The episode “Past = Present x Future Over Yesterday,” so far is the best episode of the season.
This Barry Season 2 Episode 3 recap for the episode titled “Past = Present x Future Over Yesterday” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Last week on Barry, his attempt to whack Esther, the head of the Burmese crime family, didn’t go as planned when he had flashes back to Afghanistan and how Sally called him a good man. He then loses 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 pretending to be monks, and they chase him down the street as they shoot up his car full of bullets, crashing his car, and managing to get away. When he gets back to his apartment, Fuches is waiting, fresh from Ohio where he was interrogated by Detective Loach, who flipped him and is sitting in a van, listening in. Tonight’s episode, titled “Past = Present x Future Over Yesterday”, finds most of the characters sorting out their past mistakes while one is dealing with a current one.
The episode opens with an inspired dream sequence, with Hank having fallen asleep while reading That Used to Be Us. He then has an intellectual wet-dream of sorts, appearing on a political commentary show that is simply titled Smart People, telling three-time Pulitzer prize winner Thomas Friedman to “shut the ****-up” because Asia will be done with after he puts a bullet in her watermelon-sized head. Of course, Cristobal lets him know that his “massive fumble turnover for Hank” didn’t go as planned.
Barry and Sally continue to both struggle in writing their “truth” pieces, both not wanting to confront their past (but played out in different ways) and are hesitant to embrace their darkly personal memories as entertainment for everyone to see. Sally tells Barry that she is finding this therapeutic, even though she is dealing with delusions of Granger, remembering her big truth about leaving her abusive boyfriend with a grand line while going out the door as, “You want to choke me? Well choke on this, I’m leaving you!” even though her friend Kate, however, remembers things differently.
Meanwhile, Gene, who told his son last week he left when he was a child because you always “leave them wanting more, not less,” follows up with his estranged son Leo, for a second try at reconnecting by coming up with a plan to sell his vacation home together. Unfortunately, he rejects the offer, telling him, “Dad, I don’t want the cabin where your girlfriend was murdered, that’s sick!”
I’m not sure if I appreciated Anthony Carrigan’s effective comic turn as Hank in season one, but he has consistently delivered the funny this time around. His comic timing while delivering positive antidotes and affirmations about performing or during abominable acts is the perfect complement to Alec Berg and Bill Hader’s commitments in making all the death scenes in Barry sobering (the creators are on record as refusing to play out any death scenes as comic relief). This is what separates HBO’s show from other dark comedies, where most resort to killing someone in a funny way for the sake of being edgy; the show deals with death intensely. If you remember season one, when Barry shoots his friend in the car, it was played out with a shocking effect that gives it a dramatic weight.
For all the wonderful and zany supporting turns, at the center of the show is Barry trying to come to terms with his “inherent darkness.” Even though acting was a life raft for him in season one, it has become therapy that is forcing to look at his past in a new light because he feels he is now a different person. Bill Hader continues to show’s signs of being a gifted actor, acting as a straight man for most of the episode’s other characters, giving the audience a bit of his comic persona, while also portraying great stress or intensity with a single glance. “Past = Present x Future Over Yesterday”, so far, is the best episode of the season.
There are many questions going into the next week’s episode, including how will Gene’s relationship develop with his estranged son? Will Barry be able to turn Hank’s army from “pumpkins into Cinderella’s” after he tells the guys that his best friend (yup) is the “Air-Jordan of assassins?” Speaking of Hank, will his “bromance” with Cristobal continue to develop or will it be headed for a divorce? Have we started to see the cracks in Sally’s self-involved persona as a front for being a victim of her abusive past? How will Barry turning back to Fuches affect Detective Loach’s investigation? Is Hank and Akhmal’s celebration the new Arrested Development “chicken dance” of our time?
The big question though must be: after Barry is chosen by Sally to act as her abusive-ex Sam, she very literally pushes him into playing out the piece where he chokes her. When Barry walks out of the class, Sally follows him, and Sam is outside waiting for her; we are left to wonder if this is the turning point in whether he will get his mojo back. We can only hope, because if Barry finds his nerve, after Sally being reunited with Sam, it should feel so good for everyone watching at home
M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.