Season two of Barry has been exciting in many ways thanks to the creators pushing the show in new directions. In today’s fourth episode, there’s a deep focus on human emotion, emotional manipulation, and how these feelings can articulate who a character is inside. In a show about gangsters, actors, and a hitman all trying to be who they aren’t, it’s very good at exploring who they really are. That’s an exciting element since we the audience can understand them better due to these insights while the characters around them are just trying to keep their heads above water.
The first half of the episode picks up and carries forward where the last episode left off with Sally’s (Sarah Goldberg) ex-husband Sam (Joe Massingill) unexpectedly coming to town. Barry (Bill Hader) very much wants to break Sam’s head open due to how violent he was when they were together. Apparently, Sam is in town to see Sally’s play, which is coincidentally about her relationship with Sam and all the violence she had to endure. This opening scene is hilarious and deeply meaningful thanks to Barry harboring incredible anger towards Sam, yet Sam is super nice and not the guy you’d think he’d be. This scene puts into question if Sally is being honest about her relationship or if she made it up for dramatic effect in the play.
Furthermore, it puts the audience in a tricky position since we want to trust Sally, a woman who says she was a victim, yet nothing seems to be adding up. It’s a pressure cooker of a first half due to these emotions and new revelations coming to light. We soon find Sam listening in on Sally practicing her lines which throws Sam into anger, leads to Sam saying some very rude things about Sally to Barry, and setting Barry off on blind rage. It’s a good example of how this show can be funny one minute, but spin that comedy into real human emotion. The show continues to play with expectations as we attempt to figure out Sally and Sam in key scenes, all the while Barry literally grabs a gun intending to kill Sam. In a show about a hitman trying to make amends, it’s quite clear the part of Barry that allowed him to kill for so long isn’t dead and may never go away.
This leads to important scenes between Barry and Fuches (Stephen Root) who is like a father to Bary, and Barry’s other father figure Cousineau (Henry Winkler). Both scenes help show who Barry really is and how he’s still discovering himself, be it his excited reaction to Fuches about being understood or Cousineau’s acceptance of Barry after he tells him a very disturbing story. Speaking of which, Winkler steals the show with possibly the funniest moment in the episode when he reacts to that story in the worst way possible.
There are many moments of vulnerability, deep emotion, and discovery — not just for the characters, but for the audience as well. It’s why this show is so very good because even when things can get a little ridiculous the humanity of these characters is never lost. There’s a motivation to keep watching so that we may understand these characters and root for them when they do the right thing. That’s especially rewarding when hitmen and liars can change their ways.