‘Barry’ S2E7 “The Audition” recap
Last week we fangirled all over the writing of Barry, calling it “the only show on TV we could call a screenwriter’s dream.” (Benioff and Weiss: y’all should take a masterclass from the team behind this HBO show.)
This week, we’re doubling down on that assertion. Barry is the best-crafted TV show on HBO this year – and the funniest show on TV, to boot.While we’re still proud of Barry for eschewing murders this season (although his actions are indirectly causing the deaths and ruin of folks all around him), the core characters are just as self-obsessed and -serving as they were in season one . . . or even worse. In fact, despite fewer murders, the tone of S2 has been much darker. We absolutely love this tonal shift.
“The Audition” seems like light relief from all the chaos released following the standout episode “Ronny/Lily” of two weeks ago. However, the episode’s final scenes foreshadow a very dark S2 finale indeed.
“The Audition” opens with Sally meeting her (ghoulish) agents in their glossy Wilshire Blvd. offices. They’re setting her up for the meeting of her dreams with TV producer Aaron Ryan, similar to Marc Cherry of Desperate Housewives or some other Hollywood TV powerhouse.
While Sally is having one of the most promising meetings of her career, Barry waits in the reception, innocently reading a magazine. Generally, a relaxed Barry presages an unexpected disaster. So far, he’s gotten away with several murders, and we all know the situation with Noho Hank isn’t over for real.
But no: Barry’s writers revel in subversion of our expectations, and Barry gets approached by the senior agent looking for an actor of exactly his height. He’s got a feature audition in front of the big-time comedy director the following morning. (Cue corny jokes about Barry not knowing that “feature” means movie.)
Following the meeting with her agents, Sally optimistically believes the potential role with Aaron Ryan might be based around a realistic story of abuse. Everything seems to be going great until Aaron reveals the true nature of the show: a revenge fantasy called Payback Ladies (tagline: “It’s the time of the month for revenge”).
The scales fall from Sally’s eyes as the conversation continues – and in a twist showing Sally has markedly matured since the show began, she refuses the role off-screen. Sally’s senior agents (the Michaels) are pissed, but she sticks to her newfound strength of character and rejects them. Go Sally!
Disbelieving Barry could have gotten so lucky so quickly – Sally has never gotten to read in front of a director before – Sally & Gene respond to this news with enthusiasm punctuated by a powerful undercurrent of envy.
While helping Barry run lines for Swim Instructors later, Sally barfs a logorrhea monologue about the nature of the entertainment business and her life. She reveals she’s envious of Barry’s luck in landing the audition (not everyone can be 6’2”), and that she believes she should be able to find success in building a brand around raw honesty.
As Barry heads off to his audition, we find that all is not lost for Sally – by following her bliss, she may have been able to create an opportunity for herself. Sally’s agent Lindsay decides Sally’s scene is worth pursuing, so she’s invited a ton of industry executives to see it in an impressive space for the showcase. We leave Sally overwhelmed but courageous, looking into the empty theater thinking about what might be.
As Barry waits to enter his audition (held in exactly the type of North Hollywood shithole major studio auditions happen in), our hero Barry gets a phone call from his mentor Gene. Gene can’t be his audition partner because he’s met a private detective, “Kenneth Goulet”, who thinks he has a lead on Janice’s death.
“Kenneth” speaks with Barry on Gene’s phone, and we know from the look on Barry’s face it’s Fuches on the other end. What follows is possibly the best scene in Barry yet.
Totally distracted by the devil Fuches coming face to face with Barry’s savior Gene, Barry delivers the most lackluster audition ever. The facts he “doesn’t give a fuck” and is 6’2” tall impress Jay Roach (the famous director), and the casting panel looks on at Barry awestruck after he rushes out of the audition without a word after being asked if he wants to read further scenes.
Elsewhere ,things have gone from bad to worse for Noho Hank. The Chechens are bussed into the desert to be executed by Cristobal and Esther following their hit gone bad plan of last week.
While waiting to be burnt well-done on the burning BBQ bus, Hank reveals his inner conflict to his team. He’d like to be a hotel concierge or an optometrist; he’s a nice guy and wants a nice-guy life.
As Hank continues to drone on about his innate mild manners, Mayrbek, bolstered by Barry’s training, leads the Chechens in escape. After taking care of (murdering) their captors, Noho Hank tries to regain control of his criminal cadre. But his crew has selected Mayrbek to be their new capo.
As Barry rushes to Gene’s mountain cabin, Fuches and Gene are there discussing Gene’s work and the death of Janice. Gene admits Barry is a like a son to him, enraging Fuches, who considers Barry his prodigy.
Fuches shepherds Gene into the woods to further investigate Janice’s disappearance. Tension grows based on the great editing between Barry’s frantic driving and Fuches’s manipulative conversation with Gene.
Fuches and Gene “stumble” upon Detective Moss’s car (that Fuches found last episode). Gene is stunned, slack-jawed as Fuches, just out of earshot, calls the police pretending to be Gene and admits to the murder of Janice. As Barry finally arrives at his destination, Fuches pops the trunk and reveals what we assume to be Janice’s corpse. Gene stands stupefied in front of the trunk, unaware that Fuches is pointing a cocked gun at his head.
We have no friggin’ idea where Barry is going to end up next week – just one of the many reasons we love this show.