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S01.E03: Go For Broke


Tara Ariano
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Poor Earn. I haven't had a server gleefully ratchet up the tab on me like that, but I know that sinking feeling of being in an upscale place and hating what I've gotten myself into.

That said, I couldn't help thinking of the My Dinner With Abed episode of Community and Troy freaking out over the bill: "Market price? What market do you shop at?!?"

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Another good episode.

Brian Henry continues nailing Alfred's fragile emotional state as he navigates the growing perils of fame.

The Migos cameo was cute but wholly unnecessary.

I continue to love Van.

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I felt bad for the server and for Earn.  Waitstaff can be instructed to sell higher priced dishes, but when she "casually" added on the order of shrimp puffs, I was done with her.  

Earn's speech to Van at the end was kind of murky, but if he said what I thought he was saying, I was glad that Van didn't buy it.  Everyone wants to do what they love, but when you have other people depending on you, sometimes you have to make the bad choice.  

Fell over laughing when the fake valet actually returned to the restaurant to warn the customer.  

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7 hours ago, Amethyst said:

I felt bad for the server and for Earn.  Waitstaff can be instructed to sell higher priced dishes, but when she "casually" added on the order of shrimp puffs, I was done with her.  

Earn's speech to Van at the end was kind of murky, but if he said what I thought he was saying, I was glad that Van didn't buy it.  Everyone wants to do what they love, but when you have other people depending on you, sometimes you have to make the bad choice.  

Fell over laughing when the fake valet actually returned to the restaurant to warn the customer.  

I didn't feel bad for the server, I think because her relentless perkiness got on my nerves. And when she came back to the table and was all , "Uh-oh, does she need a [dessert]?" I was like, lady, mind your business.

I was glad Van didn't buy Earn's speech either. Earn has a daughter; he needs a job that pays more than $100 a week. Work the security gig and do the Paper Boi thing on the side.

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So Van knows that Earn doesn't make that much, right?  The problem I had with her at the restaurant was her going along with the waitress and ordering the expensive stuff.  She could look across the table and see the discomfort on Van's face, so she should have just ordered something less expensive.   

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My favorite part was the guy in the car telling Earn about the Happy Hour prices and how he takes all his bitches there...right in front of his current.  And his reaction "I KNOW you weren't listening in on my conversation.  Girl, you a mess up!"  HA! 

Things got dark pretty quick at that drug deal.  Did they just leave the guy out in the woods?  I couldn't tell if he was in with everyone at the end or not (like it was a fake-out?)  Shows these days are lit so darkly that I can never tell what the hell is going on.

I really like Earn so far, but I have a feeling that he is going to frustrate me after awhile if he doesn't progress at all.  No shame in a security guard gig if thats all you can get temporarily.  At least until his rap mogul career takes off.  I am in the mood for some seafood gumbo and a tropical drink now though, that waitress was good!

Edited by Deanie87
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Honestly, I kind of blame Van for the high priced restaurant issue. They didn't have to go to a fancy place to have a nice date, just go to Chillis! They have good drinks too! She knows that Earn does not make much money, its pretty much all they talked about. She had to know he would be in trouble at this super fancy place. That being said, she is totally in the right to tell Earn that he needs to just suck it up and get a job. He does have a daughter that needs taking care of, and, as he himself says, he is basically homeless, and he needs to actually pay a few bills.  

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I agree Van was deliberately oblivious at the restaurant, but I also agree that Earn needs to take responsibility and not be dumping everything on her wrt taking care of their daughter. It's a willfully BS attitude that he can do whatever he wants while she is the only one taking care of the kid-- and bailing Earn out of jail besides. I feel for him, because I get how crushing the economic situation can be. But he's not the only person suffering that, and he doesn't seem to acknowledge or care about it either. If the sales job was his only option, I could see how he'd give up. But it sounded like he did have other choices, so in that case he needs to get out of his funk and do something. The way he's acting seems more like depression than pursuit of a dream, to be honest. I wonder if that's something they're intending to explore, because stories about people swimming against an overwhelming tide while doing their heroic best and failing against crushing odds don't really look this way. It's not just the economy, or racism, or class stratificaton that we're seeing.

I want to know what the Princeton story is.

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This episode didn't work that well for me because of the Earn and Van storyline.  It is hard for me to get past the deliberately wading into the Idiot pond and then trying to make me feel sorry your feet are wet.  It did make me a little squirmy though, so it shows that the show itself is still delivering.  It just was a bit over the top.  I couldn't tell if Van was testing Earn or not.  That she knew exactly he couldn't afford the place and was trying to make him admit it as a little punishment for his actions.  But the scene went a bit too far with the server that was like she going the Germans going through Belgium in her approach.  And if Van is impressed that 'market price' means it is fresh, she also knows it means expensive.  Hell just the word Lobster puts the whole thing in "Earn cannot pay for this" category.  It just put me too far out of the moment.  I was so hoping that the scene would have Earn flirting with disaster a bit more than plunging right in. 

I wanted him to pull a return dick move and tell Katie Couric lite to stick to serving what is ordered unless she wants to do the paying as well.  And to not charge extra for the spit she then adds to the food.  Because it would be mean but in this case needed, imo..

Brian Tyree Henry is a joy to watch.  This is easily one of the quietest and yet strongest performances I have seen on American television in a long time.  He is what is making this show compelling as opposed to just enjoyable. 

I wouldn't mind a couple of episodes that take place in complete daylight.  Maybe a picnic at a park.  Beatings shootings and humiliations of all kinds for Earn can still occur.  I'm just getting a little tired already of the overly dim lighting.  Nuance in atmosphere can be a thing. A good thing.   It seems a little heavy handed at times.  Especially in this episode as a whole despite some scenes obviously needing to take place in dim lighting. 

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10 minutes ago, tenativelyyours said:

I couldn't tell if Van was testing Earn or not.  That she knew exactly he couldn't afford the place and was trying to make him admit it as a little punishment for his actions. 

I wondered about that too.  She seems intelligent enough that she had to know what "market price" meant.  If that was her intent, I do think it was kind of mean of her.  I can certainly understand her frustration about his lack of earning power and not being a responsible father; however, maybe she should consider the "shit or get off the pot" strategy with him which might mean cutting him loose, instead of doing something as petty as trying to shame him in a restaurant.

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Another great ep, but I have to disagree with others here. If you ask me on a date, what you can afford is your problem not mine. All Van knew was that he'd been paid, she didn't know how much. Keep in mind, Earn suggested the place so why wouldn't Van think he could afford the venue he suggested?

That whole drug deal in the woods was hilarious and harrowing.

This show is incredible and we're only 3 episodes in! It should win all the Emmys-- too bad it won't.

Edited by MaryTylerMoore
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Sure, Van knew he'd been paid and he suggested the place, but the episode with the parking space should have given her a clue that maybe he hadn't been paid that much.  Also, when they got in the restaurant she could see the "oh shit" look on his face when the waitress told him that the happy hour meal had been discontinued.  At that point, she could have just asked him if he had enough money.  Obviously, they know each other pretty well and it wasn't like it was their first date where one wouldn't want to embarrass the other person.   

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The date aspect of being on Earn would work.  Except he isn't pulling his weight for rent.  And that bail issue just a moment ago.  And of course not pulling his weight what with being the father of her child.  So Van's 'market price' is actually hurting her daughter because even if she thinks Van can afford the bill, to paraphrase Bev on Roseanne, I hope the baby is fine with you not able to afford the medicine she needs because you had the market price lobster. 

If Van was trying to make a point it went to far.  Unless he had paid a couple of months rent, paid some bills.  And then said "let's go to dinner", assuming he can pay whatever she decides to spend make Van stupid to me.  And nothing else so far has indicated that in any way.  This is the guy she has fallen asleep next to at night since he returned. Her baby's father.  The guy who just told her he is essentially homeless and got a laugh as a joke but wasn't saying it wasn't a truth they both don't know.   He is not the guy from two floors down in accounting she finally said yes to for dinner. 

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48 minutes ago, tenativelyyours said:

The date aspect of being on Earn would work.  Except he isn't pulling his weight for rent.  And that bail issue just a moment ago.  And of course not pulling his weight what with being the father of her child.  So Van's 'market price' is actually hurting her daughter because even if she thinks Van can afford the bill, to paraphrase Bev on Roseanne, I hope the baby is fine with you not able to afford the medicine she needs because you had the market price lobster. 

If Van was trying to make a point it went to far.  Unless he had paid a couple of months rent, paid some bills.  And then said "let's go to dinner", assuming he can pay whatever she decides to spend make Van stupid to me.  And nothing else so far has indicated that in any way.  This is the guy she has fallen asleep next to at night since he returned. Her baby's father.  The guy who just told her he is essentially homeless and got a laugh as a joke but wasn't saying it wasn't a truth they both don't know.   He is not the guy from two floors down in accounting she finally said yes to for dinner. 

I had a lot of the same thoughts and also felt that if Van were so concerned about her daughter being taken care of, she wouldn't have ordered an expensive, original cocktail (possibly even more than one), basically 2 starters (with one of those being a bowl of soup that alone cost close to $30) and then what was probably the most expensive entrée on the menu. She then even practically forced Earn to order a drink as well because "she couldn't drink alone." All of that money could have gone for clothes, food, shoes, etc. for the child.

I'm not saying Earn has no culpability here either, however, especially if has the chance to get a slightly better job. But that wasn't going to happen while they were sitting in that restaurant and he wasn't going to start pulling in a little more money overnight and Van knew that so she should have gone easier on the food. There's nothing wrong with going to a nice place occasionally, even if it's a stretch, but she way over ordered in a place like that. I know Earn picked it, but as was mentioned, he didn't know the happy hour menu was gone and wouldn't have gone there (or would have borrowed money beforehand, which seemed to be his original intent). Yes, they could have left, but Van may have given him a hard time for embarrassing her if they did that.

Even assuming Earn is able to find a way to make more money, that still doesn't mean Van should be so wasteful with it and order like she did. The atmosphere was nice, and she still could have had a nice meal for less there.

Edited by Rapunzel
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Perhaps this is a pattern for Earn and Van. She seems like she's letting him try and prove that he's learn and changed, from maybe earlier missteps. It may have been a bit of surely he's not stupid enough to come to this restaurant unprepared, and a bit of her testing him to just be reasonable and if not reasonable, honest about his situation.

I'm pretty she would have backed off and/or paid if he'd just been honest. But then she would be even farther out the door than she already seems to be with their relationship. She's hedging her bets. Right now, with so little to go on, I don't blame her.

Edited by LJonEarth
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6 minutes ago, LJonEarth said:

Perhaps this is a pattern for Earn and Van. She seems like she's letting him try and prove that he's learn and changed, from maybe earlier missteps. It may have been a bit of surely he's not stupid enough to come to this restaurant unprepared, and a bit of her testing him to just be reasonable and if not reasonable, honest about his situation.

I'm pretty she would have backed off and/or paid if he's just have been honest. But then she would be even farther out the door than she already seems to be with their relationship. She's hedging her bets. Right now, with so little to go on, I don't blame her.

IA.  I've had a night to sit on it and think.  Initially, I was really annoyed with Van because the whole thing was so embarrassing for Earn, but maybe that was the point.  Van knows what Earn makes and she knows what he can afford, so she probably wanted him to just admit that he had miscalculated and instead of being broke off of one meal, could they go elsewhere?  He was relying on the restaurant's gimmick, but didn't have any backup, and that's not surprising.  

Earn could have gone farther by just being honest, but he chose to sit there and be uncomfortable.  Hence the whole "Why do you have that sad look on your face" remark from Van.  I don't think she would be that callous (or clueless) when she lives with the guy already.  Pretty sure she already knew about the money situation.

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I think that making Van do something less than perfect is important because they otherwise were making her a bit of a Mary Sue. Sure, she should try the shit or get off the pot approach with Earn, and I don't know why she doesn't. But I think it's realistic because I've known plenty of folks who stay in relationships where they have significant grievances, and where bystanders wonder why they don't do X about it, while they continue to do Y instead and look stupid or just messed up and a bit stuck. Who hasn't either been that person or watched a friend be that person? So I think making Van imperfect is good characterization.

I also think that whether she was stupid, oblivious, passive-aggressive, right, wrong, or totally innocent at the restaurant, it also paints her as less than perfect-- I don't think either she or Earn handled the situation ideally. The fact that they are sleeping together regularly, have a kid together, she's his go to for bail (and she provides it) and his only line against complete homelessness (and she doesn't seem to mind having him there and isn't pressuring him to leave)-- and he doesn't feel comfortable being honest about what he can afford and letting her know he's freaked out because it's way more expensive than he expected, and she either doesn't notice or doesn't care that he's pretty obviously uncomfortable and isn't doing anything to help smooth it over-- that's the kind of date that people might have with a stranger and consider at best awkward and maybe even a fiasco, not the kind of date you have with someone you're already deeply involved with and who knows you well and you ought to be able to communicate with and trust. It says a lot about their individual characters and also a lot about their relationship.

ETA: Amethyst-- you posted while I was typing and said a lot of this better than I did.

Edited by possibilities
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Aw, thanks possibilities.  :)

IA about the Mary Sue stuff.  One thing I have to remember is that we've had two episodes to get to know Earn, while we've only seen snippets of Van, and the scenes in the restaurant don't show her in the best light.  On the surface, she looks like an oblivious jerk ordering the most expensive stuff on the menu, while Earn has a bowl of soup.  Granted, it was probably great soup, but still...it was soup.  

My fear was that they were going towards nagging girlfriend territory, but I think they're actually trying to do the opposite.  Van telling Earn that she doesn't want to be the "angry Black woman" spoke volumes.   She doesn't want to be the nagging killjoy in the relationship, but she doesn't have a choice if Earn won't grow up.  And she's known him a lot longer than the viewers, lol.

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The parking lot guy was hilarious because I've been in that exact situation a few times. Only occasionally the homeless actually are working for the parking company, probably for pennies, and likely jacking  up the price and pocketing the difference. No matter, the scene was great and the payoff, with him coming to get the guy to move his car, was great.

I don't know how I was supposed to read that dinner scene so I join you all in the confusion. But it does seems to be a pattern with Earn, with him feeling something and not having the nerve to speak on it. We saw it with the dj who said the n word, and here we saw it with Van at the restaurant. Ok two times isn't a pattern yet but it's in character at least.

He could have easily made a joke and gotten himself out of that situation but he didn't have the courage to do so. Van could have easily read the room and let him off the hook but she didn't, and maybe it's because she didn't feel like rescuing him, or because she wanted to force him to actually confront an issue head on, or maybe she was just hungry and djdnt give a shit. It's hard to say, but in the end, I can't blame her for his inaction. The stakes were pretty low of you ask me...the woman just bailed you out of jail so she's kinda already seen you at your worst. Admitting that you budgeted for happy hour isn't gonna be the straw that broke the camel's back.

I love that the solution to the briefcase issue was...to open the briefcase and take the money out. I thought I was intelligent but I was actually expecting them to saw off the cuff or something. *slaps forehead*

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On 9/14/2016 at 2:20 AM, Dee said:

Another good episode.

Brian Henry continues nailing Alfred's fragile emotional state as he navigates the growing perils of fame.

The Migos cameo was cute but wholly unnecessary.

I continue to love Van.

Ok, this is kind of embarrassing but I had no idea that this was a real hip-hop group and I thought that the song at the end about champagne was to show how awful they were.  I guess they are a real group and that is a real song that gets played on real radio stations and real people like it.  Clearly I don't watch this show for the soundtrack.  Full disclosure: the last hip-hop album I bought may have been by A Tribe Called Quest or Beastie Boys, so clearly I need to update my cassette collection.

As far as Van and the dinner, it may have been a little passive-aggressive, but she DID just bail him out of jail.  

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I thought this episode was more LOL funny than the previous two.  But mainly because of Paper Boi and Darius  Their whole storyline was perfect, from the gun conversation to Darius handcuffing himself to the briefcase to them walking away with Paper Boi looking apprehensively back. 

Also the kids' meal conversation.  So infuriating.  But so funny. 

I seriously don't know how Van could be so comfortable ordering such pricey meal.  Is she really that oblivious to Earn's situation?

Ahhh, they were playing Encore buy Cheryl Lynn... a mainstay of my college years.

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On 9/14/2016 at 7:34 PM, tenativelyyours said:

The date aspect of being on Earn would work.  Except he isn't pulling his weight for rent.  And that bail issue just a moment ago.  And of course not pulling his weight what with being the father of her child.  So Van's 'market price' is actually hurting her daughter because even if she thinks Van can afford the bill, to paraphrase Bev on Roseanne, I hope the baby is fine with you not able to afford the medicine she needs because you had the market price lobster. 

It's true that the money spent on dinner could go to their daughter, in theory, but I don't think it hurts their daughter much.  Financially, Van seems to be covering herself, her daughter and Earn at the moment. So whether Earn spends the money on the date, on himself, on rent or on the thousand other things he could spend his money on, I don't think it changes his daughter's current situation.  And right now for her age, her basic needs are covered.

Given their situation, I have a feeling Van spent that whole dinner thinking she'd end up paying for it anyway.  She was a little harsh on Earn but I think of what she has had to put up with in the three episodes we've known her and I kind of understand where she's coming from.  I don't remember her asking Earn specifically for money, although I do think she mentioned that he isn't contributing much.  What we have seen her asking for is that he take responsibility for their daughter.  For him to spend time with her instead of always dropping her off and his parents.  For him to pick her up from his parents instead of Van having to go there from work.  Earn thinks he needs to take her on a fancy date but I think it's misguided.  Van is telling him what she values and what he needs to do, he just would rather do something else.  

Edited by Irlandesa
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I just want to point out that I am not excusing Earn his inadequacies in this episode whether introduced or carried over.  There were a lot of things he could done to to lessen the damage or take charge.  And i am not blaming Van so much as I am the writing of Van here since I think it shows a blindness or a willingness too leap off the cliff just in hopes of seeing Earn crash first before she does that had me perplexed since that is not how she has been so far or in any other way.   Not even in her willingness to let Earn slide in the ways she has.  I think in good part because I just don't find humor or even entertainment when characters get into a train wreck they not only bought a ticket for but insisted on taking over the engineer's job and starting the disaster down in the face.  I just hate self-imposed helpless hand wringing and find it a peeve that removes me from a scene/moment too much.  Comedy or just engaged entertainment is more like the situation of Paper Boi thinking he is in control and clearly is dancing on the edge with the drug deal and not even sure which side is the crumbling under his feet, but he knows its crumbling none-ther-less. 

And maybe that was the point.  Not so much an exposition of a possible flaw in Van with Earn so much a look at how the two men handle a similar crash in different ways  Because both get caught up in a descent they think they can handle at first and yet realize even as it gets worse, that they put themselves in that situation they now have pretty much no control over. 

And at the same time it shows how Alfred and Earn are different just in their approaches.  Alfred wouldn't wade into a situation like the restaurant and Earn would wade into the situation in the woods.  Both have blindspots and both have strengths that cover the other's blindspot.  Perhaps setting up how they will be able to succeed with each other and also likely set up more conflict.

But that then leaves the Van moment simply using her as a vehicle to get the Earn character his scene and moment and I'm not too sure that works all the time either.  Once yes because clearly plenty of other viewers at best were puzzled and yet made at least one leap to a possible motive or two and others able to see it as a character development. 

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I think a main point of the dinner is that Van didn't know that Earn spent $500--all of his money minus $63 (the last penny of which was going to dinner)--to get Paperboi's record on the radio. Earn had no intention of telling anyone he did that. Presumably Earn recently left Princeton, since he hasn't seen his cousin since he returned. To me, that implies that Earn was enrolled in Princeton when they first dated and had the baby. Van has a pretty swanky apartment, dresses very nicely, and has a decent job as a teacher. She hitched herself to a rising star. Whatever Earn's life ambitions were, they had to be set pretty high to go to Princeton. The fact that they're sort of "together" (sleeping/living together) while she's still dating other guys makes me think that she loves Earn, but he's not the husband material that she thinks she deserves, so she's dating around either to find someone who is or to get him to step up to the plate and "live up to his potential" as someone a year away from having a Princeton degree. To her, this dinner was a sign that he's stepping it up. Is she thinking Earn probably can't afford market price? No, the guy she went out with the night before would buy the $28 soup AND the crab puffs without batting an eye. So in addition to her motivations, I think that scene also showed a lot of Earn's personality. The man probably just threw away $150,000 on a degree he didn't finish! His parents block him at the door presuming he only comes by to ask for money. He spends his last $500 on a chance at a break for his cousin--as if this is his only chance at a job. And throw the damn crab puffs on top of it! He has nothing and that's why he's going to be so invested in his cousin's career. He's going to carry the weight of making his cousin successful to be the man he thinks Van and their baby deserve. But, why ISN'T he doing more with his life than working in the airport signing up credit cards for commission? The Princeton mystery is pivotal for sure.

oh, man, I felt for Al and Darius on their gun/drug deal gone wrong. Both actors totally captured the look of "oh, shit. What have we gotten ourselves into? Act cool! Act cool!"

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On 9/14/2016 at 11:25 AM, Deanie87 said:

Things got dark pretty quick at that drug deal.  Did they just leave the guy out in the woods?  I couldn't tell if he was in with everyone at the end or not (like it was a fake-out?)  Shows these days are lit so darkly that I can never tell what the hell is going on.

I could have read this wrong, but I thought the guy in the woods was with the Migos at the end. So the message to Paper Boi was "if you're with us, we're amigos, all for one; but if you screw us over we'll screw you up." 

But it was very dark.

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On 9/15/2016 at 7:34 PM, Irlandesa said:

It's true that the money spent on dinner could go to their daughter, in theory, but I don't think it hurts their daughter much.  Financially, Van seems to be covering herself, her daughter and Earn at the moment. So whether Earn spends the money on the date, on himself, on rent or on the thousand other things he could spend his money on, I don't think it changes his daughter's current situation.  And right now for her age, her basic needs are covered.

That was my take.  The exterior of the apt. doesn't look that great but inside, Van's house is nice and has nice things.  I was eyeing a dresser she has because I've been wanting it for a while but it's like $900 from West Elm, or one very similar to hers.  The whole place looked like someone who's doing ok.  Which she would be on a teacher's salary.  So her spending all Earn's paycheck isn't hurting anyone but Earn and I'm guessing she feels like he deserves the dig and she deserves the pampering.  Still, the scene made us both uncomfortable, though.  

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