If this show has taught us anything it’s that Berg and Hader can’t be boxed in, and there is something so liberating about a series that has no limit on what they are willing to do to their most beloved characters.
This Barry Season 2 Episode 7 recap for the episode titled “The Audition” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
By the end of the last week’s episode of Barry, we see that No-Ho Hank was ratted out by a rogue accordion player (can’t trust them) he hired to keep his troops’ spirits up when planning a takeover from Esther and Cristobal. We also found Fuches taking up hiking in the woods near Gene’s cabin and stumbling (literally) into evidence that Barry did kill Janice. He even finds what we can only assume is her car hidden deep in the woods. That particular chapter of the time and tribulations of America’s favorite hitman didn’t have the level of tension and suspense as the previous outings. It was what I would call “the calm before the storm” episode that will set up the last chapters before the finale.
As for this week’s episode, titled “The Audition,” the first half focus was with Sally and Barry taking a positive step forward in their acting careers. Sally and her agency have set up a once in a lifetime opportunity for her by having her sit down with one of television’s biggest names, Aaron Ryan. Think Aaron Sorkin and Ryan Murphy type television producer who has a knack for developing hit, stylized shows.
When Sally meets him, Ryan has heard about Sally’s “truth” piece and wants to move onto something real, smaller, more interesting. “Me too,” Sally says. So, what’s real, you ask? A television show that is essentially revenge ****, with three women in abusive relationships in the pilot, while subsequent episodes recruit other women in similar situations, and kill their partners too. Think the A-team, but their van will be fueled by estrogen.
Meanwhile, Barry, who is waiting in the lobby, is approached by Sally’s agent. He notices how tall he is and immediately gets him an audition for a Jay Roach feature (or as Barry keeps correcting people). This doesn’t sit well with Sally, who has been clawing and struggling for opportunities for years that are finally coming to fruition. Barry lands an audition for a role in a feature film, a little over a year, as a man and again being tall. As they work on his lines, Sarah Goldberg delivers a wonderfully effective, biting monologue that sums up exactly what is on her mind. This is in line with her character who, in general, has never had a filter. It’s a scene, in my opinion, that should not only land her an Emmy nomination but a win as well.
Barry runs to his newly minted mentor, Gene, and tells him he has an audition. He replies, “What, are they auditioning extras now?” Gene goes from struggling to pass a mild interest in Barry saying he has an audition, to not being able to comprehend his student may be in a feature film. He thinks that Barry must have been wasting paper and made multiple copies of one page in the same packet. Then, Henry Winkler’s character showing one rare moment of uncontrolled emotion, yells, “You say, ‘Oh, we’re just a bunch of swim instructors.’ That’s the title. They can’t cut that!” His frantic, gyrating delivery had me laughing out loud, which was more than any film I watched these past two weeks (that includes Benjamin, The Hustle, & Drunk Parents).
Then there is Stephen Root’s portrayal of Barry’s jilted best friend/mentor Fuches. Root is one of the few actors who can create classic comedic turns like Milton from Office Space and fall deep into truly awful, despicable characters, like the one he played in Selma. In Barry, he has enough talent to flip each in and out like a light switch, with great ease that seems effortless.
Here, Fuches pretends to be a private detective who can help Gene find his lost love. Gene calls Barry right before his audition, Fuches takes the phone, and tells Barry. “You think I’m out of moves? **** you.”
This culminates in one of the most suspenseful, despairing, tension-filled minutes in the show’s history. Barry is seen running through the woods, desperately trying to get to his beloved acting coach, and de facto therapist, as Fuches leads Gene to Janice’s car hidden in the woods, he opens the trunk, we see a close up of Henry Winkler’s expressive face turn ever so expressive of deep pain, all the while Fuches stands behind him and ***** a gun, then raises his arm while pointing that gun at the Fonz’s head.
Director Alec Berg and writer Liza Sarnoff then roll to the credits and we have to wait a week to see how Barry gets Gene out of this mess. At least, that is what I was trying to hypothesize until I saw a preview of Barry in a police station, calling Fuches, and leaving him a message that he is coming for him. My biggest worry: Winkler’s Gene Cousineau will be sacrificed as a pawn, to push Barry back into his hitman instincts, which we have been waiting for all season.
Going into next week’s season finale, there are a slew of questions that we need to ask ourselves. Will Barry be able to save Gene or will Fuches kill him as an act of revenge, allowing Barry to get back to what he does best? No Ho Hank was able to escape Cristobal and Esther’s bomb-fire party, but at the expense of losing the respect of his Barry-trained Chechen mercenaries. Will he be able to get them back or will Maybrek be the new leader? Sally has the audition of her life coming up in a 400-seat theatre that will be filled with industry leaders, will she be able to land a project of her dreams with her high passion, low talent classmates?
Wherever the show ends up, if you have read my recaps of each episode this season, I have been wrong on almost all my predictions. My last hail-Mary pass is that poor Gene is done for, Barry will kill Fuches, No-Ho Hank and Barry will enter season three as partners, with Barry now slotted into the Fuches role, and Maybrek as the new Barry. If anything, this show has taught us Berg and Hader can’t be pinned down, and there is something so liberating about a show that has no limit on what it’s willing to do to its most beloved characters.
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.