The stakes are raised for Barry (played by Bill Hader) in the third episode as he continues to realize the hitman business just isn’t for him. It all leads to him having to “Make the Unsafe Choice,” which also happens to be the title of the episode. Truth be told he started to realize this in episode one, but it’s made even more evident in this episode. One of the most enticing elements of this show is how each character is always growing. You can tell the series was written in a way that created satisfying arcs for everyone and it’s evident in each installment (episode 1 and episode 2 reviews) as Barry, Fuches (Stephen Root), and Sally (Sarah Goldberg) all develop well. Considering this is a 30 minute TV show, that’s saying something.
It’s made evident to the viewer Barry needs to get out of the business in two different ways. The first is the introduction of a new hitman character which helps solidify the fact that being a hitman is no fun at all. Fuches is tied up and stuck in the Chechen garage only to be introduced to this old, but famous hitman. This leads to Fuches getting the man to talk–so as to escape–and learning how miserable his life has become. It’s interesting to see how Fuches talks as he’s not remorseful in the slightest for the old man and doesn’t think at all about how this could be Barry in a few short years. This bookends well with the final moments as Barry reflects on changing professions. Through the old hitman we see how a life surrounded by death can end and this makes the viewer push for Barry to reverse his inevitable future.
Fuches gets the most development in this episode, becoming a psychologist for the main Chechen mob boss. In a surprising turn, Fuches helps big boss Goran (Glenn Fleshler) get over the old hitman’s passing and even ends up eating a steak at his table (though his neck is bike locked to the back of a chair). It’s evident he’s willing to scam anyone if it benefits him and in a hilarious moment he strokes the boss’s ego by pointing out how insane he is, and Goran takes the compliment like a little princess being called pretty.
Anthony Carrigan better win something for this role. He’s drop dead hilarious in this show.
This episode also opens up the wonderful world of breaking into acting. It’s a testament to the writing that so much progress and character work is done in only 30 minutes, which includes Sally’s character. In a quick scene, we meet Sally acting as a princess at a birthday party. It’s nothing to be proud of and it only gets worse for her in an audition given to her by her sleazy semi-agent. Later, we see her attend the audition which is grossly unfair (an ex-co-star with no talent got the lead) and riles her up in an emotional way. The rollercoaster of emotions is on display, which juxtaposes well with Barry’s constant calm. This is possibly why she runs into his arms which, ultimately, is obviously a bad idea.
Hank (Anthony Carrigan) continues to be a hilariously silly and light-hearted gangster. He’s probably the most light-hearted comedic element of the show as he’s outlandishly nice yet totally deadpan when it comes to murderous acts. It’s like he’s caught up in the dramatic effect of a being a gangster and doesn’t care about the repercussions of his actions. Cousineau (Henry Winkler) is also very light-hearted and adds a shot of comedy in an otherwise serious show. He has a bit of flair in this episode not only asking Barry to “Release the cat,” but also hitting on the lead detective in the case. That’ll be fun to watch moving forward and it gives him something to do outside of the acting class.
There’s also a new thematic concept used in this episode where we see Barry daydreaming. One gets the impression he’s doing a bit of acting within his mind, and maybe if he can open his mind, he can bring this internal acting to a literal stage. This scene parallels well with Barry’s difficulty in class as, when pressed, he can’t pretend in front of an audience. It’s clear Barry’s hitman life, and acting life will need to combine for him to be the actor he hopes to be. The problem is what sort of whirlwind of emotions (probably rage) will need to come out for that to happen for him?