Summary: Fuches doesn't kill Gene but tells him something before leaving. Barry arrives and so do the cops. The cops arrest Gene under suspicion that he murdered Moss. Barry arrives for Sally's performance but is unnerved by what is happening to Gene, and repeatedly calls Fuches in frustration. Fuches contacts Hank at the monastery looking for help but is surprised when he sees that nobody is listening to Hank. Cristobal arrives to kill Hank but Fuches talks to him and gets everyone to make up. The three gangs celebrate their union. The theatre performance doesn't go as planned when Sally changes her scene at the last second to show her standing up to Barry. Sally is horrified by her actions but she is surprised when her performance is praised. Barry discovers that Gene has been released; the cops discovered a Chechen pin that Barry planted in the car and they blame them. Barry receives a text from Hank that Fuches is with him. Angry, Barry goes to the monastery and shoots down tons of people in an attempt to kill Fuches, including Mayrbeck. Fuches escapes. Batir arrives from Chechnya and finds Hank amidst the chaos. Gene remembers what Fuches told him before leaving: Barry is responsible for killing Moss.
The Good: Everybody starts off this episode in an awful place. Barry and Gene are in custody being eaten alive by what's happened. Gene is in a horrible way, overtaken by grief after finally learning what happened to Moss. He's a shell of himself and can hardly even listen to detective May. Barry on the other hand is frustrated. His mentor has been detained and it's looking increasingly likely that he will be arrested, and it's all Barry's fault. He deals with troubling emotions as he's put in a place where he has to choose between himself and Gene. Elsewhere, Hank's future is looking grim. He has no control over anything anymore and he receives news that Batir is coming to replace him. At the same time, Sally is a nervous wreck while preparing for her performance, as is Lindsay who tries (and fails) to calm Sally's nerves.
I thought this episode worked outstandingly well on an emotional level. So much of what happened here had emotional weight to it and provided a fittingly conclusive end to the storylines that were explored this season. I'll start with Sally's arc. This whole season saw her faced with a similar dilemma to Barry: should she enact the truth and risk facing judgement, or enact a lie that makes her look better. Earlier in the season it seemed like Sally had accepted the truth and was going to use that. But there's a cruel twist in the story as Sally panics about showing hundreds of people how pathetic she used to be and changes the scene at the last second, creating a scene with less emotional power and less meaning. Horrified with herself, Sally tries to leave and her emotions are easy to sympathize with. Despite knowing what she had to do, she just wasn't strong enough to do it. But in what was yet another cruel twist, the audience loved her performance. They praise her and commend her acting skills, and it seems like this performance is about to launch Sally's acting career. And it was based off a lie. It's going to be very interesting to see how Sally deals with this development.
Barry's internal conflict was also explored in a new, and powerful way this episode. Since the start of the show, Barry has only killed for self-preservation. He tries to prove that he is a good person by not killing, but he has still ended up in position's where he is forced to kill, like with Chris and with Moss. Each time Barry was given a choice. He could face the consequences for his actions, or he could go back to killing. Both times Barry chose to avoid the consequences and kept on killing. This episode put a slight spin on this conflict. This time Barry's choice isn't one with a selfish nature. This time he's forced between choosing between Gene's future and his own. The predicament this puts him in is fantastic to watch, and as usual, Bill Hader is terrific. Barry wrestles with the guilt of what has happened in realistic ways, seeming unfocused at Sally's performance while being utterly enraged whenever he sends voicemails to Fuches. As the episode progresses it seems more and more like Barry will need to make a decision soon. But he is saved in the end and all of his panic goes away in an instant. Barry is lucky and Gene will be okay. But one emotion still persisted inside of Barry. He still needed revenge against Fuches.
This leads me into what Fuches was up to this episode. For the first time this season, Fuches turns to the Chechens and gets in touch with Hank. But Hank isn't in a promising place. His time as a leader is facing its end and he has nothing to offer Fuches. Fuches in exchange, doesn't have anything to ensure the loyalty of the Chechens. Both of them are desperate and need something to work out. So when Cristobal arrives, Fuches seizes his opportunity and gets the Bolivians and the Chechens to make peace. It's almost a fairy tale ending and it's surprising how perfectly everything works out. As such, this storyline ends up being the best place for the writers to squeeze in some comedy, and they do so with a resounding success. Moments like Hank ordering a "heroin table" and Fuches being too far away for Cristobal to hear him were hilarious.
The strongest part of this storyline was the examination into the Barry/Fuches relationship. As Fuches gets Cristobal to reunite with Hank, he finds himself describing their situation in the same way as his relationship with Barry. Whether or not he realizes this, or even cares about it is difficult to discern, but either way it's powerful to see Fuches saving Cristobal and Hank's relationship when he can't even save his own relationship with Barry. While Fuches encourages Cristobal to change his methods to continue his bromance with Hank, Fuches himself is unwilling to change himself to suit Barry's needs.
And Fuches never realizes this. He still thinks he is justified in what he did to Barry and is still feeling hateful. So when Barry shows up in a rage, Fuches leaves. He views himself as a victim and doesn't care how many other lives are lost as he secures an escape. Barry on the other hand, also doesn't care about all the lives he's taking. The show has spoken out many times about how a real killer is somebody without a soul. But Barry has worked hard to deny this and prove that he does in fact have a soul. Here he completely falls apart, murdering relentlessly and even killing his own protege Mayrbeck without hesitation. Before there was always hope that Barry could maybe be redeemed, difficult as it may seem. But this brutal killing spree proves that there is no turning back for Barry. Despite how much he has grown, he is still the same man that murdered innocents on Korengal, as he makes the exact same error in judgement in the monastery. And that error has cost the lives of dozens of people. Barry's conclusive walk into the darkness after seeing Mayrbeck's corpse was a brutally effective way of showcasing Barry's true nature. Barry may have told Gene that he was right about how people can change, but what Barry wants to believe is completely different from what the truth is.
The Bad: Unfortunately, the tonal issues persisted in this episode as well. Some of the jokes in this episode were really well done (like the ones in the Chechens storyline and the sudden reveal of Sasha's dark past), but others didn't work at all. The fact that there were moments that were played for laughs during Barry's killing spree was a complete misjudgement. This is the darkest and most frightening scene of the entire show as Barry murders like a supernatural force. Yet for some reason, the show tries to make us laugh? It's very awkward and takes away from the seriousness and implications of Barry's murders. Unfortunately the comedy issue wasn't only present in the ending. There were numerous points throughout the episode where a very powerful character moment had a lessened impact due to an ill-timed joke.
The Unknown: What will Gene do now that he knows the truth? He doesn't seem like the kind of man that would go for vengeance. What are his intentions? Will he try to turn Barry in? Will he try to help him? Will he try to get back in contact with Fuches?
How will Sally be impacted by the audience loving her fake story? Will this catapult her into stardom? Will she be happy about this? Or will this only result in more inner conflict for her to resolve? Will Sam hear about this performance from Sally? What happens if he returns to confront her about it?
Will Hank still be sent to Chechnya? With almost everyone dead, surely Batir won't be willing to send away the few men that are left. What happens to Cristobal now?
How will Barry deal with his killing spree? How will it change his behaviour? What does this mean for his relationships with Gene and Fuches?
Best Moment: There are so many moments to pick. I'll go with Barry murdering Mayrbeck. Mayrbeck is ready to defend his people and more than willing to pull the trigger. But when Barry is the one who enters the room, Mayrbeck is a mixture of surprised and glad to see him. He hesitates, but Barry does not. Seeing Barry kill mayrbeck without a second thought was horrifying, and it was made worse when you remember that Barry had previously warned Mayrbeck that hesitation could be the difference between life and death. In this case, it was.
Character of the Episode: Barry.
Conclusion: This was a terrific season finale. So much happened, plenty of things were resolved, and even more things were left open-ended to leave room for more exciting material in season 3. Had it not been for the tonal inconsistency, this could have been one of the best season finales I've ever seen. But unfortunately, the awkward tone detracted from my enjoyment of the episode.
This finale was pretty representative of my feelings on this season as a whole. There was so much to love in this season. The writing, directing and editing was just as superb as season 1, if not better in a few places. I was especially pleased with how the show expanded on its supporting cast, turning Hank, Sally and Gene from solid side characters in a comedy into fully fleshed out characters that were given complete character arcs. And the performances were consistently awe-inspiring. I don't think there was anyone who didn't deliver in this season, and I was especially impressed by the entire main cast of Bill Hader, Henry Winkler, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root and Anthony Carrigan. This season could have been near-perfect television had there not been one major flaw: the tone. This show manages to be both an outstanding drama and an outstanding comedy. But the problems arise when you put both of those together. The story doesn't fit together as well when it tries to both make you laugh and make you think about morality. At times it's extremely awkward, and because of that I think this show is one where every individual piece is fantastic, but the overall product isn't as good as any of the individual pieces. Don't get me wrong, I've had a blast with this show so far, but looking back at the entire season as one entity isn't as impressive as looking at every individual scene or even every individual episode. It's difficult trying to make a black comedy. Balancing drama and comedy is never easy, and this show comes close but doesn't quite nail it. But thankfully, the show does nail everything else, and it's because of that that I'm still left thinking that this was a tremendous season of television.
Summary: Sally turns down a new lead role because she's disgusted by the TV show she was offered. Barry gets an audition for a movie immediately and Sally feels jealous. She speaks with Lindsay who gives her a chance to show her performance on a theatre stage. Sally gleefully accepts. Barry goes to his audition but is surprised when Gene doesn't show up. Barry gets a call from Gene and learns that Fuches is posing as a private investigator and is leading him to Moss' body. Afraid for Gene, Barry leaves the audition and goes to Gene's cabin. Fuches shows Moss' body to Gene and prepares to shoot him in the head. Meanwhile, the Burmese and Bolivians try to kill Hank and the Chechens. However, the Chechens escape and win in a gunfight. They turn to Mayrbeck as their new leader and abandon Hank.
The Good: This episode managed to both function as a standalone episode while also setting up the season finale in an exciting way. The first 3/4 of this episode tells an individual story before things heated up in a big way towards the end, giving us an epic climax and a memorable cliffhanger.
The early parts of the episode were quite strong. The main focus was Sally, and she was terrific. Sarah Goldberg gave out her best performance yet as she got to convey a wide assortment of emotions throughout her scenes. We see a mixture of excitement and disgust when she meets with Aaron Ryan and learns what her new lead role would be like. Sally's choice to turn down the role isn't anything good for her career, but now that we've been given a look at Sally's character this season, it's easy to understand why she would turn down this offer. This one choice defines Sally's frustrations throughout the episode. When she learns that Barry has an audition, she finds it hard to figure out what to feel, and she is left with a mixture of happiness for her boyfriend and anger over how he succeeded quickly while her talents are continually wasted. The best scene of the episode is absolutely Sally's monologue, which nicely paid off of these emotions and created something really memorable (see: Best Moment).
Hank's story is a lot of fun too. Having been captured, the Chechens are in danger of dying, but we see Barry's training pay off as they all fight their way out and seemingly secure a new future under Mayrbeck's leadership. Anthony Carrigan is still a joy to watch, and his antics carried this storyline. The escape from the bus was very skillfully (and humourously) done, and every scene with that traitorous accordion guy was quite funny.
Barry's story was strong too. This episode has Barry finally living his dream. His relationship with Gene has never been stronger, and now he has a shot to make a name for himself in the acting industry, proving that he can find purpose in his life by leaving his past behind. But then a sudden, unexpected call from Fuches turns that all on his head. While at his audition, Barry is faced with the possibility of Fuches taking away everything that he had worked so hard to obtain. So Barry makes a choice and leaves, dashing over to Gene's place to ensure his safety. But he's too late and Fuches is already setting up Gene's death. And with Fuches' gun raised, the episode ends. It's such a frustrating ending in the best possible way. This is how you do a cliffhanger that builds anticipation for what happens next without making it feel like the audience is being played. I don't think Gene is about to die, but ending the episode in such a precarious position makes anything feel possible.
The Bad: Nothing I would call bad.
The Unknown: Will Gene somehow be saved? Will Barry make it there in time? What happens when Barry reunites with Fuches? What will the cops do when they arrive to the location where Gene currently is? There are so many possibilities, and I'm very curious to see what happens.
Will Barry still get the role? With how excited everyone was about him being 6'2", I wouldn't be surprised if they still give him the role.
What's next for Hank now that he's seemingly been kicked out of the Chechens' organization?
Best Moment: Sally's 3 minute monologue was outstanding television. To do the entire thing in a single take is simply jawdropping acting, and I think Sarah Goldberg portrayed Sally's complete emotional meltdown perfectly. What's really impressive is how the scene manages to be both emotionally heavy and hilarious at the same time. In most cases, "Barry" has failed to put drama and comedy together in a scene without it feeling jarring. This is one of the few cases where both the comedy and drama came together perfectly.
Character of the Episode: Sally.
Conclusion: This was a strong episode of storytelling anchored by an outstanding performance from Sarah Goldberg. It may not be one of the show's absolute best episodes, but it's another fun episode.
Summary: Barry breaks things off with Fuches and leaves him behind. Barry returns to acting class and learns that Sally has changed her scene to reflect the truth about what happened. With some help from Gene, Barry is able to use his murder of Moss to bring out a great performance and show the power inside Sally's story. Barry completes the Chechens training. Hank prepares to attack the Burmese but his plans get leaked to Cristobal who stops him. Fuches hunts down Moss' body and prepares to use it as leverage against Barry. He seemingly plans to tell Gene what happened to Moss.
The Good: This was a solid transitional episode that advanced the story in preparation for the final two episodes of the season. As usual, Barry's story is the highlight. For the first time, we get to see Barry bring out a fantastic performance all by himself. He finally figures out how to channel his experiences and turn them into an emotional performance, and it's a powerful moment for him. He makes Gene proud, impresses Sally and it finally looks like he is fitting in. But this isn't meant to be. It's evidence enough that his relationship with Gene is in a tricky place when Gene continually keeps bringing up how Barry killed somebody and got away with it. What would Gene do if he found out that the key to Barry's brilliant performance was the time that he murdered Gene's girlfriend? It's clear that this isn't the happy ending that Barry expects it to be. And with an angry Fuches out for revenge, it seems like Gene and Barry's relationship is under a serious threat.
Everybody else had pretty solid story advancement. It's entertaining to see Fuches stumble through the woods during his hunt for Moss. Sally's story continues to be quite good. Sarah Goldberg has been killing it this season, and I think it's fascinating to see Sally face the truth of her past and seemingly be rewarded by receiving a promising new offer from her agent. Hank's story is also a blast. The accordion guy made for a good laugh early in the episode, but it made for a better one when he turned out to be the reason for Hank's downfall. I'm intrigued by the end of this episode. Hank has been put in a really bad position, and I want to see how he tries to get out of this one.
The Bad: The biggest problem about this episode is that it hardly acknowledges the events of the previous episode. Barry moves on with his life like he was never even injured, despite the fact that his wound would have certainly been infected. Furthermore, there are no consequences to what happened in the last episode. The cops apparently haven't really looked through the crime scenes enough, because if they did, they should have immediately been led to Barry and Fuches.
Furthermore, returning to normal storytelling after the crazy formula break in the previous episode felt jarring. It felt odd to go back to something so ordinary after such a surreal episode, and that resulting in me being less immersed in this episode than I wanted to be.
The Unknown: What is Fuches going to do next? Will he tell Gene about Barry? Or about Moss? Both? What does he plan to accomplish? Is he motivated purely by spite or does he have a more cunning plan?
What will happen to Hank now that Cristobal knows that he was planning betrayal? Can Hank repair his relationship with Cristobal?
Best Moment: Barry remembering Moss in order to act out the scene with Sally was really powerful. I love the touch of Barry opening his eyes to escape the guilt out of reflex only to close his eyes once more and willingly accept the past. It's a beautiful bit of visual storytelling that made Barry's intense performance mean so much more.
Character of the Episode: Barry.
Conclusion: This is a solid episode with some decent storytelling. However, ignoring "ronny/lily" proved to be a big mistake, making this episode feel both jarring and unrealistic. This isn't a bad episode, but it's certainly the weakest of the season so far.
Summary: Barry sneaks into Ronny's house without intent to kill him. He tries to smuggle him out of the city. However, Ronny is a trained fighter and he fights Barry. However, Barry breaks his windpipe and Ronny passes out. Barry tries to leave but Ronny's daughter Lily arrives. Much to Barry's shock, Lily starts acting completely wild and fights him. Lily stabs Barry and leaves out the window. A stunned Barry goes to Fuches, demanding stitches. Fuches wants Barry to kill Lily since she's a witness and they hunt her down. Fuches gets terrified of her antics and they both end up driving away injured. They end up back at the supermarket so Barry can get Fuches some superglue remover (he glued his hands to the wheel). In the supermarket Barry finds Ronny and they fight. The police arrive. Loach is there first and he shoots Ronny btu Ronny gets back up and kills him in one hit. Other cops arrive and kill Ronny. Barry escapes out back and returns to Fuches.
The Good: ...
What the hell did I just watch? This has got to be the most unexpectedly absurd episode of television I've seen. After I watched it, I was literally speechless for 10 minutes. Nothing in this episode made sense and I was not expecting anything like this at all. But it was so fun! The one thing I can center my thoughts around is the fact that this is the most fun I've had watching a TV episode.
This is easily the most I've ever laughed watching an episode. The humour here was outstanding and I completely lost it laughing at several moments. The whole episode was just so ridiculous and unbelievable, yet it never broke my immersion. I was just floored by the absurdity of it all, and the downright slapstick interactions between characters was the icing on the cake.
The funniest part of this show has always been how incompetent everyone is. This episode takes that incompetence and dials it up to 11, allowing us to watch an episode where two fools (Barry and Fuches) bumble around trying to accomplish a single basic hit.
Another thing I need to applaud is the masterful directing. This episode was brought to life absolutely perfectly and there were so many little things that I absolutely loved, like the single-shot fight sequence, the patient opening scene which established the plot in a brilliantly simple way without exposition, the horrifying imagery with the monstrous Lily and many other things.
I'm honestly struggling to do justice to this episode in this review. I don't think that my words can quite explain why this was so good. You just have to watch this one for yourself. It's such an unexpected surprise, but it's an absurd amount of fun. This is unlike anything else you will see on television, and the uniqueness makes it feel all the more special. As an experience, there's nothing else like this and I can honestly recommend this entire show if only to get to this one episode.
Leave it to "Barry" to even include some character exploration underneath all of this madness. This episode likens Fuches to the devil for Barry, as we get to see Fuches waiting there for him when he gets back from deployment. The same shot is paralleled at the end of the episode, and we're left wondering if Barry will ultimately decide to go back with him. It's a lovely story to tell in the background of the utter chaos in this episode.
The Bad: I'm unsure about what to score this because there are flaws that stem from this episode. I need to clear up, as a standalone episode this is absolutely superb. But when this episode is looked at as part of a TV series, it doesn't hold up as well. For one, everything here is pretty ridiculous and definitely stretches plausibility. For example, Barry being able to escape the store at the end makes no sense. Hell, there is no possible way that Barry and Fuches get out of this without being apprehended. So many people saw them and Fuches even hit a cop car. Plus Barry most definitely left some blood somewhere which could be traced back to him. There's no way that they can escape scot-free.
Going so overboard does have its drawbacks for the rest of the series. Now that we have seen the rules get broken once, it will be hard to buy into future drama knowing that the rules could be broken at any time. While this worked magnificently for this episode, I think that it will have an effect on the quality of the drama in future episodes.
The Unknown: What the hell was Lily? What universe does this show take place in? What is she?
With Loach dead, will we see May take up the Barry investigation? I'm sure that she will find it suspicious that Loach died responding to a scene where Ronny was.
Best Moment: Do I have to choose? There were so many brilliant moments and jokes packed into this episode.
Character of the Episode: Barry.
Conclusion: This is unlike anything I've ever seen. What an episode. I haven't been this shook up and confused after watching an episode since "International Assassin" from "The Leftovers". I can say for sure that this is one of the all-time greatest TV experiences, and probably the best episode of pure comedy I have ever seen. But as a drama, it feels like there should be more here so I'm unsure on how to score this. In a lot of ways, this is a massive achievement, but in some ways it's also underwhelming. I don't think I can justify anything higher than an 86 considering the flaws but even that doesn't feel right. Take my score for this episode with a grain of salt. This was spectacular and you should absolutely go out of your way to watch this.
Summary: Barry and Sally have dinner with Sam. Barry asks Sally what that was about and she reveals that she never stood up to him. Sam sneakily watches Sally rehearse and Barry confronts him. Sam insults Sally and leaves an infuriated Barry behind. Sam invites Sally to his place so he can give her something. She declines but eventually Sam twists the strings enough to get her over. Their meeting initially starts fine but Sam shows his true colours. At the same time, Barry angrily goes to Sam's with the intent to kill him and almost shoots Sally by mistake. Ashamed, Barry tries to contact Fuches who declines, not wishing to turn him in anymore. Barry goes to Gene where he opens up and reveals what happened after Albert got shot. Gene gives him some good advice and sympathizes with him, surprising Barry. Barry tracks down Fuches and tells him about what Gene said but also gives his confession. Loach offers Barry a deal. If Barry kills Ronny, the guy who has been sleeping with Loach's ex-wife, he will let him go.
The Good: This episode quite literally was an emotional rollercoaster. It took me on a ride with so many ups and downs, and I felt so many different feelings throughout the episode, changing between them so suddenly that at times I actually felt like I was on a rollercoaster (especially that final moment which I'll get into a little later).
The first half of this episode explores the conflict that comes up when Sam returns to Sally's life. The reason for him being there makes enough sense though not perfect sense (see: The Bad). Regardless of why he's there, the episode explores what Sam's return does to both Sally and Barry, and I think it does a damn good job. Sally is unnerved by Sam's presence and she is forced to face up to the fact that she has been lying to herself this entire time. It's almost too much for her until Barry comes in with his own experience about lying about his past in front of others. He tells her it's okay and actively encourages her to avoid accepting the past and tells her to keep believing the lie. The scene is wonderful, because while it sounds like solid advice, Barry is only telling Sally to avoid facing up to who she is, the exact same thing that Barry is doing to avoid facing the consequences for his actions. The scene has some wonderful layers and allows the show to continue exploring morality in interesting new ways.
As the episode went on, the tension gradually increased. Sam's presence was uncomfortable since the beginning, but it managed to get a lot worse when he verbally abuses Sally in front of a seething Barry. Then the episode builds up tension expertly for the next 10 minutes as Sally gets lured into Sam's room while Barry makes his way to Sam's hotel with the intent to kill him. The sequence was edited brilliantly to leave us in maximum suspense, clearly leading to a big climax. Things starting getting crazy once Barry was in the hotel and when Sam started showing his true colours by attempting to harass Sally. Everything led to a suitably horrifying moment as Barry almost kills Sally when trying to take a shot at Sam. However, the moment snaps Barry back to reality and the weight of what almost happened sets in for him. The scene winds down very effectively, allowing me to slowly release the tension I felt. This entire sequence was paced, edited and directed perfectly, and is yet another example of why execution is so important for TV shows. Had this not been executed perfectly, this could have been a pretty dull, and even laughable, sequence.
Shockingly enough, all of this was just the first half of the episode. The second half took a different turn and focused heavily on Barry's inner conflict, allowing him to do things he hasn't done before. Fuches unavailability forces Barry to go to Gene instead, and for the first time we get to see Barry open up to somebody about his dark past. It's an unexpected surprise, but it signifies a big change for Barry. Barry always thought that his past made him a horrible person and he tried to suppress it. But now he has told somebody who understood that what he did was wrong, and they forgave him for it. It's not what he expected at all, and he's suitably excited about this. After all, this means that there is hope for his new future! But Barry makes the mistake of going back to Fuches, to tell him about what he just discovered, and it bites back badly at him. It's complete heartbreak for Barry, and by extension for us as well. Just as Barry finds hope for his future, it's all gone and he is forced to face the consequences. I especially love the storytelling touch that it's Barry's relationship with Fuches, who is representative of Barry's past, which defeats him. But it's over for Barry now and a vengeful Loach will ensure that justice is dealt to Barry.
At least that's what I expected to happen. What came next was one of the most unexpectedly brilliant plot twists I've ever seen. Right at the height of suspense, when it's clear that Barry is in danger and that we might be hit with a hugely cathartic moment, the tension is completely thrown away. Loach reveals his true motivation: not to avenge Moss, but to get himself a hitman to take out Ronny, who has been sleeping with his ex-wife. This was a genuine shock for me, and I was left as speechless as Barry. Then the titular "what?!" comes out and the episode ends. After one of the most intense and exhilerating episodes of the entire show, we are hit with a sudden relief of tension as "Barry" drops one of the best set-up punchlines I've ever seen. The ending is nothing short of a genius decision, and it provides a hilarious conclusion to an episode that truly put me on edge. Sure it's all pretty absurd, but "Barry" has always been a little bit ridiculous, so this actually fits with the style of the show.
The episode ended with one of the most impressive comedy moments so far. But it also had a damn good moment at the beginning of the episode. The timing and placement of the title card in this episode was superb and it made for a stellar joke to kick off the episode. If there's one thing that this show is absolutely nailing, it's using creativity to always surprise the viewer in pleasant ways.
The Bad: Unfortunately, there was more attempted comedy in this episode. The two jokes at the beginning and end work very well, but everything else fell woefully short. Regardless of how skillfully put together this was, there were still a lot of tonal issues. For such a serious episode with so much natural suspense, there should not be any jokes squeezed into it. I was too on edge to laugh at anything, and many of these jokes only served to lessen the tension that the rest of the episode had done so well to build up. It's a shame that my immersion was being broken so frequently because this could have otherwise been an all-time great example of how to do suspense in a TV episode.
Would Sam really learn about Sally's play? Not very many people watch these things, so I find it hard to believe that word would get passed down to him.
The Unknown: I imagine we will see Sam again? Is he going to be angry with Sally about her performance? What will he do? Will Barry deal with him somehow?
Apparently Loach wants Barry to go kill Ronny. How is that going to work? Will Loach literally just let Barry and Fuches go if they succeed? Also how long has Loach planned this? Was this his plan from the very beginning? It certainly seems like it, and it actually makes sense too, looking back on what Loach has done this season.
Best Moment: Barry telling the story of Albert to Gene was pretty stunning. Barry's enraged murder is quite shocking and it makes it clear that Barry has always been overly violent. More subtly, the show even answers why Barry has been indebted to Fuches all along, which I appreciate. But what makes this scene truly great is Gene's speech that follows. Gene is understandably shaken by this reveal. But he actually puts in the effort to help Barry out, connecting his own story with his son to Barry's experiences and leaving him with the positive message that your mistakes don't define who you are.
Character of the Episode: Barry.
Conclusion: This was terrific stuff. The tension was top-notch and the writing was even batter. This was a really well-crafted episode that built to one of the most ingenious endings I have ever seen. Had this episode not been filled with attempted comedy that bogged things down, it would have been even better. Still, this was easily one of the best episodes so far. The first half of season 2 has certainly delivered.
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.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.