Yeah, you heard me right. Barry was the best episode of TV last night. And when I say “best” what I really mean is “definitely better than Game of Thrones, probably better than American Gods I haven’t watched it yet, but let’s get real.” It was incredible. And in a season of really incredible work, it proved that not only is Barry one of the best shows on TV right now, it’s also one of the best horror shows ever.
And way, way better than Game of Thrones.
As Dustin’s mentioned before, Barry isn’t a show that’s easy to write about. Partly because its plot is secondary to the point of the show, but mostly it’s because Alec Berg and Bill Hader put significantly more physical comedy into it than a show about a former-Marine-turned-hitman should have. It’s also that explaining why physical comedy is so funny ruins the funniness. Because saying out loud, “Barry, who is being blackmailed by a cop into killing the cop’s ex-wife’s boyfriend, tries to convince his target to move to Chicago rather than be killed. The target and his daughter are both taekwondo experts, and proceed to beat the ever loving shit out of him” doesn’t get the point across. Is it absurd? Yes. Is it horrific? Clearly. But does that fully convey the wild black comedy of Barry patiently explaining to his target Ronny that Ronny’s windpipe is broken, and he needs to stop trying to beat Barry with nunchucks or else he’s going to pass out? How could I even begin?
There’s also the fact that if Barry gets caught isn’t what’s driving the show anymore. Sure, he is trying to get out of the hitman game, but the specter of future jobs isn’t what’s pushing Barry’s change. Last week’s episode focused on how Barry thought he could escape his past by rewriting his story. If he could convince himself that saving Albert was the important part of his story, he wouldn’t have to deal with the implications of mowing down an innocent man in front of his screaming wife. Fuchs pulling some strings to get him discharged was as convenient a solution as Loach giving Barry an out on Moss’ death. Somehow, even both of those were less of convenient solutions than the combo of Ronny killing Loach, and the police killing Ronny. There might be some camera footage, but mostly Barry got away with killing a cop, attacking an innocent man and his preteen daughter, and, you know, the dozens of murders he’s committed since he came back from the war and found his “purpose” with Fuchs. The only real issue is Barry trying to leave behind his life of crime and become a mostly non-working actor.
Oh, also the issue that Barry’s killed like at least forty people, and probably caused some very significant trauma to a possibly-feral, preteen child.
That is really why the show works as well as it does (I mean, aside from the writing and directing (done by Bill Hader in last night’s episode, so welcome to all of the spots on my Pajiba 10) and performances and stuff). Barry, the character, is focused on putting one foot in front of the other to get to where he believes he needs to be happy. Barry the TV show is really about the internal struggle of a man who believes he’s a bad person and doesn’t want to feel that way anymore. Even though he’s legitimately a terrible person. The show might be marketed as “wacky,” but the actual subject matter is the almost crushing amounts of fear and self-doubt people live with when they feel unable to change major aspects of their lives. As much as I’d like to say that Barry’s hesitation about getting into the car with Fuchs or turning himself into the cops shows some kind of growth, I also can’t help but remember that Barry told Fuchs in season one that acting, not hit-manning, is his “purpose.” Barry might have any number of convenient solutions for the immediate danger Barry is in, but it won’t matter. The actual danger for Barry is unable to change his past and move on from it. He can’t get out of danger because the danger is him. You know, the horror show that is most of our lives.
All that to say, if someone figures out a Barry/Arya cross over, I will be there for all of it. I’d watch the hell out of Barry taking out some Golden Company.
Header Image Source: HBO