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Barry S2 E5 “Ronny/Lilly” Review: A huge tonal shift

Over halfway through season 2, Barry goes all in with an experimental episode.

Barry has always been a show blending drama with comedy exceptionally well. The violence is usually played up for comedy but has real effects on the characters, changing them and making them grow. Humor is also found via character egos and personalities, which suits the setting in Los Angeles. There are plenty of personalities in a town filled with egomaniac wannabe actors running around. As we shift into the second half of season 2, it seems the creative team wants to try something a bit more slapstick and off brand. It doesn’t work.

This episode is directed by Bill Hader, and co-written by Hader and Alec Berg. I wanted to love this episode, but tonally nothing made sense. It opens with Barry fulfilling Detective Loach’s (John Pirruccello) request to kill his ex-wife’s lover. As we’ve learned over the last 13 episodes, Barry does not want to kill anymore so his best option seems to be to talk reason into the lover, Ronny (Daniel Bernhardt). Barry attempts this after breaking into Ronny’s house and while also wearing a ridiculous ski mask. You can understand the character’s reaction, but no, instead he acts totally fine with this and is also calm a person broke into his house. Cut to another angle of a trophy room containing an insane amount of Taekwondo trophies, belts, and medals. It’s a great joke, but unfortunately from here on out the episode goes from realism to over the top action.

Nearly the entire episode is devoted to Barry fighting off Ronny which is choreographed in an admittedly realistic way. They get tired, they get injured, they take breaks and it’s about what you’d expect if you yourself fought off someone even if they were a Taekwondo master. The problem is this grows tiresome, especially when Ronny’s daughter enters the picture. This character is inhuman in her screams, movements, and ferocity. This is the joke, but it’s an incredible stretch to believe a 9 year-old girl could spider walk like a possessed Exorcist wannabe. The running joke is that she’s an animal but it runs on way too long. There’s no explanation for it either and it bends any reality that she’s simply going through adrenaline.

It’s worth noting most of the characters we’ve been following don’t make appearances. This show has always amazed me in how it can progress so many character arcs in only 30 minutes, but here it devotes every minute to Barry and Fuches (Stephen Root) trying to appease Detective Loach’s demand.

All that action builds to a rather convenient plot turn wrapping up a B-plot. It, in turn, creates a new source of conflict most likely, but it certainly leaves you wanting. One could argue devoting an entire episode to resolving the detective problem that has lingered since the pilot makes sense, but it’s done so in a cursory shock moment that almost cheapens that storyline. The cliffhanger seems to suggest the power struggle in play for the first four episodes is over and that Barry must decide which way he wants to go. For that, it’s at least compelling and will get you wondering where we go from here.

Overall this episode felt experimental and doesn’t quite land the physical comedy. Barry has always been a show that walks a fine line between drama, comedy, and reality, but here it focuses exclusively on fight scenes that wear out their welcome. I want to like the creativity of the episode, but it’s way off base for a typical episode.

Barry S2 E5 "Ronny/Lilly"
Is it good?
A running gag runs on too long and is way too unrealistic to buy into. That said, the narrative is resetting which could mean new drama to explore.
The cliffhanger puts Barry in an interesting position
The opening minutes make for a definitely funny start...
...but it runs on way too long
The big twist is way too convenient
6
Average
Comments

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