Season 3, Episode 5, “crazytimeshitshow”

Bill Hader in Barry

Bill Hader Barry
photo: Merrick Morton/HBO

I was ready for anything until I paid attention to “crazytimeshitshow”. A full episode with zero Cousineau, Sally, Natalie, Lindsay, Katie, Leo, Batir, Detective Mae Dunn, Hank or Cristobal. Not even Akhmar, who became famous as the “King of the Ball-Sucking Mountain”. No sign of Chaos Muppets Fox.Just Barry in a cabin in the Rockies with a last man on earth Beard, it took thirty minutes, I don’t know, to hunt and be hunted by a killer grizzly, it turned out to be a the end of last week Barrythe title character feels unmoored.

This week wasn’t so apocalyptic. Instead, it’s a shocking loop: an origin story thread pops up and ups the ante. Welcome back, former Marine Albert Nguyen (James Hiroyuki Liao) who served in Afghanistan with Barry (Bill Hader) and cheers for Barry’s first sniper kill in the season 2 flashback. You will recall that Albert was shot in the face during a village reconnaissance, which prompted Barry to continue shooting, killing an innocent Afghan civilian. Barry is discharged; Fuchs uses his depression to turn him into an assassin. Now: Albert, with a scar on his cheek, is now an FBI agent. He appears in the offices of Chief Krause (Gary Krause) and May Dunn (Sarah Burns), announcing in a heavy New York accent: “I’m here to help you catch Killing Detective Jia. The people of Nismos.” That kind of move makes you wonder if there’s going to be a fourth season. (there will be a fourth season.) Even so, Barry’s end could end up in the hands of the man who witnessed his birth as a killer. Or Barry will whack Albert La Moss and complete the death loop.

As the third season enters its final four performances, Barry The deck is being shuffled and a new deck is being dealt. I’m still fascinated, even when the title character makes moves that feel overly sloppy and joking and spoil a character that’s already a device. More on that below.

Number one: violence. Barry Never lack it. Almost every episode has at least one person shot, stabbed, taekwondo killed, strangled or (last week) blown up by a Japanese-South Korean darknet bomb. This week, Bolivians, under the new command of Cristobal’s estranged gangster wife Elena (Krizia Bajos), raided a Chechen heroin/plant farm with a convoy of black SUVs, at the same time police went into action. Arrest of Chechens for further interrogation (by order of Albert).shootout Between the LAPD and the Bolivians, Akhmal (Turhan Troy Caylak) IAnother shot in the arm (Barry caught him last season) and a Bolivian in a bulletproof vest rushes over A police car explodes. don’t know my body counts, but the Bolivians escaped Drive with Akhmar to Cristobal and Hank’s residence to kidnap Elena’s wayward spouse. (SecondOh, the LAPD sucks.) It’s worth noting: This crazy timeShit show unfolds removed from comics such as Shane (JB Blanc) interview time On the highway overpass with the elders from Grozny.This contrast from violence The poignant final scene is the intimate final scene between mother (Annabeth Gish) and son (Alex McNichol), who plan revenge on Barry outside his apartment. The mother nervously held the gun in the car and accidentally shot her son. The Greek tragedy turned into a domestic farce, and Barry stayed in the middle of the street, wondering if that was the gunshot he heard.

Yet, although there is carnage of the bang-bang type, most of the brutality is emotional. There was heartbreak and dashed dreams for everyone: Sally, Cousineau, Bolivian avenging angel Elena, Hank, and even semi-sociopath Barry.

The day after Joplin premiered with 98-percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Sally discovers that Diana Villa (Elizabeth Perkins), the top executive at BanShe, is canceling the show. “The algorithm felt it wasn’t hitting the right taste clusters,” Villa purrs, looking positively medicated. Sally, backed by Lindsay (Jessy Hodges) and Natalie (D’Arcy Carden) points out that it’s only been 12 hours, maybe they should let word of mouth do its thing. “The algorithm takes word of mouth into account,” junior executive Casey (Joanna Sotomura), blandly assures Sally. “But it considers other things too. For instance, if you were to see someone eating dessert within the first two minutes of the episode, they almost always finish the season. And it’s not just dessert, the same goes for Central Park, kittens, Dev Patel.” “Fuck the algorithm,” Sally screeches. At which point, Casey discretely closes the glass conference-room door. (Casey’s speech about the tractability of TV viewers chimes sinisterly with Barry’s PsyOp laundry list later.)

On the set of Laws Of Humanity, Cousineau is trying out Steps Eights and Nine, making amends and asking forgiveness. He’s been given an extra scene with his dying wife (use that emotional memory, Gene!) after impressing producers by punching Barry in the face in a (real) fit of rage. Now, Cousineau, famous for his egomaniacal, abusive explosions, is all smiles and humility. He stops the showrunner and sincerely apologizes for throwing tea in his face years ago on the set of Murder, She Wrote. Tears well up in the showrunner’s eyes; he accepts the apology. Healing happens. Cousineau smiles. Later, he shows his son, Leo, a house he’s renting for him (thanks to the duffel of blood money Barry left him). And yet, at a dinner party thrown by Joe Mantegna, the Gene Cousineau Redemption Tour will come to a grinding halt.

Barry—recently dumped by Sally—temporarily moves back in with former Cousineau classmates Jermaine (Darrell Britt-Gibson) and Nick (Rightor Doyle), who give him room for a sleeping bag in the middle of their chaotic “audition room.” Barry turns to Hank and Cristobal for advice, and, as usual, Hank is pretty much on target. “You’re trying to be two guys at once, and that is simply not sustainable,” Hank observes. When Barry tries to downplay how much he shouted at Sally, Hank sees through it. “You have massive, massive rage issues, and I think they are triggered when you feel slighted?” Hank and Cristobal suggest Barry try “something creative” to show “the real you.”

This advice prompts a scene at the end of the episode that, despite being perfectly well-acted and shrewdly scripted, struck a false note for me.

Sarah Goldberg and D’Arcy Carden in Barry

Sarah Goldberg and D’Arcy Carden in Barry
Photo: Merrick Morton/HBO

Barry has returned the apartment he was sharing with Sally (after a brief, perfectly creepy run-in with the avenging son, who’s casing the joint). Barry leaves his keys on a counter, along with a dream board inspired by Hank’s counsel. The board makes for a funny sight gag (see below), but it’s another reminder that Bill Hader and Alec Berg have set limits on how much we will ever get into Barry’s messed-up head. As tenderly as Hader acts moments of sorrow or desperation, Barry will always be a device, a punchline. I guess we should be used to it by now, but I still long for sudden depths of humanity.

Before Barry can leave the apartment, Sally enters in tears. Barry comforts her on the couch and, learning of the cancelation of Joplin, offers to take revenge on the producer: “I just want to freak her out a little bit.” Barry’s tone is that of a warm, supportive boyfriend, but the content is that of a serial killer. “For instance,” Barry murmurs, gently wiping Sally’s tears away, “I could send her a picture of herself sleeping, as a way of saying, ‘Hey, not cool, what you did to Sally.’ The whole point is to isolate her and make her feel like she’s going insane. Replace her dog with a slightly different dog. Change the furniture in her house so she thinks she’s shrinking. Basic stuff, mostly I learned in the military, some of it on a sub-Reddit. Basically you plant a seed and then they just hang themselves. So it’s super-nonviolent. But by the end, her brain will have eventually eaten itself.” Sally is horrified and tells him to leave.

Now, I love this sick little monologue, but it felt like a joke that chipped away at Barry as a plausible character with interior life. Maybe Barry has been insane from the top of the season. But letting his guard down, showing Sally his amoral soul—so soon after the self-delusion of the dream board—seemed like a dark, smug laugh instead of something more complex. Or Barry has simply stopped caring if both halves of his life collide.

Either way, it felt like a small misstep in a show that is trying something exceedingly difficult: an elaborate comic conceit wrapped in a tragic vision. Barry’s moral compass turns on two interrelated dichotomies: forgiveness vs. vengeance, and happiness vs. success. No character can have it all. As Cousineau attains greater career success—being invited to Joe Mantegna’s home for a dinner party—he is refused forgiveness by an ex-lover (Laura San Giacomo in a dynamite, seething cameo) who resents him for ruining her career as a stage director. Sally’s success with Joplin made her manic and cruel, then miserable when it was ripped away, but she refuses to take vengeance on the producer, which is a sane choice. The mother-and-son revenge team stirred up by Fuches opt for murder, which means they will never know happiness, especially after the accidental shooting. The cycles of chasing either showbiz success or retribution feed each other, ensuring sorrow for anyone who stays in the game. Barry will only know peace if he gives himself up to the police or dies. That could make Albert the angel of death.

Stray observations 

  • This week’s title is a throwaway line by the head Elder from Grozny, played by ’80s film badass Michael Ironside (Scanners, Total Recall, Starship Troopers).
  • Barry’s dream board includes Willie Nelson, Budweiser, cars, U.S. Marines, Twix, comedy & tragedy masks, Michael Jordan, Ohio, donut with rainbow sprinkles, and Metallica. In case you were wondering, as Barry says, “What I’m about!”
  • When briefly discussing audiobooks to download for a road trip, Hank tries to hide his distaste for the Percy Jackson series from fanboy Cristobal.
  • Anyone else call it “Rotty Ts” like Natalie?
  • The second of visible pride shared by Chief Krauss and Mae when Albert calls Krauss “Big Cat”—before he tears them all a new one.
  • Dead ex-Marine Taylor’s dirt-bike rider sister doesn’t care about avenging her brother until Fuches mentions that Barry owes him $1,700 for a hot tub.
  • Joplin is replaced on BanShe’s homepage with The New Medusas: “3 goddesses who just wanna have fun. Don’t get caught staring!” And a trio of model-ish actresses with snakes for hair.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *