I’m gonna keep this one brief because I have a lot to do amidst some upcoming travel…
At the end of last episode, Detective Loach had Barry’s confession to killing Detective Moss on tape, and used it to blackmail Barry into a hit on Loach’s ex-wife’s lover, Ronny Proxin.
Barry, trying not to kill anymore, pitches to Ronny the idea that he should just pack a bag and go stay with some family for a while until the heat dies down. Ronny seems to go along with it, but it’s pretty clear as soon as we see the Ronny’s Taekwondo trophies and medals that something is going to go wrong.
What we’re not prepared for is how much goes wrong, and how quickly, as the episode plays out more-or-less in real time.
Ronny drops Barry with a roundhouse kick, then, thinking Barry is unconscious, gets his phone to call someone… only for Barry to get up and subdue him, briefly, before then.
What follows is a long, long, long, bloody and protracted battle, really well staged and performed (Bill Hader directed this episode), two men with skills but who were not prepared for this moment. (Barry has some hand-to-hand combat training, presumably, but is far more handy with a gun; Ronny is out of shape and practice but still has all his old moves.) At one point, Barry punches Ronny in the throat and breaks his windpipe. Ronny’s performance degrades from there– despite a pair of nunchucks– and he eventually collapses. Barry thinks he’s dead; not the way he wanted it, but it’s done, so after looking him over he starts to head out.
And then Ronny’s daughter Lily comes home.
Lily turns out to be, to use Barry’s description later, “some sort of feral mongoose.” Barry still isn’t willing to kill her, so, of course, she attacks him, even getting in a few solid stabs before fleeing. Barry leaves– completely oblivious to how bloody he is in broad daylight– and gets in the car, telling Fuches to bring him to a hospital. Fuches decides that would raise too many questions, so he offers to stitch up Barry himself.
And then Barry tells him the girl is alive.
Fuches calls an audible, leading to another hilarious situation: Fuches being completely incapable of looking like anything but a creep trying to lure a girl into his car. She scampers up a tree and onto the rooftop.
Meanwhile, Barry has been flitting in and out of consciousness and flashing back to coming home from Afghanistan. Everyone else has family waiting for them, loved ones; Barry has the closest thing he’s got to a family, Fuches, in a dark suit and looking for all the world like the welcoming arms of the devil.
After the confrontation with Lily ends with her getting the upper hand (she drops onto the car, then into the car, biting a piece off Fuches’ cheek; Barry still refuses to kill her), they head to a grocery store for some solvent, because in Fuches’ attempts to patch up Barry’s wounds he got himself superglued to the steering wheel.
And who should be walking around in the pharmacy but Ronny.
Barry keeps trying not to fight him, but he’s making such a scene that of course the store empties out and the cops are called. As Ronny is bearing down on Barry, he gets shot and drops. Loach is standing behind him. Barry is on the ground; we see a few seconds of Loach contemplating what to do, before he starts shouting at Barry to drop a nonexistent weapon.
Barry quickly figures out what Loach is doing, and there’s another heart-stopping moment there– before the undefeatable Ronny rises up and drops Loach with a kick. Then the backup cops show up and put enough bullets in him to finally take him down. Loach is dead. Barry manages to slip out in the confusion somehow (and luckily for him– Ronny dating Loach’s ex-wife pretty well explains the scene of their two bodies).
Fuches somehow escaped in the confusion, too. And as Barry approaches the car and Fuches implores him to get in, Barry seems to remember that image of Fuches after Afghanistan, the first moment that set him on the path of being a hitman. And he’s hesitant. And we cut to black there.
STRAY BULLET POINTS
- This writeup is more recap than analysis, I admit. But geez, this episode was a tour de force. The ugliness of the violence, the surreality of Lily Proxin… and, above all, what a giant goddamn mess Barry keeps making by just not doing the job. Two people are dead instead of one, a huge scene has been made, and now Lily can identify him and Fuches. Weirdly, Barry would be much better off if he could compartmentalize; he wants to get out of his life of crime, but “doing jobs half-assed” is not the answer.
- Barry’s blood goatee cracks me up.
- One other development this episode: Barry mentions to Fuches that he’s been training the Chechens. Fuches thinks they should call on Hank for help, but Barry is trying to close off that loop, not get deeper.
- An episode with no other characters at all. No Gene, no Sally, no Hank. Just Barry and Fuches on a job. It’s not exactly a bottle episode, but it’s a funky, fun way to pace something at this point in the season, in a way that works not only as a self-contained episode but as one that moves the plot forward and doesn’t feel like it’s stalling for time.