Fans of HBO’s Barry had to be wondering how the show would follow up on last week’s David Chase-like fever dream of an episode, “Ronny/Lily,” and what we were treated to was another tour de force of an episode. While opinions may vary on last week’s installment, I am firmly in the camp that it was 30 minutes of pure artistic brilliance, and this week, “The Truth Has a Ring to It”, was the perfect follow-up. It may have been more of a return to form stylistically, but that’s not to say it was any less brilliant. Season 2 of Barry has been a true gift of television.
This week picked up with Barry following through on what many assumed his subconscious was telling him last week, that it’s time to part ways with Fuches and move towards this new life he’s been attempting to build. As Barry was telling Fuches that they were done, he mentioned Gene being someone who understood him, which despite being a serious line, still made me laugh out loud. Part of this show’s brilliance is that Gene is a good guy who on some level is capable of understanding Barry but is too self absorbed to fully do so. In that sense, Gene and Fuches are a lot alike.
A major focus of this week’s episode was Sally and Barry preparing to act out Sally’s scene she had written, based on her abusive relationship with her ex. Sally is a character who internally is doing the same things that we’re rooting for Barry to do, to break free from these cycles that have entrapped them for so long. Sally has felt closer to breaking free than Barry for the most part and seeing that she re-wrote her scene to be less heroic and to better depict her true pain was another major step forward for the character. Part of her struggle with her scene so far this season has been Barry’s reluctance to fully embody the character, as part of his aversion to his own personal rage. Barry’s desire to help Sally work through her initial embarrassment of the scene led him to work with Gene. Gene, now armed with the knowledge that Barry killed a man overseas, helped Barry with his biggest breakthrough as an actor yet.
Seeing Barry channel his rage into his stage performance and seeing Sally’s performance instantly improve as a result of Barry finally embracing the character was a powerhouse moment of television, on par with Barry’s near death revelations from last week. One of the many ongoing jokes in the show is that Sally is actually the only talented actor in class. This week, Barry the troubled ex-hitman finally found Barry the actor. The scene was incredibly well acted, with Bill Hader exploding with rage as the abusive ex husband, but the subtext was more striking. Sally can empower herself through her work and have the future she deserves. Barry can take his years of pain and torment and do something good with it, instead of bottling it all up and living in turmoil. Both of these characters can break their cycles and be the people they both aspire to be. In this darkest of comedies, a light shined through in this most moving scene that ranks amongst the series’ best.
Sally’s path forward looked immediately more optimistic as the agent she’s been blowing off in favor of rehearsing this deeply personal scene was in the theater and proudly said she was Sally’s agent. Breaking her cycle of trauma appears to be giving Sally a real shot at living out her dreams. Barry’s road will not be as easy.
A desperate to not be cut out of the action Fuches was shown in a series of scenes lost in the woods throughout the episode, in what was mostly comic relief. Fuches however, ultimately found what he was looking for, evidence to connect Barry to the murder of Detective Moss. As Barry told Fuches earlier in the episode, he was nothing without him, and Fuches doesn’t want to lose his meal ticket. The episode’s cliffhanger was Fuches watching a lonely Gene in a restaurant, toasting his dead girlfriend in a scene that both broke your heart for Gene and filled you with dread, knowing that Fuches can easily snatch everything Barry is working for.
Noho Hank continues to kill it, with some of the most absurd material from any character or show I can recall. From Hank’s ragtag “army” surrounding Barry in a celebratory dance to Hank trying to dress as badass as he can before putting on a beret and checking his teeth prior to leaving for a mission, this character is unlike anything else on television. Now that we’ve seen that Hank has been set up by his former partners, I can’t wait to see where the character goes. Hank’s a survivor above all, so I have no doubt that he’ll find a way out of this current predicament.
The police’s explanation of Loach and Ronny killing each other in a domestic dispute really shouldn’t have been funny when you think about it, but I was literally cracking up as I watched it unfold onscreen. Maybe it was the picture of Loach (be sure to check out my interview with actor John Pirruccello) or how they brought up that Ronny was a Taekwondo champion, but that was another brilliant example of Barry humor.
There was one line this week that stuck out to me more than perhaps any other and I can’t help but feel it was of great significance. When Hank’s “army” was thanking Barry for their training, the star pupil thanked Barry for helping him find his purpose. Barry felt awkward and didn’t know how to react. This stuck out to me for a few reasons. One, it was in the desert, exactly like in Barry’s near death experiences last week where he saw Fuches finding him when he was alone. It also put Barry in the Fuches role here, helping a man become a killer and having that man believe it was in his best interest.
We all know that Barry’s fighting this internal war but I can’t help but wonder how he felt about that man telling him that. Did it make him more or less angry with Fuches? Does it make him look at his current situation any differently? The showdown with Fuches is coming but is he going to kill him like he would’ve in the past or is he going to look at the fact that for a period of time in his life, Fuches gave him a purpose too and let him live? That the pain he still feels from living life as a killer can be channeled into what may be his true purpose now, acting. I’m not sure where these last two episodes will take us, but I can’t wait to find out.