesn’t have to deal with any of that.

It’s a very sharply written conversation, and it doesn’t go too far in making Dave actually understand in the end. What he can do, though, is be there for his friend when he needs it — sticking to his word and hyping him up the way GaTa has always hyped up Dave. GaTa’s chat with Rick Ross goes great, and Dave doesn’t even take credit for recovering the chain. (Nor should he.)

Because of the financial punishment that Dave experiences — combined with the sincerity of his pep talk for GaTa — it doesn’t feel too cheap or self-congratulatory when “Hearsay” ends with him successfully fitting in, apparently earning the temporary respect and affection of the Black community the way he’d always wanted. As good as Dave is at critiquing its protagonist, and as much as I appreciate its dedication to acknowledging his white privilege at every point, sometimes it’s nice to see him get a win.

Dick Jokes

• The episode touches on Elz, who’s broke and insecure about how much he owes everyone. It’s sweet to see the bromance that has developed between him and Mike (hinted at in the backstage scene at the end of the season-two finale). Mike buys Elz a haircut!

• This week in “Dave says something weird and in explaining himself only makes it worse”: “Any friction will make me hard. It’s not in my control. My fucking 11-year-old cousin during Thanksgiving was sitting on my lap when we watched a movie, and I was proud that nothing even moved.”

• I love the background dialogue of the robbery scene, especially when the robber happily acquiesces to Dave begging for his license so he doesn’t have to brave the DMV.

• “I don’t like to punk people. I’m totally unaffiliated with the show Punk’d. I know you went on it. I watched the Quibi thing. I know it moved to Roku.” “Fuck Roku.”

• The real-life GaTa does refer to his cousin as his sister.

• “You know how hard it took me to get that from Benny?” “It wasn’t hard at all. It was a fucking WeTransfer!”

• “You fall down seven times. You get up eight.” “Why would I have to get up eight times if I’ve only fallen down seven?”

• Dave’s reactions to being compared to another white rapper are always reliably funny. “Why would I be Jack Harlow? I’m right here in front of you — a different man.”

• The robber who speaks the most is played by Atlanta rapper Lil Gotit.

Dave Recap: 50-Band Man