Sunday, May 6, 2018

REVIEW: 'Barry' - Barry Makes a Decision That Absolutely Destroys Him in 'Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast, and Keep Going'

HBO's Barry - Episode 1.07 "Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast, and Keep Going"

After a deadly shootout at the airstrip, Barry must make a difficult decision to evade capture. Pazar blames Fuches for convincing him to declare war on Cristobal Sifuentes, a ruthless yet civilized Bolivian drug lord. Sally fears her performance in the class production of "Macbeth" will be compromised, ruining her chance to impress another top Hollywood agent.

This is such a personally destructive yet pivotal episode for Barry. It was always inevitable that he and Chris would survive the deadly shootout at the airstrip. The show called attention to the fact that Taylor and Vaughn were killed at the conclusion of the previous episode. And now, the show even starts off this week by showing things from the Bolivian's perspective. They are simply welcoming their boss to the city. One van is just racing towards them. It's so easy to take it out. After that, they are able to conduct business the same as always while declaring war with the Chechens. But it's crucial that Barry and Chris survive. Barry escapes because he is the lead character of the show. Chris escapes to serve as a personal complication that Barry has to deal with. It would be so easy if all of his marine friends were killed here. Then, he could escape and finish the job that the Chechens hired him to do. He could do so with the clean conscience that he only killed the people who deserved to die. He killed the people who killed his new friends. Instead, Barry doesn't kill any of the Bolivians. He's simply bleeding out on the ground ducking cover behind an abandoned vehicle in the desert when he is discovered by one of the men. He didn't grab a weapon during the attack. He's defenseless. But Chris is armed. Chris is the one who takes out this threat. To Barry, it's a necessary action because it's the only way that they survive. It's kill him or get killed. It's the only choice. They have lives they would like to return to. And yet, this action truly breaks Chris. It shows how wildly different they are. Barry can rationalize all of this work because of his military service. He's very trusting of the world around him and has the skills to eliminate anyone who poses a threat. So far, he has just killed people he was hired to kill. But now, he is finally forced to do the one thing he never thought he was capable of doing. He has to kill someone he knows is a good guy simply out of self preservation. This season has seen the walls closing in on Barry. And now, it seems likely that he'll emerge from all of this still being able to maintain his life as a hitman and a wannabe actor. But he'll forever be changed because of these events at the airstrip.

Barry didn't want to kill Taylor even though he was clearly a liability. Barry wasn't able to communicate effectively with his fellow marine. Taylor just wanted to storm into the action believing that he was invincible solely because he had the protection of his fellow soldiers. He managed to do it once at the stash house even though Barry was knocked out quickly into the raid. Barry told him this operation didn't require his skills. And yet, Taylor brought more men into the mission. That led to his and Vaughn's quick deaths. It's now clear that Chris didn't even want to do this job. He was roped into it by his friends and their persuasive skills. He knows that he shouldn't be hanging out with Taylor. His wife doesn't like him. But he still manages to get into these situations mostly because he still sees Barry as a good guy from their service days. The friendship with Chris has been so important to Barry as well. He's the only friend outside of the acting class he was willing to contact with on Facebook. He's the only person from his past that he was willing to interact with once more now that he was building a life for himself in Los Angeles. And now, Chris is full of so much regret for reciprocating these feelings. He just sees Barry as this hitman who pulled him and his friends into this dangerous mission that ultimately got half of them killed. He is scarred for life because of the actions he needed to take out there on the airstrip. It's haunting and affecting him deeply. His family already sees a difference. Barry is spiraling out only because the job wasn't completed. He doesn't talk with Fuches or Chechens about how things went wrong or how he'll fix them. He is too busy trying to keep his life from falling apart. He just has to do that by finally listening to their advice.

Fuches, Pazar and NoHo have always had the same view of life in this criminal world. They have always seen the value in killing one's enemies before they kill them. Fuches is the one who planted the idea of taking this stash house from the Bolivians in Pazar's head. Pazar was willing to do it because he was looking to break into more of the Los Angeles market and be seen as a success to the rest of the Chechen mob. NoHo saw the value in having a signature style when it came to killing someone. It still seems like they are criminals still getting their bearings on this particular world. Cristobal Sifuentes is the Bolivian crime boss who Pazar is targeting through this mission to gain more control. He turns out to be a really nice and generous guy. Pazar was willing to take these actions against him without knowing him at all. That seems crazy. It also shows just how susceptible to persuasion he can be and just how sly Fuches can be. Pazar was willing to do all of this to make a statement. And now, he has declared war with the Bolivians for no good reason. Cristobal believes that he needs to kill just as many Chechens in order for their two mobs to be even with one another. It's no longer viable to create a friendship. Pazar burned that bridge before even meeting with Cristobal. He believed he had to take this world by force. That was the advice given to him by Fuches. That just shows that Fuches isn't as perceptive about the world as he would like to be. He wants to think he always knows best. But now, he has a target on his back because he forced Pazar into this war while over-promising what Barry was capable of doing.

Fuches and the Chechens are operating under the idea that Barry died during this attack on the Bolivians. Cristobal delivers the message that the two soldiers who came to finish the job were eliminated. Fuches even knows that Barry was working with another marine. He understands that Barry and Taylor must be dead. As such, he is grieving that loss even though his life is now in danger too. Meanwhile, the police are immediately able to connect all of this together. This season has questioned just how competent these investigators actually are. And now, they learn so much simply because they have a wire tap on Pazar's phone. He was setting out a nice table for when they came to interrogate him about Vacha's death. And now, they learn about this airstrip and the soldiers who died out there. They don't find Barry either. Instead, they get Taylor and Vaughn. It's enough to convince Detective Moss that Barry is the man at the center of this investigation. She sees him as the military connection to the acting class who could have gotten Ryan involved in all of this. When she goes to Taylor's appointment, she even discovers the other half of the money that came from the stash house job. Everything is lining up for her. Then, there is the reveal that Gene's book that Barry has is actually Ryan's. He has kept that in order to maintain a personal connection to him. But right now, it basically paints a picture of Taylor being Ryan's military connection and the way that all of this reaches the Chechens. Moss is right to trust her instincts. But right now, the evidence is pointing in a completely different direction. As such, that ensures that Barry is able to move about with freedom and the capability of doing anything. His actions just continue to have lethal consequences to them.

Chris is understandably freaking out. Barry has always been able to calm down easily after a job has done wrong. He understands that this is a part of the work. He has the military training to rationalize and compartmentalize all of it. Chris doesn't have that training because it's revealed he worked in logistics. This was the first man he has ever killed. As such, he is spiraling out of control and ready to turn himself in to the cops. There would be no value to that whatsoever. He would be a crucial witness for Moss' investigation that could see her taking down the Chechens, the Bolivians, Fuches and Barry for their crimes. And yet, things are never capable of being that easy. Barry understands the threat that Chris now poses. He once said that he could never kill another marine. And now, he feels the need to do so to ensure that his new life in Hollywood isn't jeopardized in any way. In the moment, he is very intimidating. Chris understands what's about to happen and tries to get Barry to change his mind by saying that he'll keep quiet. Barry believes he can kill Chris and not deal with any repercussions of that action. But he's very mistaken in that way. Once again, he is able to get away with the crime. However, his mind is infected with personal feelings of remorse. He has killed a marine. He has left his wife and son with the idea that Chris committed suicide. That's such a grueling realization for Barry. It makes him grow numb to the rest of the world. The only thing that provides any kind of clarity is performing on stage with Sally during the big showcase. Even then, he is plagued with doubts and fears about what has just occurred. He is able to pull it together and put it all into the one line he is asked to deliver. It's enough to inspire Sally to deliver the best performance she has ever given while forcing Gene to recognize that Barry does have talent after all. And yet, their encouragements are only more disheartening. They are basically telling him that the only way he can be an actor is if he continues to be a hitman. He was able to pull this basic performance out because he killed a friend. He's not able to calmly come down afterwards either. He's still running high on emotions and remorse. And in the end, all he has to show for it as a happy and appreciative Sally who has probably just booked an agent because Barry was so generous on the stage.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast, and Keep Going" was written by Liz Sarnoff and directed by Alec Berg.
  • The detectives are running with the theory that the bag of money they found in the theater belonged to Ryan because they already see him as someone involved in the criminal world. But the other actors all reject that notion to themselves because Ryan was always struggling for money. Natalie notes that Ryan would never have shown a headshot with bangs if he had the money to get new ones taken.
  • It's really fascinating to see NoHo and Fuches just talking over the phone mourning Barry. Neither of them have formed a deep connection. Barry works for both of them even though he would much rather be in the acting class. And yet, it's also clear that Barry means so much to them and they will be so happy to see him once he finally turns up alive. Of course, that may not be enough to save Fuches.
  • Gene truly believes that Barry is high on drugs because his eyes are wide, there is blood in his hair and he's not able to deliver his one line during rehearsals. He tells a personal story about being high on cocaine with a bunch of other actors during the fall of his career. And yet, it's a story that he doesn't finish because Barry is not on drugs and tells Gene that. As such, Gene just tells him to remember the line and actually say it so Sally can shine.
  • Of course, Gene is very critical of Sally as well. She is desperate for some kind of direction ahead of the big showcase. He mostly just says that the scene sucks and they should just return to the old one. It's a risk that just isn't paying off at all. He is honest then. But he's also honest later on when she makes that pivot during the actual performance thanks to Barry. That means Gene can spot genuine talent in his class when it shines.
  • Sally is so appreciative of just how generous Barry is on the stage for her performance. Before he comes out for his one line, she is spiraling because she's worrying about a million little things. She needs this to go well to book an agent. She fears that no one will come out for that other line. She no longer trusts any other actors. She believes she's in this by herself. But Barry's performance forces her to calm down and dig deep. She understands what Gene was trying to tell her before. And yet, it's very unlikely that it changes anything of how she approaches the craft of acting.