“The Power of No” is a stand out episode for Henry Winkler, balancing comic lunacy and crestfallen emotions.
This Barry Season 2 Episode 2 Recap for “The Power of No” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
“Am I evil?” Barry (Bill Hader) asks his new partner of sorts. “Oh my God, I mean, absolutely. Do I not tell you that enough? You are the evilest guy I know, man,” Hank tells him while mistakenly taking his question as a need for reassurance, even though Barry is looking for a different type of validation.
By the end of the season premiere of Barry, we found out that Barry’s former handler, Fuches (Stephen Root), was arrested in Ohio and ignorantly gave the police his DNA. This leads Detective Janice Moss’s former partner, Detective Loach (Twin Peak’s John Pirruccello), to Barry’s Facebook page, where the connection is as easy as finding a glazed cronut in a donut shop. By the end of the satisfying outing, Hank blackmails Barry into taking out his new rival by telling him he will tell Goran’s family, or not only will Barry die, but all his friends will as well.
As we transition back to the episode titled “The Power of No,” we discover it’s a standout episode for actor Henry Winkler, who wants to reconnect with his son Leo (Andrew Leeds) while remaining crestfallen. When watching Barry, it has become apparent that Winkler’s Gene Cousineau is a dramatic tool used to become the de facto therapist for the group. He often gets his students to reveal what that one thing is that makes them tick and usually opens that special something they can spin in making an interesting performance.
The late James Gandolfini once talked about an acting coach who recognized that his rage was organic and needed to highlight his performances. Winkler’s character helps his students always find the real moments that define them, so they can harness them, then express real emotions to their audience. This is the device the show uses that always manages to give it a dramatic heft while delivering surprising and honest moments about what makes someone a good performer versus a forced one.
This is the setup for much of the time allowed for the episode’s comic lunacy, as the class is jealous of Barry’s big moment of truth from last week. “Competitive Grief” is what Sally calls it, as they watch the rest of their classmates perform their own truths that define them. You have Natalie (The Good Place’s invaluable D’Arcy Carden) making up a story about strangling her twin fetus in the womb, as she came out of the other side the winner; meanwhile, Rightor Doyle (Nick Nicholdy, both names sound “factory,” don’t they?) plays classmate Alejandro’s truth, using a bad Spanish accent while telling the tale of losing a chance at a professional soccer career that looks like something out of The Walking Dead.
Then we get down to brass tacks as Barry kills Esther, the head of the Burmese crime family. Unfortunately, he then has flashes of memories back to Afghanistan and how Sally thinks he is a good man, losing his edge in the process. As he goes to leave, his cool concentration has evaporated, causing him to walk into a room of armed bad guys who, believe it or not, pretend to be monks who entered the United States for religious persecution.
He has then chased down the street, as they shoot up his car full of bullets as he drives away. When he gets back to his apartment, injured, Fuches is waiting, fresh from Ohio where he was interrogated by Loach (a smooth operator, he explains that his tooth was left in Goran’s garage by a foreign prostitute, who kept the tooth as some trophy). By the end of the episode, it is revealed that Fuches is working with Loach, who is sitting in a van, listening in.
Some of my favorite moments of Barry are always small ones. When Gene refers to Barry as “Private Pile,” I loved how he told him not to call him that. To me, it is a sign of disrespect to anyone who wore a uniform, and I’m glad the writers recognized that, as it would be easy to dismiss. Watching Gene go from a self-involved ego-maniac to abandoning the notion of Barry using him as the star of his truth is delivered with heartfelt despondence. Then there is Detective Loach, a perpetual sad-sack, finally finding a pair while calmly scaring Fuches into wearing a wire to get America’s favorite hitman on tape.
As we advance, though, the question will be when Bill Hader’s character lets his new moral compass find its way back to finding his killer-edge. In the meantime, if he doesn’t have it, how will he resolve the Esther situation? Will he be able to avoid performing his “Afghanistan” moment of truth? What is Loach’s next move with his sting operation with Fuches? For that matter, how will Detective Mae try to get involved in the operation, and what is her real motivation?
In the meantime, until we reach next week’s episode, I am still going to ask this until it’s broached– did Barry delete his Facebook page, finally?