This Barry review contains spoilers.
Barry Episode 5
I keep wondering when Barry is going to hit us with a flashback in an episode. In “Chapter Five: Do Your Job,” I thought for a brief moment, after Barry was knocked out cold in the Bolivian stash house, that we had traveled back to the hitman’s childhood to see a formative experience that made Barry become the people-pleasing, always deferring man that we know today. In reality, we were witnessing an extended fantasy of Barry with the child he imagined having with Sally, with Barry giving the kid a pep talk about being bigger than reactionary violence.
Perhaps there’s no secret reason as to why Barry endures Fuches’ calling him stupid, or why Barry begs his friend Chris to confirm that Taylor is a good guy just so he can avoid the difficult situation of getting rid of him. Maybe the military training zapped Barry of the ability to think for himself. Barry is making bigger attempts to stand up for himself and take control of his life, but he can’t see them through. For instance, Barry tries to tell Fuches that killing Chris would only be a further example of toxic masculinity, but those aren’t Barry’s words, they’re Sally’s, and Barry doesn’t have the conviction to follow through with his point.
The toxic masculinity that Sally accuses Barry of isn’t even his own, it was the product of being poked and prodded by Chris, Taylor, and their friend. Barry attempts to hit the reset button with Sally, but at this point, she’s completely turned off by Barry and can barely contain her disgust at having to perform a scene from Macbeth with him. That disgust is only trumped by Sally’s jealousy of seeing Natalie in the prime Lady Macbeth role while she’s relegated to the minor Gentlewoman part. Sally thoughtlessly criticizes Natalie’s performance, which isn’t good, but only because she’s miffed that she wasn’t getting the marquee role.
Things get interesting when the class begins breaking down the meaning of the scene. One student suggests the scene is meant to convey Lady Macbeth’s guilt in planning murders and everyone begins to chime in about how killing leaves a stain on a person’s soul that can never be cleaned. Barry scoffs and bristles at this idea, before eventually erupting. Obviously already grappling with the morality of his hitman job and the thought of killing Taylor, Barry has an outburst about how following orders doesn’t make him a psychopath.
It’s a rare moment of Barry actually having conviction sticking up for himself, even if his logic is a bit flawed. Later, when the rest of the class is remorseful for not considering Barry’s military background while having that discussion, Sally remains steadfast and says it’s Barry that should apologize feel bad for his outburst. The rest of the class disagrees and uses the moment to call out Sally for pulling the swoop on Natalie’s crush Zach. With Sally’s self-centered nature finally being taken to task, it’s never been more apparent how Barry’s deferential nature and Sally’s self-absorption make them a potentially toxic combination, especially for Barry.
This was our bleakest episode so far. Sure, we got a few laughs out of Hank’s bitmoji use and his disappointed reaction that Barry thinks he should die for his use of the lipstick camera, but things in “Chapter Five” remained tense. The police are hot on the trail for Barry, but Barry is able to craft a sound alibi using Fuches, some burner phones, and scenarios that seem like they’ve been tested many times before. Still, at the moment the police have little to go on, punctuated by Cousineau’s hilarious warning to be on the lookout for a “man with no discernible features” that killed their friend. Barry’s alibi has worked for the time being, but Detective Moss’ relationship with Cousineau will keep the police in the acting class’ orbit for a bit longer.
The series’ most tense sequence came in the raid on the Bolivian stash house. Barry rightfully treats the raid as a dangerous, life-threatening operation while Taylor pretends he’s acting out some sort of video game. Every tactical turn around every corner is played for max dramatic effect. After killing a few unsuspecting Bolivians, things heat up, causing Taylor to go into full psycho-berserker mode, which in turn causes Barry to freeze and realize the horrific nature of the situation. Barry’s cold feet causes him to get knocked out, but when he awakes, Taylor has killed everyone. Barry knows that he must kill Taylor, but being Barry, he instead brings him with him to the meeting the next morning with Fuches, in an attempt to hopefully fill his role with Taylor and stop his hitman work altogether.
Clearly, things aren’t going to work out that clean for Barry. Finally, Barry’s own damn spot has been awoken and it’ll take more than finding a replacement and quitting to get that spot to go out. Five episodes in, Barry is evolving into something darker and more complex than what viewers originally envisioned when they heard the pitch for Bill Hader’s series. Humor and heavy morality haven’t been mixed this deftly since Breaking Bad’s first season, and it will be interesting to see how cloudy the waters get in the rest of this season’s back half.