HBO’s hitman series delivers some of the best acting of the year.
The penultimate episode of Barry just dropped, and is the darkest episode yet in the series. Barry (Bill Hader) goes through a lot, be it nearly getting killed, getting yelled at by acting partner Sally (Sarah Goldberg), or having to do something no one should to avoid being caught. Hader shows his range in this episode with incredible fear, anxiety, rage, and self-hatred, capturing the range of emotions incredibly well.
Titled “Loud, Fast, and Keep Going” (another title taken from the acting teacher’s advice) this episode opens a minute or so before we left off with the plane harboring the Bolivian mob boss that Barry and Taylor (Dale Pavinski) were supposed to take out. The intense scene is followed up with a hilarious interchange between the boss and Goran (Glenn Fleshler) who have a matter of fact discussion about the inevitable war they must now take part in against each other. NoHo (Anthony Carrigan) once again is the funniest element of the show, revealing he cared about Barry and really doesn’t want to kill Fuches (Stephen Root).
In one of the most dramatic scenes of the series so far, Barry must confront his old military friend Chris (Chris Marquette), who narrowly escaped earlier in the episode with Barry. Chris, in fact, saved Barry’s life, but had to kill one of the Bolivian’s goons to do so. Even though he was in the military, Chris can’t handle the fact he took someone’s life, which is another example of characters reacting to murder in a way we just don’t see Barry have to deal with. Writer Liz Sarnoff writes a powerful scene here with Marquette delivering a believable reaction as a man who can’t keep the secret of killing someone. It’s an intense moment, pushing Barry to his own limits as he’s consistently had to deal with the fact does not want to kill anymore. The show is beginning to walk a fine line between the viewer disliking Barry with what he has to do, but I think we still feel for him due to the impending sequence that follows.
In this sequence, Barry goes back to daydreaming, but this time it’s no longer wholesome. In fact, it’s a bit of a dark and disturbing imagining. He’s racked with guilt and barely holding on. Once again the acting troop may be his salvation, but you’re wondering if it’s too little too late. In an interesting juxtaposition, we see Barry imagine his scene with Sally going perfectly and then later seeing it actually happen. In these scenes, we see Barry’s imagining of what acting is (tight and official) and then actually doing it (blubbering and real) and it’s a point of realization that’s interesting. When Sally rushes to him to thank him you see a little light for Barry turn on, reminding him maybe it’s not too late for him.
Series co-creator Alec Berg directs this episode and ends it on a note that leaves you wondering where we go from here. One could see this be the finale based on how well Hader acts and how the show could go in any direction after this episode. The finale should offer viewers a lot since we’re left with a broken Barry who may never be the same again.