Sunday, April 8, 2018

REVIEW: 'Barry' - Barry Has to Kill Another Mark While Helping Sally with an Audition in 'Chapter Three: Make the Unsafe Choice'

HBO's Barry - Episode 1.03 "Chapter Three: Make the Unsafe Choice"

A frustrated Barry misses an acting class to honor an obligation. Detectives Moss and Loach try to piece together a murder puzzle. Gene presses Barry to take more risks. Sally is thrown for a loop during an audition, and turns to Barry for comfort. The Chechens rejoice when a legendary assassin arrives.

It's very amusing how Barry was given this latest job by the Chechens to kill another one of their enemies only for Hank to ask him to wait before pulling the trigger. Last week it was established that Barry needed to do this job for them because the latest hitman being sent to them from the mob back home wouldn't land in California in time. They were on a specific schedule. As such, Barry needed to act quickly in order to save both his life and Fuches'. The Chechens wouldn't release Fuches until Barry completed this job for them. Even then, it seemed very likely that both would wind up dead because of all the problems they have created for their business in such a short amount of time. Barry chose to stay in Los Angeles. And now, he is dealing with those consequences. He's having to put up with the changing demands of his new clients. He previously worked as a hitman solely for Fuches. He just pointed his gun at whomever Fuches told him to. Now, he's starting to think about the job and the cost of life associated with it. He no longer wants to be surrounded by death. He has found a new passion he wishes to explore. But the Chechens keep pulling him back in. He's ready to act as well. He's in the perfect position to take out his latest target. He sees him as such a simple man just asking to be shot in the chest. It's such an easy moment for him to strike. And yet, he's incapable of doing so because the Chechens want a specific form of branding that is associated with the hits they carry out. They wanted their enemies to know that they were the ones responsible. Here, it just means Barry has to wait until a bullet is delivered in the mail to the Bolivians. That's the grand message. It's certainly ominous and has sinister undertones. But it's still silly and played as a joke here.

All of this happens so that this assassination is still hanging over Barry's head even though he goes to another acting class and has to drive Sally to an audition. It's also beneficial to keep Fuches in the world of the Chechens so that he can have several conversations in order to better understand this organization and where it could be improved. What Fuches does in this episode helps set the season up for what comes next. He's trying to negotiate. He knows the threat that is coming to him. He is basically a cockroach. He's so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But he keeps finding a way to survive. He survives because he can talk his way out of any situation. Of course, he ultimately has very little to do with the new assassin showing up and promptly killing himself. That's such a dark and twisted joke for the show to sell. It's a man committing suicide because his entire life has been defined by the people he has killed since he was a child. He is notorious amongst this organization. And yet, he views them as the people who took away his family and innocence. He lost everything because of them. He can no longer see his wife and kids because of this job. Fuches can't relate to that. He only wants to be set free by trying to convince this guy not to kill him. Instead, he kills himself because he can't bear to deal with the pain of this life any more. That's a huge shock to Pazar and Hank. This guy was their idol. Pazar was happy to hand over his family's gun to a legend in this business. He was willing to form a lasting bond with him. And now, he demands answers and Fuches can't tell him anything that he would actually want to hear.

However, this hitman killing himself also positions Fuches so that he can be a key ally for Pazar as he plots to expand his business. It's again Fuches saying anything in order to emerge unharmed. He's making promises that Barry will have to keep. Those promises will more than likely have more personal consequences to Barry than they will for Fuches. But that has never stopped Fuches from making deals and promises before. He has always just believed that Barry will be there to protect him no matter what. He can always curb any of Barry's thoughts about leaving this business behind to pursue other endeavors. He believes he can control Barry. He sees them as a packaged team. And so, he tells Pazar that they will be happy to continue working for him as he looks to expand his business in the city. Pazar basically spends this dinner complaining about the Bolivians. He hates that they have a solid business where they are actually making money. He wants a stash house just like the one they have. As such, Fuches just suggests taking it from them. Instead of trying to build the exact same business model or intimidate people with vague threats, why not just take the thing that is most desirable to both Pazar and his rivals? That would send a clear message that would demand immediate retaliation. That's when Barry can strike to eliminate the competition. It's a strategy that Fuches is able to come up with pretty easily once he endears himself to Pazar. All he has to do is call him crazy and worthy of being in this business. Then, he makes his promises and Pazar listens because he still needs a regular hitman.

But Barry continues to be experiencing more emotions about the people he kills. He doesn't form a connection with this latest mark like he did with Ryan in the series premiere. He's still forced to live in Ryan's former life where his influence is still being felt. The detectives come to the acting class to ask if anyone has any information that could explain what happened to him. Of course, Barry is able to put on a brave face during that interrogation. He's not the one who seemingly breaks. That comes from the other actors who are very self-involved or nervous about talking about something so serious with someone they actually knew. They would rather go back to pretending these different worlds and forming a career out of that. The show is very bitting with its inside showbiz humor. Barry continues to struggle in this class because he just doesn't have an active imagination. He can steal from other people. He's very perceptive. And yet, he doesn't bring the same skillset that they do. That was apparent from early on this season. Barry struggles forming his own opinions and articulating them well to other people. He's very competent as a hitman. He's very furious at Hank for making him wait until this bullet is delivered. He sees it as a hassle that is only further compromising the situation. And in the end, he is still left sitting around for hours just waiting for the perfect opportunity to kill his mark. Of course, that moment comes and goes because Barry is distracted by a phone call from Sally. That forces Barry to take immediate action by killing his target in a way that could lead to even further consequences for him. In the aftermath, he worries about whether or not he actually had to kill this man. But from the audience's perspective, he could have left any kind of physical evidence by breaking into the house and strangling the man to death in his backyard while his neighbors are having a party.

To Barry though, the risk is worth it because he needs to race over to be there for the one person who has encouraged him every step of the way in this new life. Of course, Sally is very obsessed with her own struggle and search for fame. She craves being a famous movie star. She is desperate for that attention. Here, she is so confident because she gets an audition where the casting directors asked for her by name. She doesn't love the part. But she is willing to go because she believes she's about to break out in this industry. But she then finds herself completely defeated at the actual audition once she realizes a former co-star has booked the lead and is the one who invited her to audition. Sally sees it as illogical casting because they are the same exact age but going for completely different parts. Her former co-star is seen as the young millennial making mistakes in the world while Sally is offered the part of a mother who loses her son in the ape pit at the zoo. It's all completely ridiculous. And yet, that's the way this business works sometimes. Age is such a pivotal factor with female characters and the actresses who play them. It's always noticeable when the production thinks they can cover up those issues thanks to makeup or special effects. It's always problematic. And here, Sally launches into a huge tirade about this being such a toxic business that she still desperately wants to be a part of. She craves fame and attention. She doesn't have it now and must rely on Barry to get it. She is hungry for his approval even though she just met him not too long ago. He is completely willing to call her the best actress he knows simply because he doesn't know any other actors. He sees her as the best in class who always rises to the occasion no matter what Gene's latest assignment is. He's proud of her. Him giving her that gratitude and encouragement is what starts their sexual dynamic. They are cozying up in bed together. Sally is thinking about fame and attention. Barry is thinking about the man he just killed in order to get here on time.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Chapter Three: Make the Unsafe Choice" was written by Duffy Boudreau and directed by Bill Hader.
  • The police are already able to establish a motive for why Ryan was killed. They know that the Chechen mob wanted him dead because he was "training" Pazar's wife. That means Pazar is already on their radar. So, these detectives are bound to be a huge complication as soon as Pazar makes a push for even more control in this area. They are aware of him - as well as the high body count that's slowly amassing.
  • Of course, it's also noticeable that the detectives don't get a ton of information out of the acting class. When they interviewed Ryan's co-workers at the gym off camera, they were able to figure out why he was targeted by the Chechen mob. Meanwhile, the people in the acting class mostly just talk about how they were affected by Ryan and how his death has rattled them all.
  • There are many wonderful reactions during those police interviews as well. It's notable that Barry gives them his real name. That could be a major slip up. But in the moment, it's more important that Sally is talking about the various movies she performed scenes from with Ryan, another student chugs an entire glass of water and Gene flirts with the lead detective because he believes he knows what the job is like because he's done ride-alongs.
  • It continues to be abundantly clear that Gene isn't really a good or successful actor. He just happened to write a book that many potential actors have fallen in love with. This acting class is his greatest resource. He is able to teach. It feeds into his delusion of being the man with all the answers. And yet, his only anecdotal evidence from his own career is a failed audition for Full House where he freaked out the casting directors.
  • However, it should be very fascinating to see what Barry does with his latest assignment from Gene. He gives Barry pages from Glengarry Glen Ross. He says it's the time to go full Mamet and just let the crazy loose. Those are possibly helpful directions for Barry. But he's still trapped in the dream of the grocery store where Sally is the only one who can help him fill the space.