Summary: Esther is still alive after Barry's failed hit and as a precaution, Cristobal gives Esther the Chechens' headquarters as a more protected base. Angry, Hank decides to kill Barry. Barry and Sally work on their stories and struggle. Barry finds it hard to come up with a good story while Sally struggles to come to terms with the fact that she never got a chance to tell Sam off. Hank and an assassin takes shot at Barry but miss. Barry confronts them and he and Hank agree to a deal where Barry teaches the Chechens how to be hitmen. Gene again tries to reach out to Leo but is unsuccessful once again. Fuches confronts Barry and they have an emotional talk together. At acting class, Barry's new story is a failure. Sally tries to get Barry to play Sam but Barry can't do it and storms out. Sally follows him and unexpectedly finds Sam in the parking lot.
The Good: After a slightly weaker episode, "Barry" returned to top-tier comedy and drama (for the most part) in this episode. There was so much to enjoy throughout the episode, and just about every scene captivated me.
I'll start with the opening sequence with Hank. Hank is quickly growing into my favourite character of the series. He is this absurdly nice and unthreatening man trying to be the head of a mafia, and I enjoy him every time he's on screen. He was hilarious in the opening of this episode as he dreams of proving himself as the very best to Cristobal in absurd fashion (a conference with Thomas Friedman). Then he all but gives away his plans to Cristobal and Esther in a brilliant scene before deciding to extract revenge on Barry for blowing up everything in his face.
This led to Hank's horrible failed attempt to murder Barry. The incompetence was wonderfully funny to watch with some pretty great jokes, such as Hank's relief after Barry doesn't shoot him and the absurd Cristobal dance. But on a more serious level, this scene did a lot for the characters of Barry and Hank. Despite being pretty much a joke, Hank understands that he has nothing at the moment, and the fact that he does stare down death unflinchingly is commendable. Barry on the other hand, still can't find himself able to pull the trigger, even to protect Sally and himself. It's a frustrating moment for him, and the acting makes it clear how much everything has gotten to his head. Once it becomes clear to both men that there is no physical threat from either, they decide to come to a reasonable compromise, which makes sense from a character viewpoint, and also fits with the absurdity of this show as an assassination attempt ended with a deal and a dance.
Barry's internal conflict in this episode is pretty well done. The episode raises some interesting questions about how Barry saved Albert's life (see: The Unknown), but we know that it's something he should not be sharing to the acting class. Though we don't know exactly what he did, we can still understand Barry's emotions as he tries to write the script, struggling to find something that makes him appear as more human to his classmates. Barry is a very violent man, but he doesn't want to fall back on being a ruthless hitman ever again. No scene shows this better than when Sally and Gene try to shake Barry into choking her in a scene. You can understand why Sally is being so aggressive; it's just acting after all. But Barry's internal conflict makes the simple act of pretending to choke Sally that much more frightening, and Bill Hader acts Barry's discomfort perfectly. Barry has avoided facing up to what he has done and is trying to forget about it and move on. But as this season is proving, that's simply not possible for him to do since his past will always creep up again.
Sally had a really good continuation to her story as well. Now we know why she was trying so hard to convince everyone that she is a stronger woman now. She still hasn't had the emotional relief of standing up for herself against Sam, and as such she is trying to tell herself that she is stronger despite having never proved it. This is a wonderful bit of storytelling that humanizes Sally more. Gene's story also continued nicely as he tried and failed to connect with his son for a second time. He's clearly genuine in wanting to reconnect, but he won't be able to win Leo back unless he apologizes and makes up for the mistakes he has made. It should be wonderful to see the egotistical Gene struggle with the idea of an apology.
One final scene I want to highlight is Barry's emotional reunion with Fuches. The scene was surprisingly touching since, for the first time this season, Barry openly accepts his past and reconciles with Fuches. Furthermore, Fuches is given a nice character touch as he still helps Barry out despite the fact that he is actively working against him. Fuches may be angry with him, but deep down he still cares for Barry.
The Bad: What happened to Barry's injury in the last episode? It felt a bit strange to gloss over his recovery, especially since how much his movements had been hampered.
I'm not a big fan of how Sam showed up at the end. Don't get me wrong, my problem is not with the storytelling. I think that confronting the past is a perfect way for Sally to overcome her baggage. But the execution of the scene felt strange to me. Instead of it being a powerful moment, it came off like the ending of a soap opera. It was just such a random cliffhanger that felt cheaply engineered to create a "shock" ending. I don't think it fit with the style of the show at all.
The Unknown: Why is Sam there? Did he track down Sally? Is he simply wanting to join acting class? How will Sally react to Sam's arrival? Will she finally be able to tell him off?
What did Barry do to save Albert? Albert got shot in the face, which doesn't seem like it would be easy to fix. How did he manage to save him and why is it a story that he shouldn't tell anyone?
Best Moment: Sally trying to get Barry to choke her only for Barry to freak out was the most emotionally powerful scene, but I enjoyed Hank's failed assassination attempt so much so I'm a little torn. I'll leave this one up to you since both scenes did wildly different things but were still so good.
Character of the Episode: Hank, though everyone is a contender in this episode.
Conclusion: This was more really good stuff. The storytelling is still top-notch, and the comedy is still consistently making me laugh. This season has been a blast so far, and I look forward to seeing if the back half of the season can pay off of the brilliant set up in these first few episodes. This show is proving the importance of writing in a TV show, as the execution has been near-perfect which is one of the key reasons that I'm enjoying it so much despite there having only been one truly fantastic episode so far.
Summary: Gene announces to the acting class that they will all act out a story about themselves. Barry, not wanting to act out his time in Afghanistan, convinces Gene to let him act out the first time they met each other. Gene initially agrees, but after a failed attempt to develop a relationship with his estranged son, he tells Barry that the story has to be about Afghanistan. Loach contacts Fuches and enlists him to help capture Barry. Sally becomes frustrated with her acting career as she continually lands small parts. Barry goes to kill Esther but finds he can't do it. He attracts the attention of the Burmese and is shot escaping. Fuches is waiting for him at his place, and Barry rebukes him. Fuches tells Loach that he will eventually get a confession.
The Good: This episode branched out a lot and shifted the focus away from Barry and onto the other side characters instead. There was a lot of work done with Sally, Gene and Fuches in this episode.
A lot of storylines slowly inched forwards in this episode. Barry didn't have a whole lot in this episode, but there was still some good stuff. His attempt to kill Esther was very entertaining, and it made sense that he would struggle to pull the trigger and return to a life of killing and being evil. That's the last thing he wants, and so he doesn't go through with it. And he faces some consequences as the Burmese notice him and nearly gun him down.
The other characters have very good stories too, setting up for more interesting character exploration this season. Fuches allying with Loach made perfect sense, and both characters' motives were well defined. Sally's story was a highlight of the episode. She's very unhappy with the state of her career and the well-intentioned compilation of her 5-second roles did more harm than good for her. At first it seems like a simple case of an actor being disappointed by their lack of success in the industry, and that's a decent story to tell. But in a later scene at the theatre, we are given evidence that there is much more under the surface than what meets the eye, which serves to turn Sally's story into something much more engaging (see: Best Moment). Lastly, we get to Gene who was given a wonderful bit of backstory in this episode. Gene was always a fun character because of his egotistical nature and charismatic behaviour. He hadn't received much in-depth exploration in the last season, but now we get a look at his personal life with a son who he abandoned, Leo. It's sad to see Gene attempt to start a relationship with Leo, only to get rejected because his son understandably holds a grudge. But in this quick storyline, we get to see that Gene's selfish behaviour is the root of most of his problems, including his fractured relationship with his son. So when Gene sees Barry practicing a scene about him, he can't bear to let his ego get in the way of somebody else's development once again, and he forces Barry to act out Afghanistan instead. This was a wonderful little story to experience.
As usual, the comedy was pretty good. There aren't as many jokes as the last episode, but what we got was quite good. I particularly liked Hank calling Barry the most evil guy he knows, and Esther staring blankly at a wall while enjoying a song.
The Bad: This episode does feel pretty messy with so many storylines moving forward at the same time. It isn't as satisfying to watch as a result, and while there are good moments, the episode as a whole doesn't gel together as well as I would have hoped. This is a problem that typically happens when the focus shifts towards side characters instead of the main character, so an episode like this is pretty unavoidable. At the very least, it is comforting to know that "Barry" is planting the seeds for much stronger stuff in future episodes by developing the supporting cast. But that doesn't make this episode any better unfortunately. This episode is an investment for the future. We will get better content, but in exchange, the quality of this episode suffers.
I think that the emotional weight of this episode doesn't fully land since the stories are jumping from place to place. Both Gene and Sally's stories could have been far better had only one of them been the central focus of the episode. But since both of their stories are squeezed into the B-story of the episode, I wasn't able to invest in their struggle as much as I would have liked.
The Unknown: Is there more to Sally's background that we don't know yet? She seems horrified by the idea of revisiting the time when she was weak.
Is there more to Gene's past than his relationship with his son?
Will Barry end up confessing to Fuches eventually?
How will Hank react to Barry's botched assassination attempt? Will Barry be able to redeem himself for his failure?
What happens when Sally discovers that Barry is a killer? It's quite ironic that she has moved on from a man who was violent with her to a man who is violent with everybody except her.
Best Moment: Sally tries to make her personal story about her struggles as an aspiring actress. But Gene sees right through Sally's farce and doesn't let her words sway him. And seeing that she isn't convincing him is enough to get Sally to snap about her past, proving that she still hasn't overcome the pain that her previous relationship had put her in. It's a fascinating scene that allows the show to finally start exploring Sally.
Character of the Episode: Sally.
Conclusion: This was good stuff. The supporting cast got to shine in this episode and I understand all of the characters a lot more than I did going into this episode. The only issue is the messy structure of the episode, which can feel choppy and unsatisfying at times. The poor structure brings down the score and detracts from the power of the episode.
Summary: Fuches is arrested after his new hitman fails a job badly and is killed. The cops connect him to the tooth recovered from where Goran was murdered. Loach is given this information and connects Fuches to Barry. Meanwhile, Gene has a nervous breakdown and leaves the class. Barry tries to keep everybody's spirits high but nobody is into it. Barry tries to convince Gene to come back but it doesn't go well. Hank is enjoying his new life as Cristobal's partner, but is surprised and hurt when Cristobal wants to bring in a rival gang, led by Esther. Hank pins the blame of Goran's death on Esther and tries to get Barry to kill her. Barry refuses angrily. At the play, Gene shows up and cancels it, announcing he's done teaching. To get him to stay, Barry tells the class a story about his first kill, but is shaken by how different the class' interpretation of it is from what actually happened. Gene decides to stay. Barry encounters Hank who threatens him, telling him that he has to kill Esther or he will tell Goran's family that Barry murdered Goran.
The Good: This was a wonderful premier that did a lot of things right. Right from the get go, I knew this was going to be great. The cold open shows a newly recruited hitman trying to do a job and botching it horribly, leading to a trainwreck of events that results in Fuches' arrest. The whole thing was hilarious, and I couldn't stop laughing the entire time. What's most striking is how this scene focuses on one of this show's defining styles of humour: incompetence. It took me a little while to understand how this show worked in season 1, but now I can appreciate how everybody in this show is so woefully incompetent, and how funny it is to watch everything go wrong.
Overall, the comedy was done superbly well here. This was the funniest episode of the show for sure, and I was laughing in nearly every scene. It would take far too long to go over all of the jokes I enjoyed, so I'll go over a few highlights. Fuches trying to play smart with the cops only for them to take his DNA from his coke was a perfect comedy moment. Barry attempting to hype up the acting class by imitating Gene was great. Everything that Hank did was simply a joy to watch, and I laughed at his antics. This episode proves that "Barry" has found its footing as a comedy. The tonal issues I had early in season 1 are all but erased. The show has figured out that its best drama comes from inside the heads of the characters, not through tension or action. There are no attempts at unnecessary tension-based drama, and that allows for the comedy to be the focus.
What's most impressive is that the show doesn't focus too much on the comedy. There is a balance between drama and comedy, and that balance was maintained perfectly here. Barry's character arc in this episode was really good. We can see that he's desperately trying to ensure that Gene doesn't abandon the class. This class has allowed Barry to move past the person he was, and he is fighting hard to ensure that he doesn't regress back to his depressed mental state in season 1. But tragically, to ensure the continuation of the acting class, Barry ends up revisiting old wounds that he had hidden. After being unsettled by the difference between how the acting class portrayed his first kill and how it actually went down, Barry is once again questioning if he is a good person or if he's just a heartless monster. This shakes Barry to the core, and in a stroke of horrible luck, Hank returns to see him immediately after this with a completely different atmosphere. Hank threatens Barry and forces him to return back to the life of a hitman. And unlike in the clothing store, Barry doesn't have the resolve to push Hank away, and so he has found himself sucked back into the same conflict he thought he had just escaped.
One thing about this episode that really surprised me was how much character was put into Hank. Hank was a fun background character in season 1, but he is treated as much more of a main character in this episode. Hank's been given an actual character arc this season, and I'm really excited to see how he adapts to his new role. This episode shows us that Hank really is a genuinely kind and goodhearted guy. He enjoys his new partnership with Cristobal, and enjoys the finer things in life, like volleyball. That initial sequence with Hank was hilarious, but it also does well to show us that Hank really isn't suited to be a big mafia boss. Yet that's the position he's in, and he's doing his best to achieve his goals. After being talked down by Esther and Cristobal, and then abused by Barry, Hank has enough. He forces a change inside himself and comes off as downright chilling in the ending scene with Barry. But it's not quite the right fit for Hank, as the show proves when he drives off listening to absurdly unintimidating pop music.
The Bad: Nothing I would call bad. This was a really fun episode to kick off season 2.
The Unknown: Will Barry accept the hit? What will this mean for his relationship with Sally and his commitment to acting class?
Loach has discovered a connection between Moss' death and Barry now. Will he go after Barry in revenge? Where will this storyline go?
What else will the cops do with Fuches? I presume that he's going to return to Barry at some point. How will that happen?
Best Moment: Barry's speech about the first man he killed was pretty good, but what took the moment over the top was the contrast between Barry's actual past and how the actors were portraying what happened. It was a chilling reminder for Barry of how messed up he is, and Bill Hader conveyed Barry's shock and unease brilliantly.
Character of the Episode: I'll give it to Hank this time. He had a great episode all around.
Conclusion: This was a near-perfect way to kick off this season. I'm already extremely interested in what comes next and there are a couple of really engrossing plot lines that were set up. Outside of the set up, this episode managed to function as a great episode on its own with plenty of comedy and a couple of powerful moments. I may be going a little high on this one, but I really loved what it accomplished, and I had a lot of fun watching it.
Summary: Barry returns to Fuches, takes his money and leaves him behind. Angry, Fuches goes to the Chechens with hopes to give them Barry if they don't kill him. Goran isn't interested and orders Fuches to be killed. Barry decides to quit acting class, but Sally talks him into staying. Barry goes to Fuches and frees him, killing Goran and his men in the process. Hank sees this and is able to escape before the cops arrive. He makes peace between the Chechens and the Bolivians. Ryan is framed as the murderer. Time passes, and Barry, Sally, Gene and Moss are all on vacation together. As discussion turns to Barry, Moss starts to realize that Barry is the killer she was looking for. Barry tries to talk her out of arresting him but she refuses to listen. Distressed, Barry most likely kills her.
The Good: This episode was logical fallout from the last episode, and it provided a satisfying conclusion for this first season.
In this episode, Barry closes the door on his hitman life by severing ties with Fuches and the Chechens. I really enjoyed all of the scenes between Barry and Fuches. Fuches has taken the brunt of the blame from Barry over Chris' death, so Barry is extremely aggressive towards him. But Fuches is still like family to him, so Barry does end up saving him from death, and takes him to the airport as a final act of friendship. Their last scene is surprisingly powerful, and it's hard not to feel for Fuches as Barry forcibly removes him from his life. The acting from Stephen Root was top-notch and played a big part in that scene's quality.
The war between the Bolivians and Chechens was ended before it even began as Goran gets killed by Barry. The scenes with them were delightfully entertaining as always, with Goran's "exercise" and Ruslan's torture device being the two biggest comedic highlights. Goran's death made no sense and was very over-the-top... but it's fitting for a character who has always been very over-the-top.
After tidying up the loose ends, the biggest surprise of the episode came when we jumped to a future where everyone was living happily. It was a very unexpected direction for the show to go, and I was actually expecting it to be another fantasy vision of Barry's. But it wasn't. Against all odds, Barry actually found a happy ending for himself and managed to move on with his life. But of course, it's not meant to be, and Moss ends up finding the connection she needed to prove that Barry is actually the murderer she has been hunting. This ending is so tragic, as it pulls Barry back from his happy life and forces him to kill somebody close to him to preserve his own happiness. This is horribly sad, and I expect that this murder will prevent Barry from moving forward in the way he wanted to.
As a final note, I really want to give more praise to all of the actors on this show. The casting was excellent, and everybody from Sarah Goldberg to Glenn Fleshler did a fantastic job with their characters. The side characters aren't a very fleshed out part of the show, but the stellar acting made it consistently enjoyable to watch these characters. I want to give special praise to Henry Winkler and Anthony Carrigan who were tremendously charismatic as Gene Cousineau and NoHo Hank respectively. And of course, Bill Hader is my pick of the actors for his fantastic portrayal of Barry.
The Bad: There were no scenes that I would outright call bad, but something about the overall story didn't make this episode feel as memorable as it should have been. This episode didn't hit me enough on an emotional level for me to give it a score of 70+. I think that's because the storytelling was pretty simplistic, and while I was satisfied with what happened, nothing went to that next level to make me say "wow". This was a very good episode, but it was also too safe for my liking, not ever going the extra mile to really get me to connect with what was happening.
The Unknown: The cops found Fuches' tooth in the crime scene. Will they go after him now? Will that be a catalyst for Barry to return to his job as a hitman?
What is Moss' fate? Did Barry kill her? He probably did, because I can't imagine a situation where Barry lets Moss live.
What will come from the new relationship between the Chechens and Bolivians?
Best Moment: The final confrontation between Moss and Barry was quite sad. Barry tries to explain to Moss to let him go, proving to her that he is trying to be a good man and that he deserves a chance. But Moss doesn't see it, and tragically she chooses to view Barry in the same way that the acting class viewed MacBeth back in "Do Your Job". And so Barry decides that he has to kill her, but unlike with Chris, he begs her to reconsider her decision so that he doesn't have to do what comes next. Barry ultimately making the move to kill her is a sad conclusion to the scene, made tragic because of how avoidable it all was.
Character of the Episode: Barry again. He really is the heart of this show.
Conclusion: This was great stuff. More comedy, more tragedy, and yet another outstanding performance from Bill Hader made this a worthy finale. While there wasn't anything that spectacular here, it was still a very well executed episode.
The season as a whole was very enjoyable. This is one of the best executed TV show's I've seen. It's clear that there was a lot of thought put into this story, and every episode flowed seamlessly into the next. The acting was top-notch and the directing was consistently above par. The biggest flaws from the show came from issues with tone early in the season, and from my minimal investment in the side characters. But outside of that, this is really consistent and enjoyable television, with one terrific episode standing out over everything else. I would definitely recommend this show. It's a short and easy watch, and while it only got me completely emotionally invested in one episode, I still think this show offers much more than your usual "fun" show.
Summary: Cristobal sees the carnage and calls Goran to figure out what happens. Goran is surprised by how nice Cristobal is, and decides to kill Fuches for giving him bad advice. Cristobal declares war on Goran. Barry and Chris escape, but Chris has to kill a man to save Barry. Chris is shaken up by this and tells Barry that he wants to turn himself in. Barry realizes that he has to kill Chris and eventually does so. Barry arrives at the MacBeth play and has a mental breakdown which allows him to deliver his line with a lot of power. Sally's performance gets much better following that and she catches the attention of the agent who she had invited to the play. Meanwhile, Moss examines the evidence left by Taylor's death and suspects Barry to be involved.
The Good: This episode had two halves to it. The first half was typically more light-hearted, examining the plot in pretty funny ways, focusing heavily on the Chechens/Bolivians conflict. But then there's the second half of the episode, which was unexpectedly dark and showcased the best acting and writing we have seen in the series so far.
That's not to say that the first half was poorly done. In fact, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Showing Taylor's foolish bum-rush from the Bolivians' perspective was quite funny, and it set the tone for a wonderful scene where Cristobal called Goran to figure out what was going on. I've really enjoyed this show's fresh take on mob bosses. Rather than making them threatening, these two are the polar opposite of that. The phone call scene was excellent and it made me laugh a number of times, while also providing an ominous closing note.
The cops storyline was pretty solid too. I like that they've tapped into Goran's phone and are well aware of what's going on. Goran is so hilariously incompetent, and it's a joy to watch. The cops sorted through the evidence and they made connections that led to the logical conclusion that Taylor was working with Ryan, but Moss is convinced that Barry is her man. It's standard storytelling, helped along by a couple of decent jokes.
There's also Fuches and Hank reflecting on Barry since they think he's dead. Their interactions were hilarious, and I loved that Hank casually told Fuches that they had to kill him. These characters don't have a whole lot to them so far, but they are just a joy to watch.
Then there's the rest of the episode, which is stunning. The main story concerns Barry and Chris. Chris was never a killer, yet here he murders a man to save Barry's life. And that happens just a few minutes after he watches two of his friends die. For Chris, it's too much and he can't deal with it. But Barry is the one with the real problem. Since Chris is no longer trustworthy, Barry knows he has to kill him. The show takes on a lot of weight as Barry sits in the car, looking empty as he realizes what must be done. To add on, Chris realizes what Barry is thinking and tries to talk him out of it. The tension amps up with every second, and the outstanding acting on display really sucked me into the scene. And then in a moment, Barry kills Chris, and the full weight of what Barry has just done hits us. Barry stages the scene to look like a suicide and walks away, having killed a friend. Now that scene is dark. Barry is forced to go to a place where he has never gone before, and it's so painful to watch.
What comes after is somehow even more powerful. Following this murder, Barry has a complete mental breakdown as he imagines what happens to Chris' family following his death. This scene is edited superbly well, and the quick cuts brilliantly convey how these thoughts are invading Barry's mind (likely stirred on by his exposure to grief back in "Use It") and that Barry is trying to find some way out of this guilt. The end result is that Barry performs his singular line perfectly, and gives Sally everything she needs to get her life back together, perhaps even reigniting their connection. While it's nice to see Barry finally doing well as an actor, the implications here are horrifying for Barry. The only times we have seen Barry be competent as an actor is when he is reflecting on his life as a hitman. What if the only way that Barry can adequately be an actor is if he continues working as a hitman? That's a really tragic conclusion to come to, and it's easy to sympathize with the dilemma Barry finds himself in. Before now, there was always hope that Barry could just move on as an actor if he could break free from his old life. But this episode has crushed that hope. It's become clear that Barry needs to keep working as a hitman if he wishes for this acting career to work. In fact, looking back at previous episodes, it's clear that this was always the case. The hope that we had for Barry never truly existed. That's some outstanding storytelling, and it has pushed the morality of this show into an even more gray territory than before. That's fascinating stuff, and I'm eager to see more of it.
The Bad: It doesn't make much sense that Chris would join the marines in that woefully constructed plan if he had never killed anybody before. Chris' choice to go makes even less sense when you see the consequences he faces in this episode. Why would he take such a risk for no apparent reason? The show only treated Chris as a character in this episode, not the previous one. He was only in that car because the plot required him to be there.
The Unknown: Can Barry somehow find a way to be a good actor without relying on his life as a hitman?
What will happen in the war between Goran and Cristobal? Will the cops get involved?
Moss is after Barry now. What will she find about him? What will the cops uncover when they find Chris' dead body?
Best Moment: Barry's meltdown and his terrific line delivery was a standout moment. The implications of this scene (as discussed above) were groundbreaking for the show, and allow this show to be looked at from a completely different perspective.
Character of the Episode: Barry.
Conclusion: This was easily the best stuff of the show so far. Barry's inner conflict exploded with complexity in this episode, and there were so many spectacular moments that made me feel something for the character. And somehow, the show managed to tell such a dark and powerful story without giving up on its comedy. This was so skillfully put together.
Summary: Barry plans how to kill Cristobal, the leader of the Bolivians, using stealth, but Taylor wants to bum-rush him. Barry tries to get Taylor to listen to his plan unsuccessfully. Taylor sneaks money into Barry's bag when Barry doesn't take it. Barry goes to acting class where he continues to learn new lessons. He discovers the money in his bag and he hides it in the bathroom. Vacha wants revenge on Barry but he is ordered not to kill him. Vacha goes after Sally instead and ends up in a gunfight with Moss who was going to acting class to meet with Gene. Vacha is killed, and the cops find Barry's money hidden in the bathroom. Barry tells Taylor that he will do the job on his own. However, Taylor shows up with a horde of marines and he drives a car straight to the landing site. The car is shot at and several marines are killed, including Taylor.
The Good: The writing in this episode stood out to me. Everything that happened was logical and satisfying. There was a string of events that led to the conclusion of the episode with Taylor bum-rushing the Bolivians and the acting class falling under suspicion again. It was pretty complex, but the story was always easy to follow, and I really love the way that several pieces fell perfectly into place at the end. For example, Moss and Vacha running into each other and getting into a gunfight made perfect sense, and I was really impressed with how Barry's stashed money came into play as evidence. In the other half of the story, Taylor's actions were consistently unpredictable, yet it all made some sort of sense based off of what we knew about the character going into this episode. The reveal that Taylor read Barry's acting book was really well done, and it neatly explained Taylor's stunning behaviour in a way that actually made sense (I could definitely buy into the unhinged Taylor being easily influenced by a book).
Barry was terrific in this episode, as always. His interactions with Taylor were a highlight, and I found myself laughing more often than not. He was presented with a very real dilemma here as his hopes about Taylor working with Fuches to let him go free were quickly dashed, and in the end both Fuches and Taylor were demanding Barry to kill the other. It was a big problem for Barry, and one that was examined in a very humourous way, which I think was surprisingly effective. There's something oddly funny about this situation that Barry put himself in, so it feels right to ridicule it. The ending however was really intense. Barry tries to cut Taylor out, but it totally backfires and Taylor arrives with a party of marines to go attack the Bolivians. The scene is scary in a lot of ways as Taylor leads the entire crew to their deaths with a single reckless move. Even with the humour coming out in a few moments, the repercussions of Taylor's decision are quite horrifying, and it's a fitting end for his character to be killed while making an overly aggressive move in an attempt to kill some people.
As usual, we were given another strong scene in the acting class. Barry and Sally's relationship has been put in the background these past few episodes, but it's still getting some solid development. This episode shows Barry being forced to deal with the fact that Sally doesn't love him by way of working an acting exercise with her. It's a subtly acted scene, and one that ends up being more powerful than expected.
The Bad: The gunfight didn't quite work for me. The scene itself was built up perfectly and it made sense that Moss would kill Vacha. But what was missing was any kind of emotional investment. I don't really care about Moss, and Vacha is the least interesting villain that the show has offered up so far. So when they fought, I was never really at the edge of my seat. The adrenaline rush from the implications of Moss finding a Chechen wore off pretty quickly, and we were just left with a pretty hollow gunfight that never did anything to keep me hooked.
This show has an interesting problem which is preventing it from scoring higher. Everything surrounding Barry is fantastic, but whenever the story shifts away to Gene, Moss or Sally, I find myself getting pretty uninterested. The show has done so well with Barry that any time he's offscreen, I find myself just waiting for him to come back. That's not to say that the scenes without him are bad. They aren't. They are well-made scenes with characters who I understand and enjoy watching. But I just can't seem to get invested in them.
The Unknown: What will come of Sally playing the role of MacBeth? Will she get the results she desires?
The cops will presumably be watching over the acting class now. What will they discover? Will they be back on Barry's tail soon?
Who survived in the car at the end? Are Barry and Chris alive? How are they going to get out of the situation that Taylor threw them into?
Best Moment: The ending sequence was a perfect escalation of tension, but I have to give it to the acting class scene once again. These scenes provide such brilliant insight into Barry, and he always walks out having grown a little bit as a character. I love the way that the show is handling the character of Barry, and I hope that we continue to get more of this stuff in the final two episodes of the season.
Character of the Episode: Barry, thought Taylor really did make me laugh a few times.
Conclusion: This was another great episode. The character development and writing was really impressive, and I continue to enjoy myself while watching this show. I can argue that the style of the show makes emotional investment in anything other than Barry quite difficult, but when the execution of the show is this good, I find it hard to be bothered too much by that.
Summary: Barry tries to fix things with Sally who wants to be on a break instead. Unfortunately for Sally, she gets put with Barry for a scene in MacBeth. Moss visits the acting class for interviews but doesn't get any more leads. She ends up going to Gene's and they seemingly have sex. Meanwhile, Barry freaks out at acting class after a speech from MacBeth makes him face the possibility that he is an irredeemable killer. Barry and Taylor raid the Bolivians successfully and Taylor saves Barry's life. Fuches wants Barry to kill Taylor after the job but Barry can't bring himself to do it.
The Good: A pattern of this show is that Barry is always given a fantastic moral conflict in every episode. It's always nice to see a TV show where the main character is the best part of the show, seeing that we spend so much time with the main character. Bill Hader put in one hell of a performance in this episode. Here Barry is faced with the problem of Taylor. Fuches wants him to kill Taylor, but Barry isn't sure if it's the right thing to do. It's wonderful to see Barry contemplate what to do with Taylor throughout the episode, and his ultimate decision made perfect sense and even put a smile on my face.
Barry has much more to deal with in this episode though. We get to see the fallout of his conversation with Sally in the previous episode, and things advance logically as they grow further apart. Barry's fantasies are made even more sad since it's clear that these dreams aren't something that Sally shares. Also, we get to see Barry deal with the fact that he's a killer in a fresh new way, as a speech from Lady MacBeth forces him to look at his own future in a new way. Barry is horrified by how everyone dismisses MacBeth as a killer for what he did, and he tries to defend MacBeth, obviously in an attempt to fight the the fact that he can change and become a better person despite the horrors he has committed. It's a powerful scene, and easily one of the best of the entire series.
There were lots of other things I really enjoyed. The climactic raid scene was a nice mix of intense and hilarious. Taylor got to grow a little more as a character in those scenes, which I appreciated. I really like how this show is portraying Sally. She is a total bitch, and I actually like that. It makes sense that not everyone is going to be a likeable person, and unluckily for Barry, he's dreaming about a girl who I think will be disliked by a vast majority of viewers, similar to Skyler from "Breaking Bad". But Barry isn't a particularly social or emotional person, so you can't really blame him for being in love with her. Lastly, I really enjoyed Fuches' stash of cell phones, and his system with Barry for dealing with police involvement is excellent.
The Bad: Nothing I would put down as bad.
The Unknown: How will Fuches react to Taylor joining the crew?
Best Moment: Barry attempting to justify his own actions by defending MacBeth's actions was really powerful stuff.
Character of the Episode: Barry.
Conclusion: This was really good stuff. The comedy was still present and enjoyable, but it was toned down and used sparingly so that the dramatic scenes were able to fully connect with me. This was the best episode of the series so far.
Summary: Barry leaves Sally's and is given a new job from Fuches to raid the Bolivians. Barry isn't happy with the assignment but he takes it. After a speech from Gene in acting class, Barry goes back to Fuches and throws the papers back in his face. Barry goes to a party with Sally and meets with an old marine friend Chris who brings two other friends who cause chaos. Fuches follows Barry to the party and ensures that he takes on the job anyways. Later, Barry sees Sally talking to another man and misinterprets that he needs to step in to save her. Annoyed by this, Sally leaves a confused Barry. Barry leaves the party later and is approached by one of the marines who wants to join in on his raid of the Bolivian compound. Meanwhile, Gene goes on a date with Moss.
The Good: While not quite as good as the first few episodes, this was a sound continuation of the story with some new problems for Barry to deal with.
Barry gets some really good development here. We finally see him step up to Fuches after a rousing speech from Gene in what was both a very funny scene and also a logical continuation of the story. Barry doubles down on his acting life and refuses to deal with Fuches anymore. To cement his new life, he buys Sally a laptop as a present. But Barry is still socially inept, and he ends up ruining his new life. Fuches appears at the party and forces Barry back into his job. Then, Barry invites his old friend Chris, who brings some friends that end up ruining the party. Finally, Barry misinterprets his relationship with Sally as more intimate than what she wants, and as a result he loses her. Despite wanting to double down on his new life, Barry just can't fit in, and now he has a big reason to return to his life as a hitman. It should be interesting to see what choice Barry makes next, and how it impacts his life.
The comedy delivered once more with several funny moments. Barry's daydream featuring Jon Hamm was terrific. Gene's desperate interactions with Moss to get a date were quite clever. All of Barry's interactions with Fuches in this episode were very well done and they all made me laugh. I especially liked the show poking fun at how Barry didn't notice Fuches following him, which was a nitpick I was going to make. Being so self-aware lets me know that I'm watching a very well written comedy series.
The Bad: Again, the side stories simply don't work as well as everything surrounding Barry. There are side plots with both Gene and Sally in this episode and they don't quite connect with me in the same way that Barry's struggles do. Perhaps it's because the characters of Gene and Sally aren't fully formed yet, and I still don't have a good reason to care about them. Regardless of what it is, the scenes with Gene and Sally were the least interesting parts of the episode for sure despite still having some solid laughs.
This episode doesn't feel as important as the others. The party setting isn't very interesting, and there isn't enough plot movement in this episode for it to be as good as what came before. The comedy also isn't quite as memorable in this episode.
The Unknown: Are Chris and the marines going to join Barry's operation? Is Barry going to go through with the raid? Will there be any consequences to it?
The cops have discovered Barry's figure, right as Moss gets in contact with Gene. Will Gene be the one who realizes that Barry is a murderer?
Best Moment: Probably the Barry and Sally fight. I feel sorry for Barry who simply doesn't understand what he's done wrong, as he sees his new life falling apart all around him.
Character of the Episode: Barry again. What can I say, he's easily the best part of the show so far.
Conclusion: This was more solid storytelling with some well-placed humour to keep things fun. I don't think this was quite as strong as the previous episodes, but I still had fun watching it.
Summary: Barry prepares to kill Paco, but Hank calls him, telling him to wait until a bullet is sent to Bolivia for dramatic effect. Barry is frustrated by this. Sally goes to an audition but runs into an old friend who is more successful. Sally breaks down and messes up the audition, so she goes to Barry for comfort. Barry wants to comfort her but he gets the ok to kill Paco so he goes to do that first. Barry strangles Paco so he can go to Sally's quickly. They have sex. Meanwhile, the Chechens bring in their own hitman Stovka to kill Barry and Fuches after everything. Stovka is depressed and after talking with Fuches he kills himself. Goran is distraught and bonds with Fuches, who offers to get Barry into his service to replace Stovka.
The Good: All of my praise from previous episodes holds up here. This is more of the same and it is a lot of fun. I still adore the black comedy, and there are creative jokes in every episode. Like before, the show finds a way to make really dark and disturbing scenes funny, and I thought that this was done with better effectiveness here than in the previous episode. The highlights were Barry getting busted trying to stealthily kill Paco and Stovka shooting himself after a hilariously depressing speech while Fuches talks about the wonders of LA.
Barry's given a good conflict throughout the episode. He's not allowed to kill Paco for the most absurdly hilarious (yet believable) reason, so he grapples with waiting outside of Paco's house for the moment he is allowed to kill him and spending some more time with Sally at acting class. There are a lot of good moments for Barry in the episode, and he's put on the spot to make a crucial decision a couple of times, and those scenes worked really well. I also appreciate that there was some added humour in Barry just switching between phone calls from Hank and Sally without either one noticing.
I like that Sally got some added depth in this episode. We don't really know much about her, but now we get some insight into her past and we get more characterization as Sally nicely plays up her bitchy side in this episode. Of course Barry doesn't see this as a problem since Sally is the closest to love he has ever been, so he simply enjoys his time with her and even dreams of going to the grocery store with her in what was another really funny scene.
The Bad: Some of the stories aren't quite working. The cops storyline remains pretty dull and I'm still not hooked on it. I also didn't enjoy the scenes between Fuches and Goran as much as everything else in the episode. I don't think I'm invested enough in Fuches and the Chechens to justify spending so much time with them instead of Barry. Most TV shows like to spend maximal time with the main character before introducing side plots. This way we can get invested in the story through the eyes of the main character in the long run, that way when the focus shifts from the main character, it's still interesting. "The Walking Dead" and "Better Call Saul" are great examples of this. "Barry" is trying to both develop the main character and the story at the same time, and that's resulting in a little bit of roughness in these early episodes.
Compared to the previous episode, I don't think this episode had quite as much of an impact. The emotion and comedy wasn't as strong as the previous episode, though I do think that this one was executed a bit better.
The Unknown: Who is the guy following Barry? The Chechens don't acknowledge him, so is he not one of them?
Best Moment: There were lots of good moments. I'll go with the funniest scene this time, which was Stovka shooting himself. Black comedy at its absolute best.
Character of the Episode: Barry.
Conclusion: This was more wonderful black comedy. While there are some small flaws in storytelling that prevent this from being great, it's still very funny, very entertaining television.
Summary: The acting class mourns Ryan's death. Barry is invited to a memorial and decides to act out a scene with sally. Fuches meets with Barry who tells him to get out of town. However, the Chechens break in and capture both of them. Barry is sent to kill an informant and Fuches is being kept hostage. Barry goes to the memorial instead and has a strong reaction to Ryan's dad mourning his son's death. Sally cheers him up so he ends up walking her home. Sally makes strong advances to have sex, but Barry obliviously denies them. A Chechen takes a picture of Sally. The police investigate Ryan's murder and discover a camera inside of the Chechens' car.
The Good: The comedy is what stood out most to me. While the first episode was more focused on the dramatic elements of the show, this episode doubled down on the dark humour. There were a number of great jokes here, all of which took full advantage of the dark tone of the series to create some of the best black comedy I have seen. I especially loved how the episode turned pretty dar and horrifying scenes into something lighthearted. Fuches getting his tooth filed is a very uncomfortable scene, yet there is a moment where Goran gets told to keep things quiet so he doesn't disturb his daughter's sleepover. It's a clever joke that made me laugh. The best joke of the episode is certainly when Barry is on the phone talking while Fuches is getting beaten by invading Chechens. The trope subversion of Fuches breaking a bottle to use as a weapon, only to get cut by the glass was hilarious.
The continuation of the Chechen storyline was pretty well done. It made sense that the Chechens would attack Barry for what he did, and I like that the attack was both swift and aggressive. A mob wouldn't waste time, and I like that their attack on Barry and Fuches happened practically immediately. Barry was put on the spot when he was forced to choose between Fuches life and his decision to quit killing. It seems like Barry won't be able to simply drop his hitman career the way he wants to.
The stuff between Barry and Sally was pretty solid. It's evident that they both like each other and their interactions have been fairly organic so far. Barry is socially uncomfortable and depressed, and in Sally he sees an escape from his miserable world. But I don't think he's looking for any kind of relationship. Sally on the other hand clearly just wants to have sex with him, and it's hard to gauge how much she actually values him with what little information we have of her so far. I'm interested to learn more. I'm also interested to see how she gets involved with the Chechens now that they are watching her.
There was one standout moment in this episode. That's the part where Barry sees Ryan's father grieving for his son and starts feeling guilty and ashamed for what he did and what happened. It's clear that Barry hasn't ever been exposed to somebody who has grieved somebody they have lost, and the realization that Barry has been doing that to so many people is quite a shock for him.
The Bad: The problem with black comedy is that it can completely destroy drama by making everything feel too lighthearted and jokey. The material in this episode could easily fit into a dark and serious drama, yet it doesn't really have an impact because there is a joke every 20-30 seconds that makes us laugh. This variation in tone is a problem that all black comedies suffer from, and it still persists here. In particular, I was taken out of the direness of Barry and Fuches' situation when the jokes kept getting thrown at us. I was enjoying myself laughing, but I wasn't feeling the high stakes of the moment as much as I should have.
Some of the comedy felt way over the top. A lot of the scenes with the cops weren't very good, and I found the crying cop gag to be particularly unfunny and insulting to the audience. There were a few other jokes scattered throughout the episode that also didn't land for me.
The Unknown: Is Barry on the camera? Will he be identified once the cops get it unlocked? Are the Chechens making an attempt to recover the camera?
Has Barry really never dealt with grief and guilt until now? That seems strange for somebody who has killed so many people.
Are the Chechens going after Sally next? What do they plan to do with her? What are their plans for Fuches? What do they want from Barry in the long run?
Best Moment: Barry's reaction to Ryan's dad.
Character of the Episode: Barry.
Conclusion: Black comedies are really hard to judge. On one hand, this was really funny, so as a comedy it was very successful. But score this as a drama and it doesn't hold up nearly as well. In the end I'll settle with a middling score to show how this episode made me laugh more than most modern sitcoms, but it didn't quite live up to expectations on the drama front.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.