Sunday, March 31, 2019

REVIEW: 'Barry' - Barry Rallies the Acting Class to Keep Performing Despite Tragedy in 'The Show Must Go On, Probably?'

HBO's Barry - Episode 2.01 "The Show Must Go On, Probably?"

Barry tries to convince Sally and the rest of the class to go ahead with a performance, despite the absence of teacher Gene Cousineau, who's grief-stricken after the disappearance of Detective Moss. With Goran gone, Noho Hank and Cristobal's new partnership faces growing pains and jealousy issues. Back in Cleveland, Fuches learns that replacement hitmen don't come easy.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of HBO's Barry.

"The Show Must Go On, Probably?" was written by Alec Berg & Bill Hader and directed by Hiro Murai

The second season opens with multiple murders once again being committed. This time though Barry isn't the one pulling the trigger. Instead, it is someone extremely inept who isn't able to deliver the target of this entire hit. Moreover, Fuches failed to explain the basics of the hit job that was ordered by the man who paid for his services. All of this proves that Barry was so pivotal to Fuches' success in this industry. He was so desperate for his best hitman to remain on the job. But Barry pushed him away in order to further flesh out his independence in Los Angeles. Now, he is fully committed to being an actor. He isn't letting anything distract from that new trajectory for his life. Of course, he is the only person in his acting class who is still fully committed to the craft and the idea that the show must go on no matter. Everyone else is dealing with the psychological effects of Detective Moss' disappearance and how it has dampened Gene's mood pertaining to everything. Because their teacher is no longer showing up to class, they no longer feel personally motivated. This was a traumatic experience for him. He is finding his way to cope with the unknown. He doesn't know what happened to Janice at his cabin. Barry and Sally are dealing with that as well. Barry wants to put it all into the work. He sees this as yet another real world experience that can inform everything that the class is doing on stage. They are producing a farcical play that doesn't really work at all. And yet, Barry feels the responsibility and urgency to make this a shining success no matter what. That means he steps up as the director even though he has absolutely no idea how to do anything. He doesn't know how to motivate people into action. He is adrift in his life and giving it all to this profession. But this world is in turmoil right now because of the actions that he took. He continued to make the promise that he was done being a hitman. He still killed people though. He wanted to believe that Moss would be the last one. He knows how to cover up the crime so that the police still have no idea what happened and are basically stopping the search. They believe the Chechens did something to her because of her investigation. That is a fair assessment of the situation even though it's not accurate in the slightest. Right now, it's the only answer that makes any sense. But this premiere also shows Barry once again being forced into this criminal profession while law enforcement makes an even more damning case against him. He took action against Moss because of what she knew. He didn't think through the consequences it would have for his career as well as the lives of Gene and Sally. He just wants them to put on a face as if it is all normal and go back to class. They can't do that. Sure, Gene will still take money from everything and Sally will still meet with her agent instead of offering emotional support. But the world continues to close in on Barry. Hank is forcing him to carry out another hit in exchange for the tip off that Goran was planning on killing him. He wants Barry to eliminate the new competition that is threatening his bond with Cristobal. That's a delightful partnership even though it's such a vicious organization they are supporting. Plus, it shows how threatening Hank's message of a single bullet can still be. Meanwhile, Fuches' actions in Cleveland have ramifications in Los Angeles because his DNA is collected which allows Loach to see a Cleveland connection. He is able to see Barry in the blurry photo. That too could prove to be very damaging for Barry.

But it also remains interesting to see how far Barry is willing to go to express himself and fight for this class. He wishes to keep this performance on schedule. Everyone else wants to quit because Gene isn't showing up. When he finally does, they all feel excited again. That is until he announces he is cancelling the play as well as the entire class. This is no longer something he can do. Teaching may be all that he has in his life at the moment. But he can't put his emotions into it. He is too traumatized. It's frightening to hear him talk about suicide. That is so dangerous and could allow even more death to permeate through this world. It would upset everything. And yet, he feels inspired to keep going because Barry finally gives him the emotions he has been trying to pull out. Gene has keenly noticed that Barry never talks about his service in the army. He tries to use that as an excuse for wanting to disband the class because it's too difficult to talk about his emotions over Janice's disappearance. But Barry finally delivers. He shares the story of the first time he killed someone. It's all told through the context of his military service. As such, people are very accepting of it even though they recognize it as being very hard for him. But none of them can perfectly relate to it either. It has long been clear that no one in this acting class is all that good. But Barry is telling this very personal and intimate story about his past while his classmates are acting it out in an over-the-top fashion. There are big emotions to this moment from Barry's perspective as well. It's just not immediate remorse and tears over the lives he has just taken. Instead, it's a celebratory moment where he showed just how powerful he was. He pulled the trigger three times and killed all three of his targets. To his fellow soldiers, that was very impressive. It was him earning his stripes and their respect. To his classmates, that was the moment that broke him as a human being. He is only now starting to channel his emotions over that experience. Because he is willing to do so, Gene is convinced to keep the class going. Barry is selfless in that way because it's a gift he gives everyone. But he's also selfish because this is something he has latched onto and desperately needed in order to continue feeling validated with his life and the choices he has made as of late. If he didn't have this class, he would simply be too adrift and unaware of what he was actually doing. He still feels that way and the tension will only increase moving forward.