Barry came out swinging in its first episode back on HBO. After a massive cliffhanger that could have easily been a series finale last year, Bill Hader and Alec Berg made sure that the momentum picked up where they left it with the new season. Both Hader and Henry Winkler took home Emmys for Best Actor and Supporting Actor last year, and if “The Show Must Go On, Probably” is any indication, they’ll be gunning for the prizes again this year.
“The Show Must Go On, Probably” opens with Fuches (Stephen Root) on a job with his new hitman. His new hire botches the job, killing two people, shooting himself in the leg, and leading the cops straight to Fuches hotel room. Fuches’ client dives out a window, the cops kill Fuches new guy, and arrest Fuches. We go back to Barry (Hader) who is desperately trying to get Gene (Henry Winkler) out of a depressive state. He thinks putting on a show would help everyone work with Gene’s grief after his girlfriend Detective Janice Moss (Paula Newsome) has gone missing (likely killed by Barry). Gene is inconsolable and kicks Barry out of his apartment.
When Barry goes to work the next day, Noho Hank (Anthony Carrigan) shows up in disguise. Noho needs Barry’s hitman services, otherwise, he will get killed after joining forces with the Bolivians and Cristobal (Michael Irby). Barry blows him off. The show is about to start without Gene’s direction, and Barry tries to rally the troops. However, when Gene makes a surprise appearence, he cancels the show and lets everyone know he will be shutting down the school. Barry talks Gene out of it by opening up about his first kill as a soldier, describing the story in vivid detail. While two of his classmates act out the event, we get flashbacks to the real story and see the discrepancies between what Barry told the class, and what actually happened.
As Barry leaves the theater, Noho returns to let him know he was not asking Barry for help but telling him to pull off a job. Otherwise, Noho will let the Chechniyans know who killed Pazar (Glenn Fleshler), the old boss of the family. In doing so, he also threatens Barry’s theater family as well. The episode draws to a close with the police linking Fuches to Pazar’s killing. Janice’s former partner Loach (John Pirruccello) seems to put together the pieces and links Barry to the killing of Ryan Madison and other Chechneyan assassins.
There was a lot to unpack in the episode, but once again, Barry proves that it has more going for its side characters than other shows. Rather than let the supporting cast stumble around like idiots, many of them have true talent at some aspect. Having Loach potentially put together the pieces would be a continuation of last season. Barry was sloppy and deserves to get caught. It will be curious to see how he gets out of the situation, so its an important thread to keep an eye on.
Once again, Hader brings it as he recounts Barry’s first kill. The discrepancy between the story he tells and the real event is harrowing. Director Hiro Mirai might be the single best director on television right now and perfectly executes the sequence. Once again, Barry is a better actor than he lets on and proves on some level that he is broken after years of killing. It is a brilliant sequence and immediately asserts Barry into the discussion for Best Comedy series this year.
Winkler continues to kill it as well. There’s a darkness that is not often associated with him as a performer that runs throughout the entire episode. His depression is real and creates a stark contrast from the happy Gene last season. His storyline should not be funny, but it speaks to Hader and Berg’s ability to run a writer’s room that really pops. They mine humor out of everyday occurrences, and even in grief, there is comedy.
Carrigan impresses in this one and adds some villainy to the fun character we’ve met over the past year. One has to wonder if he’ll be more sinister than expected. Root plays Fuches as the perfect idiot and the show gets mileage out of his incompetence. This was not a strong episode for Sarah Goldberg, who had little to do this time out. The series will likely give her an entire episode later in the season to make up for it.
Where the show heads from here will be interesting, but the stakes of the season are set into place. The comedy is still kicking into full gear, and the emotion is dripping off the page. That was a brilliant start to the season for Barry, and the series is the best comedy on television without Atlanta to challenge it.