This Barry review contains spoilers.
Barry Episode 6
I may be getting ahead of myself, but Barry is really starting to emit strong Breaking Bad vibes. I already have made passing comparisons to the decade’s greatest crime drama, but there’s something about Barry stashing money in a bathroom ceiling, Detective Moss’ shootout, and this week’s bloody, climactic cliffhanger that made “Chapter Six: Listen With Your Ears, React With Your Face” feel like we finally have an heir to Vince Gilligan’s tragicomic empire.
The combination of high stakes and a protagonist that easily shifts between bumbling and competent help aid the comparison, but so too does the tight, stylish direction from Atlanta’s Hiro Murai, who keeps things equally playful, but tense. His camera angle behind Barry’s seat, starring out the windshield in the episode’s shocking final moments uses realism while Barry’s daydream about his future mixes in Atlanta-style surrealism. Lots of intersecting story threads this week must have made “Chapter Six: Listen With Your Ears, React With Your Face” a daunting task to tackle, but thirty minutes pass by smoothly and in the blink of an eye.
We start this week with Barry caught between Fuches and Taylor. Barry is desperately trying to convince Fuches that Taylor can be groomed to be his successor, but Taylor’s action movie ideas and alpha male stupidity has Fuches urging Barry to kill Taylor unless he wants Taylor’s dummy behavior to get him killed. Barry’s approach to dealing with Taylor is hilarious. He’s super supportive of all of Taylor’s terrible ideas, using nurturing language that wouldn’t be out of place in his acting class.
Barry tries to float the idea to Taylor that he’d like him to be his replacement and work with Fuches, but Taylor isn’t interested. In Taylor’s eyes, Fuches is scamming Barry, taking way too big of a pay cut and manipulating him, a true observation that’s funny coming from someone so mindless. Taylor suggests that Barry just kill Fuches, and that idea is so radical and subversive to Barry he asks allowed, “Could I do that?” Barry views Fuches as a mentor and almost a family member, but could Taylor be right? It’s a major revelation that Barry has while hardcore porn is playing behind him, just to add in a pinch of levity. Before Barry leaves, Taylor plants Barry’s cut from the stash out in Barry’s bag, which is a problem since the money hasn’t been cleaned. Later, when Barry discovers the cash, he panics and stashes it in the bathroom at the acting class.
Meanwhile, as the Chechens are celebrating and inspecting their new stash house, enjoying some expert physical comedy, the creepy Chechen that has been tailing Barry reveals his findings to Goran, but Goran is uninterested. It turns out that Barry killed this man’s brother, but Goran urges him to get over it. Barry delivered them a great new stash house, and besides, if a Chechen is seen near Barry during the police’s investigation of Ryan’s murder, it could be the link that brings them all down. Still, this Chechen’s backward thinking means that just because Barry is out of bounds doesn’t mean that “the nun” AKA Sally isn’t.
Detective Moss and Cousineau’s relationship is also starting to feel out of bounds for Moss. We believed that she was keeping the acting class in play as an excuse to keep seeing Gene, but Gene suggests that maybe she’s keeping the acting class as a part of the investigation as a professional barrier to keep them from getting closer. Moss and Cousineau’s relationship started as odd comedy, but has found an unexpected, tender sweetness. Moss hears Gene’s logic and finally allows herself to remove the acting class as suspects, but when she goes to Gene’s office to tell him the news, she finds the creepy Chechen stalking Sally. All it takes is a mention of his accent for the encounter to escalate to a high-powered, suspenseful shoot out, in which the Chechen ends up dead and Moss recovers the money. Now with the case turning up a notch and pointing strongly to the acting class, Moss has to tearfully, yet coldly end things with Gene. It’s only a matter of time before the money is linked back to the Bolivians, then the stash house, where Moss will get one step closer to Barry.
Finally, Barry’s nice guy approach backfires when Taylor not only show’s up for the mission that Barry excluded him from, but also brings along Chris and their other buddy. Barry meekly protests Taylor as he disregards their original plan and drives past their vantage point, instead choosing to bum-rush the Bolivian plane. Unfortunately, the plane has already landed, and as Barry screams that bit of information, the Bolivian’s begin firing, killing the front passengers as the car flips with Barry in the backseat and the screen fades to black. It’s a startling conclusion and another example of Barry dramatically upping the stakes in unexpected ways.
The only scene that comes close to packing as much of a punch is polar opposite in velocity but just as devastating for Barry. After Barry fails to connect with Sally in their Macbeth scene, they’re forced to play the silly repeating word game in their acting class. Painfully, Gene makes the phrase they must repeat be “I love you.” Sally uses it to express her disgust for Barry and Barry has to listen to her response, internalize it, and accept it. Hader plays the crushing moment with an understated woundedness that speaks volumes.
Once again, Barry moves toward darker material and gives us a cliffhanger that has me resisting immediately firing up the next episode. I have to assume Barry will get out of this situation unscathed, but how will potentially losing his friend Chris affect him? Will the rage then send him after Fuches? Will the Bolivian connection finally put him in Moss’ crosshairs? The fact that a half-hour series that was pitched as a comedy has me asking all of these questions proves we’re dealing with something truly unique and special here.