Multi-chaptered, thousand page books could and should be written about what Alec Berg, Bill Hader and the cast, crew and writers of Barry’s seventh episode delivered to us in 30 minutes of utterly brilliant, screen and soul consuming storytelling. It’s not even a masterpiece. There is no actual phrase or sentence or word in the English language —or any other language, for that matter— to perfectly encapsulate what has got to be one of the finest pieces of television anyone has ever delivered in the history of the medium.
It is, undoubtedly and indisputably, the performance of a lifetime.
It is no wonder “Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast, And Keep Going” is Bill Hader’s favorite episode of the season. It is, so far, the greatest episode this show has gifted us with. It’s filled with uncannily near-perfect performances, it is guided through masterful writing and covered with the impeccable mixture of comedy and drama.
In the show’s penultimate episode of the season, Barry’s mental and psychological turmoil finally catches up to him at the precise time when Sally needs him the most.
And it is as beautifully tragic as it is movingly devastating.
YOU ARE A REAL ACTOR NOW, BARRY
It’s incredibly hard not to dedicate pages and pages to the man who front-lines this show week after week, but it is especially difficult not to do so after last night’s episode. Bill Hader had always stood out as a remarkably talented comedy performer. For years he delighted us with the best impressions on Saturday Night Live, for almost decade he made us cry in laughter with crazy characters and even crazier performances. He has got to be one of the funniest people on this planet, a gift to comedy and, quite frankly, damn near a legend.
But in this episode, he proved time and time again that his emotional range isn’t only unbelievably gifted in everything comedy related. He is so incredibly compelling and moving and tear-inducing when he portrays drama that it is unfair that one man can be so talented in such a colored emotional spectrum.
If Hader had proven his dramatic abilities in The Skeleton Twins, he had defended them with stubborn strength in each and every episode of Barry. But “Loud, Fast, And Keep Going” is most definitely something else.
It is the ultimate proof that Bill Hader’s performance is deserving of every single award possible this season. It is the ultimate proof that this man has got more than what it takes to lead such an irrevocably amazing show as this one.
It was hard not to be in awe of his performance. Hell, it was mouth-opening and stunning. Sally’s reaction when Barry finally walks on stage to deliver his one line was the audience’s reaction to every single choice Bill Hader made in this episode.
Holy shit, it was just simply phenomenal.
The emotional turmoil that was physically and mentally, literally consuming Barry this episode is the culmination of his storyline this season. If each and every one of Barry’s deadly actions was previously marked by his almost inhumane trained capacity to feel nothing after each job, this episode debunked every theory about Barry’s inability to feel. He has catapulted from not feeling a thing to feeling everything, deeply, extensively, all at once without being able to control it.
There is something so eerily traumatizing about his calm demeanor in every one of his murders, but there is something devastatingly haunting about his reaction to Chris’s freakout in his car. His friend is losing his mind because he had to kill a Bolivian mob member, but Barry is always calm, tranquil, logically trying to understand a way out of the mess he’s gotten himself into. He is implacable, he is untouchable. He is seemingly dead inside.
But then the reality of everything hits him, and it hits him hard. Years and years of torment have finally caught up to him, to the five year old sweetest boy Fuches tells Noho about, and he breaks. He murders Chris in cold blood and it is the ultimate straw. It is the final job.
Remorse, lament, nostalgia, hurt, pain, torment, guilt, everything just hits him with the strength and the agility of the bullet he puts in Chris’s head and Barry can no longer take anything that’s happening to him. He has finally understood that the job is too much, that he has to let it go, that he has to put a stop to it.
But he’s overwhelmed. He is really out of his depth. He cannot handle anything, and the mere thought of Chris’s family —a family he himself has always dreamed of, a family that is now more out of reach than ever— is enough to bring him to heart-breaking sobs of impotence. Barry is so traumatized, he is so haunted by his actions maybe for the first time since forever, that his literal sobs of pain lead him to the performance of his life.
It leads to Bill Hader’s best performance thus far. He is impeccable. There are no adjectives to describe his innate ability to move both the people he shares scenes and screen with and the audience watching. For three solid scenes, the silence that seems to plague Barry’s emotional breakdown is mirrored in our own living rooms. We are overcome by everything he’s feeling with the force with which it hits Barry. It knocks the air out of our lungs.
Bill Hader is so unbelievably great in every single freaking scene.
I am losing my mind.
The emptiness in his look as he fights against breaking down. The pain and harrowing uncertainty and loss in his face as he steps on stage and says one line with such emotional conviction is beautiful. Barry gives it his all.
Bill Hader gives it everything, and then some.
There is nothing more outstanding in this episode than his performance. He goes from coldblooded deadly assassin enraged to fragile, insecure, lonely man in the most emotionally compelling transition of his career.
We were used to crying of laughter with Bill Hader. Few may have expected to cry out of heartbreak with him.
And just like that, Sally knights Barry a real actor.
As to where this episode leaves us in terms of the finale, it’s still hard to tell. The investigative storyline centered on Ryan’s murder seems to narrow dangerously closer and closer to Barry with each episode, but they seem to never quite reach him. And now, Barry has unknowingly and unwillingly faked his own death, which could ironically lead him to finally get away from his hitman tendencies. It may have been the ultimate play in order to finally step away from murder and the chaos of a life he can no longer tolerate.
The entrance and introduction of the Bolivian mob, that is actually threatening the Chechens we are almost growing to like despite their outlaw nature, must hint at the season 2 general arc and storyline. And on the other hand, Sally and Barry seem to have finally started patching things up.
We’re going to have to wait until HBO announces an official return date for Barry, but there is one thing we can be pretty sure about: this season finale will most likely leave us with more questions than answers about Barry’s ultimately dramatic end.
Barry airs Sundays at 10.30/9.30c on HBO.