This Barry review contains spoilers.
Barry Season 3 Episode 5
I’ve gone on the record praising Barry’s pacing and episode lengths. The show consistently moves at a clip, pushing the story forward with kinetic energy. That said, “crazytimesh*tshow” may be the first episode of the series to feel too overstuffed. Not only does this week’s episode explore Barry’s feelings after his and Sally’s breakup, furthers the war between the Chechens and Bolivians, and continues Sally’s Hollywood journey, but it also reintroduces Barry’s old Marine buddy Albert Nguyen as an FBI antagonist, continues to follow Julie (Annabeth Gish) and her son as they plot to kill Barry, introduces a new scorned woman from Gene’s past, and finds Fuches trying to stir up more trouble with Taylor’s sister.
It’s A LOT of moving parts, and they’re all compelling in their own ways, meaning that there’s a feeling of disappointment that we don’t get to spend more time with each. In the grand scheme of things, this is a good problem to have! Barry is tossing a lot of balls up into the air, and they’re all catching our eye, I just hope that they begin to land in ways that bring focus back to Barry and his story.
As mentioned, the episode begins with a flashback to Barry’s Marine days, as we once again watch Albert get shot and Barry frantically try to help his friend. We cut to the present day and learn that Albert is working for the FBI and has been assigned to investigate the murder of Janice Moss. Right away, Albert is able to tell that “The Raven” is bullshit and that the LAPD has been wildly incompetent. Albert makes note that Barry is involved with the case, but his immediate reaction suggests that he doesn’t consider him to be involved. He demands that the LAPD mobilize and round up the Chechens from their plant supply front.
It’s serendipitous timing, as Cristobal’s wife Elena (spelling not immediately available to me at the time of posting, sorry!) arrives in the U.S. looking to avenge her father’s death. She immediately orders what’s left of the Bolivians to stage a raid on the Chechens, and they arrive at the Chechen base of operations at the same time as the police, just as one of Hank’s men is showing the elder Chechen mobsters the lay of the land via FaceTime. It’s a chaotic scene that’s cleverly shot from an overhead angle, giving the raid a sense of scale. Once again, it seems that the already dwindling numbers of the Chechens and Bolivians are shrinking further.
Meanwhile, Barry is feeling low again after his breakup with Sally. He turns to Hank and Cristobal for advice, which seems silly at first, but Hank has illuminating things to say. He rightly points out that Barry’s double life is leading him to become a pressure cooker waiting to explode. He suggests he try to show Sally his true self, or at least as much of it as he can. Since Barry has the emotional maturity of a school child, he decides to make a collage to represent his true self, including photos of Michael Jordan and Ohio. However, Sally is a little preoccupied with her own drama to process Barry’s attempt at opening up.
It turns out that Sally’s show, Joplin, has been cancelled. After appearing momentarily on the homepage of the fictional streaming service Banshee, Sally is called into a meeting where she learns that Joplin just isn’t hitting the right “taste clusters.” It’s another point-perfect send-up of Hollywood’s fickleness and how much creative decisions are determined by “the algorithm” these days. Though Natalie gives Sally a heartfelt speech about how meaningful it’s been to watch her creative process and work ethic, it’s not enough to keep Sally from feeling like the world is ending.
When she returns to her apartment to find Barry, she relays the news, and Barry tries offering some helpful words of his own. In a soft, unsettling tone, Barry suggests that he break in the Banshee executive’s home and take pictures of her sleeping or “change the furniture so she thinks she’s shrinking.” It’s another brilliant moment of black comedy, as Barry’s casual tone make his escalating threats all the funnier. Sally is horrified, as anyone would be, and demands that Barry leave. Though there have been other hints, this was the first time that Barry really lowered the veil to show his true self, and Sally recoiled in disgust. How he approaches her from here will be interesting.
Elsewhere, Gene finds himself slowly reveling in the second chance that Barry has afforded him. Whether it’s getting an expanded role and praise for his work on Laws of Humanity or being able to purchase his son a home to make amends, it appears that Gene is forgetting about what Barry has done and starting to focus on his redemption. He attends the party at Joe Mantegna’s house, and while he’s grateful for the kindness shown by his former peer, another party-goer is less willing to forgive. A woman named Annie, who used to be in a relationship with Gene and direct him in productions, claims that Gene blackballed her in NYC and LA after their relationship was over, ending her career as a director. It seems like Gene’s apology tour will continue, but when will he turn his focus back to Barry?
Finally, Fuches pops up again and visits the sister of Taylor, who died back in season 1 in the botched bum-rush on the Bolivian airfield. It seems like a whole army of disgruntled family members of Barry’s victims are being assembled, but Fuches had a role in all of this two, and it’s only a matter of time before that’s revealed. Julie and her son tried to take Barry out after his argument with Sally, but Julie ends up mistakenly shooting her son in the stomach instead, highlighting the reason why people hire professionals like Barry in the first place.
As I said up top, this episode is jam-packed and it’s pretty successful with everything it presents, but it still leaves you wishing there was more time spent exploring Gene’s mental state and where his feelings with Barry lie, or Barry trying to work through what exactly went wrong with Sally. A little more emphasis on character moments could take this already excellent show to the next level, but this is the tiniest of nit-picks.