Sunday, May 8, 2022

REVIEW: 'Barry' - Katie Sees Barry's Violent Tendencies More Clearly Than Anyone Else Is Willing to Admit in 'Ben Mendelsohn'

HBO's Barry - Episode 3.03 "Ben Mendelsohn"

As Barry and Gene take on new opportunities, Sally prepares for her first press junket - and Katie shares her concerns. With the Bolivians still in heavy pursuit, Hank reaches out to Fuches while Cristobal pitches a new tactic to Fernando.

"Ben Mendelsohn" was written by Emma Barrie and directed by Alec Berg

Katie is a complete newcomer to this world this season. And yet, she sees things much more clearly than those who have known Barry for awhile. All it took was that one moment of him screaming at Sally in the writers room for Katie to form a complete opinion. She doesn't want to be around him. However, no one can hold him accountable for his behavior on set because he's not actually employed by the production. Meanwhile, Sally indulges him and forgives this behavior. Katie can't express her feelings without fearing it would jeopardize her job. Even when she can confide in someone, her concerns are casually dismissed. No one wants to believe Barry is as violent as he seems. Many know he served in the Marines. He killed people overseas. They just figure that was him serving his patriotic duty. That's not who he is upon his return to the states. He's a different person. Sure, this isn't the first time he has yelled at Sally or the other members of their former acting class. They saw that as him accessing the necessary emotions to do the work. It can't be read as anything but a breakthrough. He's doing the work. Everyone is envious of that development. They want it for themselves. They aren't willing to reckon with how Barry got there and what lurks beneath the surface. They don't want answers to those questions because it would force them to question how much they supported along the way. Even Barry himself continually falls into this trap. He believes everything between him and Gene is good now simply because he got a job for both of them. All is forgiven. The two can return to what they once were. They can be a beloved actor and his teacher. Their story can inspire others. Gene isn't willing to forgive or love Barry. His family is being threatened. He can't focus on anything else. He can't run over lines acting as if this threat isn't out there. Barry wants to live in that denial. He no longer needs Fuches. He doesn't need to hold onto that anger anymore. Fuches told Gene the truth. He wanted to destroy this friendship. He succeeded in doing so. Barry continues to wield all the power. All Gene can do is run for his life. He can't follow the script believing everything is fine. Of course, deviating from that path can also turn deadly. He runs knowing that Barry has the ability to follow him and kill his family. That's not Barry's reaction. Instead, it truly is Barry embracing the crazy and lethal instincts that people always want to dismiss. Those truly define his entire personality. He can forego them for awhile. And yet, everything eventually explodes because he has no other way to cope with the turmoil that happens in his life.

All of this is a habit Barry picked up from Fuches. They operate with an oversized sense of power. They do wield it a ton of the time. They do so out of intimidation and desperation. They need their lives to be more valid and important than the people around them. As such, they are willing to manipulate anything to their advantage. Moreover, things just happen to them when others have to work hard for the same access. Fuches has a peaceful life in Chechnya now. He can embrace a quiet existence with goats. He accepts that reality when Hank calls telling him it's safe to return to Los Angeles. He doesn't believe it. And yes, Hank is trying to frame Fuches for the various crimes committed by the Chechens lately. Fuches is more concerned with whether Barry still wants him dead. That was a distinct possibility before. It's unlikely Barry has moved on. He is still the desperate hitman looking for work. He believes he can turn Hank down because he has a new career worth pursuing. When that illusion is shattered, it's easy for Barry to fall back to the life that has always been successful for him. It's not the only choice he has. It's all that he is willing to embrace. Hank calls him crazy. He hopes to exploit that to his benefit. It creates a volatile situation. One where the other Chechens question whether it's smart to use Barry again. He did kill several of their men after all. Hank's loyalties are conflicted because of his feelings for Cristobal. The Bolivians are leaving town. Fernando accepts that this expansion opportunity didn't pan out. He listens to his son-in-law's advice. It's just a matter of breaking the news to the rest of the team. Everyone is determined to act with as much violence as possible. It's miraculous when someone is convinced not to pursue that route. Sometimes it takes listening to a trusted friend. Other times it's seeing all of this violence actually play out. And yet, a lot of this can casually be ignored too. People want to believe that none of this is as serious as it seems. Everyone is playing with fire though. Fuches is committing his life to vengeance now. He believes Barry should apologize to him. He expects him to be grateful for all that he did for him. Fuches wants to continually hold that over Barry's head. Barry has grown wiser over the years. He is aware of how Fuches has taken advantage of him. He has done plenty of that himself. He can't ignore that fact. It can't be fixed through one acting job. Gene receiving one line out of pity won't dramatically change his life. It's an opportunity. Barry wants that. It doesn't fix anything. So, he goes right back to embracing his crazy path as a killer. That's expected even though the situation is incredibly different than all he has endured before.