Sunday, May 13, 2018

REVIEW: 'Barry' - Barry Finds It Extremely Difficult to Put His Past Behind Him in 'Chapter Eight: Know Your Truth'

HBO's Barry - Episode 1.08 "Chapter Eight: Know Your Truth"

Barry vows to give up his life of crime, once and for all. Pazar enlists Vacha's replacement to take care of Fuches. Moss and her team close in on a major arrest with hopes of finally cracking the Madison case.

This was a stellar debut season for Barry. It has been one of my favorite shows of 2018 so far. It will inevitably rank high on my year-end list of the best of television. It started off with such a distinct voice and story. It was this darkly comedic view of Hollywood that also touched on the mob and violence. The show only got darker and more emotional as it went along as well. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising if some just see it as a straight up drama that happened to only produce 30-minute episodes. That's not unheard of nor is it completely un-welcomed. In fact, it's been refreshing and inspiring to see the mastery of tone on display here. This creative team knew the exact story they wanted to tell. In the end, they didn't compromise from that vision. This finale obviously had a lot of plot it needed to address. As such, it runs the risk of being too focused on the plot and not on the emotional resolutions for all of the characters. Instead, it's more pressing to find out how Detective Moss' investigation will conclude, what will happen to Fuches, and just how deadly this war between the Chechens and Bolivans will be. Plus, it's very important to wonder just how much Barry's two worlds will converge. Last week it was such a devastating act when Barry killed Chris, then took that trauma and put it into his work on the stage. He was credited as being a brilliant actor because of that new process. It ran the risk of making Barry even more committed to this life even though he was left completely devastated by what he had to do in order to maintain a sense of happiness. This finale proves that Barry is still operating in self-preservation mode first and foremost. He proves to be more skilled with a gun than anyone else. And yet, that only continues to compromise his life when he would just like his opportunity to find peace and happiness while also not having to kill anyone else.

Barry saw this acting class as his way out of being a hitman. He could finally leave that career behind in order to pursue new possibilities in this world. He received much more support in this acting class from total strangers than he ever did from Fuches. The season proved that the relationships Barry has in his life aren't exactly healthy. Barry wants to believe that the acting class has become a family where everyone will support each other no matter what. He's still a little too naive about how everyone is secretly undercutting each other and hoping that they will fail so that someone else can shine. They are all about creating opportunities for themselves and trying to become famous. Barry is no longer a stranger to this environment. But it also makes him an easy target once everyone learns that he is still alive. He didn't die at the airstrip like Fuches and the Chechens believed. The acting class makes him vulnerable for attack. The story makes it seem as if the acting class is about to be under siege by violence once more. They were rocked at the start of the year with Ryan's sudden and mysterious death. Then, another shooting just happened outside the building with repercussions that extended within the walls of the theater. And now, Goran is making plans to eliminate the people responsible for pulling him into this war with the Bolivians. He is willing to blame everyone else for a mistake that he was completely supportive of because he was so gullible and easy to be swayed by Fuches.

And yet, violence doesn't invade the acting class. That's not where Barry goes in order to find peace with his life. In fact, he is completely willing to give up everything that he has built in Hollywood after Chris' death and his big acting breakthrough. He is done with Fuches and the Chechens. He wants Fuches out of his life for good. That sets up a significant pattern for Barry throughout this finale. He is trying to justify all of the bad stuff that he did by saying that he is now completely done with that life. He no longer wants any jobs from Fuches. He is more than willing to take the money and beat Fuches up as soon as he puts up a fight. And yet, Barry still decides to rescue Fuches from the Chechens after Goran is intent on killing him. Barry still feels the need to care for Fuches and protect him from these new enemies. He is only tipped off that something is about to happen because NoHo also feels under-appreciated by Goran. It mostly ensures that all of the violence of the show remains in the mob corner of the story. Barry makes his attack in the garage of the Chechen hideout. It's such a surprising and gross visual to see Goran with half of his skull missing and the blood gushing out. It's further evidence that Barry is now completely done with this life. He made a promise to Fuches that he was done. He broke that promise in order to rescue Fuches from the Chechens. After that though, he is intent on changing his ways. He forces Fuches to leave the city with the intention of parting ways with his new friends as well. Barry wants to believe that he can't be a good actor anymore because he can't keep killing people to draw on those emotions. That's simply not who he is or who he would like to be. He wants to be a former Marine who turned out to be a surprisingly good actor.

Sally is the reason why Barry decides to stay in Hollywood. She is suddenly so interested and gracious with him because his performance at the showcase helped her impress an agent in the crowd. And now, she sees their partnership as something that can only lead to more good things. It continues to prove that she is obsessed with anyone who can ultimately help her get what she wants. She wants fame. She craves it. Right now, she believes that Barry can help her achieve it. As such, she is willing to fight to keep him in the city and in the acting class. It's a compulsion that actually leads to a full-on relationship as well. It's very conspicuous that the majority of the plot is seemingly wrapped up at the halfway point of this finale. That tips the audience off right away that some big twist is about to occur. It wouldn't be a truly satisfying ending to know that Barry got away with all of his crimes, won the girl of his dreams and Detective Moss was able to craft a story that blamed all of this chaos and destruction on the war between the Chechens and Bolivians. Moss has been so adamant about something more going on in the acting class that would serve as the grand connection for blowing this case wide open. She has believed that with every fiber of her being. That's what makes it so amusing when she just quickly accepts that the Bolivians must have committed this mass murder. It presents an easy solution that receives immediate reward. It's much more surprising to see what happens after that. The show decides to jump ahead in time by two months to see how new relationships have formed that are impacted by what has occurred this season. It proves that Barry and Sally have built a relationship that has lasted longer than their previous one-night stand. It also serves as a powerful reminder that Gene and Moss work well together as well even though she is still aware of all the details of this case that first introduced her to all of these new faces.

It's so intense to watch as Barry's life starts to crumble around him simply by Moss becoming a more important fixture in it. She is dating Gene and that forces her to interact with Barry and Sally more in a casual setting. All of the scenes following the time jump happen at a vacation cabin that Gene owns. He has invited his star students to spend some time there to rehearse before the big debut of their new play. Of course, it still seems like the two of them are very delusional about their hopes and dreams in this business. She is still on the verge of success while Barry just wants to find consistent work in the theater. And yet, there are all of these new clues that are casually dropped that help Moss see Barry for who he truly is. First off is the reveal that he goes by his stage name on Facebook. That presents a way for him to be connected to the fellow marines who have showed up dead over the course of this investigation. Moss believed she had everything figured out with Taylor and Ryan seeming like the evil masterminds who pitted two gangs against each other. That couldn't be farther from the truth because Ryan and Taylor couldn't plan anything that complex or far-reaching. Neither could Barry. He was simply reacting to the increasing amount of pressure he was under. Everything he did he believed he did for a reason. And now, it's coming back to hurt him. It all comes rolling back as soon as Gene remarks about the time Barry came up to him in the parking lot with this freestyle monologue about being a marine and finding work as a hitman. In the moment, those emotions were real as Barry didn't know if this was the only job for him. And now, he believes he has found a way out. It's just now being compromised by his past actions. All of this is enough to present Moss with an overwhelming sense that Barry is a dangerous criminal which is a much more rational explanation to what happened in her city over the course of this season. And yet, Barry still wants to see himself as a genuinely good guy who was flung into a bad situation over and over again. He has yet to accept that he is a criminal and killer. The lines are clear to Moss. Barry is a killer who must be arrested. Her insistence on that is what ultimately leads her to getting killed. Barry planned for this situation. That proves that he is still always on the verge of returning to this business. He is always aware of how his past could come back to haunt him. It just means he breaks his promise to himself once more about never returning to that life. He didn't want to kill again but he has. He believes he didn't have a choice but he did. He's still free but it should be fascinating to see what this latest murder does to his life.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Chapter Eight: Know Your Truth" was written by Alec Berg & Bill Hader and directed by Alec Berg.
  • It's also amusing that the war between the mobs is able to reach a swift conclusion following Goran's death because the leaders actually want to be nice and considerate with one another. Cristobal surprised Goran with that mentality last week. That meant Goran started this war for no reason. But it's also just nice to see NoHo replace Goran and quickly make peace simply because he is willing to become friends with the man and his troops. That's what he wants to be as a leader.
  • Fuches really is a cockroach who keeps surviving even in the midst of the most dire and extreme circumstances. He believes he can just show up at Goran's house and be saved. He believes Barry still being alive is a significant enough change to spare his life. Instead, it's not surprising in the slightest that Goran still wants Fuches dead because he misled him in the past. But it's also rewarding to know that Fuches survives simply because his new torturer wants to build some stocks.
  • Vacha was clearly a character that the show's creative team enjoyed writing. As such, it was probably painful when they had to kill him off to move the narrative forward. And yet, they also just find a convenient way to bring Mark Ivanir back as Vacha's twin brother who is reluctant to cut Fuches up into tiny pieces in a way that is different than how he conducts his torture sessions. He has his own style and Goran doesn't have the patience.
  • Sally shares that she was once married to an abusive man. It's a past experience that she uses to help inform her work. She tells Barry this in order to present a way for him to use his past trauma in order to help him onstage. Of course, she also shares this story hoping that Barry will reciprocate and tell her exactly how he suddenly got good during their scene. She is looking for an explanation and is disappointed when he shuts her inquiry down.
  • HBO has already renewed Barry for a second season. That was such wonderful news when it occurred a few weeks ago. This first season was fantastic. And now, I'm really intrigued to see what the show will do next. It will probably be very dark and twisted. And yet, it will also be amusing because this creative team has such a unique way of looking at the world and how violence actually fits into it and the lifestyle of Hollywood.
  • Of course, I'm also hopeful about the show's Emmy chances later this year. For the performers, I'd probably say that Bill Hader, Henry Winkler and Sarah Goldberg deserve the most recognition for their brilliant work. However, the entire ensemble was great this year. Plus, the writing and directing were always stellar with a couple of standout episodes this season deserving attention. I hope it gets several nominations.