Sunday, April 29, 2018

REVIEW: 'Barry' - Barry's Failure to Communicate Leads to More Deaths in 'Chapter Six: Listen with Your Ears, React with Your Face'

HBO's Barry - Episode 1.06 "Chapter Six: Listen with Your Ears, React with Your Face"

Barry tries to fly solo at a remote airstrip, but Taylor still wants in. Vacha looks to exact revenge on the man who killed his brother, despite Pazar's hands-off orders. Moss tries to end her association with Gene, but finds herself drawn to his classroom at a critical juncture. Sally lobbies for a major acting challenge.

Has Barry ever listened to something, processed it and reacted according? As a marine, he certainly has. He has been able to follow directions and survive on the battlefield. He applied that same mentality when he came back home as well. And yet, he never questioned the orders that Fuches was giving him until very recently. There was no doubt in his mind that the people he killed were uniformly bad. He doesn't listen to Fuches and realize that the guy is simply manipulating him for his own personal benefit. Fuches wants to be in this business but doesn't want to do any of the ugly work. He wants to outsource that to Barry because he's the only soldier he can tolerate and actually control. Barry is starting to defy orders. He didn't kill Taylor when he was ordered to. Instead, he has brought him further into the organization. Fuches and Taylor have met each other. And now, they are both pestering Barry to kill the other. It's such a complicated mess of a situation that Barry is in the middle of. It's because he wanted to cherish life and listen to the world around him. He didn't want to be seen as a bad person himself because he killed people outside of war. He's always struggled in articulating his feelings and emotions to other people. That's a part of this discussion as well. He has never had the proper response to anything except when the bullets are flying right at him. In that specific situation, he is able to fire back immediately and take out his targets before they kill him. He's a very skilled marine after all. But the nuance of this situation comes from him actually realizing just how complex the world actually is and the various people in his life all trying to control him for their own personal benefit. Right now, he has no agency on his own besides his hopeless fantasy of a family with Sally. That's unobtainable even though the central lesson from Gene forces the two of them back together.

Gene wants Barry to actually listen and react when he is acting. He doesn't want Barry to simply be waiting for the right time to deliver his lines. He wants there to be emotion and passion in the way he delivers these words. He wants Barry to see the world around him and the actual text of the words being spoken. He wants Barry to understand what this showcase scene is actually about. Sally is doing her best to be impressive. Meanwhile, Barry is just saying his lines. That's all that he's doing. Gene is trying to pull greatness out of him. It takes awhile. It only ever truly comes out once things get personal for him. Barry and Sally are asked to face each other and just engage in a repeat exercise. They have to say the same phrase back to each other but by calling on different emotions to react to the way the other person just said it. It's a tool that Barry can use in order to be better in this specific scene. He wants to be a better actor. This is a skill that is taking a lot out of him because he doesn't really understand the nuances of the world. He just wants to move on to the happily ever after portion of the proceedings. Instead, he and Sally are asked to keep repeating "I love you" back to each other. Barry genuinely means it every single time. Every time he says those words it's with the same passion. These are his feelings and he is expressing them as they pertain to his relationship with Sally. She is doing the work to make each take sound different. But in the end, the lines continue to blur because it seems like she is delivering them in a more passionate and loving way as well. That gives Barry hope. Hope that this is still a connection worth exploring. But to Sally, she is still incredibly selfish and doesn't want any support from Barry whatsoever.

Barry believes he's expressing these feelings in a way that is understood to the rest of the world as well. It's easy for the audience to get swept up in that feeling too because Barry is often the character the show is following around on this journey. But he's not the only perspective of value. It's important to see things from the other characters' perspectives as well. Sally probably can tell that there is some truth to the way Barry is delivering these words to her right now. But she is more than comfortable going behind his back to turn their showcase scene into the epic monologue from MacBeth because she needs something much more challenging. Gene is skeptical. He is indulgent of her feelings as well. Him continuing to pair her with Barry basically proves that he doesn't think highly of her acting talent. But both Barry and Sally believe in it. They both believe that Sally will have a famous career. Barry can express that to Sally with her understanding what he means. But everything else is an immense struggle. Right now, he knows that it's so dangerous to carry out the attack on the air field where the head of the Bolivian Cartel is arriving the way that Taylor wants to do it. Taylor is all about driving head first into danger without really thinking it through. He wants big explosions and epic stunts. Barry sees the importance of a surgical operation to take out this threat. Barry tries to convey that to his new partner but it doesn't go well. Barry wants to do this mission by himself only after realizing that Taylor pocketed some of the Bolivian money. But even that is a failure because Barry isn't actively listening to how Taylor is taking this news. He thinks it's important enough to say the words. But he has to ensure that the people around him actually understand the point he is trying to get across.

That's what leads to a huge misunderstanding at the conclusion of this episode. Barry is all ready to go do this job on the air strip by himself. He knows just how important it is for Fuches and the Chechens. He needs to finish this job to ensure that their expansion of the business goes as smoothly as they were planning. They have so much confidence in Barry's ability to get the job done. Pazar and NoHo have such completely different opinions on Barry and Fuches than the start of the season. They now trust them completely to help them achieve their goals in this business. Barry understands the pressure. He's doing this job so that he can one day get out of this life. That's still his ultimate goal. He doesn't want to keep getting pulled into these crazy and dangerous situations. But here, Taylor shows up in the lobby of his hotel in full military attire ready to launch their assault on the Bolivians. He's amped up with energy. His takeaway from the previous phone call was just that they needed more man power for the job. And so, he has recruited Chris and Vaughn to the mission. He has broken one of the most pressing concerns Fuches. He didn't want Taylor sharing these missions and the truth with anyone. That would just lead to more people getting killed to protect the secret. But here, it's because of Taylor's recklessness that he gets killed. He just wants to drive straight into the airplane for this assault. He doesn't want to be perched up on a cliff to kill people from afar. He wants to be right there in the midst of the action so that he can scream and get his blood boiling. It leads to his quick death. Vaughn is killed as well. It's such an ominous cliffhanger because it leaves Barry pinned down against an enemy who clearly know that they are there. He isn't able to follow the plan that Fuches had orchestrated. So now, it should be fascinating to see if he can improvise well enough to keep staying alive in this crazy and chaotic world.

Taylor and Vaughn are far from the only casualties of this episode either. Detective Moss continues to make progress in her investigation of Ryan's death. That has been a huge concern for this entire season so far. Right now, she's on the verge of accepting that there is no connection between the Chechens and Gene's acting class. She is simply using them as an excuse for why she can't allow her relationship with Gene to go any further than it already has. They are sleeping together and it's a fun dynamic for both. But it runs the risk of clouding her judgment when she needs to be focused on finding this man who has killed multiple people. She makes a huge show of taking down the headshots from the suspect board at the precinct. But then, she runs into Vacha as he is walking out of Gene's theater. Vacha is revealed as the person stalking Barry this entire season. He's been doing so because Barry killed his brother during that opening attack on the Chechens. He doesn't forgive Barry for that action. Barry is protected but Vacha is ready to kill Sally. He knows what Sally means to Barry simply through the pictures he has snapped of the two of them together. He's interrupted by Moss before that attack can occur though. That leads to a completely different fight for his life. Now, he's attacking a police officer who recognizes that his Chechen accent in this corner of the world spells trouble. She doesn't know who he is or his grand connection to this investigation. But she knows that he must be connected somehow. Of course, she kills him in the epic shootout that follows. He isn't able to give her any more information. But it just serves as more confirmation that the acting class is worth investigating. As such, that means she needs to cut off her relationship with Gene because it's only going to get more complicated and painful moving forward.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Chapter Six: Listen with Your Ears, React with Your Face" was written by Emily Heller and directed by Hiro Murai.
  • Sally thinks she is so much better than everyone else in the acting class. That's why she no longer wants to work with any of them. She just sees them as inconveniences who will keep her back from shining. This showcase is so important to her right now because she desperately needs an agent in order to move onto the next stage of her career. And yet, it's important for her to realize that acting is often about the ensemble and being able to rely on each other.
  • It could also be seen as very stealthy and manipulative of Gene to encourage these ambitions Sally is experiencing. Yes, he does lecture her about burning too brightly by trying to go at it alone. But he does ultimately support her desire to deliver this monologue that has tripped up far more talented people. He could be okay with that while believing she will completely fail and thus stay in the class and continue to pay him.
  • It was so important that Taylor took some of the money from the stash house raid. It's significant that he is willing to give half of it to Barry as well. Barry doesn't want it because he knows it's illegal funds that he can't spend. He doesn't know how to clean it by himself. That's Fuches' job in this business arrangement. And yet, Taylor still gives it to Barry and that leads to some quick changing of the heads after Barry hides it in the theater bathroom only for Moss to find it later on.
  • It's surprising that Barry has never once thought about killing Fuches in order to get out of this business for good. That shows that he still has some morals in this profession. He doesn't want to turn on the people he has worked with before they can kill him. He trusts Fuches completely and believes he'll one day let him go free. But now, Taylor brings it up and sends Barry spiraling a little bit with the idea.
  • Vacha follows Sally into the theater. That's probably his biggest mistake because it's the action that eventually leads to his death. He couldn't just wait outside for her to come out. That would have been the smarter way to attack because Moss wouldn't have interrupted him. And yet, him being in the theater also leads to the wonderful moment where he is up on the stage and just singing a song that is clearly very personal to him.