Sunday, April 1, 2018

REVIEW: 'Barry' - The Chechens Have Another Job for Barry to Do Despite His Retirement in 'Chapter Two: Use It'

HBO's Barry - Episode 1.02 "Chapter Two: Use It"

In the wake of shocking news, Gene encourages his students to channel their feelings into their work. Resolved to quit his job and put the past behind him, Barry tries not to get pulled back in by Fuches and the Chechens. Sally tries to crack the nut that is Barry.

The series premiere of Barry was excellent. It was one of the best comedy premieres HBO has produced in awhile. It was so darkly funny as well. The humor of this show is so twisted. And yet, it also presents a refreshing take on an inside showbiz story that works and is different in a very tired genre. Hollywood is played as this release of emotions for Barry. He was stuck in a life and job he didn't want to be living in anymore. He didn't come to that realization until he was forced to tap into his emotions once more by joining this acting class. It's very clear that this class is a scam orchestrated by Gene to get as much money from his students as possible. That's all that he primarily cares about. Here, he is forced to deliver the unfortunate news that Ryan was murdered. It's such a tragedy. However, it's not the first time one of Gene's students has died. Nor does he assume it will be the last. That's shocking and ominous. But he still use it to endear himself to his students. He still connects with them by asking them to focus on these emotions and channel it back into their craft. Everyone in the group is feeling such strong emotions because Ryan was a member of their troupe. He was a beloved member who helped them out in various scenes and auditions. He was so supportive. So, this loss hits them hard. Meanwhile, Barry can barely muster any genuine feelings. He doesn't really care because he barely knew Ryan and he knows exactly what happened to him. He came to Los Angeles to kill him. He didn't ultimately pull the trigger but he was planning on doing so. He never expected to get swept up in Ryan's life in this acting class. And yet, that's exactly what occurs here. Barry is choosing to stay behind in this world. As such, he is dealing with emotions and experiences that he has never had to deal with before. That makes this a very entertaining and surprising second episode.

The acting class uses Ryan's death largely as a way to hold a showcase for the various performances Ryan helped his classmates with. It's Sally's idea to memorialize him. He loved acting just as much as the rest of them. He wanted to become a famous actor. That's the goal for everyone in this class except Barry. Sally feels the need to perform. She feels the need to orchestra this entire night. She plans it entirely and doesn't care what anyone else thinks. Of course, they all agree that it's the right thing to do. They go to a bar that night and all get up on the stage to perform the works with a personal connection to Ryan. They are mostly terrible. It's a chance for the audience to breathe and laugh. None of these performers are all that good. They are performing monologues, trying to speak from the heart by looking up words in the dictionary and even mime. But Sally treats this as a big deal. She wants to perform a really heavy and important scene from Doubt. She views it as the last great thing that she and Ryan did. This time though she needs to perform it with Barry who just can't emotionally connect with the material. He doesn't believe he can play a priest who is a child molester because he has been neither of those things. Sally explains that he doesn't need to be that specifically. He just needs to connect to the character through some kind of emotional turmoil. Barry definitely has that in his background as both a veteran and assassin for hire. And yet, he runs out of the bar as soon as things get too real for him just by seeing Ryan's father and the grief he is enduring over the death of his son. That makes Barry realize there are consequences to his actions.

Sally is surprisingly okay with not getting on the stage and performing with Barry too. She runs after him. She is able to bring him back into the bar to enjoy the support of their fellow performers. Barry was hit with a rush of emotions. He could use them to fuel his performance. But he doesn't think to do that. Instead, he just enjoys the compassion that is being shown to him. Sally only appears to do that in order to better understand Barry. He is a complete mystery to her. She can sense that they are getting closer and there is chemistry between them. She seems aware that he is drawn to her and would like to have sex. And yet, he's also a complete novice to everything about acting. Everything needs to be explained to him about the ins and outs of this business. She is able to brush it off as him still being new to this city, profession and class. She is encouraged by the fact that he quit his job in order to devote all of his time and energy to acting. She keeps involving him with her performances. She calls him to perform this scene with. She is sure to include him in the various events. She likes being walked home by him. But she is completely thrown off when he doesn't seem to reciprocate her feelings. The audience is aware that there is a spark between them and Barry feels this draw to acting because of the personal connections he feels - especially with Sally. He ignores the rest of the world when she calls. In this moment though, he says that he wasn't thinking about having sex with her. Instead, he was only concerned with her getting home safely. She does that here. Though it's completely unknown if she'll continue to be safe because the threats that are targeting Barry are slowly becoming aware of his acting world as well.

It's also completely possible that Barry just says that in the moment because he's worried about finishing this hit for the Chechen mob. The two sides were targeting each other at the end of the premiere. Pazar and Hank didn't like how long Barry was taking in killing Ryan. They grew impatient and didn't like how close Barry was getting to his mark. As such, they killed him themselves and became the new targets for Barry. He fired back because they were looking to kill him. His life is in serious danger as long as he stays in Los Angeles. And yet, Barry feels compelled to stay here because he finds himself in love with this acting class. He believes he has a completely new direction for his life now. He wants to embrace that. But he also finds himself running around trying to protect Fuches who is adamant about staying and fighting the mob with Barry. Of course, he always puts Barry on the front lines while he is calling the shots from the safety of a familiar environment. Fuches doesn't want to leave his hotel room unless he has to. He just wants Barry to take on this mob by himself. It's up to Barry to point out just how armed these enemies are. It's an entire mob against the two of them. They are the targets right now. They aren't operating from a position of strength. It's smarter to just leave the city. Barry is able to make that argument for Fuches. He actually listens to it as well. He does until Barry is adamant about staying behind. That's when Fuches launches into the whole speech about making a promise to Barry's father to protect him no matter what. He saved his life in the past. And now, it's his responsibility to save Barry's life.

That's what then makes it so fun when Fuches is the one constantly being beat up and tortured by the Chechens. It's surprisingly easy for Hank and his men to find Fuches and Barry. They're fortunate that both happen to be in the same right at the same time with Barry getting distracted by a phone call with Sally. The Chechens come into the room and completely tear it up. They carry Fuches out while he is kicking and screaming. Barry is too distracted to notice. He gets the drop on him right away because he doesn't think there's any immediate threat to worry about. He has given up this life of crime. And yet, it keeps pulling him back in. He is being hunted down by the Chechens. They are demanding retribution for killing their best assassin. As such, they once again have a job for Barry. It's a convenient plot device that allows both Barry and Fuches to live. It would be too easy to kill them off now. That would essentially put an end to the show. It's more important to see the crazy complications this world is creating to ensure Barry survives all of this. The Chechens just happen to be down an assassin when they really need one. They are ready to torture Fuches until Barry is willing to agree to do it. That's an amusing moment because it seems quite brutal for Fuches while still coming across as deeply twisted humor. Barry agrees to this contract with Fuches being held as collateral. His loyalty to Fuches is noble. It's a powerful motivation for him to remain in this life of crime. And yet, he doesn't immediately walk out and go kill the guy. No, he instead goes to the big memorial and has his emotional awakening about Ryan's father. That will surely complicate this new murder he has to go commit. He never once felt his feelings in this job before. And now, all of those lingering issues are starting to come out. He doesn't complete the job by the end of this episode. That's a dangling thread for the future where it will inevitably go wrong in some way and make this situation even more chaotic and darkly absurd. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "Chapter Two: Use It" was written by Alec Berg & Bill Hader and directed by Bill Hader.
  • Two detectives are also introduced this week. That's a very intriguing tease of future complications in this story. They are the ones investigating the mess that was created at the end of the premiere. They have people dead on both sides. They have no eyewitnesses to the crime or neighbors with surveillance equipment. The only lead they have is a Chechen video camera posted to the front of the vehicle. That's going to be a damning piece of evidence for Barry in the future.
  • Of course, it's also just a lot of fun seeing the show make fun of these police characters in their workplace as well. It's a show where this brutal crime can be committed and in the background of all the crime scene photos there's a detective crying because his relationship has just ended. The lead detective sees that and is immediately celebratory because it means she has won the office pool of how long this relationship would last. It's so strange yet so endearing.
  • It may also be awhile before the police are able to get into the video and see the evidence they have collected. It's a threat that Hank knows about because he knows the camera is missing. But the detectives don't understand the language all of the instructions are printed in. Plus, there's a number code to unlock the device. The lead detective tries going numerally and immediately gets locked out.
  • Gene walks into the class and delivers the disturbing news that Ryan is dead. He's somehow the first person to be contacted about this tragedy. He has the connections the others do not despite them being closer as friends to Ryan. But he delivers the news, tells them to channel their emotions in their performances, then ends the class after telling everyone that this still counts as a session they'll need to pay for.
  • In the premiere, it was a little unclear which of the Chechen characters were in the vehicle that Barry shot up. At the time, it seemed like both Hank and Pazar were there and were seemingly killed by those bullets. That seemed unlikely because both are main characters. As such, it's confirmed here that only Hank was there. He was the sole survivor but did get shot in the arm as well.