REVIEW: Barry – “Chapter Three: Make The Unsafe Choice”

The following is a review of the third episode of HBO’s Barry — Created by Bill Hader & Alec Berg.

In the third episode of HBO’s new half-hour dark comedy show BarryChapter Three: Make The Unsafe Choice — the title character (played by Bill Hader) waits for a DHL package to arrive so that he can take out his target. Meanwhile, the Chechens have sent for a legendary assassin to kill Barry and Fuches (played by Stephen Root), and Sally (played by Sarah Goldberg) auditions for a TV show.

This series is still going strong after its third episode, which is an episode focused not just on the risks that go along with Barry’s double life, but one that also smartly juxtaposes two potential future scenarios for Barry via a vision that he has in bed and via another character whose woes are appropriately but cruelly ignored by Fuches.

That character is Stovka (played by Larry Hankin), the foreign assassin that the Chechens sent for to clean up Barry and Fuches’ mess and take them both out. But when we finally meet him, he doesn’t quite live up to the descriptions that the always hilarious NoHo Hank (played by Anthony Carrigan) gave us.

“As long as I work for them I’m never free.” – Stovka.

The Chechens take photos of themselves with the assassin, and they are quite clearly in awe of him. But the efficient seasoned assassin has become world-weary and, frankly, tired of his broken life that has always been about death. Fuches ignores the issues that really bother Stovka, just like Barry’s issues have probably been ignored by Fuches in the past. Fuches doesn’t realize that this 45 year-old character (played by an actor in his late seventies) doesn’t want to go on anymore. This is the future Barry can look forward to if he doesn’t risk it by going his ‘own way.’

But at the end of the episode, we see an entirely different future scenario for the title character. Barry, who had rushed to Sally’s aid when she said she didn’t want to be alone, lies in bed with the insecure aspiring actress, when he starts to picture himself walking in a grocery store with Sally by his side.

Being able to visualize himself there functions as the payoff to the previous scene in which Cousineau tries to get him to describe a grocery store, which he is then unable to visualize, but, lying there, it all blossoms and works for him. It is a colorful, warm, and sweet day-dream vision that presents his ultimate want for the future.

The note that the episode ends on is tied into this vision of happiness. When he was taking out his target earlier in the episode, his target said something in Spanish that he couldn’t understand. When Sally hears him mumbling the Spanish quote, she translates it for him: “You don’t have to do this.”

This might in a different show be a line meant to inflict guilt on the main character, but that certainly isn’t the point with Barry. The line resonates with Barry, because having that vision of the future proves to himself that he doesn’t have to kill at all. Now he knows that it can lead to something, it isn’t just a short term pipe-dream — he’s felt the potential of this new passion.

My one issue with the second episode was that I thought the police department trying to solve the Ryan Madison murder case came across as a bit too silly. I think you need some kind of competence from an opponent in the show, when even the Chechen mob is as immature as Barry seems to think that they are.

In this episode, however, the lead detective came across as much more serious and competent than on last week’s episode. It was an excellent idea to pair up the lead detective with the overly silly acting class characters. The scene with the lead detective and Cousineau was the best example of how well this worked.

My one problem with this episode is that Barry doesn’t seem as hellbent on getting Fuches back from the Chechens. He is on his mind, but it didn’t really seem like a pressing issue. On a similar note, I thought it was odd that Fuches didn’t really have any permanent injuries after the torture that he endured on last week’s episode.

A-

For my reviews of the previous episodes in the series, click here.

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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