Sunday, April 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'Barry' - Barry and Sally Struggle Accepting the Hard Emotions of Their Pasts in 'Past = Present x Future Over Yesterday'

HBO's Barry - Episode 2.03 "Past = Present x Future Over Yesterday"

As part of a class project, Gene tasks Barry with revisiting his past, and Sally reflects on her own history. Barry offers to provide training to NoHo Hank's men. Fuches finds Barry in an unexpected location.

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 next episode of HBO's Barry.

"Past = Present x Future Over Yesterday" was written by Jason Kim and directed by Minkie Spiro

Barry is made uneasy by Gene's demand to explore the dark edges of his psyche in order to channel that into the work. Barry has made the full commitment to being an actor this season. He doesn't want to be an assassin anymore. He couldn't kill Esther despite Hank hiring him for that job. That means he's dodging bullets at one point here. But he is willing to handle all of that tension in a way that benefits everyone without him having to lose his newfound sense of morality. He never questioned the orders that were given to him before. But now, it's clear that he is emotionally stunted in so many ways because he doesn't now how to gauge the proper reaction to any given moment. He never saw the traumas in his past as being inherently tragic or unfortunate for his life. He just immediately accepted them as fact. Of course, he has always been insanely guarded as well. He only recently opened up to the acting class about his service. Even then, they were the ones who took his story to a more fantastical and emotional place. The reality of that moment for him still stung for the audience. We saw it in parallel to how the class would have perceived the emotions of the day he first killed someone. They see that as the hook for the various stories that should define their moments in this latest showcase Gene is putting together. Barry was vulnerable once and doesn't want to be again. He keeps trying to find a way out of embracing that hard reality. He doesn't want to fall back down the path of being a killer. He doesn't want that to be the sole thing that defines him. He sees himself as so much more than that. However, he's blocking that part out entirely because he perceives it as bad and not the person he should be anymore. He isn't coping with it in a healthy way. He's not trying to reckon with his past actions or deal with the consequences. He has ruined lives. Lives of people he is still interacting with on a daily basis. He would love to be there to support Sally. However, he is incapable of giving her exactly what she wants. She is making her own fantasy. She isn't delving into the true realities of what it was like to be in an abusive marriage. She just wants a big showcase moment that shows exactly how strong she was in making the decision to leave Sam. She doesn't want the story to be about the agony of how long she stayed and how lucky she was to get all of her stuff out of there. She escaped to this new and better life. Those emotions may still be coming back to haunt her though. She opened up about this experience for the first time recently as well. And now, her ex-husband is officially back in the picture. That's scary. It may actually push Barry over the edge because he has heard the vague details about what Sam did to her. In her script, she wants to be choked. Barry can't follow through on that action because he perceives it as identifying him as a dangerous individual even though it's all just acting and Sally isn't in any real danger. That may still define the way in which he perceives Sam. Stories are so powerful because they shape the audience's perception of any given situation. Barry wants to remain truthful with what happened in his past. He wants things to have a more hopeful ending than dealing with the tragic outcomes for so many people who have known him. But he doesn't know how to embrace that fantasy. Instead, he's just teaching Hank's men how to shoot and be assassins. That is useful and allows Barry to stick to his new morals. But it also shows how he continues to walk this fine line. He is training people to hurt others. That goes against his new stances towards violence. That is a hard line he refuses to cross in class. But he is spiraling because he has no true sense of his own identity. That suddenly makes him welcoming to Fuches because he is the only person who knows his past and can help him make sense of everything that happened. It doesn't matter that Barry kicked Fuches out of his life for a reason. Barry shouldn't trust him either because he is working for the police. But all of this creates an even more delicate situation that will only worsen for Barry as he tries to be everything to everyone while failing at each specific act.